It’s all About Timing

27 Oct

Through various conversations I’ve had with Irish people, adults and students alike, I’ve come to realize that Ireland is at one of their defining moments in history. I’ve heard from several people that Ireland ten years ago would not recognize the Ireland of today. The country has changed drastically, and the “Celtic tiger” period (a time of strong economic growth) has dramatically transitioned into a time of insecurity about the direction and future of the country. This anxiety can be noticed rather clearly in students completing their fourth year of college here.

To give you an example, a few weeks ago I was in a lecture with about three hundred fourth year Irish students titled “Ireland in the Wold Economy”. The lecturer was discussing the pros and cons of having a strong history of emigration as a security blanket during times of high unemployment. While emigration is beneficial for people to relocate to find work, it also poses a threat to the countries future by means of “brain drain”, a.k.a., newly educated people leaving an area and not investing their talents there. The lecturer then posed a question out of pure curiosity, clearly the answer he got was not what he expected.

He asked for students who planned on emigrating upon completing their studies at the University of Limerick to raise their hands. “Most of the class raised their hands”, said Mr. Darragh Flannery, our lecturer, to An Focal. He took a picture of the class which then caught the attention of several newspapers.

I remember myself feeling the same sort of surprise when I saw the hands of just about every student around me raising their hand. I couldn’t imagine if that same thing had happened at Purdue, imagining many of my friends essentially moving thousands of miles away, and most likely I would be included in that figure. It is one thing to want to move and travel because it is exciting to do so, but the feeling of having to do so would detract from the anticipation.

This past weekend, I went with a few friends to Doolin, a small village off the west coast of Ireland. We met a family there who was traveling from Sweden to see one of the famous caves near town. It was at the cave entrance that we met the family. I was speaking with a woman who had inquired where we were from and how long we would be in Ireland- most of the typical questions. She also had mentioned that her brother had to emigrate to find work and ended up moving to America where he was now trying to get citizenship. She then went on to explain that no matter how bad things got, she could not see herself moving thousands of miles away from her home.

At that time I felt very empathetic for the woman. She clearly knew that her decision to stay might in fact bring about hard times for her and her family, but the thought of leaving her home was more compromising than any discomfort she knew she would feel for a period of time. Her blank face had a way of purveying a great deal of emotion. These experiences have had an impact on me. I truly realize how fortunate I am to not have to think about moving away to find a career, although, if I wanted to, the option is there.


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