Kitty came into my life as many people do, through my social media account. She was inspired by my story and wrote me a long and touching letter of support. Today, that inspiration goes both ways, Kitty has come a long way to become what she is today.
Where are you from originally?
I am from China originally.
Why and when did you relocate from China?
I moved here on 31st July, 2001, initially to improve my English with the hope of getting a job as an English teacher back in China once the 9 month language course was finished.
I was 19 when I decided to stay here, and I have lived and worked here ever since. I am very happy here and this is where my life is.
What made you choose Ireland?
Ireland was one of 3 countries chosen as candidates because of the language. The States and Canada had a much longer visa process so… here I am!
Are you happy with your job? What do you like/dislike about the environment at work, relationships with colleagues?
I am a small business owner. My husband and I own the restaurant that we both work in. We have worked for Irish companies previously, but decided to go out on our own and be our own bosses.
How do you like living in Ireland? Were you happier somewhere else?
I think of Ireland as my home now, and I am very happy here. I fit in better with the Irish culture than in my native country of China, and the people here are very friendly and chilled out, compared to people in Asia.
How different is Ireland from China, what do you miss?
Ireland is very different from China in the way that Irish people are very liberal, open-minded, and chill. They will leave you alone to be whoever you wanna be, within reason, of course. Chinese people, especially the older people, will always want to know about your business. It is a big country with a small town mentality. I’m not a nostalgic person really. There are some really good Chinese restaurants here in Dublin if I’m missing my home flavours, and I speak to my parents regularly, and share photos with them, so I don’t get homesick at all.
How did being an expat/immigrant change you? Do you think you’re a little bit different now?
Being an expat forced me to grow up very quickly and start looking after myself. Before coming here, I was a student and an older child. You can imagine that I had everything done for me, no need to worry about cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, or any chores. All I had to do was study and get good grades. Moving all the way across the globe by myself has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. And it has made me the person I am today.
Have you ever experienced any discrimination, or someone being rude to you because of your nationality or race?
I have never personally experienced racism here, although I’ve heard about some other people’s bad experiences. There were the occasional hackle in the street, of course, but those are harmless, from people of no consequence. I don’t tend to focus on this. I feel like I’ve always been treated as an equal, and with respect and dignity. I have never been overlooked for a promotion because of my gender, age, or race. I’ve been quite blessed actually, and I’m grateful.
How do you like Irish people? What are the biggest differences (habits, traditions, lifestyle)?
Irish people love a bit of banter. Where I come from you NEVER EVER talk to a stranger. Here everyone would strike up a conversation with you just to be friendly. People hold doors open for each other, smile, etc. They are just generally more friendly and polite. I’m not saying all Chinese people are rude, just that we are culturally very different.
Did anything surprise you since living here (positive or negative)?
Surprising… My skin and hair are much more healthy now, due to the clean air and abundant moisture. I am more relaxed, and happy… but that could also be because I’m much older, and therefore calmer.
How long are you planning to stay, would you move somewhere else for a better job opportunity, or some other reason?
I have started a family here. My child is Irish born, and holds an Irish passport, so I have no plan to leave any time soon. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in Ireland, and I consider myself de facto Irish.
Do you think Ireland has a lot of job opportunities? How do you like the nature, lifestyle?
Ireland has many job opportunities, but you gotta be willing to keep learning and keep improving. Many immigrants I know who did labour intensive jobs when they first arrived have moved on to better paid jobs. There’s no limit to what you can achieve if you are willing to put in the hard work.
Do you have favourite place/s in Ireland?
I love the botanic garden area in the Phoenix Park on a summer day. The flowers there just always put me in a good mood. Outside of Dublin I like the Glendalough trekking route, Powerscourt Gardens, Galway city, The Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher.
We have to mention the weather 😀 ?
The weather is a bit of an issue, yeah. I really miss the sunshine and the clear four seasons. But then again you can’t have everything. 🙂 When I need to top up on vitamin D, I just go to Croatia!
Would you recommend to other people to relocate to Ireland? Why?
I think that the best time to relocate to Ireland was in the past. It’s still a very nice place to live and work, but the conditions are not as good as before for newcomers. The housing prices are very high, and its harder to find a job for those without proper experience and qualifications. I wouldn’t recommend anyone over the age of 30 to relocate, especially if they have a pretty good life in their own country.
Do you ever regret moving here?
Never! It was the best decision of my life.
Kitty’s first book “YOU, 2.0: How To Become A Better You, Starting Today” is just published, you can find it online!
Read More: A German girl: OH, how I love Ireland! © Life in Dublin