Going to work abroad seemed to be the only option, and one Croatian couple spent a year in Ireland but returned to their homeland, just like other people do, as they say.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 24th of October, 2019, after 20 years in journalism, frustrated by a stressful job, low pay and an exhausting work pace, he decided to start a “new life” along with his wife.
But after just one year, they returned to Croatia. They only went to Ireland to make money to pay off their debts, Deutsche Welle writes.
“It was a very, very good experience. With the fact that I earned something, I gained something that is much more valuable – I lost the fear of existential problems. Because now I know I can go anywhere and live and work there. Nobody here can ever say to me, ‘If you don’t do it, there’s someone who will work for the minimum wage” again, I’ve learned to appreciate my time and my work.
I no longer care what I’ll do if I lose my job, fail at a company or quit. It’s an enormous burden taken from my shoulders. It is a release from the existential fear that most Croatian citizens live in. so I’d recommend everyone to go and try out their skills. If we all had that experience, then it would be a lot different here too,” Soudil says as he begins the story.
“What was very important in making that decision was the fact that my then girlfriend and now wife was still out of work, so one day we sat down and talked. Many of our friends were already in Ireland. We got in touch with them and got information that we could make three to four times more over there than here. It was a big step, a big decision. You leave your parents, friends, your lifestyle and you’re aware that you’re going into the unknown and that your life will change completely. Honestly, that decision was not at all easy” says Soudil.
“We were fortunate not to go to Dublin, we went to Letterkenny which is all the way north and is a small town. The size of the Đakovo, but much more urban and I won’t say nicer, because there is nothing nicer to me than this here. I progressed in my work in just a few days. I worked for an agency that rents apartments and homes out and I can only say that I was valid and respected there, and paid properly for the work I did,” Soudil says.
Immediately upon his arrival, he was offered to work four hours a day, but he refused because work and a better salary were the reasons why he left Croatia. As he says, his job was not demanding, and no one complained about his work ethic or the quality of his work.
“For the last four or five months, I’ve been doing another job because I realised that I could still make around 40 euros a day, and the money is welcome. It’s easy when there are jobs and they treat you properly.”
According to Soudil, having Croatian passport is a kind of job ”recommendation” because the Croats are well known for being hardworking and responsible employees.
He says they repaid all of the debts they had Croatia off in just three months and even managed to buy a car on top of that.
“When we left, we didn’t say: We’re never returning to Croatia again. We went to see what it was like to make some money too, to cover the foreclosures and debts we had here. We had unpaid bills, foreclosures for parking, electricity… We paid back all the debts that we’d inevitably accumulated in Croatia in three months and we even bought a car,” says Soudil.
He describes life in Ireland as extremely enjoyable and nice. He says it never happened that he was “missing one more paper” during administrative tasks, an all too common situation when dealing with Croatian state bodies. A person who has lived in Croatia and dealt with any sort of Croatian administration feels a sort of cultural shock when they’re greeted kindly at the bank as if by their best friend, even though you’re complete stranger, just getting off the plane, Soudil notes.
“At the age of nineteen, I started working in journalism, I was aware that I couldn’t do that business there [in Ireland], but I lived in the belief that I didn’t really know how to do anything else. My hobby when I was a journalist was a kind of woodworking, processing metal, electrical work… I learned this from the urgent need not to have to pay professionals to do those things and that it was enough for me to just be able to manage. I’m far from being a professional, but I realised that I could do a lot of other things,” he explains.
He also says that nobody in Ireland ever asked him what school he graduated from and what kind of “papers” he has. Another shock for anyone who has done anything the dreaded Croatian way.
“It’s important here if you have a certificate, there, what’s important is whether or not you want to work. The employer is ready to invest in you to educate you at their own expense and give you the opportunity according to your abilities. In one whole year, nobody asked me for a diploma, a birth certificate or a certificate of impunity,” Soudil tells Deutsche Welle.
Upon his return to Croatia he did well. He is now in a better-paying job that he is comfortable with, and as he says, if he ever begins to get sick of it again, he has a job waiting for him in Ireland.
“Ireland is great, but it has one drawback – it’s far away. Anyone who works in Munich can spend almost every weekend in Osijek, which is a big deal when nostalgia grabs you,” he says.
His wife Lea has a slightly different life story – she was born in Germany, lived in London and working in a foreign country is nothing strange to her.
“I found a job right away. I first worked as a maid, and as they saw I knew several foreign languages, they transferred me to the front desk,” Lea says.
Despite the nostalgia, she does not regret engaging in the Irish experience. Because, she says, she tried a hundred things she had never had the opportunity to try, see, eat, do…
“With just three weeks of wages we bought a Mini Cooper, second-hand, but you couldn’t even do that in your wildest dreams in Croatia. There are big differences in life here and there, but when everything is put on paper, it’s still the best at home,” concludes Lea.
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