Reflections of 2 Years of Croatian Living in Ireland

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It is two years since TCN’s Lidija Ivanek SiLa moved to Ireland, one of the fastest growing Croatian diasporas. Some reflections on February 15, 2017. 

In the beginning
There was, excitement and naivety.

As more and more Croatians are moving to Ireland, that is not news anymore, and as I am now the old, experienced resident of Ireland, I noticed the same thing about the newcomers as once was myself. When we were newcomers, I was full of certain naivety. Everything was new and for months I felt like a tourist wandering all over Ireland. I noticed the difference between cultures and it didn’t really bother me. It was easy to embrace it. I noticed the difference in climate, and at first, as we arrived in February, I thought well, If winter is like that, mild, I will adjust easily. Or, that rubbish on the streets, maybe they have a different way of cleaning. Children who freely knock at your door in the Estates (housing developments) because they are bored, and none seems to mind being interrupted in their work, that, well maybe it’s not like that all the time, etc. My friend, Croatian who is living in Ireland for 12 years now, she was warning me that it’s not like that at all and that I am wearing “pink glasses” (the same effect you experience when falling in love). I didn’t understand then, I didn’t believe her. I was making excuses for things that bothered me, that I noticed, and I wasn’t aware of it.

Today I read an article in Irish It was an interview with Croatian experienced world traveler that I know and was following her travels through her blog, Snjezana Frketic, The Journal . She arrived in Ireland, at the end of last year. Immediately she noticed the problems with transportation and traveling with dogs, and she reacted. That’s normal for Croatians. I told her, look that is the difference, immediately noticeable, Croatians are used to express their opinions. We are used to complain, change, act, do etc. We demand change. We are very direct in our speech and openly express our satisfaction or disappointment. The Irish are not like that at all. They are polite always and they are slow to act. They avoid open conflict. I am not saying that one is good and the other bad. I am not saying that this is the universal rule and difference between two nationalities. But that is an immediately noticeable difference. Snjezana didn’t really understand what I am pointing out to her. As I didn’t understand my friend in the beginning. You need to live in one country for a longer period of time to actually understand the differences. We, as nations had different histories. Our past influences our present. Our parents had taught us different things. The climate and growing up in the different climate influences our behaviour as nations. Most definitely there are some other factors that influences cultural development that experts in that field knew more about than me.

At the end of two year period
There is now a less naive look on my fellow neighbors. I learned a lot from them. I really hope that they learned something from me to. There is still a lot of places that I didn’t have time to visit in Ireland, a lot of new people to talk to. I am missing Croatia more than ever, our Sea (one and only Adriatic) and our proper four seasons. I was recently talking to my friend from Finland, living in Ireland for the last thirty years, more than anything else, she misses proper four seasons, like the one they had in Finland. But, I know, one day when we move out of Ireland I’ll miss all the people that we’ve met in Ireland. I’ll even miss the cold Atlantic. It is easy to miss excellent little restaurants, colourful villages etc. Moving to another country enriches us, but it also influences and enrich the culture that you move into. Maybe that is my message in today’s time when immigration and talk about immigration is a hot topic. If we don’t allow immigration, our own country will be impoverished, robbed off all the experience of the different cultures and all that other nationalities can bring. We need to rethink what each of us can gain from others and what we can give to others.


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