Emigration- Selfish or necessary to “get ahead”?

It all started with a tweet from my sister- “Will miss you this weekend chick! Perhaps a skype date with the family?!xxx”

And that’s when the floodgates opened and the guilty feelings came back, posing the question; ” Is emigration selfish or just necessary to get ahead in life?”

This weekend in Ireland, my father is launching his second book.  My older sister, who lives in Spain, is coming home for the occasion.  Hence 4/5s of the Browne family will be there.  Except of course for me. 

 Before I came here, I was working a 35 hour a week job, which I was really enjoying, getting paid well and would probably have continued for another while.  I lived a 2 hour drive from home and could continue in my role as a good daughter, sister etc.   My degree is in Communications and Public Relations and so by the time I graduated, the jobs in that sector was not as numberous as when I started studying.  Still, I am pretty certain that I would have found a job.  So why emigrate? It was just me- no husband and no children.  My parents encouraged us to travel but if truth be told wanted us to go to places where we had backup, like Australia where we have close friends.  But, Australia, for all it’s positives is what everyone does and Shauna Browne like to do things differently.  So after researching the job market and everything else involved in such a big move, I came to Korea. ( I had been here for 3 weeks in my final year of college so I knew the necessity for English teachers) In September 2009, I left my parents in Dublin Airport and took that flight to a whole new country, culture, language, and continent.  I was on my own and failure was not an option.

So you see, I didn’t have to leave Ireland.  There were options there.  I wasn’t in such debt that I needed the money, I simply did it because I wanted to. And doing so means that for the last two and a half years, I’ve been living with the guilty feelings that since leaving, I’ve become a bad daughter, sister, niece and grand-daughter.  My grandmother passed away while I was here and my family made the decision that I was not to return for the funeral.  I always wondered though, despite the support and matter of fact attitude from my parents, whether people at that funeral looked at my family and thought ” You’d think Shauna would have come home for her own grandmothers funeral -how selfish”

I’m pretty sure that everyone who has emigrated knows exactly what I am talking about here and the guilty feelings are something we suck up and get on with because we have to.  My life here in Korea is only getting better so I can stand over the decision to live here. 

 But I can’t help thinking that people who make the big decision to emigrate, do so to give themselves an up in the world.  If I had stayed  in Ireland and applied for jobs, I would be just another, educated, Europe travelled, predictable candidate.  Now though, if I were to apply for a job in Ireland, I have this whole other experience and ability that comes with emigration.  I would stand out from those other candidates who have never had this experience. Emigration makes you a different person.  You go to the new country on your own.You learn a new language and culture.   You become more independent, more open and wiser.  You build your life from nothing and succeeding in a new country is down to no one but yourself.  The same can be said applying for a job in the new country.  You bring skills and knowledge from Ireland that set you apart from candidates here so it’s win win situation. 

I do realise that it’s different for everyone.  I came on my own, but so many others move entire families to different countries, for whatever reasons.  I read somewhere recently that children who speak two languages are better at switching between tasks that children who just learn one.  I imagine children who grow up or spend time living in another country are much more rounded, independent children than those who don’t and I can’t help but think that if this is the situation why wouldn’t you move to another country? Is wanting the best for yourself and your family really so bad???????????

So while I’m safe in the knowledge that this move has given me the upper hand is so many ways, I will always live with the guilt that I’ve abandoned my family. And as my life continues to get better here in Korea, I’ll continue to live with the fact that everything comes with a price.

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3 thoughts on “Emigration- Selfish or necessary to “get ahead”?

  1. don’t think that wanting better for yourself makes you a bad daughter, niece, grand-daughter, etc…. Not having ambition would be worse. most definitely. to be satisfied with the status quo and not to strive, to seek, and not to yield as tennyson would say.

  2. Nice post. I have thought about the same things too. Korea is a good option as it is a definite conversation starter, and it is also the kind of place where you make more of smaller opportunities.

  3. We probably see more of you on Skype than we did whe nyou ived in Clare. And twasn’t the most exciting night to have missed, I imagine there’ll be other launches!!

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