Happy New Year !
Here we are in December 2018. Times fly. I landed in Limerick in August 2016 and joined IWO in October. Now I’m on my way to Philippines : citizen of the world.
Ireland is the 7th country I lived in, Limerick is the 10th city where I built a home. I am French, born in Beijing (China) in 1963.
I grew up with my grand parents in Shandong province (China) and studied from primary school to university in Beijing. After one year working in a Chinese Traditional Pharmacy, I returned to University to study French. I was dreaming to leave China.
In 1989 after the students spring movement in Beijing, I left my parents, my job, my friends, my city and my homeland for a French man, the love of my life. I was twenty-six years old. Arrived in France in June we got married in August. I did not know that my life in France would not last that long. I did not know either that I was going to live around the world for more than 30 years.
Beijing (China) - Pau (France) - Maidstone (UK) - Harbin (China) - Lahore (Pakistan) - Paris
(France) - Dubai (UAE) - Algiers (Algeria) - Dublin (Ireland) – Limerick
Since Robin joined Nestlé in 1995, we moved from one country to another every four years. Each time it was a surprise. We only knew where we would go a few months before leaving. We arrived in Ireland in August 2014 as Robin was taking the job at Wyeth Nutrition in Askeaton. I lived in Dublin for two years with my younger son who was finishing his high school curriculum in the French Lycée of Ireland. Robin went back and forth every weekend. We settled in Limerick in June 2016.
Looking back which country was the most difficult to live? Or what is my favourite country?
People ask me very often those two questions. I don’t know how to choose between all the countries where we lived. I know that our happiness is not linked with the climate where you are living. In north of China it is -35°C in winter. I had to put the vegetables in the refrigerator to avoid them being frozen in my kitchen. But there we enjoyed the most beautiful ice sculpture festival with many friends.
In Lahore, Pakistan, it was +50°C when I arrived with my 4 months old baby. We had to put ice blocks in the swimming pool to cool down the water. But there, we could find the best vegetables and fruits in the world. We enjoyed the best mangoes during the hottest month of the year.
Before arriving in Ireland, I was told that the Irish rain was terrible. For the last 4 years every time it rains, I think about the heat of Dubai. There it rains only for one week in a year. I was so happy when I was seeing the sky hidden by clouds as I was opening my curtains in the morning. I also remember that we were dancing with my young boys and the nanny in our garden in Pakistan when the first rain of the year was falling. In Ireland I love the romantic shape and light of the clouds and the beautiful rainbows.
In each country, I had difficult and happy times. We are actually happy when we are acting, doing interesting things, whatever the location and the comfort we have. Looking at this life tracks, you may wonder what were the most difficult moments we had to overcome ?
For many expats, the moment of leaving is most difficult time. Because there is a lot to think about, even more to manage. It is always very difficult to let everything behind, all what we just built along so few years. I cried each time.
But the hardest time for me, is when I arrive at the new place. My husband is already busy at work, the children are also deep in their school life, and here I am, alone with my furniture. I haven’t met anybody yet. I have to look for activities and make friends by myself.
Arriving in Algiers, it took me 3 months to find a house. I visited more than 60 houses. More
constraining, as a woman, in that country, you cannot go out on your own. I had to be with a driver, a friend or one of my sons. After one week in my new house, all my jewels were stolen. Robin was in Morocco for a business trip. At that moment, I felt really lonely and sad even if I had in front of my eyes the most beautiful blue sky in the world. I remember I was telling myself in front of a mirror:
You are here, it’s your life. Your happiness depends on you, not on others. You have to make your happiness
Since then, I always find the way to be happy where we live.
The first 2 months in Limerick were not easy either. It was first time we arrived somewhere without children. My mum passed away just 3 days after I moved in my new home, in Castletroy. I had to rush back to Beijing for her funeral. Limerick is first place, since last 15 years, I could not have students to teach Chinese language. I told myself that it was the moment to do something completely different. If people are happy living here, then I can also be.
I met Susan Bachmann during a dinner with Robin’s colleagues. She told me about IWO. I went with her to the coffee morning at Inez’s home. Everybody was very welcoming. In November 2016, I started to teach how to play Mah Jong every Wednesday. Now some of the ladies play better than me. I also lead Nordic walking every Friday. We enjoy our walks most of time at UL. This summer we had a lot of fun exploring the surroundings of Limerick. Being the secretary of IWO last year, I tried to participate to activities as much as I could. The IWO 2017 Year Album can reveal all what we have done together. I have learned a lot from you Ladies !
I discovered the hill walking in Dublin and joined the Limerick Climbing Club since November
2016. With my husband we go hiking every Sunday with them. We explored the most beautiful mountains of Ireland. Since this summer, I have started rock climbing at Suas Climbing Centre. Now our friends of hiking club tell that I became a real Irish Mountaineering guide because I know all walks in Wicklow, in Kerry and in Galtees Mountains. I learned to love to have my scone with a cup of Barry’s tea when I come down from the hills.
Unfortunately in two months time, it will be the moment for me to say goodbye again. I’m leaving one big island, Ireland, to go to a country of 7000 islands, Philippines. Another chapter of my life story will start in Canlubang , 70 km south of Manila. I will miss the fantastic green mountains, the soft weather, the beautiful clouds and all my friends.
Dear friends, I wish you a happy, healthy and rewarding New Year.