\"Daire

Daire Louise O'Dowd, with her father Michael, emigrating after graduating Photo by: Daire Louise O'Dowd

Graduating from college and emigrating from Ireland the same day

\"Daire

Daire Louise O'Dowd, with her father Michael, emigrating after graduating Photo by: Daire Louise O'Dowd

Arriving in to Dublin airport in the dark of night for my graduation I couldn't help but feel a sense of anticipation for the graduation day to come.

"By this time tomorrow," I thought as I passed through the airport, "I will be qualified and finally complete with college. Sleepless nights on teaching practice compiling resource folders will have finally pay off."

The sense of optimism though, sad to say, was only momentarily felt.

Emigration tales were everywhere. The next morning as I met my fellow classmates and waited to be seated for the ceremony I learned through various conversations of the bleak reality facing the teaching profession in Ireland and, in particular, for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT's) this year.

Many of them told of their substitution hours in Ireland, the irregularity of their routine and from these tales one could gather the sense of hopelessness felt by those that had stayed in Ireland in the hope of finding a full-time job, a fixed routine.

Three students approached me inquiring into London and seeking advice on the move and life there. The conversation ended with a promise to keep in touch and meet on the other side of the sea if the teaching situation hadn't picked up by January.

Overheard in the bathroom were two girls at the mirror commenting upon how it takes a genuine stroke of luck to even secure an interview in this day and age. Teachers on substitute hours now were given priority over others when it came to positions.

They mentioned how these positions were advertised publicly, although they were already filled. The frustration was evident.

The number of graduates on the ceremony booklet in abstentia was glaringly obvious to all in the room.

An acknowledgement was made to them and as we took our group photographs later on I couldn't help but think of how a friend overseas in Australia should be there. Enrolling in the two year Post graduate diploma in Education with Hibernia College I had envisioned that as a class group we would all graduate together.

Little did I know we would be dispersed to the four corners of the world come graduation day due to circumstance.

My ceremony commenced at 1pm and by 7pm I was sitting in the departure lounge of Dublin airport waiting to board the Ryanair flight to London. The short spell in Ireland for the ceremony was enough to convince me I had made the right choice.

Teaching in a fast paced environment keeps me going in London and the optimism among the staff for continuing professional development is fantastic. There is a great emphasis on continuous assessment rather than solely on terminal exams, something which Ireland hopes to move towards with the New Junior Cert and I'm happy to be getting a chance to have experience in this area.

Although London may not have been my first choice, I'm thankful for the opportunities it has provided me with for full time employment. Opportunities that, sadly, the current state of the Irish economy cannot offer.

Face it I am an emigrant – and now a graduate.

Daire Louise O’Dowd teaches in London.

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