At 14, I moved to the States with my family. As I was only a young teenager, the choice to move abroad was obviously not mine and I was left feeling saddened by the fact that I had no choice but to leave behind a life and a place that made me happy.
I missed, and still miss home, a lot but there are tremendous opportunities in the States for young expats. I am so grateful to have been able to take advantage of them. I am especially grateful for the fantastic education I have received here, which I hope will help me when I eventually face the difficult job market.
Although I like life in America, my longing for home is an inescapable feeling that most immigrants experience. From the first day I arrived here, I immersed myself in the web, constantly keeping myself updated on all the news in Ireland.
I was able to text my friends every hour of the day and constantly heard about their every move over Twitter as I tried to adapt to life here. Every time I logged onto Facebook I saw photos of the latest birthday party or concert that I had missed. When I came home from school at night, I talked with my friends on Skype about my day as if I was there in the room.
This is not what things were like for the Irish in America during the 80s.
Immigrants were forced to make new friends and acclimate to life abroad; they had to make the best of what they had or they would have been completely alone.
As technology rapidly advances, expats continue to be more connected than ever to home. We can sit in our cars and listen to Spin 103.8 on our phones and read today's Irish newspapers on our laptops.
This perpetual connectivity has made it very hard for me to settle into a new environment because I feel as if I am still living at home. Why should I bother making new friends when I’ve got unlimited access to my old ones? It’s like living in two worlds at once.
Although the world of Skype, Facebook, and Twitter should make expats like me feel more comfortable with being away from home, truthfully, it has afflicted me with an enduring case of homesickness.
Technology is certainly bittersweet. If I had the chance to live my life in America without technology, I wouldn’t take it. These advances have enabled me to sit and chat with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on Christmas morning while I’m 3000 miles away. Without modern technology I would not have been able to maintain the strong friendships with people in Ireland that I have to this day. My best friend still texts me every day, telling me how her day went. How could I give that up?
Yet, it’s a vicious cycle; I want to feel connected to home but, at the same time, this exposure consistently reminds me of everything I miss while abroad and makes me want to hop on a plane and go home any chance I get.
Everytime I see a picture on Facebook or an update on Twitter, I’m left feeling like I’m missing out. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what was going on at home so I wouldn’t long for it as much. This constant connection to the life I left behind has made me more conscious of the fact that I'm away. Seeing life in Ireland but not being able to be a part of it is difficult. As they say, ignorance is bliss.
Unlike immigrants of the 1980s and before, immigrants of the 21st century are blessed with a connection to home that can't seem to get any tighter.
Yet, this over-exposure to Irish life has left me feeling more distant than ever.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”