With more people emigrating from different countries around the world by the day, it’s only now, having travelled and lived abroad for the past six years, that I fully understand why young people are packing their bags and leaving Ireland, England, Australia and just about everywhere else.
Many years ago when the idea first came to mind, it was met with a very stark warning.
“There‘s lots of snakes there, you know that don‘t you? You hate snakes“
My Dad was born in the 1940‘s, he worked very hard to take a family from the working class to the comfort of the middle. In truth, like many in the same era, he had sacrificed the best part of his life to provide a better life and opportunity for his wife and kids.
In my case, the true fruition of such opportunity came at the turn of the century when several movies including “The Beach“ with Leonardo Di Caprio began to inspire a deep sense of wanderlust. I was certainly afraid but at the same time, the idea of travelling to exotic places and experiencing different cultures was impossible to ignore.
The previous warnings of snakes was in response to my mention about moving to Australia on a working holiday visa and it didn‘t take hindsight to realise this was my Dad‘s feeble attempt to dissuade his son from moving away from him. When I finally decided to move he said “you can always come home you know…“ .
In fairness, no parent likes to see their “baby” move away but it‘s worth keeping in mind that more recent generations have a completely different attitude toward travel and living abroad to that of our parents or ancestors. In fact, it maybe an exaggeration but it‘s also likely that my parents and their parents solely related the idea of moving or travelling abroad to desperate circumstances like famine, unemployment etc whereas my own personal view screams the complete opposite emotions of excitement, change and joy.
Today the online world is a prime example of how the theory of travel has moved from being a scary thought to an exciting adventure. The internet is awash with photographs, video and encouragement aplenty for the potential traveller. It‘s a haven of support, a library of exciting ideas and a glimmer of hope for those who seek change in life.
Although unemployment has not disappeared and some folk still move for un-savoury reasons, in general those who emigrate nowadays or go travelling, do so to escape the confines of a more conventional life, to seek new places, meet new people or enjoy more freedom and all of these new experiences individually result in many moments of enlightenment for the traveller.
Travelling or living abroad is addictive, it changes people and brings about a completely different way of thinking. Whether they decide to return home or not, nobody who moves to Canada or Australia, backpacks through South East Asia or buses around South America ever regrets their brave decision to go travel.
Truth is, the world has changed so much in this lifetime and it pains me to say it but Dad couldn‘t really have understood my reasons to leaveIreland, in fact I doubt those who have not travelled themselves can fully understand it either.
For me the nice part to remember in all of this is a bit of a paradox; Many will say the impact of technology and internet is to thank for our growing sense of adventure or inspiration but really, this great feat should be attributed to our parents and ancestors who provided us with this opportunity that most of them never had, to explore this beautiful world.
People may not always understand your reasons for going and sometimes you might not even understand it yourself but it’s only important to remember how privileged we are to live in a world where new places and new people are never “far away”.
There need be no wonder for the reasons why young people emigrate or travel in today’s age – it is a great experience, it helps people grow and most importantly it provides a freedom of choice that is unparalleled in the recent history of civilisation.
So enjoy the journey for what it is and remember, no matter where you are or what is happening;
You can always come home.