Emigration Diary: Acceptance
I was accepted to the NYC Teaching Fellows to train to teach special education. With one refresh of Gmail, I was offered not just a job but a career. I’ve to train in June and find a teaching job in a NY public school by September. I’ll be simultaneously studying for a Masters in Special Education in a CUNY college. It is by no means to be an easy number but I’m hoping it will be very rewarding. In just over a year here I will have a salary I don’t think I would ever have been offered in Ireland.
There are a few things I miss though, probably the biggest one being decent radio. Flicking through the stations here at any given time all I hear is Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Metallica, Pink
Floyd or Pearl Jam. All great bands with great songs but when they’re on constantly on several frequencies they start to grate on the nerves. There are a few Latino and R&B stations too, but I’m not that desperate yet. At home I usually listen to Pandora, which plays exactly the music I want to hear but lacks the companionship live radio gives. I tried using the Irish radio apps but the time difference is too disconcerting. Listening to DJs commiserate with those stuck in home time traffic over lunch or being lulled to sleep while I’m cooking dinner doesn’t work for me. Also, the daily uproars about issues I know and care less and less about makes me feel less like I have radio companions and more like I’m living on a completely different planet.
I spoke to a guy from Dublin who has been here for 25 years. He told me a sad truth about being an expatriate. He said that I will always be a foreigner here. I will be completely accepted and welcomed but I would always be known and thought of as ‘the Irish woman’. He also said that the longer I stay away from Ireland the more foreign I will become there too. The less I will feel like I belong there and I will in effect become nationless. My kids, on the other hand, will be completely American in ten years. At the moment, I still refer to Ireland as ‘back home’. I still make comparisons between prices. I still think in euro and the metric system and centigrade. When I’m driving I sometimes find my left hand searching for a gear stick and even though I ask the attendant for gas it’s because I noticed the car needed petrol. I do feel these subconscious happenings slowly changing. I don’t have to convert Fahrenheit in my head to know if the kids need a jacket or not anymore. I know my weight in pounds, the date with the month first and I can refer to people’s pants without smirking now. I don’t think I’ll ever respond to the word ‘fanny’ with a straight face though. There are some things that just sound plain wrong.
I’m guessing that my new career will speed these changes in me up a lot. There will be whole new worlds of people who simply won’t understand me if I don’t adjust my language and pronunciation accordingly. I’m finding it all very exciting now that I was accepted to the fellowship. I may well be half way down the road to national identity limbo but I certainly feel like I’m in the right place right now.