It’s that time of the month again – Expat Interview. This month I spoke to Áine McGovern, originally from Northern Ireland, who moved to Brighton 10 years ago, after her brother offered her a job as a software tester. I have never been to Norther Ireland, or Brighton for that matter so I’m very excited to be sharing this interview with you today.
Expat Interview with Áine from Honestly Áine
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Northern Ireland – County Fermanagh to be exact. I’ve lived in England on and off for about 15 years – initially I finished Uni in Liverpool and then I moved to Brighton and made more of a home here. I married my husband in Brighton! It has been my favourite location to live, in fact I’ve been here 10 years now. I’m a software tester by trade, which I thoroughly enjoy.
2. How would you describe your blog and what can people expect to read about there?
My blog is mainly about beauty, but I do style, lifestyle and opinion posts as well. I’m interested in all three topics so I like to write about these.
3. Talk us through your thought process and reasons for moving to England and how you ended up in Brighton.
I started at Uni in Belfast, I then transferred to Liverpool to finish up my degree. I ended up in Brighton because I came to visit my brother and he offered me a job – I had moved down within the week. Let me set the scene… we were out kayaking on a beautiful sunny evening, I was chilled out lying back on my boat enjoying the end of the sunshine when my brother mentioned it. It was an easy choice to make. There is so much going on in Brighton and it’s such an accepting city, that there is something here to suit pretty much everyone.
4. What do you love about living in England?
It feels as if there’s more choice in everything, from career to lifestyle.I have changed career a few times over the years before discovering software testing. I know this could have happened at home, but it’s such a smaller market that it may have been more difficult for me to make these changes.Everything feels more accessible. I don’t have to travel half the the country to try out new activities or a new job.
5. What are common questions you are asked by English people when you say you are from Northern Ireland?
After I’ve heard the usual jokes, I’m generally asked why I moved. Or do I miss home. I’m often asked how to pronounce my name (sounds like on-ya in case anyone wondered).
6. What are the main culture shocks you’ve had moving to England? Is there anything Northern Ireland has that you wish England had?
Sometimes the lack of community feeling, I came from a small country community, so this may just be the culture difference between country and city. In saying that, I do appreciate the anonymity of England and the ability to start fresh and try new things. At home it’s normal to say hi to strangers, or smile, or even just nod to acknowledge them. Not so much in England, although this might just be location dependent – or person dependent for that matter. I noticed when I walked down an almost empty street and acknowledged the other person walking towards me, that I would get funny looks. I also miss the craic and the sense of humour at home, there are pockets of it in England, but not as much as I’d like 🙂 I do miss the music, dancing and the sport from home. More of this! Or at least more coverage of this 🙂 I still dance competitively though, so I still have that.
7. Have you considered moving back to Northern Ireland?
Yes. I always preferred the idea of rearing a family at home, so they would grow up with all that it is to be Irish. I thoroughly enjoyed it all growing up and it’s still something I will consider in future. It always feels different when you go home, that sense of belonging. For now, my career would possibly take a backwards step as it’s still a growing market, so I hesitate to go home for now. This has definitely changed over the years, but I’ve not investigated in a very long time. I’m happy where I am.
8. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice prior to moving to England, what would that be?
Don’t expect people from other cultures to behave the same, no matter how similar they look and know that this is fine – don’t compare the two. It’s more fun when you stop and just get to know people.
9. If people reading this would like to travel to Northern Ireland and Fermanagh, name three things they should do/see/visit.
Crom Castle is beautiful, I could spend hours walking around the grounds and thankfully it’s very close to my home. Not too far down the road are the Marble Arch Caves, I visited not too long ago and they’re still as stunning as I remember from all those school trips. There are also some lovely walks through the woods surrounding the caves, a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon. Try and get out on the water, hire a boat, take a trip. Lough Erne has lots of little islands, bring a picnic and have lunch on one, some of my favourite memories are trips out on the water. Fermanagh is a stunning county, there are lots of other wonderful parts to investigate.
Thank you so much Áine for sharing a little bit about yourself and your Norther Irish heritage with us. As a lover of the sea and coast, I think I’d absoultely love Fermanagh, the caves and islands.
Have you ever been to Northern Ireland, or Brighton for that matter? To find out more about Áine and her life in Brighton, make sure to check out her blog, Honestly Áine, full of great and inspirational posts.