Last week I said that I’d be posting the stories of a few young men and women, asking them to share how love has – or hasn’t – brought closer links between Germany and another country. This decision came about after numerous flights back and forth between the UK Ireland and Germany. Time and time again, whether landing in London, Dublin or Berlin, I’ve realised that an extraordinary number of younger passengers were travelling to meet their lover.
Here at the beginning of a new year is the third young lover, a German named Susanne. Susanne is a freelance translator and new Irish resident. She writes…
‘I somehow ended up with an Irish guy, for my sins maybe… Our paths were to cross when I lived in France and became a regular in a bar where he was one of the barmen – I know, what a cliché! Difficulty was that we were not always single at the same time – until one day, when we met once again by chance. In the meantime he had changed career and after a year or so decided to move to Ireland in search of better opportunities. We gave a long-distance relationship a try. Our “commuter belt” ranged somewhere between France, England, Ireland and Germany. Suddenly leading a single life again was fun, but in moderation. Visits could be far apart and short. A freelance job would have come in handy then.
At the time I was a PA and had long wanted a change in career and now reconsidered this idea. Being attached to my independence, I did not allow myself to move to another country for the love of a man only – even though I found this idea romantic. Translating or writing always tempted me. So I went ahead and enrolled at university in France and Ireland for translation studies, and got accepted in France… and Ireland. Here was my second reason and I prepared my move once I knew he had set foot there.
I felt welcome from the start and my new-found student life got me to know people fast. My non-stereotypical German characteristics fitted in so well: unpunctual, slightly disorganised. I later even forgot to charge or top-up my mobile phone… The Irish wit won me over. Small talk is easy; nobody ever refused a nice chat. Networking is well exercised. I am more relaxed about everyday chores; everything is "grand". German-Irish relations seem easy; very few conflicts from history get in the way. Integration came so easy: within five days I was part of the social framework – I found that quite amazing! My family-in-law in the waiting adopted me from day one.
I was often thought to be Irish before I moved here – pro: I am not being pigeon-holed, con: I feel I need to try harder. Once people know my nationality they start the search for stereotypical characteristics in me, such as being disciplined, forthright or meticulous.
A friend once told me Irish men were an idiosyncratic species. And I come across some Viking temper.
In our house, any decorations that are "in the way" are moved, honey jars are messed up and sticky and I have never seen anybody wreck as many tea towels when cooking. My culture makes me wish to furnish a rented place to my taste, no matter whether I own it or not. He doesn't care unless it’s his property. In Ireland, the need to buy property must be genetically predetermined at birth!
It's true that it rains a lot, but then, I didn't move here for the weather… and I am now the proud owner of a pair of trendy wellies. Slán from the Emerald Isle!’
Many thanks to Susanne. If any other young lovers want to share their story, please drop me a line (through elisabeth.pyroth AT london.goethe.org ) and I’ll include it next week.