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‘The only thing I knew about Ireland was the songs from Eurovision and the sheep’

New to the Parish: Einat Caspi moved from Israel to Ireland in 2015

For Einat Caspi, there are a lot of similarities between Ireland and her home country of Israel. The most common thing, she says, is the friendliness of the people in the two countries.

“Both people are easy-going, very easy to chat, and very welcoming. This is what made it easy for us to move. It’s so easy to talk to people. The smiles. You see someone and they smile and it’s great. It really warms the heart,” Caspi says.

Originally from near Tel Aviv in Israel, Caspi moved to Ireland in 2015 with her husband, Avi, and her two children Ofri and Itay.

Her life in Israel was great, she says, but she always had it in the back of her mind that she wanted to temporarily move somewhere else to try something new.

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“We turned down some [job] offers my husband got, just for reasons of language or destination. And then this offer came to move to Ireland. It was the last place I ever thought I’d move to. I knew nothing about Ireland before. The only thing I knew about Ireland was the songs from Eurovision and the sheep,” she says.

Previously she had considered moving to England, the US or Germany. “But then this offer came, and the interviews went on and on, and then there was the last interview, and we were invited here, and I accompanied him here and we just decided to do it.”

That temporary move has now become seven years, she says, adding that the length of time they have spent here is a representation of how much they like the country.

Despite this, there were some difficulties in the beginning, though she does not necessarily believe they were specific to Ireland and more to do with the big life change.

I think the moment I made friends with local people, that’s when I started to feel like I belong. Before that, I felt like a stranger

“The first thing, obviously, was the climate. We came here in August, which for Ireland was the middle of summer. It was 16 or 17 degrees. I was here covered in my best coat, my best gloves, I was totally covered. I couldn’t understand how the Irish people could wear shorts. Now I do the same.”

The pace of life was also an adjustment, she says, describing Israel as a very busy country.

“People are impatient. The rhythm is very different. Here, everything is so calm. It’s beautiful, I love it. I don’t think I’d ever be able to go back. It’s a very stressed country,” she says.

The biggest challenge, however, was the language, as she struggled to express herself in the way she would like.

“I still cannot express myself in humour. Sometimes I feel so square. I want to tell something funny and I have it, but I don’t have the humour and I don’t have the words. It’s so frustrating,” she says.

“I love sarcasm. We [Israelis] are very sarcastic as well. When you are a foreigner, you don’t allow yourself. You don’t know how things will look like and how it will sound on the other side, so it’s a little bit frustrating. You’re walking on eggshells. It’s getting better with time.”

Caspi was a biblical studies teacher in Israel. When she first arrived in Ireland, she enjoyed being a so-called ‘stay-at-home’ mother. But she soon realised she missed working outside the home. As a result, Caspi began to work as a Hebrew teacher in a Jewish school, now she works as a special needs assistant (SNA) at Stratford College in Dublin.

“As an SNA, it’s not teaching, but I love being with teenagers, I love school, I love teaching. It is what I do,” she says.

“I learn every day. It’s nice and, again, I love the atmosphere of the school. I learn and teach; you are a guide to these teenagers and it’s fascinating. I love them. I really love them.”

Caspi has also found connection in her personal life in Ireland, too. The Irish friends she has made in the seven years since her arrival help her to feel like Ireland is home.

“I think the moment I made friends with local people, that’s when I started to feel like I belong. Before that, I felt like a stranger. You always feel that; first generation newcomers always feel half here and half there,” she says.

“That’s always the dualism of living. Only the next generation will feel 100 per cent here.”

In the beginning she socialised mostly with other Israelis. But it was reaching out to the local community that really made the difference.

“The first time I dared to knock on my neighbour’s door to introduce myself, they were amazing, they were so welcoming. Then when I started working in school, I have a few very, very close Irish friends,” she says.

“We do usual things, everything that friends do. We talk to each other, go on overnight trips together, everything that you do with friends. Consulting with them, having meltdowns with them. They’re really, really good friends. It’s something that I will cherish.”

They [my children] feel more related to here and they feel more like guests when we go to Israel, and we go there every summer. They have much better English than me. They will always correct and slag me for not pronouncing things correctly

Her family have also grown to love their life in Ireland, particularly her twin children who are now 15. They were eight when they came to Ireland, meaning most of their memories are from here, she says.

“If you are talking about me and my husband, we are the newcomers. I love Ireland, this is where I am now. But it is always here and there. You’re not fully here and not fully there. Even if I lived here for the rest of my life, I’d always be like that,” she says.

“For my kids, it’s different. This is what they know. Obviously, they feel more related to here and they feel more like guests when we go to Israel, and we go there every summer. They have much better English than me. They will always correct and slag me for not pronouncing things correctly.”

Caspi visits Israel every summer. And while she loves her “beautiful” home country, she feels the same way about her new home.

She says: “It’s funny because when I’m here, I miss Israel; when I’m there, I miss Ireland. But I’m always happy to be back here. Always.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email newtotheparish@irishtimes.com or tweet @newtotheparish