Though it’s branded a little too Hallmark-like, the old adage “home is where the heart is” is a sentiment most of us can understand.
Finally, in troubled times, we turn to home, a sanctuary that offers its own brand of territorial comfort blanket. It is the place we can never quite leave, whose visceral pull accompanies us throughout our lives.
It is, of course, truly heartbreaking to see people being forced to leave their homes due to circumstances totally beyond their control. Whether it’s the cost of living or life and death issues, the bottom line is the same — people don’t leave because they want to, they leave because they have to.
Just look at the people of Ukraine, forced to flee a war zone and now scattered across the globe in countries most of whom will never truly consider home. Also, look at so many of our own younger folks who are now being forced abroad out of economic necessity as property rents and purchase prices soar while there are no signs of returning to acceptable normality any time soon.
A recent Red C survey for the National Youth Council of Ireland found that 70 per cent of the 18-24 target group are considering moving abroad because of the cost of living back home. That such figures find this necessary is undoubtedly troubling, especially given that the factors driving them are unlikely to be addressed any time soon. It is clear that this is unacceptable – no one should be forced from home.
And yet, if only we could band together in this country so that return could actually be a real economic reality, there are some positive repercussions to take away from moving abroad.
In order to see and contextualize home in all its myriad dimensions, we sometimes need to detach from this familiar everyday landscape and break out of the bubble, if only for a while. It’s about valuable new experiences and the perspective they can give you.
I left home at 18 – only to venture as far as England, but in the 1970s, big city life across the water was a different world from the small town environment I had left behind. Fresh, new, overwhelming, exciting, confusing and challenging – yes, it was all of that and often all on the same day.
I wasn’t forced to leave. I was lucky that wasn’t my situation. Instead, I chose to go to educate myself outside of my own front door, spread my wings, stand on my own two feet and see how it worked out. I was lucky and I acknowledge that. After six years I was able to return to Ireland.
However, those years have been very good for me – not just academically, but in all the many things they taught me. Mostly about myself.
No one of any age should be forced to leave their home.
However, for a 20-year-old with his whole life ahead of him, moving away for a while can be the greatest gift in the world.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/emigration-is-heartbreaking-but-going-abroad-to-stretch-your-wings-can-be-uplifting-41990228.html Emigration is heartbreaking, but going abroad to spread your wings can be uplifting