Sunday Independent (Ireland)

‘This hard work is worth it to see my dreams come true here’

Brazil­ian-born Anelise Zanoni Car­doso says she can un­der­stand why peo­ple want to be in Ire­land

- Work–life balance · Lifestyle · Family · Social Issues · Society · Dublin · Ireland · Brazil · Atypical · Slovakia · Fun (band)

IWAS sip­ping a cup of hot choco­late in a cof­fee shop in Dublin last week when I heard voices com­ing from the kitchen. The voices were loud so I could not help hear­ing, but what struck me was that all the par­tic­i­pants in the con­ver­sa­tion spoke with for­eign ac­cents.

Just from look­ing at them I could tell that the wait­ers were all for­eign­ers as well. It dawned on me that there was prob­a­bly not a sin­gle Ir­ish per­son work­ing in the place, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of the owner.

In the last few years, Ire­land has be­come a pros­per­ous is­land at­tract­ing an army of work­ers from abroad. Peo­ple dream­ing of earn­ing a de­cent liv­ing, look­ing for an ex­pe­ri­ence abroad or only anx­ious to run away from their own coun­tries and start a new life. Maybe they plan to be here for a month or two, but end up stay­ing much longer.

I came here last Septem­ber from Brazil to im­prove my English and to ex­pe­ri­ence life away from home for six months. Six months away from my par­ents’ house, learn­ing how to sur­vive with­out my mum’s cook­ing, my sib­lings’ week­end pro­grammes and my job.

I am per­haps atyp­i­cal in that I did not come pri­mar­ily to make money; nor do I have am­bi­tions to be­come an Ir­ish cit­i­zen.

But when I first ar­rived I did take a job in a fast-food restau­rant. The money was enough to pay for my rent in Dublin and it mean that my sav­ings would not run out.

As a shop as­sis­tant I worked for two months be­hind a food counter, and it was in­ter­est­ing to be a for­eign em­ployee. There I learned how Ir­ish cus­tomers are. At first they asked the usual ques­tion when they had no­ticed my ap­pear­ance and ac­cent: “Where are you from?” The next ques­tion was al­ways: “What are you do­ing over here?”

And when I told them I was a post-grad­u­ate jour­nal­ist, they in­vari­ably asked, “Why are you work­ing here?”

I could only an­swer that it was a life ex­pe­ri­ence.

And that is true. Even if you are mid­dle class and have some sup­port from your fam­ily for your trip, it is still worth get­ting out and find­ing out about the peo­ple you are liv­ing among.

Two months pre­par­ing sand­wiches was enough to learn about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween (mostly Ir­ish) cus­tomers and (mostly for­eign) shop as­sis­tants.

Most of the time, they were friendly, though they do try to talk to you as lit­tle as pos­si­ble; and they do not, as a rule, give tips.

Those who do talk show con­cern, ask­ing how many hours I had to work and whether I was home­sick. And they mostly were po­lite, say­ing “please” and “thank you”.

Other peo­ple asked funny ques­tions, like, “Do they have mon­keys and li­ons run­ning around the streets in Brazil?” (We don’t.)

But I have to con­fess that I found peo­ple, too, who were, shall we say, as­sertive — some to the point where I al­most wanted to run away.

They would com­plain about the size of the bread, the size or colour of the cheese; they might wait un­til you had made and wrapped the sand­wich be­fore ask­ing for ex­tra in­gre­di­ents or to have the sand­wich toasted.

One day af­ter I had been work­ing for about six hours, a guy or­dered five sand­wiches and asked to ‘seed’ six slices of tomato. At first I didn’t un­der­stand what he was ask­ing for. Af­ter­wards, I couldn’t be­lieve I was re­mov­ing seeds from slices of toma­toes to make him happy.

I met a Slo­vakian girl who has been liv­ing and work­ing here for about one year. Help­ing to stuff 12- and six-inch bread rolls with veg­eta­bles and meats in a fast-food shop, she moved to Dublin with her boyfriend to earn enough money to go back to her birth­place.

They want to build their own house in Slo­vakia and have cho­sen Ire­land as the best place to earn the money to do it. So she must get up early spend the day smil­ing at the cus­tomers while work­ing very hard.

There is no such thing as a ‘sick’ day be­cause if she does not work she does not get paid, she says. And the hours are long. When I asked if she is happy, her eyes filled with tears and she said: “Some­times, I have to work stand­ing up 10 hours a day. It’s dif­fi­cult to smile be­cause I’m tired. How­ever, I try to do my best be­cause in the end of the week I get my money. It is worth it for a few months more to see my dream come true.”

When you are away from home it is an ad­ven­ture, it is fun. You are young; you are learn­ing. Mostly you work hard with­out grum­bling.

You miss fam­ily, the food you like best, your friends, part­ners and all of the home com­forts. But this can be a chal­lenge too. Think­ing about go­ing home to Brazil helps to keep me go­ing.

But when I think about it — the warm weather, the fam­ily, the familiar things — I also think about all the peo­ple there who are un­em­ployed, and I can see how it is tempt­ing to try to stretch a work­ing visit of a few months into a year or even years.

 ??  ?? THE AD­VEN­TURE ABROAD: Anelise Zanoni Car­doso is en­joy­ing life in Dublin, but she does miss plenty of things from home. Photo: David Conachy
THE AD­VEN­TURE ABROAD: Anelise Zanoni Car­doso is en­joy­ing life in Dublin, but she does miss plenty of things from home. Photo: David Conachy

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