Why did you move here? Bi-national relationship advice – Anne-Louise’ story.
- Tell me a bit about yourself! I’m Anne-Louise, a 33 year old jewelry designer from Canada. I currently live in a small village on the east coast of Ireland located 5 minutes –walking distance!- from the sea. I make mixed media jewelry mostly from upcycled vinyl records, silver and aluminum. What is my passion? Well I sure am passionate about my work which I don’t really consider a “job” because I enjoy it so much. I absolutely love my creative lifestyle as well as the freedom that being my own boss brings me. When I am not in my workshop, you will find me outside enjoying the outdoors; I love hitting the trails and going for hikes.
The first person I interviewed after sharing my own story with you, is my awesome sister-in-law Anne-Louise. She met her Irish partner just half a year after I met Guillaume, so our stories often felt very similar which meant we could always support each other. I remember role-playing situations with immigration officers and long emails. She’s an eco-conscious jewellery designer and successful handmade business owner. Her brand Les Creations d’Ana is just as colourful and sparkly as her life in Ireland and Canada.
Here’s what she has to say:
- Have you always lived where you live now? I grew up in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec. I’ve travelled and lived in a few different countries. Yep I love travelling; it is actually on a trip that I have met my partner Ronan. As he is Irish, we decided to settle in Ireland for now, which suits both of us very well. I guess choosing a country where to live just happened naturally. Considering I make my living selling my jewelry online, my physical location in the world does not really matter. The nomad in me is certainly thrilled to be living in Ireland. Plus, I quite enjoy the mild Irish winters while Ronan is not too fond of the loooong cold Quebec winters.
- How & when did you meet your partner? Our paths crossed back in 2009 -on Halloween day!- in beautiful New Zealand where we were both travelling on our own. We were staying at the same hostel and I remember vividly that we met around dinner time as we were both respectively cooking a glorious dinner of instant noodles –a well known backpacker’s specialty-. We then spent a few weeks travelling together but had to part ways as we were both at different stages on our respective trips. He returned to Ireland shortly after while I stayed in NZ for a few more months. In that period, we regularly stayed in touch through long emails.
- When and how did you know it was serious? When he visited me in Quebec in 2010, I guess it was the beginning of something more serious as he was coming over from Ireland to visit ME! Oh I remember being so nervous, not really knowing what to expect. After all the emails we had exchanged I was also very excited to see him again. We then went on a few trips together; camping in the Maritimes and backpacking in Central America, which, I guess proved that there definitely was compatibility in the air. So we passed the test; Frenchie and Irishie were a good match and it was serious heehee! And then of course it became more and more serious as we went.
- Did you have to spend time apart? Oh yes did we have to spend time apart! In the first years we were together, we spent time in each other’s country on tourist visas. That meant we had to leave after the duration of the visas which is why we had to spend time apart many times. Six months is the longest we had to spend away from each other, which I found quite hard! Really! I’d say that frequent Skype calls is what helped me keep my sanity.
- What’s most challenging about immigrating into another country? Paperwork! Phew, that was a lot of work. We applied for a “De Facto Relationship Visa” so I could stay in Ireland as a resident. The binder we submitted was 2 inches thick –at least!-, full of evidence that we had been together for over 2 years. The 8 month wait to hear from immigration was also quite painful. The day we did receive a positive answer, no need to say we were quite ecstatic and relieved!
- What do you love about your bi-national relationship experience? Having the opportunity to be living in Ireland and to be learning about my host country is great. I’m officially in love with the west of Ireland and I quite enjoy going for little trips there. It is wild and rugged and I like it. Apart from that, mmm, well, I love to hike amongst the nervous sheep, I love to go to old charming pubs, I love to dance in the rain, I love to eat colcannon, I love to look at the glorious rainbows, you know things that I probably wouldn’t be doing if I wasn’t in a bi-national relationship with Ronan the Irishman.
- What advice could you give other people in similar situations? First, I would say DON’T PANIC because the whole process of immigrating to a new country can be quite stressful. It does involve a lot of paperwork! Address the situation with a clear head and do a lot of research so that you know what your options are. Communication certainly is key here; know what you and your partner want and what suits the two of you best so that everybody’s happy with the situation.
- What are your 3 favourite words? “Handmade” would definitely be one of them because it defines a way of living I cherish. I am lucky enough to be able to earn a living selling my handcrafted jewelry, which I am very grateful for. There is so much work involved in the designing and making of unique items, please do encourage handmade! /“Slainte!” It means “Cheers” in Irish Gaelic. To me, that word represents the strong Irish pub culture which is quite different from the one in Quebec. I am still impressed at how alive it is in Ireland although it supposedly isn’t as “alive” as it used to because of the economic slowdown./ “RRR”, well the three “R’s” of the eco-movement: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, because, well, it just makes so much sense!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Anne-Louise!
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,