In this week’s Across the Water, Martin Grant talks to Aisling Hoey, originally from Haggardstown, now living in Chengdu, China.
I am originally from Gibstown which is near Haggardstown, Dundalk.
Parents names and names of family?
My parent’s names are Larry and Cynthia Hoey. My sister is called Sinead and my 2 and a half year old nephew is called Alex.
When did you leave and why?
I left in the middle of August 2013. My main reason for leaving was because I wanted to try something that was out of my comfort zone, and also so I could get experience in something new. I felt teaching would be a great way to build my confidence. I love learning about new cultures and countries so I thought teaching would be a great way to learn about China.
What’s your occupation?
At the moment, I am working in a college situated in Chengdu, China. I teach English to students aged between 18-22. The students are lovely and I love teaching them about my hometown and Ireland.
What’s the biggest difference in settling into your new home?
The biggest difference settling into my new home is getting used to their customs, way of life, and of course their language. It is quite a challenge trying to order food from a Chinese person who doesn’t speak a word of English.
Is the social life much different from home?
The social life is a little different from home. Their social life is very much centred around food, where they would usually go for a typical Sichuan dish and then they would go singing. Chinese people love singing, so they would spend a lot of time singing in karaoke’s until late at night!
How do you like to relax?
When I am free, I love to read books on my Kindle, catch up on TV series like The Walking Dead and Greys Anatomy, or watch a film with my Chinese friends in their apartment. I also enjoy going for a walk around the town near our college.
Have you been home since leaving and what changes have you noticed?
No I haven’t been home since I left.
What’s the best and worst things about being away from home?
The best thing about being away from home is the freedom I have. I can decide what I want to do or where I want to go.The worst thing is missing my family. I miss watching my little nephew growing up.
Have you plans in the future to return home to Ireland for good?
Although I love Ireland and its my home country, I’m really enjoying living in China. If the economy gets better that would make me want to return home. At the moment finding a job at home is relatively hard, so I think the best option for me is to stay in China until the Irish economy gets better.
Name one thing from home that you wish you could buy in your local store?
I think the one thing that I wish I could buy here is bread. I miss Irish bread! Chinese bread is extremely sweet so it is more like cake. I miss having a proper sandwich or toast.
Have you a message for your friends and family?
My message for my friends and family is to come and visit me. China is completely different to Ireland and I would love them to come and experience China like I have, I know they will love it.
The Dundalk Democrat will compile an Across the Water Special for our Christmas Edition. Local people who are spending Christmas away from their loved ones are invited to send messages home through Across the Water.