Having roots in more than one country across the world is a privilege many of our student ambassadors enjoy, whether it’s because they have made Dublin their new home having lived overseas, or because their family combines a few different cultures. Here Sally gives her perspective on the benefits and challenges of a multicultural lifestyle:
I’m half Irish, half Sri Lankan, which is a pretty weird mix considering the two countries are across the world from each other. My parents met somewhere in the middle, in Iran. As well as this already-confusing mix, I grew up in 4 very different places: Iran, Australia, India and Ireland.
Living within different cultures has many bonuses. I’m slow to judge, tolerant, and curious. I like asking people about their background and embrace differences rather than shun them. I have clothes from 12 different countries hanging in my wardrobe and my mum makes food from 3 different continents on a regular basis. I feel at home talking to a wide range of people from all backgrounds, ages and places. I’ve picked up a smattering of Hindi, Thai, French, Greek and more, at least enough to say ‘How are you?’ I get to brag about the places I’ve seen while standing on a path of wanderlust myself.
There are downsides too. Being from different places means that while one place is technically home, it always feels like there’s something missing. Sometimes I feel like I don’t 100% fit the place I’m currently in, as I’m trying to recreate the others. People question my accent, my previous schools and trying to explain is often longer than the 30 seconds it is socially acceptable to give the answer in. So when people asked me where I was from I used to say ‘Ireland’.
Now I’ve learned to say more. To embrace my own differences. I tell people, with a smile on my face, that I’m from a little bit of everywhere. I take longer than 30 seconds to explain, and if they look bored I let them move on without taking offense. I’ve learned that you can have more than one home and that your heart can reside in many different places at once. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully feel settled, but maybe that’s a good thing. We’re in a world that’s embracing globalism and change, and if that makes us more open as people then I’m all for it.
Sally is a third year Psychology student working as a Student Ambassador in the Global Room.