31–year–old Lyndsey Doherty works in digital marketing and has spent the best part of a decade living in England and Germany. Last August, Lyndsey decided it was time to move back to Belfast.
After finishing university the first thing I did was get a job, save up and go travelling. I went all around South America, South–East Asia. When I eventually came back, I decided it was time to get a ‘real’ job with a view to building a career.
I slowly realised after nine months that my employment prospects weren’t too great. As they didn’t show any signs of improving I applied for a Masters in Gender and Media at the University of Sussex and ended up living in Brighton for a few years.
As much as I enjoyed life in Brighton, I wanted to go travelling. So I saved hard, packed my bags and flew to Asia with not much of a plan in mind for what to do afterwards. My boyfriend at the time was German so we ended up moving to Berlin.
I’d never lived in a country where English wasn’t the first language but I thought the best thing to do was to go to language school. I took intensive language classes five days a week for three hours a day. I went every evening, 5 o’clock to 8 o’clock. It was great. I met so many people who were in the same situation as me – recently moved to Berlin who were learning German and who had come from all over the world.
Berlin is quite an international city so there are jobs available in my line of work that you only need to speak English for. I managed to find one of those after about two and a half months.
One of the friends I had made in the language classes also sang in a choir. He invited me along one Thursday evening and I didn’t look back. I went every week after that for about two and half years and I ended up becoming lead alto!
We did lots of street festivals and things like that doing a kind of acapella–pop–hip–hop choir. The choir was also a great way to meet more German people, even if all of our songs were in English. Projekt Kiezchor (neighbourhood choir)
I had a good life there, plenty of friends and things to do but I never really thought I would stay there forever. I didn’t love Germany. I liked some things about it but as somewhere to live forever, I knew it wasn’t Berlin. There was no where else in Germany that overly appealed to me as somewhere that I could live the life that I wanted to.
Turning 30 was a pivotal moment. I thought, “do I want to live in Germany for the rest of my life?” I had other things going on in my personal life and wasn’t enjoying my job as much any more. Things had gone a bit stale. I looked about for something else but couldn’t find anything that interested me that much. I also knew that learning German to a level where I could converse properly in a professional environment would take years, so that sort of restricted things.
I always liked the idea of moving back to Belfast at some point and ideas of what it would be like living back at home started to creep in more and more often. It’s where I’m from, it’s where my family are from and I love it.
Don’t get me wrong, Berlin is cool but it’s also a big, dirty, busy city with 3.5 million people in it. It’s the biggest city I’ve ever lived in. If you want to go somewhere nice for the day you’re options are pretty limited. If you want to go to the beach or into the countryside it’s three hours on the train. In Northern Ireland, everywhere is close. We’re spoilt for choice.
Once I’d made the final decision to move home I was really excited. I didn’t make a big deal of it. I didn’t have a big leaving party or anything like that, so it didn’t sink in until I got home. Then I had a bit of a panic, “I haven’t lived here in 10 years, what am I going to do here?!”.
That feeling didn’t last. I’d done a bit of research before making my final decision to come home. There seemed to be enough jobs and opportunities. I thought it would take longer than it did but in the end I managed to get the first job I interviewed for and I’ve been there ever since.
So much has happened since then. Ten days after coming home, I met a guy at a friends BBQ. We started talking and I haven’t managed to get rid of him since and now live together! My sister got married, my brother and his wife had their first child and although they live in England, I get to see my nephew a lot more than I would if I was still Germany.
I don’t have any regrets. I loved my time away and enjoyed pretty much everything but being home is great. I feel content and I know it’s where I want to be.