‘It’s hard to park your qualifications when you move to Ireland’

New to the Parish: Daniel Ricci moved to Waterford in 2018 to ‘live a different life’

Daniel Ricci, who had trained as a journalist but began working as language tutor, was married, and owned an apartment in Florianopolis, a large city in the south of Brazil. But he knew he wanted to live abroad.

“I felt like I was working, working, working and I didn’t see any prospect like I wasn’t able to put some money aside, everything was so expensive,” Ricci says.

Ricci had lived in New Zealand and the United States for about three years in the middle of his college course and says that had he done that before he started studying business and public communications, he doubts he would have followed that career path.

Regardless, he finished the course and worked in the industry for a while, before changing direction and becoming a tutor.

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Some of his family members had gone through the process of obtaining Italian citizenship because their great-grandparents had moved from Italy to Brazil and set up a life there.

Ricci decided to do the same thing.

“I was 32-33, so I said I’m not going to adventure in another country in Europe and have to find a sponsorship and a job and a way to be legal”, he says, explaining why he chose to get his citizenship instead of going the visa route.

Ricci spent a year gathering and translating all the documents to organise his citizenship before going to Italy to finalise things, and his husband moved to Waterford in the meantime.

“He flew straight to Dublin, then went to Waterford. We never lived in Dublin and he started studying English as a second language on a student visa while I was in Italy doing all the paperwork. Once I finished that I spent six months in Italy, then I came to Ireland to join him,” Ricci says.

Ricci studied part-time for a Fetac level-five qualification in healthcare support in 2019, and when the pandemic hit, the Waterford coffee shop where he worked as a barista closed.

“I’m friends with a nurse from Portugal. She was working as a nurse in a residential [centre] for people with disabilities, intellectual and physical. So she said, Daniel, we’re looking for people, do you want to [come work here]?” he says.

“They basically were hiring loads of people as Covid contracts, like temporary contracts, so I think I got in the worst period, I got in on a temporary Covid contract and I just loved it, and I thought like, after going through that period of Covid for a year and working sometimes 60 hours a week [in] full PPE, all the gear and everything, I said look I’ve gone through this, so I think I’m for the role.”

He then decided to move forward with a career in healthcare, upskilling and studying a level seven in autism studies in University College Cork (UCC), and is currently studying facilitating inclusion and disability studies in UCC also.

“It’s hard to park your qualifications, even when I moved here, I was working in a coffee shop and I was proud of it, it was great, I met people and improved my English and was in contact with people every day,” Ricci says.

“But it’s hard sometimes to listen [to people asking] oh yeah, but what are you doing? You have a level nine in Brazil and you’re working as a barista, and like you are over 30 years of age. Sometimes you question yourself, if you’re going the right route”.

“But I was just happy at the moment settling in, because when you move countries, you’re kind of born again, so I had to do my driver’s licence again, even though I’ve been driving in Brazil for years, so I restarted everything again, bank account, whatever, so it was tough at the beginning, but it was worth it.”

In 2021, Ricci and his husband broke up and divorced, and soon after, Ricci met his current partner, Pearse Coulter.

Ricci’s current partner lived abroad for 18 years before moving back home to Ireland and that has helped them bond, as he is open-minded and “understood as well where I stand here as an immigrant”, Ricci says.

“I think the struggles were basically, first cultural, to adjust to the climate, to the weather or whatever, but that’s what was expected, I did the homework before coming so it doesn’t bother me much,” Ricci says.

Things that irritate Irish people also annoy Ricci, he says, referring to housing and the cost of rent. One thing he noticed upon the move though, was the lack of restaurants open late.

“You go to a restaurant, and they only take bookings until half eight or eight, so you can’t eat in a pub after eight because they’re not serving any more and you’re coming from a country that all restaurants are open until 12 o’clock, those are small things, but I can’t consider that a struggle,” he said.

“Apart from missing family and my parents growing older and I’m not there, I’m not spending time with them, those things, sometimes you question, is it worth it to be here, away from your family.”

“Sometimes it’s a love and hate relationship and I would describe, you learn to love Ireland. In my opinion it’s not a country that when you arrive in Dublin Airport and you fall in love with it straight away, like love at first sight – it at least didn’t happen with me,” he says.

“It’s very personal, I arrived in Waterford on a rainy, wet day, at night, right in the middle of the city centre,” Ricci explains.

He lived in that area for a while, did not have a close group of friends, did not have a car and did not like his job at the time. But Ricci says that “when all those things are not right, it influences on how you view the place”.So he made changes to make his life easier.

He got a different job, moved to a better area, and eventually, got a car. “It slowly started changing my view on Ireland.”

“Ireland doesn’t have a great public transport, which is a fact, but now look I have a car so it will bring me to places, so I started going to different places on the weekends. I met people and then I met Irish people and then I realised okay good, Irish people, there are good and bad people in Ireland as there are in Brazil,” Ricci says.

But he tries not to generalise people either, and tries to challenge stereotypes. Ricci feels safe in Ireland, he says.

“There’s a mix of nationalities, I think it’s beneficial and because I started my career from scratch again and I was able to do that and at the same time saving some money, I didn’t [have to] give up my leisure activities.”

People often ask Ricci why he left the warm weather, beaches and his qualifications in Brazil, but he says he wanted to experience a new culture and travel.

“Irish people are very welcoming, but very reserved. But very welcoming, polite and even in a relationship, I see with Pearse now, it’s always very kind, concerned on what your feelings are, trying to make you comfortable,” Ricci says.

Ireland is his second home, he adds, stressing that Brazil will always be first.

“Even though I say, I don’t see myself living in Brazil in the next 10 years, I think it’s going to always be home,” Ricci says.

In the future, depending on circumstances, Ricci says he can see himself living part-time in Brazil and part-time in Ireland, but “sometimes circumstances change”.

“My parents are in good health now, but I don’t know, in 10 years will they be? So maybe I [would] want to be closer to them.”

You go to a big nice beach in Donegal, or sometimes we go to west Cork, which is beautiful and it’s very melancholic because it’s not as crowded as I used to see in Brazil

Ricci now loves bacon and cabbage, and takes milk in his tea, something he had never had before moving to Ireland, simple habits he has picked up along the way.

He now enjoys stopping for a coffee while out for his walks and sits down to watch the world go by.

“Here I have a more slow-paced routine, I think, that allows me to do those things.”

He loves the “beautiful scenery“, he says.

“You go to a big nice beach in Donegal, or sometimes we go to west Cork, which is beautiful and it’s very melancholic because it’s not as crowded as I used to see in Brazil, so I just found the beauty of going for a walk, even in Waterford, Tramore by the beach. We have no restaurants, it’s not overdeveloped like we are in Brazil, there’s no skyscrapers, it’s more preserved”.

“I think in Ireland you really value that, preserving nature, and not having a lot of infrastructure, and then the place is just spoiled, dirty or whatever. So those things I learned to admire, how people are connected to nature and preserving nature and even architecture.”

Another thing he found interesting about Irish people was their curiosity.

“They’re very curious to know how, why did you come here? Why? How is it there? How does that work in your country? They’re generally curious to know about you,” Ricci says.

Immigration and the blending of cultures should be celebrated, he feels.

“It’s funny like, because immigration, at the end of the 19th century, my great grandparents went from Italy to Brazil because there was a horrible crisis in Italy, no jobs, people were starving, and they went and worked in construction and built their lives in Brazil.”

“It’s so ironic because now, so many years later, I’m doing the opposite journey, going from Brazil to Europe to live a different life.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email newtotheparish@irishtimes.com or tweet @newtotheparish