BRAZILIAN journalist Edilaine Simeoni Apolinário came to Cork in 2016 without a word of English, but just a few years later is settled in Sunday’s Well, working in Telus and dating West Cork woman Caoimhe.
“I came to Cork seeking something new. Seeking change, opportunities, new beginnings,” Edilaine said.
Chatting to The Echo, Edilaine said her time in Cork has been filled with hard work mixed with a lot of luck.
The Brazilian, who has Italian blood thanks to her mother, told the story of how she got her first job in Cork, and the stress she was under at the time.
“Just two months in Cork I got an interview for a babysitter position in Ballincollig.
“I had no idea how I’d get there to meet up with the mother of the kids. Also, I had no clue how I would communicate with her during our interview since my English was level zero.
“Well, I had already left everything behind. My comfort zone, my career and most importantly the fear. So, I did some research on where I should drop off from the bus and a few sentences so I could talk to Mary and explain to her how much I needed that job.”
Thankfully for Edilaine, Mary was just the woman she needed to meet.
“For my luck (I guess) she was a teacher and I believe this was one of the reasons she could sympathise with this stranger from far away who couldn’t speak much.
“She said so many things that day and I could only nod my head agreeing and smiling all the time.
“After that conversation in a coffee place I understood that she wanted me to meet her son Seán and see how things would work out for us. So we did.
“We met a few days later in Ballincollig Park and it was simply perfect. Seán was full of life, extremely intelligent but most of all, gentle.
“I knew from that afternoon that we would be great friends. He was only a year and half and he was learning how to speak and read. So was I! It was the perfect job for me.
“We learned together. We grew together. He taught me new games, new words, then, later on, new phrasal verbs. His grandmother, a strong and beautiful Irish woman, brought me some newspapers to read.
“Always encouraging me to learn more and more. That family opened their houses and hearts to this Italian Brazilian young woman who was a complete stranger to them. And after all these years we are still in contact.”
After leaving her babysitting job and a year of lessons at Cork English Academy, Edilaine got a job as a cleaner in a playground and in a few pubs in the city centre.
“I met so many good and fun people but also met others who would tell me to go back to my country.
“I met some who would appreciate it so much when I was cleaning the pub toilets that they would say ‘oh wow, the toilets are spotlessly clean. You’re a star!’ and others that would think I was an invisible immigrant.”
Edilaine said she learned a lot from these experiences.
“The moral of the story is we will always meet people who will be life-changing, great, good, less good, horrible, cruel, mean.
“But we have to remember that they don’t define us. We can do everything we want if we have the courage, some tolerance and focus on what we want to achieve.
“And I wanted Cork to be my home and what made me stay was all the experience along the way. The good and bad.”
Now here four years, Edilaine said she is certain she would like to stay here.
“There is so much about Cork that I love, actually. But the most prominent reason I’d say is the feeling of being at home.
“The freedom I felt here that I never felt before. The way things are lighter and easier at the end of the day.”
Edilaine said she is obsessed with West Cork, which she described as a “magical place.”
The 29-year-old also spent time studying Advanced languages and Global Communications at UCC, a time she said she really enjoyed.
“I am a person who loves to learn new things and being in touch with intelligent people. I guess one of the best memories I had in Cork was during my time studying in UCC. There I met so many women (among professors and students) who have impacted me in such a bright way. Women who inspired me to be whatever I want to be and for that, I will be forever grateful.”
Edilaine said she does miss her family, her parents, her three brothers and nephews and nieces, while she tries to get home when she can, she loves the calmness of Ireland and the stability of the country here.
“I can see myself staying here, I would love to live in Castletownbere, It is so beautiful there.”