Saturday 16 December 2017

Three physical assaults, spiralling rents and high cost of living - why Sandra is quitting Dublin to return home

"Dublin is not prepared for the influx of people coming in" - Sandra Castrese (34) from San Paulo, Brazil

Sandra Castrese (34) from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sandra Castrese (34) from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A Brazilian professional who endured three separate intimidating attacks in one year on the streets of Dublin has told how she has decided to leave Ireland.

Sandra Castrese (34) from Sao Paulo, Brazil is a digital media professional who was headhunted to come to Ireland to work here due to a skills shortage.

Ms Castrese flew into Ireland ready to receive the famed "céad míle fáilte" and gain valuable experience in her professional field, while saving some money at the same time.

However, now fed up with abuse on the streets and the high cost of living after less than a year here, the 34-year-old has decided to leave prematurely.

Sandra Castrese (34) from San Paulo, Brazil
Sandra Castrese (34) from San Paulo, Brazil

Ms Castrese was the victim of three separate and random attacks - on public transport and on O'Connell street. In one incident, she was slapped and verbally abused.

"I am afraid to get the bus and go on public transport by myself. Sometimes I feel unsafe. People say, oh she's from Brazil, it is violent there, but in Brazil there is violence because people will rob you. Here, I don't feel like I'll be robbed. But I feel afraid."

"There are a lot of stories about people being treated badly and assaults. I know 99pc of Irish people are very nice and very friendly. But when the last one happened, I thought I don't want to stay here any more."

Last month, an article in one of the biggest media outlets in Brazil, UOL, ran a feature on attacks on the streets in Dublin. Three Brazilian students told the newspaper how they had been the victims of hate crimes. One had nearly lost an eye.

Read More: 'It is sad they want us to die' - Brazil's media highlights violence against Brazilians living in Ireland

"My parents are concerned. They see that I am not happy here," Sandra said.

"When I got here I suffered some verbal attacks as well. It's just stupid people, I know the Irish people aren't like that."

"The only reason I would stay here is for my job. Ireland is very good for professionals like me. Ireland is great to bring over skilled people, but the problem is that skilled people have to pay so much money to stay here."

After a month in unsuitable, temporary accommodation, Sandra found a tiny studio apartment in Drumcondra for €680 per month. It was so tiny that there was no room for a washing machine, she said.

For now, Ms Castrese will move home to spend time with her family before she can reevaluate her career plans. She hasn't ruled out a move back to Europe. In Berlin, rents can be up to 46pc lower than in Ireland, for example, Ms Castrese said.

"Dublin is not prepared for the influx of people coming in. You can't find a place to live. The transport, if you compare it to other European cities, it's different."

"I would have to pay half my wages for a place near the city centre. It's not like I was looking for a fancy place. Dublin became unaffordable for me."

"I started to look for car insurance as well, but I would have to pay 3,000 for car insurance because I have to have a learner's permit here even though I'd been driving for ten years in Brazil," she said.

"I'm disappointed. I wasn't expected to leave. It's a good place. People are very friendly. The country is beautiful, and I would say to people that you might have a different experience to the one I had. But the cost of living is high. I would recommend it but I would say to people, maybe look for a cheaper city," she added.

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