Why reading helps you to adapt to a new culture

How literature is helping me understand the country that I’m living in 

When I first moved to Ireland, in October 2018, I was struggling a bit to understand the Irish people and culture. At some point I still am, even after almost two years living in Dublin. Although we share, to some extent, the same Western culture, each country has its own history and individualities. As many similarities as there are between Brazillians and Irish, the differences troubled me.   

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ireland from the beginning. This country truly is magical and beautiful, and the people are very friendly. But there is more to it… I felt a need to understand more about the country’s History and its people, why they are so friendly and nice, but also so gloomy and with a unique sense of humor. 

To better understand the people and the country I’m living in I decided to learn more about Irish History and culture. Knowing more about the History of Ireland definitely made things more clear to me, but what is really doing the trick is reading Irish literature. The books opened my eyes, and I finally started to understand and truly see the people from this country. Through the characters from the books I started to comprehend the people who welcomed me here. 

One book that was really important to me in this process is Nuala O’Faolain “Are you somebody”? Nuala O’Faolain (1940-2008) was an Irish woman who had a very interesting life, and worked as a journalist, writer, TV producer, book editor and teacher. In 1996 her autobiography “Are you somebody” was published, and it had a big impact in Irish society. She was able to bring up difficult themes, to speak about things people were afraid of saying out loud and she had no fear of mentioning names of real people in her life, some of them famous. Her writing is so authentic and captivating… Personally I’m not a huge fan of reading biographies, but after I started this one I couldn’t stop reading… The characters are so fascinating, Nuala sounded to me like such an amazing woman, strong and inspiring, and with no fear of speaking her mind!  I was impressed by her writing and boldness, her honesty. I would dare to say this book is raw, in a very good way. Raw because it sounds honest to the bones, like life is, or at least like it was for Nuala and many other Irish of her time.

MoLI – The Museum of Literature Ireland, located at the heart of Dublin City, recently opened an exhibition about Nuala O’Faolain, that is composed of an amazing film installation. The film is curated by June Caldwel, Irish writer and Nuala’s friend. Like the book, the film also has a kind of hypnotic feeling, that you just can’t stop watching. You can book tickets for this exhibition and more on MoLI’s website.

Photography: Chiara Rucks

“Are you somebody?” was really relevant in my ongoing journey through Irish literature, but not the only one. I have been reading many books since last year that are changing my perspective about this country – I love it more and more. 

Flora Gusmao, Brazilian Historian with MBA in Museum Management – based in Dublin, Ireland

Published by artmultibrazil

We are a group of Brazilian professionals of art and culture based in Dublin. Our goal is to make stronger the work connections between Brazilian and European professions of these areas and to amplify the artistic, cultural and Brazilian identity abroad. Follow our contact for information, partnerships and projects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: