Residents of 177 Clonliffe Road enjoy a sunny day
across the street from the house. During the first lockdown in Dublin, travels were only allowed within a 2km radius from one’s residence. From left to right: Bárbara, who moved right after quarantine began, Jonathan, Daiane, Carla, Pedro, Jéssica and Beatriz. Quarantine found me in very peculiar circumstances. I had just moved to Dublin after leaving Belo Horizonte, my hometown in Brazil, with no plans other than seeing what was out there. After almost a month of looking for the unicorn that is an affordable place relatively close to the city center, I got out of a cab with two backpacks I could barely carry on my own, and was met at the door by two unknown men who offered to help bring my things upstairs. They were Alan and Eduardo, two of the ten strangers with whom I was suddenly trapped in a five bedroom house in Dublin 3 when lockdown started. Like them and I, Beatriz, Everton, Jonathan, Daiane, Pedro, Carla, Felipe and Jéssica, were also newly arrived immigrants in Ireland. Ten Brazilians and one Guatemalan who, for the most part, had had no previ16 ous contact with one another before setting foot in that house - and before being confined together. Apart from Beatriz, Alan and I, everyone in the house moved to Dublin to study English, which seems to be the case for most Brazilians in town. For many of them, this opportunity was the realization of the dream of a lifetime. People spent years saving up. Some sold their car, others their furniture. Sacrifices that would be worth it once they arrived. But suddenly, a pandemic. Once Covid-19 came upon us, we were no longer allowed to leave for anything other than going to the supermarket. The place I only expected to go back to for eating, showering and sleeping, became my cloister. And a very expensive one, for that matter. Before moving to Dublin, I heard a lot about how easy it was to get a job. So did everyone else. When Brazilians move to study English in the Irish capital, it’s already implied that the 20 weekly work hours allowed by the visa will be the breadwinner granting the survival abroad. But lockdown started before most of us got the chance to even find a job. And while income was arrested, the bills kept coming. The first couple of weeks of quarantine found most of us weeping and panicking, checking numbers and trying to negotiate with an irresponsive real estate agency. The house was not ready to accommodate so many people. The sole table, used for eating, studying and working, was never empty – and never silent. There were only six chairs, even though we were eleven, because the agency guaranteed we would never all have meals at the same time.