A view of a middle-aged men wearing a checked shirt looking serenely at camera against a red wall background.
Carlos Carrascal. Image: Johnson & Johnson

‘When moving abroad, don’t be afraid of change’

8 May 2019

Transitions can be exciting and unnerving in equal measure. Yet for Carlos Carrascal, a senior web developer at the Johnson & Johnson EMEA Development Centre, moving from Spain to Limerick was enjoyable for myriad reasons.

No one likes wading into the unknown. If you looked down and realised you were at the precipice of dark, swirling depths of water and couldn’t see the bottom, you’d seize up. You’d hesitate before diving in. It’s the same with moving abroad.

Uprooting your life to go somewhere where you may not have family or friends is incredibly daunting. If you can get past that initial trepidation, however, you stand to benefit for so many reasons, just as Johnson & Johnson’s Carlos Carrascal did.

We chatted to Carrascal about his move from Madrid to Limerick and got some of his best tips for making a transition such as moving go as smoothly as possible.

Where are you from and what’s it like there?

I’m from Madrid, the capital city of Spain. As can be expected with any large city, it has its own pros and cons. There are lots of services, restaurants, activities and amenities, but there are drawbacks such as traffic, long distances, increasing real-estate prices and so on.

How long ago did you relocate and what prompted your decision?

I have been in Ireland for almost three years now, and really my decision to relocate was a combination of three key factors.

At the time, unemployment rates in Spain were very high which was making it difficult for my wife to get a good job, having just relocated from Colombia.

Due to my age and experience, I felt my career was pivoting towards a management path but, as I was enjoying my work I wanted to continue working on the development side or acting as a technical team lead rather than working on PowerPoint presentations.

Finally, I was spending over two hours commuting to work every day. My life was basically going from one traffic jam to the next.

Describe your role in Johnson & Johnson.

I am a senior web developer at Johnson & Johnson, and I build websites using Drupal. As a senior member in a busy team, I try to bring some reason into the madness, ensuring that we follow our coding standards and best practices, engage with our stakeholders to understand and shape requirements, prepare training, and do whatever else may come my way.

What do you like most about your job?

I consider myself very lucky as I actually love my job. There is something magical in our ability as developers to create complex applications or whole architectures when starting with nothing but just a bunch of requirements. I feel it’s a very creative process.

What were the biggest challenges of relocating and how did you overcome them?

The first major step was to find a home in a new country and settle into a new life completely. This means meeting new friends, developing new routines, adapting to new hobbies and more.

Moving here with my wife certainly helped as I wasn’t completely alone. One of the first things that we did when we got here was to get a dog. This was a great idea as it means we go outdoors, discover new places and meet new people.

What were the major differences between your previous location and your new one?

The major difference was moving from a larger city to a small city like Limerick. It has greatly reduced my commute to work, thus giving me a greater work-life balance.

How does your working life and other supports help to make you feel at home there?

Everybody here at Johnson & Johnson has been very supportive. We have a strong sports and social club, which has given me great opportunity to meet, socialise and build strong relationships with my co-workers.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

I have really enjoyed moving from a small apartment to a big house with a garden. Limerick offers many cultural attractions, including cinema, theatre, museums, concerts, walking tours, boat rides and a wide variety of sports amenities. There is also lively atmosphere in traditional pubs, discos and restaurants, so there is something for everybody!

What advice would you give to others who are planning to relocate for work?

Don’t be afraid of change.

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