Shalini Mahajan, 28, left India to study in Dublin before moving to the Reeks District and taking up a position as a Business Intelligence Developer for Fexco. Here she tells us about her new life in the Reeks District

When Shalini Mahajan made the move to the Reeks District, the one thing she didn’t expect to find was a new passion… one that would seem totally alien to her family back home in India.

“One of my colleagues was part of Killorglin Rowing Club and he asked me if I wanted to join,” she says. “I had no idea about rowing. I joined it because out of office hours, I was absolutely free with a lot of time on my hands and was looking for something to do. I blended in pretty quickly – and apart from rowing, we have a great social life. It’s been a great way to meet new friends in a new community.”

I am a coastal boat rower and practice with five other people including the cox. I’m still learning to row the scull boat and I’d love to get to the level where I can take part in competitions and regattas.

Shalini’s home in north India is relatively conservative and it’s unlikely had she stayed there, she would have taken up such an adventurous sport. “My hometown is really small and people are quite closed in their way of thinking.” she explains. “Girls really aren’t really encouraged to do any sporting activities over there. I studied in Bangalore in the south which is more liberal and it would have been more normal there, but back home, if I’d told my mum, she would have been wary about me joining a rowing club.”

Shalini moved to Dublin, leaving a career as a software developer at home, to study for a masters in Business Analytics at University College Dublin. She was attracted to the course thanks to the high level of education, the reputation of UCD and the fact it was a 12-month qualification, rather than two years. As she came to the end of her studies, she began applying for jobs, but admits she knew little about the Reeks District before she saw there were job opportunities at Fexco. 

“I didn’t know much about Killorglin when I first got the job,” she admits. “I’d heard of this beautiful place called Kerry, but that was about it. One of my seniors from my college was working here though, so when I got the interview, I asked him about working for Fexco and living here. He told me it was a small place but that is was beautiful and that it was a great company to work for – and so when I got the job offer, I decided to make the move.”

One of the things that surprised Shalini most about her move to the south-west was how open the people are compared to the big city. “Dublin is a great city, but everyone is so busy and concerned with their own lives. I’ve certainly found the people more friendly here than in Dublin. Here it feels as though people really care about you,” she says.

Her top tip for moving to a new area that’s so different to home is to talk to as many people as possible and join in with local clubs and groups. “I’m a big talker so I chat to people to try and find out what their interests are. When I moved into my apartment in Killorglin, I hooked up with a Polish girl who lived there and she recommended Aloha House which is a retreat centre in Killorglin that offers yoga classes. I’m a fitness freak and I go running by myself but I find if you have a proper class that is more useful, plus you get to socialise. That’s how you make friends.”

Read more stories from our Reflections on the Reeks series