I’ve been blogging on and off since high school, but I figured that since I’m an “adult” now I should probably make a few changes. My previous blogs have had cheesy titles, and equally cheesy themes so hopefully this new blog will be a bit more refined. Or at the very least, more aesthetically pleasing.
As a recent graduate with no definite plans, my entire life is up in the air at the moment. Before graduation I kept joking with the many [annoying] people who constantly were asking me “what’s next for you?” that my plans only went as far as April 30th, because that was the date of my graduation celebration dinner. I wasn’t kidding. The only thing I’ve had on my calendar since that date was a personal training session at the gym the other day, which I’m still recovering from.
When I was growing up I always imagined that I’d go to college, and have a job already set up by the time I graduated. As my college career was winding down I realized that this probably wasn’t going to happen. 12-year-old Caitlin would have been horrified at the thought that I don’t really know what I’m doing, but 22-year-old Caitlin has come to understand that life doesn’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay.
During the fall of 2015 I took a semester off from school to go to Ireland for an internship, and for a chance to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. School, as well as personal issues had been weighing me down, and the change of scenery was exactly what I needed. I learned so much during the months I spent in Ireland (enough to warrant an entire blog, but unfortunately I was too busy playing UNO and drinking Smithwick’s to properly chronicle my experiences. Live in the moment, right?) but I didn’t really figure out what my next step in life was going to be. I just knew I had to go back to Ireland in the future. More on that later.
My final semester at UF this past spring was pretty much a blur. In fact, my entire 4 years at UF went by a lot faster than I expected. For much of the spring term I figured I’d graduate, live in Gainesville until my lease ran out (or until I got an amazing job offer, but I figured my lease would probably run out before that…) and then move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of becoming the next Anthony Bourdain (or more accurately, his show’s producer). That plan seemed fine, and I was relatively excited to move California, but I kept having this nagging feeling that there was something that I needed to do first before going to LA.
When I was in Ireland I met a girl from my hometown who was a couple of years older than me that had been in Ireland for almost a year. She was living and working there under this working holiday agreement between the US and Ireland. Under the agreement, any student or recent graduate from the United States can get work authorization so that they can legally live and work in Ireland for up to 12 months. This seemed like a cool idea, but I didn’t know how feasible it was for me.
However, as I got closer to my graduation I just couldn’t shake the idea of spending a year in Ireland. Every time I researched apartments and jobs in Los Angeles I also found myself searching for flats in Dublin. I broached the subject with my parents over margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, and expressed to them how serious I was about spending a year abroad before I try to make it in Los Angeles. I didn’t have any solid job prospects in LA, but I do have a strong desire to travel. I knew that if I moved out to LA and began working, it could be YEARS before I’m able to travel again. I will never be as untied-down (I’m making this a phrase) as I am right now, and the working holiday agreement between the US and Ireland is only for people who have attended university in the last 12 months. It’s now or (possibly) never for me to try to live abroad.
My parents were incredibly supportive about my idea. I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all they did let me take a semester off during my senior year of college to go live in a county where I only knew one person, but I fully expected them to tell me I was crazy. I’m incredibly thankful for all of the support they have given me, because there’s no way I’d be able to do this without them. With their approval, I immediately began working on my application for a working holiday authorization (or WHA as I will call it from here on out). As of yesterday, my WHA application has been submitted.
So this is where my adventure, and this blog, begins.
P.S. To the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, if you’re reading this then please approve my application and let me into your country. Thx.