On July 30, 2016 I woke up in a hotel room in Gainesville, went to visit The Swamp one last time and got Chick-fil-a on the way to the Orlando Airport. I said a tearful goodbye to my parents and tried to stop crying before I got to the TSA Agent checking my passport, so he wouldn’t think I was being human trafficked or something. I called my friend Matt from the gate and cried about how terrified I was, because the reality of moving to a different country on my own was finally hitting me as I prepared to board my flight to Dublin.
I got on the flight and sat in my middle seat, excited for my new adventure, but a large part of me was questioning whether I had made the right decision in moving to Ireland after college. Up until a few months prior, my plan had been to move to Los Angeles following graduation and take any job remotely related to the film industry to begin my career in production. Growing up in the environment that I did, attending good schools and having parents who both went to college, you are expected to get good grades, go to a good college and then get a job after graduation. Your whole life is a build-up to that, but instead during the week of my graduation I chose to move to a place where I knew very few people, had no place to live, and no job.
I remember when I arrived at Dublin Airport the weather was a bit like it is today. Fairly warm, humid and threatening to rain. I had a chatty taxi driver who wished me luck on my year here, and I walked up to my Airbnb trying my best to drag all 3 suitcases I brought with me at once. I got into my tiny room, sat down on the bed and started to cry again. I think in my whole life I had never been so unsure about a decision I had made until that day. In the span of a week I had packed up my childhood bedroom and driven out of the driveway of the house I grew up in for the last time, packed up my college apartment, said goodbye to my hometown, friends and family, and moved to this county that I love but was suddenly terrified of. It was an overwhelming spiral of thoughts and emotions to say the least. I had never felt so homesick, and I’d only been away from home for less than a day. I may have been an emotional wreck, but I am also stubborn. It was my dream to move to Ireland and I had spent so much time, money and effort on getting myself here so I was going to try to enjoy myself. That first day, week, and really the first four months of my time here were extremely difficult, and I truly did not think I would be able to make it a year here. However, a year on I have made it and I can confidently say that moving to Dublin was the best decision I could have made.
Over the past year I have lived in two apartments, had 8 jobs, drank an unknown number of pints and have met some people who have unequivocally changed my life. This year has not been without its challenges. Immigration is a pain, opening a bank account here took me 3 months, finding a full-time job took me 5 months, and I’m still trying to figure out how beans on toast is an acceptable food item. I have only seen my parents for one week out of the last 52, and I have not seen any of my friends from home since last July. I miss The Top, chicken tender subs, air conditioning, beaches where you don’t need a wetsuit, tubing on the Ichetucknee, and the indescribable feeling I get when cheering for the Gators at a home football game. I miss Sunday night dinners and Wednesday night Tall Paul’s. I miss driving my car down my favorite roads, and playing corn hole by the lake. I miss home, but now Dublin is my home and I know I will miss it too when I’m back in the States for a month. I’ll drink Guinness from a can, watch Brooklyn and listen to “The Fields of Athenry” counting down the days until I return in September.
My second year in Ireland will surely bring its own new set of challenges. I’m going back to school, and while I will certainly be able to slip back into the role of “student” (I still use my student ID now to get discounts) studying was never my strongest skill. I’ll have to find a new apartment, get a part-time job, make new friends and learn how to be a filmmaker but for now I’m excited to spend a month with my parents in their new home.
When I was 10 I won an award at school for perseverance. At the time, my teacher found it funny that I didn’t even know what that word meant. Even after learning the definition of the word over a decade ago I’m not sure I totally understood what perseverance was until this past year. Through every job I didn’t get and bad day I faced I refused to give up on being here. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it a year here on my own, and I did it. Of course, I was able to do so with the help of many people, namely my parents, but still. I got to spend Paddy’s Day in Dublin, see U2 in Croke Park, visit the Cliffs of Moher on possibly the most beautiful day of the year, enjoy a pint by the canal, had a second Irish Thanksgiving and a first Irish Christmas, went to a secret bar, and I got to meet some people I will never forget. This year may have been difficult at times, but those experiences have made it all worth it. Now I’m intrigued by the future, rather than absolutely terrified of it, and that’s a good start.
See you soon, Dublin.