One Year Later…

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.

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Time for an update!

I haven’t updated this blog in months so I think it’s time for a bit of an update on my life since I last wrote. First off, I won’t be leaving Ireland this month as originally planned. I will be going back to the states at the end of July, but come September I’ll be headed back to Dublin to attend Trinity College and pursue a master’s in Film Studies. I’m thrilled to be spending another year or so in Ireland, and I can’t wait to go back to school (and can’t believe I’m saying that).

The last three months have flown by. I think the combination of working a lot and wanting to make the most of my time here has kept me incredibly busy which makes time pass so quickly. Before I found out I had been accepted to Trinity I was worried that these last few months really were my last few months and I was not ready to leave. My first few months here were definitely a challenge, but once I found my place here I couldn’t imagine leaving Dublin so soon. I’ll get on to what I’ve been up to since April…

April

For my first 9 months of living in Ireland I had not left this island. I was starting to get stir crazy, but since I didn’t have a fully time job until December I didn’t really have the resources to do a lot of traveling until I’d been working for a bit. For my first trip outside of Ireland I decided to go somewhere really exotic and different…Scotland. A country you can literally see from Ireland on a clear day.

I went to Edinburgh which was even more beautiful than I imagined. Dublin has some great Georgian architecture, but overall isn’t exactly a city you visit for its looks. Edinburgh, however, is stunning. Something about the old stone and lines of the buildings there, combined with tiny hidden streets is so intriguing to me. I spent most of my time just wandering the streets, although I did visit Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.

I also took a day trip to the Highlands where I visited Loch Ness, saw a lot of beautiful scenery and spent a lot of time on a bus.

My trip was so short, and there’s so much to see in Edinburgh so I’d definitely like to go back sometime soon.

May

At the beginning of May Grace and I were growing a bit weary of the endless rain and grey, so we tried to cheer ourselves up by experiencing a bit of culture. I finally went to visit the Book of Kells, and let me tell you I was a bit disappointed. Every tour guide I’ve ever had in Dublin has said it is a must-see while in Dublin, but in my opinion it can be skipped. The exhibit is so crowded with school trips and tourists that you can’t really enjoy the exhibit, the book is small and you have to push your way close enough to see it, and it just wasn’t worth the ticket price. You do get to see inside the library, which is beautiful, but I think the money would have been better spent on a ticket to an exhibit at the National Gallery, or even just a few pints probably would’ve provided more entertainment.

In May I also went to Durrow for a few days which is always nice. Much of the rest of the month was spent avoiding rain, sitting in the sun when it would finally decide to come out, and working.

June

In June I finally made it to the Guinness Storehouse. For Valentine’s Day this year my mother got me a couples ticket to the Storehouse from a Valentine’s Day Excursion website, which was thoughtful but also a fun reminder that I was single on Valentine’s Day and didn’t actually have anyone to take with me. I could have brought a friend, but seeing as I (thankfully) have more than one friend It would have had to choose just one and I didn’t want to have to make that decision. It only took me 4 months to find a date to bring with me. I learned how to pour the perfect pint, and spent entirely too long in the gift shop.

The rest of June was spent trying out new bars, playing pool, losing at board games and enjoying summer weather. June is also when I found out that I’d been accepted at Trinity, and since I now knew what my future was going to hold (for the next year at least) I felt less stressed about what I was going to do with my life and more excited for what my second year in Dublin will bring.

July

The beginning of July was a bit rocky. A few weeks earlier my roommates told me that our lease was up, and they would not be re-signing so I needed to find a new place to live on quite short notice. As I did not find out about Trinity until the very end of June, I was still basing my decisions on leaving Dublin on July 31st and hopefully making my way back at some unknown point in the future. That meant I needed to find a place to live for just July. Finding a place in Dublin to rent is hard enough, but finding a place for one month that perfectly matches the dates you require is next to impossible. There was one listing for a place that suited my needs, and thankfully I secured it. Over the last 11+ months I have somehow acquired twice the amount of belongings that I first came here with, so moving was a bit of a hassle. Due to various circumstances I ended up having to move on my own, and I had to use 2 taxis and a lot of running back and forth to get all my stuff into the new place. Now that I’m settled into my new place I’m already thinking about having to pack up my stuff, find a place to store it until September and then finding a new place to live for the school year.

I also celebrated 4th of July for the first time out of the US. I did get a free pint (with proof of US ID, apparently my accent and general demeanor weren’t enough proof) and had a great time going out with my friend Anne, but I missed celebrating the Fourth back home.

This weekend I’m attending Longitude which is a music festival held in Marlay Park in Dublin. Yesterday we saw The Weeknd which was a great show, and tonight is Mumford & Sons which I’m extremely excited for. None of us had ever been to a music festival before, so it has an experience. Never before had we seen so much bad fake tan, weird outfits or boobs. The people watching between sets is almost more entertaining than some of the performances.

So that’s a brief synopsis of what I’ve been up to the last few months. I’m feeling excited to be back in the States for a bit, because now that I’m coming back to Ireland in September for school it will feel like a real summer vacation. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with my parents, and hopefully getting back to Florida to get a Pub Sub and visit a beach that doesn’t require a wet suit to enter the water.

It’s a nice day so I’m not going to spend any more of it inside writing this, but I will try to post more regularly because my next year here should bring a lot of new experiences and adventures for me to document (maybe in video form this time), and I can’t wait to see what year two in Dublin will bring.