It all started with a dream. I wanted an adventure, like the ones I’ve heard about for years from all the people who’ve fecked off to America on J1 visas. I wanted the excitement. I never thought my dream would come true, or come down to this. When I think about my inevitable journey home in September, I get a lump in my throat, for two reasons, I badly want to leave; but, I also really want to stay.
At heart, I’m a home bird, and I miss everything about Ireland.
I miss what I’m guessing is an immortal wood pigeon who lives somewhere outside my dad’s house, I’ve woken up to the deep cooing sound, every morning for as far back as I can remember.
I miss the smell in the wind on top of Tara Hill, and just standing there looking at lights twinkling in the distance.
I miss the sense of calm I’d feel while having a cup of Lyons tea in the kitchen with my family, with real milk, not this American stuff that lasts nearly two weeks and just tastes manky.
I miss the banter with my friends, slagging each other off for no good reason.
I miss being able to say craic without someone thinking I like to get high.
I miss the ‘u’ in colour.
I miss my dog.
Lamenting about Ireland aside, I feel like I’ve grown as a person since I left. Leaving my family and moving so far away was difficult, but I needed to do this, to see who I am away from what I know. So I jumped! With some help from USIT in Ireland and CIEE in America, I got my visa. I was elated! (And a bit scared).
Luckily I had some friends here already (including my boyfriend, who has been my rock through all of this) who have been a great support system. I was excited to get valuable work experience in a completely new environment.
Living in America
I’ve been living in the US for 10 months now, and America is, for lack of a better word, different.
I currently live in Fremont, Washington in the Pacific North-West, which is conveniently two hours from the Canadian border and one of the farthest places in America from Ireland. Fremont is a very quirky and cool area to live in. It has a hipster vibe and great food, and I live a five minute walk from the troll that you can see in the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You (One of my all-time favorite movies).
There’s a cool market every Sunday where you can get great food, cool bits and bobs, jewelry, frog shaped candelabras… You name it, someone has it. There are lots of breweries in the area, not to mention a shop called Pie, which solely makes amazing pie.
Did I mention it’s amazing? ‘Cause it’s pretty amazing.
(Now would be a good time to mention that if ever you want to move to America, join a gym. No really, I’m being serious – join a gym.)
It rains a lot here, which I love, and it’s very green. I’d childishly pictured America as a barren wasteland (despite having traveled to Florida when I was younger), so I was pleasantly surprised to see so much nature and life everywhere.
The work culture here is fantastic. I’m currently interning as a content marketing intern within the tech industry. Never before have I worked somewhere and not have to worry about covering my tattoos or taking out my nose ring. It’s pretty damn class.
The environment is very laid back and there’s no bitching, if someone has something to say, they say it. People are very direct here, and you need to be able to take criticism well. Honestly, it’s refreshing. There’s no sugar coating, if something is wrong or missing from your work people will point it out immediately.
What’s great about my internship is that I feel like my opinion is valued something that I haven’t always felt in work. I dove into my role headfirst and quickly felt like part of the team. To say I feel incredibly lucky is an understatement.
When I think back to the morning I left, sniveling over a McDonalds breakfast in Dublin Airport with my Dad and Sister, dreading the goodbye I was trying desperately to put off, I smile. It was probably one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to say, but I think the hello when I see them again will be worth it.. The longest I’d been away from my family before this was a couple of weeks, so this has been a huge challenge for me.
I smile a lot when I think about seeing my friends and family again, none of whom tried to stop me from coming here, because they want the best for me. I’ve never felt more grateful. I’m so happy about my decision to come here, and I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking it out. I wanted an adventure, and I really feel like I’ve had one.
Although it’s nearing the time for me to return home, I’m still living each day like the first. Soccer games, Skyscrapers, hiking, Chicago, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Japan, The Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, s’mores, new food, new friends, old friends, concerts, games, a Native American Reservation, The Pacific Ocean, Forks (Where Twilight was set, sue me!), new memories, work experience… the list of things I’ve packed into the last 10 months is endless, and although I’m running out of time, I still have many more mini-adventures pack in.
I’m nervous and excited to go home. I get butterflies just thinking about it. I’ve heard that it can be hard to re-adjust to Ireland, that life at home doesn’t measure up to the adventures of living abroad. But, I think there are adventures to be had back home, and I still have a lot of Ireland left to explore.
It will be hard to leave America but I’m looking forward to going back to the Emerald Isle. As for trouble re-adjusting after a trip abroad, I guess I’ll have to wait and see!
Written by Aideen Magee