“Stay to the left, stay to the left, stay to the left.”
While practicing my driving, I constantly repeat these words over and over in my head to remind myself to stay on the left side of the road. Canadian driving is so different. I’ve never had to experience this “something else,” and now, sitting in the driver’s seat, I’m fully immersed, committed to this left side driving, plunging deep into my unknown.
Moving to Ireland is absolutely one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, even if only for a year. I decided to leave behind everything I knew to travel to a place where I know nothing or no one. What was I thinking ? People have called it a lot of things: exciting, amazing, brave, incredible, even envious, but now that I’m sitting in my bedroom, looking out into a world where everything’s backwards and slightly unfamiliar, the words that come to mind most are “absolute insanity.”
Change is always petrifying. Whether it’s breaking up with your boyfriend, changing the colour of your hair, trying a new dish, or changing your address, it’s always extremely intimidating to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar. The bigger the change, the bigger the adjustment. And through the process, as with any change, we always go back and forth on whether or not it’s the best decision. But the thing is, we’ll never really know the answer to this question without trying it out, and completely committing ourselves to the process. That’s what’s important to remember.
There are always ways to cope when change is occurring. Moving to a new country, everything is completely different and culture shock is an incredibly real phenomenon. I promise, you will have at least 5 or 80 freak-outs between the pre and post trip to such a big move, whether you thought you knew what you were getting yourself into or not. It’s important to just keep going. Power through the change, and don’t look back. Constantly checking social media and talking to the people you left behind 24/7 is probably the worst thing you can do. Get out in the world. Familiarize yourself with the norms and, after a while, they won’t seem so scary. Curling up in the fetal position will not save you here. You’re the one who decided to take the plunge and do something different. Something so incredible and life-changing. Pumping the brakes and switching back to what you knew, to what’s “normal,” won’t get you anywhere, and you’ll miss out on the experience all together.
Try to feel comfortable: watch some of your favourite t.v. shows, read your favourite books and eat your favourite meals that remind you of home, but remember that you’re on a great new adventure and you should open yourself up to the possibility of change. Things will be different, things will be scary, things will feel strange. But without it, you’ll never know who you really are and what you’re truly capable of. Without it, you’ll never have, do, or know more than you do at this very moment.
So, remember to just keep driving on. “Stay to the left, stay to the left, stay to the left,” and sooner or later, you won’t be able to remember how you possibly drove any other way.