I’ve been living here now for nearly three weeks, and things are finally starting to feel familiar. When I drive, I know how to get places. When I work, I know what’s expected of me. When people talk to me, I understand what they mean by “what do you do for a bit of craic?” (the answer, contrary to my previous suspicions, is not drug-related).
I’m glad I came here as an Au Pair. For starters, I love kids. They’re easy to talk to, and they make life fun. Looking at things from their perspective will always make you appreciate the little things more often. Secondly, it’s nice to feel apart of someone’s family when you’re so far away from your own. I’m staying with one who is very loving and accommodating. We sometimes take for granted how nice it is to have someone worry about when you’ll be home, or if you potentially get drug off by a serial killer, and I’m extremely happy I have people looking out for me.
So far, I’ve mostly just been settling in. My days consist of finding my groove and establishing a routine. During work, I wake up, get the kids breaky, clean around the house, grab them some lunch and then play whatever games they can come up with. Other days, we’ll go on outings or for day trips to various places in the area. I’ve been trying to plan out my year, ticking off the places that I want to visit against the ones I’ve been lucky enough to see, but planning during a hectic time when I’m still adjusting to a new job and a new life is hard. It’s much easier to just go with the flow and figure it out later. As of today, I’ve seen parts of Dublin, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Moyvalley, Glendalough and Trim, and this week we’re even going on vacation to Wexford (see more here).
When I have time off, I find myself doing one of two things: one is creating a home base. Trying to meet people and create a foundation, which I can build the rest of my life here around. This one is tricky, but I’ve been doing alright with it so far. I’ve joined Facebook groups, but these ones are generally associated with Au Pairs and SWAP (Student Work Abroad Program) members. I find this method almost defeating my purpose, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s defeating because I came here to experience Irish life, to meet local people, and to see what’s really going on around here, not to hang out with other Canadians. And so, I also (very reluctantly) joined Tinder. Couldn’t hate this app more but, although most people I meet here are exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s joined a “hooking up” app, there are a few gems who are really great people and who are actually interested in showing you more than their bedroom. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a start.
Outside of social media, I’ve been trying to go out on more limbs and join some group activities. I just so happened to come across a flyer looking for additional players for a basketball team, and so I signed up. I didn’t know anyone on the team, and it was definitely intimidating to walk into a room full of people who have been playing together for so long and immediately try to fit in. But by doing this, it not only allows me to do something I enjoy and something that is very familiar to me, but it also exposes me to local individuals and allows me the chance to bond with them on a completely different level. And the only way I was able to find such a team was by getting out onto the streets, popping my head into local establishments, and peaking around their bulletin boards. This method is probably most effective. My host family has also been a huge help in finding individuals for me to connect with. Friday night, I had a great time sitting in Gregory’s Tavern with a cousin of my host family and her friend; girls who are incredibly lovely and who I will absolutely be meeting up with again. It’s hard meeting new people, especially when you’re alone in a new country, but there are always ways to do it – you just need to put in an effort into finding them.
The second thing I’m doing on my time off, and which I believe is equally as important, is gathering my thoughts; vegging out while writing my blog, reading “Graduates in Wonderland,” watching “Big Brother,” and just relaxing. When I do this, I sometimes feel selfish and lazy. I keep thinking, “you’re in a new country! Go out and see everything, NOW!!” But on such an adventure, I think it’s really important that I keep reminding myself to chill out. Change is exhausting and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that this is my life now. Weird. I live in Ireland. This is where I’ll be for the next year. These are the things I’ll be seeing. For me, this is not a dream. This is reality, and I need some time to adjust.
Aside from all of the things that make this transition scary, exciting and invigorating, the simplest of things here are my favourite. Ireland is an absolutely stunning place. Its castles, green fields, twisting roads, tunneling trees and old style villages completely take my breath away. Although there are so many things I want to see, and hope to experience, the best ones so far are the moments when I’m simply allowing myself to take it all in and to enjoy this amazing view. It’s one that truly makes you feel like you’re sitting on top of the world, and all of your worries slip away if only for the briefest of moments. Because whether or not I figure things out, and however often I will stumble along the way, at the end of the day, everything I see out on the horizon will always be there tomorrow. I quite literally have the world at my fingertips, and it is in these moments that I am reminded of how lucky I am to have this opportunity. Although I’m just beginning, I refuse to make my life here anything less than spectacular, and I have no doubt that it will be.
Note: Live your life as fully as Robin Williams did, and for all that he is remembered by, we pay tribute.