I can’t get my head around the fact that this day 3 YEARS AGO, I moved to NYC. I remember it so clearly. Saying goodbye to my Mum & Geoff was so hard. Harry hadn’t been adopted at that stage so that was one less goodbye to worry about. My Dad & sister already lived abroad at this stage, so I was the last to leave the nest and my Mum behind. It was actually an atrocious feeling, but one that couldn’t be avoided. I really want to talk about the benefits of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing something incredibly difficult like moving away.
Moving to New York was something that I knew I always wanted to do since I was about 16 when I was lucky enough to visit. I never stopped harping on about it, and it was always something that would happen “one day”. It’s funny how quickly “one day” rolls around. I moved over on the Graduate Visa so you’ll probably know that you have a small window of time to make the decision to go and then subsequently leave. It’s a tricky decision when you have a good and steady job and are following that typical timeline that everyone follows very closely. I was working full time on the Digital Media team in Glanbia as part of their Graduate Programme when I handed in my notice and announced I was heading state-side. I had nothing more than a few quid in my bank account after selling my car and saving like a mad woman for 10 months. No accommodation, no job, just a lot of hope inside me that it was going to be the best decision ever. And it was! Well one of them anyway. Actually, another one of my best decisions was moving home…this leads me seamlessly onto my first point.
Living in a different country, or travelling across multiple ones, will no doubt give you such a strong appreciation for what we have here at home. I was one of those incredibly negative people with a very cynical view of Ireland and the way of life here. Nothing ever felt good enough, fun enough, or exciting enough. I feel like that version of myself has completely disappeared now. When I lived in New York, I missed home so much. I missed being able to drive from A to B. I missed living in a home where I could walk from one room into another (we lived in a studio for the first year – that will put manners on you!). I missed the network of people around me who loved me and had my best interests at heart. You’re lucky if you have that when you move away. I feel like I went home with such a massive appreciation for everything and everyone that I have here. I get excited to spend the weekends walking the dogs and chilling on the couch, and sleeping in a silence. Never ever forget to appreciate silence when you sleep at night. I didn’t have one night of silence in my two years in New York!
Living abroad gave me so much perspective on many different levels. I learned so much about different people, their cultures, food, politics, healthcare, and hard work. It ties back in with my previous point when I relate everything back to the culture that we have here, and how lucky we are in some respects.
When I moved home, I felt invincible. New York hammered this unbelievable sense on motivation into me and I really don’t think it’s left me either. Something about working your socks off, seeing other people succeed, seeing incredible wealth and success first hand is so motivating. Something about that city makes you compare yourself to others, but in a positive way (for me anyway). I would look at someone incredibly successful and just think “if she can do it, why can’t I?”. There’s this sense of excitement that you get from the city that fills you to the brim with hope. You meet so many people with unique stories and journeys and you realise that you yourself have as good a chance as anyone else to achieve your goals. You also realise that no one else will do the work for you. A certain amount of diligence and an excitement to work also came home with me.
It will make you more employable
This is the case for a number of reasons…
- International experience is something that will definitely stand out on your CV and set you apart.
- Moving abroad or going travelling shows a certain amount of confidence, and that you have faith in yourself to achieve what you set out to do. It shows major ambition.
- It will also probably settle any doubts in your employer’s mind that you might plan on leaving again if you’ve just returned home!
It will most likely break you at some point, or many, but you’ll pick yourself back up and be stronger than ever
I can’t even count the amount of times that I cried on the subway home, or felt so overwhelmed & alone, that throwing in the towel and coming home was all I wanted. You can feel really far away sometimes, and you really do only have yourself to rely on when it comes to picking up the pieces. Of course you can call home and try and explain what the problem is, but it’s really not the same. The subsequent times that you break down after the first one are always easier, though. And you will start to laugh at yourself when you think about that time you burst out crying at the dog park because you missed your pooches. Eventually you’ll develop a thick skin and just learn what to take on the chin, and what is a real problem is.
There’s something really liberating about setting yourself up without any assistance. Finding an apartment, furnishing it, securing a job, and then the rest that goes along with setting up a new life. It will make you feel so independent and capable of doing anything you put your mind to.
Like I mentioned before, living in a studio certainly put manners on me. Not that I didn’t have manners before, but you REALLY learn a lot from an experience like that. Aside from that particular experience, New York makes you realise that you are entitled to absolutely nothing, it shuts you up when you feel like complaining, and you learn to grin and bear whatever the problem is 99% of the time. Side note: I also feel like everyone should work in a restaurant/bar at some point in their life. I worked in the hospitality industry for 3 years part time throughout college and it was the best experience ever. It instantly came to mind when I started talking about manners.
Widen your network
Probably obvious enough, but moving to a new place, or travelling, will majorly expand your network of people in your life. It’s one of the best things about the whole experience. You meet so many people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds, and if you can hang on to them when you leave – even better! I made so many friends for life in New York, and still have great relations with my old boss and other work colleagues.
My eyes were opened to a crazy amount of different cultures and traditions in New York. For example, I really didn’t know a whole lot about Jewish people, their traditions and the history behind them. One of my close friends who I worked with is Jewish and she taught me so much. I think she loved teaching me about it as much as I loved hearing about it. Let’s face it, Ireland is not the most diverse country in the world. Travelling further afield and learning about the many different religions and cultures in the world is so important in my opinion.
Experiences and people will matter more than everything else
I feel like we’re all a bit materialistic at times, it’s inevitable in this social media and comparison era that we’re in. I think that the whole process of saving up my money, selling my car, moving away, and spending a lot of money on not-so-glamorous things to set up my new life really made me appreciate everything a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a new handbag and coat as much as the next girl, but I definitely think about my money in a different way now. Travel was always a big part of my life, but it’s so much more important to me now. I want to see the whole entire world with my own two eyes, and that want definitely came from leaving home for an extended period of time. Doing it with important people to me is also just as imperative.
Your own company
I was one of those people who had to have company all the time. I didn’t like spending time alone at all. When I moved, I still didn’t like it, but I was kind of forced into it. Over time, it was something that I got used to, and now I LOVE it! I never thought I would be this person now, but I just feel like I appreciate my own company and being happy to be on my own more as I get a little older.
You won’t recognise yourself
This morning I went onto my Instagram feed and scrolled right back to when I was moving. I remember clearly how I felt, how nervous I was, and how comfortable I was with my life back then. There was, and is nothing wrong with being and staying comfortable, don’t get me wrong. I just could never have anticipated how much going away would benefit me. It’s not for everyone, definitely not. On the flip side, some people will go and never come back. For me though, I feel like me back then, wouldn’t know me now. And I love that.
I really hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe inspired one or two people to think about moving away like I did. If moving away isn’t an option, then maybe travelling more is. Ireland is such a stunning little country with incredible people, but it’s a big, BIG world out there. I can’t wait to explore the rest!