Emerging Adult

I am no longer a student.

I cannot believe I just typed those words! I submitted my dissertation exactly one month ago today, on the 12th of September. I am only just now starting to feel some relief and am quite surprised it took this long. I was extremely busy immediately after submitting but as soon as I could, I spent four days in a row doing absolutely nothing. I literally spent each of those days lying in bed and staring at the ceiling and out the window… and it was absolutely glorious. It is exactly what I needed to reset myself mentally and physically because, as expected, the last two weeks of writing my dissertation were extremely intense.

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Exactly two and a half hours after submitting my dissertation, I got a phone call and received the news that I had my first guidance counselling job interview. My very first interview for a career-focused job… my very first interview for a job I actually wanted, not simply needed. I could not even believe the timing – I was on the most incredible high that day. The interview went well and I am very proud of myself, even though I did not get the job. I know there is something out there for me and I still have a very positive outlook on my job search. I’ve been spending my days applying for jobs, relaxing, spending time with friends and generally being excited about autumn’s arrival in Dublin. I’ve already enjoyed multiple pumpkin and butternut squash dishes with my lifewife/bestie and we started officially planning for Thanksgiving on the 1st of October.

Since I have finally had some much needed downtime, I have had a lot of time to think. I feel like I officially became an adult over the last month. It’s of course been a gradual process and much of it has been evidenced in my blog, but I feel it really happened sometime between the 12th of September and today, the 12th of October. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult, and, while I’ll never really grow up by choice, I’ve thought about these changes in myself and it’s fascinating to think about. On my 21st birthday, I tried various alcoholic drinks and hated everything I tried and remember thinking “I will never drink alcohol” (this obviously changed). The same goes for coffee. I remember, in my early and even mid-twenties, my dad telling me that I would enjoy coffee one day. I smile to myself thinking that one of his greatest joys in life is enjoying a coffee with some sort of pastry or sweet. This is now one of my greatest joys and consider myself to be a coffee connoisseur. I used to laugh at my dad and shake my head when he told me this. I am also officially tired of not knowing where I will (physically) be in one year’s time. I am ready to settle somewhere and have a place I can call my own. I want to be able to buy things without thinking about how I will transport it across the Atlantic Ocean if needs be. I am also very eager to begin my career and look forward to the day that I am hopefully settled in one job that I love. Another very adult thought as of late: I have realised I generally do not believe in soulmates (though there are exceptions). When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t think there is only one person on this earth you are meant to be with. I think it depends on timing and where you are in a particular moment of time. And I have realised that friendship, companionship and compatibility is more important to me in a relationship than romance.

I am excited to see how I change and progress over the next couple months. I cannot believe how quickly October is flying by! Things to look forward to: lots of time with friends, new Gilmore Girls episodes (!), Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving (our 3rd annual and it means the world to us that our friends are as excited as we are!) and hopefully going home for Christmas.

Returning to a place you didn’t like the first time

I’ve always said I love (or at least like) every place I’ve ever travelled to. With one exception: Belfast.

I spent one week in Belfast in 2011, which is definitely a big part of the reason for my dislike for Belfast. One week is too long to spend there as a tourist. It wasn’t all bad – the history is fascinating and I Couchsurfed and met some lifelong friends. It was just so different from anywhere in the Republic of Ireland and to my 22 year old self, not in a good way. At 22, when I travelled, I liked to constantly be on the go and do and see as much as possible. Belfast is not a good place for this because it’s not much of a tourist attraction – there isn’t all that much to see. At 27, I’m a very different traveller and prefer to get to know a city the relaxed way through its cafes, bars and restaurants. Belfast is absolutely wonderful for this and I am so glad I gave it another chance. I’ve felt terrible expressing (or at least thinking of) my dislike for Belfast all these years!

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I have a good friend, D, who is currently living in Belfast and is studying at Queen’s University. He’s been there since September 2014 and I’ve been meaning to visit him ever since. I finally had the opportunity to do so and spent all of Wednesday and Thursday there. He gave me a tour of Queen’s and I am envious of their library! It is so much nicer than Trinity’s and I’m obsessed with the C.S. Lewis room. We had lunch at Maggie Mays and I definitely want to try one of their massive milkshakes next time!!

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Queen’s University Belfast

I had the best time and now have so much love for Belfast. I stayed at a stunning boutique B&B called Maryville House off of Lisburn Road and I couldn’t possibly recommend this B&B enough! It is gorgeous and felt like a home away from home. We explored Lisburn Road which is my new favourite area of Belfast, just a 10 minute bus journey from the city centre. So many lovely cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique shops.

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Maryville House

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We lucked out with the weather and it was very sunny, so we sat outside for coffee at Miel et Moi. I enjoyed a cappuccino and an almond scone – really lovely place with super friendly staff.

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Miel et Moi

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Miel et Moi

We then popped (literally) next door to The Albany – a stunningly elegant bar. I had the New York Sour:  rye whiskey, roasted orange sherbet, fresh lemon juices, Cabernet Sauvignon, served with a camomile foam. Gorgeous cocktail and I’ve never had anything like it before.

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The Albany – New York Sour

We then walked around the city centre for awhile before eating dinner at the Crown Liquor Saloon. We shared the nachos and the wild boar & chorizo burger (combining chorizo and its spices of paprika and chilli with lean and flavoursome wild boar meat) which was unreal!!! This was my parents’s favourite bar on the whole island of Ireland so I had to try it. After eating, we went downstairs and were able to grab a snug for me to have a pint to toast to my parents. Such a cool place for a group of friends to go and a really beautiful bar!

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Crown Liquor Saloon

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Afterwards, we went to Kelly’s Cellars and enjoyed some Irish music, followed by Maddens, where we had a long chat with a lovely local. Loved the buzzer on the door to get in – remnant of Belfast’s troubled past.

On Thursday, I had a long, leisurely breakfast at my B&B, followed by an apple and cinnamon scone the size of my head. No exaggeration. I then (finally!) went to the Titanic experience and was happy to avail of the student discount because the prices are fairly shocking (understandable though, since Titanic is now Belfast’s biggest tourist attraction and I know the city spent loads to build it).

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Maryville House Breakfast

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Massive apple and cinnamon scone

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The exhibit is absolutely gorgeous and was a very informative, enjoyable experience. My only disappointment was the fact that there weren’t many artefacts recovered from the Titanic. I was expecting it to be more of a museum, but it really was more of an “experience”. They did a fantastic job though. There were many different ways to learn – a ride, voices from survivors, reading, artefacts of letters, china, menus, set-ups of what different rooms looked like on the Titanic, a simulator which made you feel like you were on the boat, a discovery theatre, interactive computer programmes, etc. and it’s all visually stunning. I spent 2 1/2 hours inside and then had a look at the SS Nomadic (included in the admission price) and the outside where the Titanic was built. I then met D for a light dinner- we ate at Stix and Stones and I was very impressed by this place.

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I’d like to send an apology to the universe for my previous dislike of Belfast. I am happy to say my opinion has completely changed and I have a lot of love for this city now. I had forgotten how friendly the people are! Belfast natives make Dubliners seem rude – and I think Dubliners are very friendly. The lesson here is:  if you travel somewhere and do not like it, give it a second chance a few years later. You might be surprised.

 

Positive Outlook

I’ve decided to take a new mental approach to my life as it is now, specifically in regards to being a student.  I officially only have 7 months left of being a student and the realisation of that is actually devastating.

Let’s face it:  being a student is stressful.  Very stressful.  Deadlines, starting over and finding your groove once again every time you start a new chapter, editing, reading a whole bunch of information your brain refuses to process, paraphrasing, referencing, not to mention the financial aspect of being a student.

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Surrounded by dissertations – intimidating!

However, I’ve recently realised it’s less stressful (or maybe just a different type of stress) than “real life”.  I’ve recently started to appreciate the variety being a student brings to my life.  Two days a week, I work at my part-time job.  One day a week, I do work experience.  Three days a week, I am in the library with the flexibility of being able to take a lunch break whenever I want and for as long as I want, as well as take a coffee break to meet a friend if I should so desire.

In seven months time, I am hoping to finally be working in my chosen field, which is amazing and scary at the same time.  In the mean time, I am going to enjoy the routine I have now, because the variety and flexibility is pretty amazing.  Life is pretty amazing.

Winter Thoughts

It finally happened. I never thought it would.

Every single Irish person I know repeatedly told me it would eventually happen to me, but I was adamant in my denial.

I am dreading the Irish winter.

I had to write this brief blog post for two reasons: 1) because I am currently procrastinating my dissertation research and 2) to mark that this is the exact moment my feelings about the Irish weather changed. I suppose this means I’ve become more Irish in my ways. The Irish love nothing more than to talk and complain about the weather. I used to love the rain and never minded the fact that we rarely see sun in winter. (Clarification: I never enjoyed the extreme, heavy rain – but, compared to Florida, it rarely rains very hard here. It’s usually a very light, misty rain and I used to find it refreshing.)

I took this photo this morning and didn't edit it at all. Beautiful autumn day in Dublin!

I took this photo this morning and didn’t edit it at all. Beautiful autumn day in Dublin!

We’ve had the most enjoyable weather the past two weeks (with the exception of the past two days). It has been extremely sunny and I’ve really felt the need to enjoy it while it’s here because I know it won’t last. The past two days were a reminder of that. We had the typical misty “Irish rain” and last night when I was walking home from my bus stop, a 10 minute walk, I arrived home with a soaking wet face from the very light rain. This was actually the first time I didn’t enjoy it.

I loved winter my first year in Ireland. I adored the rain, the sun-less days, the cold and even the wind. I suppose I enjoyed it because it was so different from Florida. Couldn’t be more different, actually. During my second year in Ireland, I didn’t mind winter at all. I mostly loved it. Now, going into my third Irish winter, I am not looking forward to it. The combination of the crazy, bone-chilling winds and the rain and no sun is what (finally) gets me about the Irish winter. I don’t mind the cold. Being away from Florida for so long has made me realise I really love (and need) the sun, but I do not miss the heat or humidity at all. I know I never will.

I hate to be full of complaints and would like it to be known that winter isn’t all bad. Among the things I enjoy about winter: tea is more enjoyable, wearing living in my onesie, sweating less, less tourists (therefore Dublin is less crowded, with the exception of holiday shopping time), wearing sweaters and cosy outfits and having an excuse to eat more “because I need the extra layer of fat to keep me warm”. I simply wish I had a fireplace at home to enjoy.

Having said all of this, I still love Ireland as much as ever and it still feels like home. I’m just hoping for a record-breaking sunny winter. I know my odds aren’t good!

Moving Emotions

My next blog post will be back on topic about Iceland, but I really felt the need to write this post for myself. I have been feeling a roller coaster of emotions lately and feel my sadness will go away once I’ve written and published these thoughts.

I moved to a new apartment exactly 2 weeks ago. Before moving, I genuinely had never been so excited for an event. I didn’t expect to miss my old apartment as much as I do. Having said that, I LOVE my new apartment. It’s so beautiful, modern and spacious. We have super high ceilings (looks great, though it’s freezing in here!!), large bedrooms, large wardrobes (so large, we could probably airbnb the space for people to sleep in…) and massive windowsills we could literally sit in. I love everything about the apartment except for 1) the small fridge and 2) how cold it is. I am living with my best friend and am very happy here. It feels like home.

Today, I officially have to say goodbye once and for all to my old apartment. My first apartment in Dublin. Actually, my first apartment in general. Maybe that’s why this is so painful for me. I found my old apartment exactly one year ago today, so I suppose it’s only fitting that today is the last time I get to step foot inside of it to collect the last few items I own. In memory of my previous apartment, here’s a list of things I love and miss about it:

– The location. It is located in the city centre and was SO HANDY. I could see the following from my window: a bus stop, the train/DART station, the Luas (tram), the bus to the airport, a taxi rank – aka every form of transport I could ever possibly need. It is also located near everything you could ever need: grocery store, pharmacy, euro shops, great take away food options.

– My SuperValu (grocery store). It was literally a 1 minute walk from the apartment and I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I went there 5-6 days per week, every week. It was so handy to stop by on my way home from work or when I was cooking dinner and forgot an ingredient. I got to know a lot of the employees there and the saddest thing is, there is no SuperValu anywhere near me now.

– Pig and Heifer. This is a New York-style deli and they make the best sandwiches in town. They have a few locations but this location is easily the best. The staff is incredibly friendly and knew me and what I liked on my sandwich. It felt like a family and it is located next door to my old apartment.

– Walking upstairs. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I was going to miss this, but I really miss walking upstairs to get to my apartment. My old apartment was located on the 2nd floor (3rd floor to Americans) and the lift/elevator was not reliable at all – it broke down nearly every week. I genuinely enjoyed taking the stairs and my new apartment is on the ground floor. No forced automatic exercise for me anymore.

– My landlord. I could cry thinking about how wonderful he is. He is such a kind man and I think of him as my Irish grandfather. He fixed everything we asked him to quickly and he was there for me to calm me down (over the phone) when I was robbed in June. The new tenants of my old apartment have no idea how lucky they are.

– The floors. The entire apartment (with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom) had beautiful wood floors. My new apartment has carpeting – thank goodness it’s attractive carpet, but I am a sucker for wood floors! I know I will be thankful for carpet in winter, but still.

– The kettle and pots. This list is getting ridiculous, I know. I miss the kettle in my old apartment dearly. It was much more solid and clean compared to the one we have now. The pots were brand new and stainless steel and perfect. I’m a kitchen nerd.

– The random, occasional protests outside of my window. I lived opposite one of the main train stations in Dublin and Dubliners love to protest the water charges. There were multiple times they would begin the all-day protests outside of my window and even though it may sound like a nuisance, it was the opposite of that. They never began early in the morning and it was always good entertainment. It really gave my sister and I a good laugh because they put on quite a colourful protest when she was visiting me.

– I miss the route I would take home to my old apartment when I was coming home from work. It would take me down Grafton Street, past Trinity College and to the Spire. I must say I appreciated this walk every single day – even in the rain. I also miss my walk to Trinity which would take me over a bridge with a view of the Samuel Beckett bridge (the “harp” bridge).

– I desperately miss being only a 12 minute walk from the gym. I get to work out at my college for free and the back gate of Trinity was only a 12 minute walk from my old apartment. It now takes me 35 minutes to walk to the gym, which definitely makes me less inclined to go.

– I miss being steps away from the Docklands – loved walking there.

– Being so close to the IFSC aka Dublin’s “financial district”. I loved seeing men in suits all the time!!

– Having a dryer!!!! In my old apartment, there was a washing machine/dryer combo and it was fantastic. My new apartment only has a washing machine. I only ever used the dryer for sheets, but since I just washed sheets this morning for the first time in my new apartment, I am desperately missing having a dryer! It will be a nightmare in winter when things take ages to dry.

– The warmth of my old apartment. I didn’t enjoy this in summer, but in winter it was great because we never had to use much heat. Cheap electric bills!!

– I had a really nice desk in my old apartment and do not have one now.

– I also miss having Subway (for pre-airport trips and a quick, cheap lunch), a noodle bar and a really nice Thai restaurant next to my apartment.

You are probably wondering why I left my old apartment if it was so perfect. It wasn’t perfect and the reason I left was because of the only downside to the apartment: the noise from the street. The entire apartment (with the exception of the bathroom) faced the street which is a main street in Dublin. Cars consistently drove by 24 hours a day. I somewhat got used to the noise, but only about 50% of the time. Half of the time, I was able to ignore the street noise and the other half, I wasn’t and it really bothered me. Yes, I used a white noise machine to help block out the noise. If my old apartment was located in the back of the building, I’d still be there and probably would never leave. My new apartment is in a very quiet location and I am definitely sleeping better.

In a couple hours, I will go back for the last time to collect a few items I left behind and say goodbye. Now that I’ve written this post, I feel like I can mourn my old apartment and move on. It’s time.

Have you ever moved and felt similar emotions?

Beautiful June

June was the best month of my life – I had the most beautiful time with my family. They came to visit me in Ireland and it was our first time together outside of the U.S. My sister was here for 1 month and my parents were here for 2 of those weeks.

As a family, we did a bit of sight-seeing in Dublin, ate lots of nice meals, spent time with a few of my friends, hired a car to spend a day in Wicklow and travelled to Galway and the Aran Islands and stayed in a B&B on Inis Mór one night. My sister and I went to lots of places together – among the highlights: Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Cork, Blarney Castle, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast and we even spent 3 days in Amsterdam. It was an extremely busy but extraordinarily beautiful month. Seeing how much they also love my “home country” literally meant everything to me and completed my love for Ireland.

Dún Aonghasa - Inis Mór, Ireland

Dún Aonghasa – Inis Mór, Ireland

I now genuinely feel like I am going through the worst breakup/heartbreak of my life. My sister was the last to leave yesterday, and ever since then, my heart literally feels like it was shattered into a million pieces. I am so thankful for the time spent with my family, but it is so sad to be alone after I spent every second with my sister (/best friend) for a whole month.

I will go into details in my next blog post, but I felt I was very overdue to publish at least a small update! I pretty much unplugged for this past month and it was lovely.

I am tired and am very deserving of downtime and “me” time. It’s only June and this has easily been the busiest year of my life thus far. From the 2nd of January until the 5th of June, I was literally slaving away on assignments for my Master’s degree. It felt like it was never going to end! 3 major essays, a group presentation, a massive portfolio and my dissertation proposal and I finished it all just in time – the day before my parents arrived in Ireland. I have one more portfolio to complete before the end of August but other than that, I finally have a break until year 2 begins in September. Before then, I am really in need of a sun getaway where I can spend a few days in the sun doing absolutely nothing! Though we are currently experiencing a heat wave in Dublin and I am roasting!! It’s rough without air conditioning!!

In other news, I simply cannot believe I returned from my round the world trip exactly 1 year ago today. Funny timing since my sister ended her travel journey exactly one year after I did (I left Lima on the 27th and she left Dublin on the 27th).

This past year has flown by – much faster than any other year. I am now preparing for my trip to Iceland! I leave in less than 2 weeks. Though I must say, planning this trip is more stressful than planning my RTW trip was, which I did not think was possible! I am hoping the exquisite landscape will all be worth it, and I am sure it will.

My least favourite word in the English language

Warning: This may be a slightly controversial post.

“Lucky” is my least favourite word in the English language.

There is a specific context in which it is my least favourite and that is when people say I am “lucky” to be living in Ireland or “lucky” because I have travelled a fair bit.

Which part of it is luck, may I ask? In regards to living in Ireland, I worked my ARSE off to be here. I’ve wanted to go to Ireland my entire life so after graduating college, I spent weeks researching how to stay in Ireland for an extended period of time and I paid for everything: my flight and all of the activities and adventures I had while I was here. The same goes for round two of Ireland // the present. I am not living on someone else’s dime. I am paying for my education, my living expenses, etc. etc. Everything. Nothing was handed to me. I also didn’t “win” a sweepstakes for a free plane ticket to Ireland, land and have a magical leprechaun hand me permanent residency. That would be luck. No. Instead, I wanted to go to Ireland so I worked really hard to make it happen. As a result, I am living my dreams.

In regards to the travelling I have done (including my round the world trip last year), I have gotten lots of “you’re so lucky”s!! Again, please do tell, how was that luck? A blessing, yes. I am blessed; however, luck did not put $12,000 in my bank account so I could travel 38,000 miles around the world. Hard work for 3 years (and two jobs for one of those years!) and saving every penny put the money into my bank account. Luck also didn’t plan the trip for me. I spent a full year planning my trip and it was easily one of the most stressful (and equally amazing) things I’ve ever done.

Exploring the New Forest in England

Exploring the New Forest in England

Another example is when my sister and I won a trip to go to the Grammy Awards in L.A. in 2012. We were told we were lucky constantly and this is when we started to hate the word. If we won this trip through a random sweepstakes, it would have been luck, but alas, it was not a sweepstakes. Again, we worked hard to win this competition. We spent hours every day for one week trying to figure out the songs in a montage of music where only a split second was played of each song. The fact that we were the only ones to get these correct tells you how incredibly difficult it was.

I must also acknowledge that part of all of this is luck: I was and am very lucky and fortunate to have been born in the U.S. and into a middle class family who taught me and encouraged me to live my dreams. There are billions of people in the world who will never be able to afford a plane ticket or even a bus ticket out of their hometown. I am well aware of this. I met a lot of people in this situation on my trip last year, many of whom became good friends. Meeting them made me realise that I am lucky in a big way. I suppose I just do not appreciate the word coming from a Westerner who has all of the opportunities I do and simply chooses to live their life differently. If you’re one of these people, you might think you can’t travel or live abroad, but you can. I have sacrificed a lot to live my dreams but it is all worth it. This may mean not shopping for clothes, not getting that daily or even weekly Starbucks coffee or not going out for lunch/dinner or drinks very often, but it’s all about priorities.

I also want anyone reading this who knows me personally to know that my life is not all positive and dream-like. I do not spend my days frolicking through the rolling green hills of Ireland and chasing rainbows (okay, some days I do, just not every day). I also do not travel nearly as much as I would like to. After all, I am a student paying international fees! I am a Master’s student, I have a part-time job, I volunteer and in between all of that, I try to have a social life (sometimes I fail). I am living a fairly regular life but it’s an extraordinary life and I am happy. So very happy.

I really like to keep my blog (and my life) positive and don’t like to have this negativity on here, but I feel this had to be written. Next time you wish to tell someone that they are “lucky”, please think about it first.