… and why I’m so glad I didn’t let them hold me back

 1. I’m too old to be taking off on an adventure

I had always assumed that living and working abroad was something that belonged exclusively to young people with their free spirited adventurous nature. At one time I was one of those 21-year old graduates that had dreams of travelling and working in all sorts of amazing places around the world. Unfortunately for me I also had the bank account of a 21-year old graduate, so I put those dreams on hold for what I thought would be a year or 2 max. Flash forward 7 years and although I still wanted to live abroad I assumed I’d be out of place amongst a group of young people who hadn’t experienced life with floppy disks and dial-up internet.

In reality: There are people here spanning the full range of ages for this program with an extremely wide array of paths that lead them to Ireland. One of the best parts of this experience has been getting to meet so many of these people and hear their own unique back-stories. Through it all the main thing I’ve realised is that it doesn’t matter at all how old you are, whenever in life you decide to make the jump you’ll land amongst a great group of like-minded people.

I may be 28 now but I’ve clearly been preparing for this adventure my entire life

2. I can always just vacation there if I want the same experience

I am a huge fan of vacations, taking off to a new place, seeing what it has to offer, and soaking up as much of the culture as I can. I’ve been on some truly memorable vacations where I felt like I was connected with a place and the people there. Spending time away from the tourist traps and going off to hang out at the local hotspots is essentially the same right?

In reality: Now that I have experienced living and working abroad it couldn’t be more obvious how different this is. When I arrived in Dublin to start this journey I had some serious tourist goggles on (even though I didn’t realize it at the time). I even took a picture of a regular taxi thinking it was driving itself until I saw the driver was on the other side of the car! That vacationing feeling isn’t something that changed right away, in fact it was a slow transition (and in some ways is still going on). The first time you catch yourself greeting someone with “Well boy” instead of “Hey, how are you?”, that first tag rugby match you play where you finally understand the rules and realizing that you’ve now adopted the word “Grand” to mean everything from “Fine” straight through to “Excellent”. It’s all of those little things in day-to-day life which will make it less about experiencing the culture and more about being a part of it.

3. I’ll miss my family & friends too much

Now this is not to say that I have reached a point where I don’t miss them, I absolutely miss my family and friends. A LOT. There are days that I wake up and wish that I could be back in my small town, chase my nieces and nephews around, play some N64 with my brother, hang out with my friends and share a pitcher of beer (I have yet to find a place that has pitchers of beer here!). This excuse was the toughest to get past by far, mostly because it felt so selfish to leave them all behind in search of adventure.

In reality: As the date to hop on a plane got closer I got to make some amazing memories with all of those people that I love. I took time for each of them and it allowed me to truly enjoy all of those little things that make them so special to me. There are very few situations in life that can jump-start perspective like that and even fewer still are positive scenarios like this was. I will miss them all no matter how long I’m here, but one thing is for sure when I do get to see them face to face it will be that much more wonderful.

Matching Chewbacca PJs for those late-night video chatting slumber parties!

4. I’ll be alone and wouldn’t even know where to start

Beginning on a journey like this by myself always lead back to that thought, I would be all by myself. Starting over in a brand-new environment, completely outside of what I’d been used to. I’d be back to the job & house hunt in a place where I didn’t have any connections.

In reality: Enter Work in Ireland (especially those fantastic people that make it run so smoothly, Janet & Claire). Before I even landed in Dublin I knew I had made the right choice in enlisting WII. I was prepared for what I was getting into, had plans for how to navigate my first few weeks, & was ready to hit the ground running. By being part of this group and meeting people in this program, there hasn’t been a single day on this island that I’ve felt like I was in this alone. Even if I could go back in time 6 months knowing everything I know now, I’d still choose to be a part of Work In Ireland. It’s like the decision to get in shape, would you rather go it alone, or would you choose to join a gym with two kick-ass personal trainers and plenty of other members in the same boat?

5. I’ll have to put my life on pause

When thinking about travelling, especially for a couple years, there will no doubt be some other life milestone that you feel like you are putting off to be able to do it. In my case I honestly felt like I would be putting every other life goal on hold to accomplish this one. I’d have a resume gap to talk through, I’d have to wait to settle down, buy a house, get a Husky puppy (or two), and meet that special person who makes it all complete.

In reality: I have learned more about myself in these past few months than I had in the previous few years of living back home. I hadn’t realized how much I was buried under the same day-to-day routine until I burst myself out of it. The experiences I’ve had working and living in Ireland will enhance my resume and have already given me a whole new appreciation for what a work-life balance really is. As for all of the other stuff, I have the rest of my life to make mortgage payments and at least now I’ll have some good stories for those terrible blind dates my friends love to send me on!

Most of our lives we make excuses for why we can’t do things we want to. Being where I am today, I couldn’t be more grateful that I called myself out on all of mine.

Jeremy Fields – Work in Ireland Participant

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