Overcoming The Fear Of Uncertainty And Embracing Spontaneity – Erin’s First Month in Dublin

This is a genuinely fantastic read…

Huge thanks for Work in Ireland participant, Erin, sharing with us the highs and lows of her first month living in Dublin. You can follow all of her Dublin experiences on her excellent blog.


Plans Crumble, But Quickly Turn Around

After a month in Dublin, I have concluded that my working holiday will continue to be Janus-like:  simultaneously anxiety-inducing and exhilarating. It’s been a humbling lesson in the many sudden ways that good planning crumbles and valuable confirmation that failed plans can salvage themselves. Nothing I arranged in advance went as I had planned. The job interview fell through, the apartment viewings were a disappointment, and jet lag kept me from my ambitious sightseeing itinerary. And yet, here I am four weeks later with a job, an apartment and weekends full of travelling, somehow exactly where I wanted to be in spite of it all, as though I wandered off a hiking trail and found myself at my campsite.

The Freedom of Rootlessness

I remain constantly cognizant of the precariousness of my situation and the freedom that allows. I’m temping, currently on an assignment of indefinite length as a personal assistant. This means I can never be quite secure in my budgeting since I don’t know if a month from now where I will be working, if anywhere. I accept this riskiness because it also affords me more freedom.

Assuming this assignment lasts long enough for me to save a bit, I plan to travel as I wait for a new placement. Berlin, Prague, Paris – I’ll fly wherever comes up cheap on Ryanair. Even my apartment is month-to-month; theoretically, I could pack up and move to Galway by November. I’m not going to – I love Dublin already – but it is strangely liberating to live a life that is so rootless.


Coming from a university program that kept me scheduled and busy for five years, even in summer, this impermanence affords a strange yet splendid sort of freedom. I am building a life that is wonderful exactly for its temporariness, constructed like a Nietzsch-esque sandcastle in full knowledge that in eight months or so, I’ll leave it to time’s waves. Even though I’m living in one city, the knowledge that I will not stay long inundates everything I do with a sort of recklessness, a sense that I should do things now while I have the chance and that mistakes or social awkwardness has fewer lasting consequences. It is the opposite of putting down roots; it’s piling up sticks and calling it a tree.

This rootlessness means everything can be spontaneous, especially travel. Last week, for example, I was talking with a colleague about good things to do in Galway. That evening, I bought a bus ticket and booked a hostel for the weekend. With my colleague’s recommendations and some brief notes from The Lonely Planet, I spent a lovely and surprisingly sunny day wandering through the city. The next morning, having breakfast in the hostel, I saw a brochure for a tour leaving in 40 minutes out to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren; I finished my toast, put an orange in my pocket and walked to the bus terminal. The ability to decide in the moment, making and changing my travel plans to suit exactly what I want has been one of the most liberating parts of my working holiday.

Challenging Moments of Isolation

The obvious downside of this freedom is isolation. While I tend to be introverted and enjoy spending time alone, sometimes even I find myself wishing I had a travel companion to share some of these experiences with. It can be disheartening going to bars and restaurants alone, and sometimes it is tempting to just stay home. Of course, there are always people in the hostel you can meet and go out with for the evening; I’ve met a couple people that way and had a lovely time with each of them. But that can be exhausting and is no substitute for the comfortable familiarity of old friends.

‘Mostly Smooth, With Deceptive Speed’


It has been a challenging month, but worthwhile. Worthwhile in that I have accomplished a great deal and worthwhile in that the challenges themselves have been satisfying. Part of doing something like this, I think is a pseudo-masochistic desire for moderate struggle: the challenge of learning to deal with a new culture and environment away from home. With a month having passed like the Liffey under the Ha’penny Bridge – mostly smooth and with deceptive speed – my impermanent life has grown comfortable. I can navigate most of the turning streets that confused me in the beginning, so different from the orderly grid of downtown Toronto.

I know what food should cost and what constitutes an expensive pint. Soon, I hope, I will have my PPS number and can start getting paid so some of this lingering anxiety at my situation’s precariousness – let’s hope that I can pay October’s rent! – can dissipate and I can more fully enjoy the freedom side of things.

Thinking about joining Erin and spending some time in Ireland? It can all atart with one simple email to wii@usit.ie to speak to our Program Manager, Lauren.