Ireland, Live Abroad, Travel, Working Holiday

Are you ready?

For the past month: are you ready? are you excited? when are you leaving?

Those are the same questions I’d ask a friend if they were going to Ireland. But when you’re answering it, it feels like it’s lacking when I only answer, “Yes, I’m very excited!”

It’s hard to project what I feel–I’m excited, but to explain it better, I’m excited in an abstract way. I’m excited for the possibilities and anticipating (some with a little more anxiety than others) what they will be–what will the family I work for (as an au pair) be like? Will the kids like me? Will I get used to driving on the other side soon enough? Will I like my room and their house? Will I be able to go to the beach often? Will I have friends?

I’m also looking forward to things I will know. I’m excited to see my favourite landscape in the world, the rolling green hills leading to the sea, to walk country roads, to explore the country that’s familiar in a city that’s all new, to have real tea and biscuits on the reg, to be (hopefully) in a place I feel that I belong.

I have 2-ish weeks and counting. This time around, the feeling leading up to lift-off is so different than study abroad. I’d never been out of the country, much less without my family, and the overwhelming nerves I had that time started about 2 months before. This time–well, at least I’m not panicking every single day. I have some moments when I get a little rush of sadness, or begin to pick apart what I’m really doing and if it’ll really work and if I’m too crazy. It still seems so far away, even though I can see the date on the calendar it’s not really happening.

What am I doing to prepare?

Nothing monumental. I have my visa (whew!), and my ticket, and a vague idea of what I’m going to pack (one suitcase, under 50lbs, here we go again!). There’s nothing huge that will really “fully” prepare you for living overseas. It’s a lot of little moments packed together as you prepare, and pray, and try to visualize life. I find it helpful to look at the small details whenever I start looking at the big picture (I’m a big picture person. I see most things as one, huge, chaotic mess, threateningly overwhelming) and think about the positives, and acknowledge the less fun stuff.

  • Leaving my family will be the hardest (I’d appreciate prayer for this process, for all of us!). I’ve done it multiple times before and the little airport in my city here has seen its share of our long hugs and tears as well as joyful reunions. But it won’t be any easier this time, leaving my family at any time is difficult and to walk into the unknown by myself makes it 10 times harder. I acknowledge it, but try not to dwell on it (easier said than done).
  • The first day will be the hardest. Once the final plane touches down, I’ll be so excited to meet the family I’ll be working for, but I know once I’m finally settled in my room and it’s nighttime I’ll have my anticipated meltdown and what-am-I-doing session. It happens! And it’s overwhelming, but it’s just jetlag and I will give myself time to get over it.
  • I’ll see all the things that in 2 months, I’ll be so used to, as one huge confusing puzzle and I will be overwhelmed and possibly frustrated, but like every job it’ll get easier and easier and takes time to settle in to.

But once I have acknowledged these, there are so many good things on the horizon which are the ones I force myself to daydream about more:

– My best friend who lives in Wales (and she’s from England, so shoutout to Stacey, I STILL think your accent is too cool) and whom I started out as penpals with has gotten some leave from work over Easter break and she’ll be bringing her car over on the ferry and we will set out on a roadtrip of southern Ireland together, then head back to Wales for a bit!- My family may come to visit in the summer! I hope, I hope, I hope..
– I have cousins, friends, and people who want to do stuff with me and travel. Travels with the cousin to Italy, visiting old friends and church in Northern Ireland, and so on! And maybe travels with new friends–I’m hopeful for that as well.
– The ocean. It’ll be basically in my backyard (not kidding) and some of the best beaches and surfing are minutes away from me. BRING IT ON! I love being as near the coast as possible, and the coast of Ireland? It’s as great as you can imagine.
– I’ll be living in Ireland, working, and just living. I love traveling but this is undoubtedly one of my favourite ways to do it–nothing wrong with short holidays and 2 week trips, but there is nothing like really getting to know a place by settling down and living there. I’m looking forward to trying out new churches (and settling in one), exploring both the small town I’ll live in and the nearby city, all the art classes (my town has a lot!) I’ll take, and the local cafes that’ll be my home outside of work/home.

The first step into the security line, looking back and waving, it hits the hardest and the sharpest. It feels exactly opposite of what is right, and it takes mentally forcing yourself to stick with the plan to take another step forward. Mentally forcing myself? Not really. I know it’s only God that really helped me each and every time, I would not have had these experiences if he didn’t give me the courage that I had none of. He gives me a lionheart, the boldness and determination to face the unknown and the joy in all circumstances. At least, that’s what I’m praying for again this time.

That’s what I’m most excited for, and the answer I haven’t given anyone yet. The joy of the Lord this year and in all my travels, during the highs and when I think I’m done at the lowest of lows. The joy in the excitement of seeing old friends and familiar sights, in running alongside the ocean, and the joy in the midst of parting and tears and staring at the other side of the Atlantic missing my family who is too far away.
But there is always, unendingly, His joy, in His presence.

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