Each year that I am away from home, and everything I’ve ever known, is new. It brings a new experience, new lessons, and new loves.
I moved from Dublin to New York City on November 5th, 2016. A full year prior I had called USIT in the carpark of my home gym asking what I would need to do to move to New York. Of course, the prospects are limited, but the lady on the other end of the line told me I had one option. If I apply for the J1 Trainee Programme, I’ll get a visa for 18 months. Of course, I had to qualify for it first. Being out of college for four years, it was really the only viable option on my plate, but I had to get a job in the US before moving forward. USIT guided me through the visa application and a year later, I made the leap.
I left a life I loved and to be honest, I still look back at in awe. If you’ve listened to the Intro episode to my podcast, you may have heard a synopsis of my journey to date. I built a life in Dublin that ten-year-old me would’ve dreamed of. And then I left it all behind. Before I landed my dream job at Cocoa Brown Tan working for Marissa Carter, I was a girl with a diary and a fluffy pen, writing on her bed just like I am now. Somethings never really change.
When I first moved to New York, I had no friends, no family and nowhere to live. Believe it or not, there wasn’t an inch of me that was scared. I had my mind made up. It really was “New York or nowhere.”
Three years on feels so different. I wish I could say it’s easier but truthfully, I think I’ve learned how to move faster and think less.
Dealing with life as a nonimmigrant isn’t easy and unfortunately, you have to prove yourself more. You have to prove that you are worth the investment and the hassle because if you don’t your whole life that you’ve built up can be taken away from you. This means working harder, keeping your options open and accepting the fact that you don’t have the liberty like that of your native coworkers. I take this as a challenge and a privilege to prove myself. I thought I took a risk when I got on the plane to JFK three years ago but in actuality, every day in the US as a nonimmigrant is a risk.
And although I may feel familiar and at-home in Manhattan, I know I’ll never be completely comfortable. Five minutes into a conversation and someone will notice my accent, and I’ll be invariably interrogated about when, why and how I made such a drastic decision. There will always be a joke, a strange word, or a reference I don’t understand. And yet, when you visit your family back home, you feel you don’t quite belong anymore — moving and living abroad certainly divides your life into two chapters.
But, despite it all, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so grateful to have made that phone call to USIT in 2015. That phone call was the start of something that changed my life forever. I’ve grown up faster, learned what is really important and experienced things that I wouldn’t have had I not moved to another continent at the age of twenty-five. New York is rough and tough but accelerates your learning faster than you could ever prepare for.
While my placement in New York was a purposeful career move, I can’t help but notice my growing sense of gratitude for everything non-career related. I’m just so grateful for the good and the bad. The relationships, the people, the history. The chance to learn it all and learn from the best. The chance to live a life I dreamt of. Grateful to be here and most definitely, grateful to stay.
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