If you were to sit me down a year ago and tell me that I would spend the following summer living in Dublin on my own, I'd laugh in your face and punch you in the arm as I chuckle "Good one". Yet here I am, eleven weeks in the capital and only a few more to go. Mindblowing stuff, right?
Well, for me it is. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I realise everything I've achieved this summer from making such a radical lifestyle change. It's kind of similar to those of you who head stateside on J1s, except I obviously haven't travelled thousands of miles and I go home every weekend. So, actually not that similar at all, but for the purpose of this article we'll pretend it's basically the same thing.
My reason for moving halfway across the country? To be writing this article. Well, a lot of these articles. Yes, I'm interning here at College Times for the summer and I have to say I'm quite loving it. I can still remember absolutely shitting myself on the first day back in May (which feels like just last week btw) and thinking this would be the longest, toughest summer of my life. And in some ways it really was.
There were mornings when all I wanted to do was hide under my duvet and let the world go on without my involvement, and there were nights when I considered getting the first train home in the morning. But what I'm most proud of is the fact that I did neither of those things. I stayed and I worked up the courage to get out of bed and come to work, even when all I wanted was a cuddle from my mom. Judge me, I feel no shame.
For me, the hardest part of this experience was the fact that when I moved here, I knew no-one. I was completely on my own. Luckily for me, I met some amazing people at work and we clicked. Things were never awkward in the office and now I'd consider these people some of my closest friends. I have to say that, though; they're sitting right here and I'll get a thump on my left shoulder if I don't praise them.
But seriously, being totally out of my comfort zone this summer has taught me so much. Not just about myself, but about others too. For example, I now know which friends I can call at 3am when I'm pissed out of my mind on Grafton Street and just want to hear their voice. Not many, I might add.
I also learned how to be comfortable in my own company, which is something I was never good with. I always needed to be around someone or in contact with someone to feel like I mattered. Now, though, I know that I don't have to rely on other people to make me happy because sometimes chilling and watching Netflix is better on your own. But only sometimes. The rest of the time it's shit.
Another thing moving to Dublin has taught me is that independence is great and everything, but coming home is just as enjoyable. I moved to Limerick for college last September and by Christmas I thought I had tasted the fullest kind of independence there was, but I was so wrong. I used to hate going home at the weekends because I was having such fun there and even though I'd be back in a few days, I never wanted the week to end. Maybe it's because I'm so much farther from home now or because I'm on my own up here, but now I love going home.
Don't get me wrong, the weeks that I spend up here are fab and I've done so many amazing things while I've been here, but there's something oddly satisfying about getting the train home at the end of the week. Maybe it's just the thought of having a proper Sunday dinner instead of microwavable meals. I don't know.
Ever since I was young I was good at meeting new people and holding conversations so that there were no awkward silences, but I feel like my talent in that area has seriously swelled since moving away for the summer. I've been thrown into situations where I've had no choice but to mingle and make an effort to get to know people (which is not me, btw. I'm generally lazy as fuck with new people), even if I was having a really bad day. But the thing with the people I've met in Dublin is that I know I can sit here on my laptop all day with a face like a slapped arse and not have to make any apologies for it. Because some days, this is hell. But the rest of the time it's an absolute pleasure.
As my weeks come to an end here in Dublin, I can't help but feel emotional. *insert Mean Girls "I just have a lot of feelings" gif* Even though I'm delighted to be leaving because it means I'm heading back to college (yay yay yay yay yay), I'm going to miss this lifestyle like hell. I've gotten used to 5am trains and hangover Starbucks, and sitting next to other twats writing articles all day long. I've grown to like the hustle and bustle of the big city, which is a far cry from what now feels like the very bare streets of Killarney.
So, would I encourage moving away from home and getting as far away from your comfort zone as possible? Oh God, yes. Pushing yourself to do things you never thought you would is the best way to grow as a person, in my opinion at least. It also teaches you who the most important people in your life are because every now and again you'll make that 3am phone call, completely sober, in need of some reassurance, and only a handful of people will be willing to listen to your sobs. Those people are the ones you should keep forever and appreciate every single day.
Moving away from home for summer was one of the scariest things I've ever done but also one of the most beneficial. The things I've learned this summer are things I'll always remember and that I know I'll be grateful to know in the future. When I moved here I was a shell of a person who thought she knew everything there was to know about herself. But as I get ready to leave, I feel more myself than I've ever felt in my life and far more in touch with my thoughts and emotions than I ever have been. And y'know what? Forget how good this internship will look on my CV; finding myself was definitely the biggest reward I could get from this experience. And I'm so damn grateful for that.