Unknowns

I am about to begin a huge adventure and I don’t think the reality of it all has hit me yet. Sure, I’ve done my fair share of research on Ireland and have tried my best to educate myself on Irish customs and history, but there are still so many unknowns and experiencing Irish culture first hand will be completely different than researching it.
(Fun research fact — there are no snakes in Ireland and there never have been. After living in Australia, I love this fact a lot.)

Fun facts aside, my question is, can you ever really prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for an adventure abroad?

I don’t think you can. Speculation is inevitable, but retrospect holds the real power. Martin Buber summed it up when he said:

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Yes I can spend hours on Google and blog surf everything I can think of about Ireland, but I won’t know where I’ll love to drink coffee until I get there. I can pack and repack 10 times, but I won’t know if I packed appropriately until I get there. I can watch P.S. I love you over and over and it still won’t prepare me for the Irish man that is guaranteed to sweep me off my feet with that amazing accent of his. I can make a list of places to see and things to do, but what about all the things I don’t know that I want to do yet? And then there’s all of the people I haven’t yet met who are going to change my life.

Am I excited? Heck yes I’m excited. I’m excited for the newness of it all and experiencing a continent that I have never stepped foot on. I’m excited to build new relationships, discover my new favourite pub, learn to love the rain, embrace new music, and be pushed outside of my comfort zone. I’m excited to find inspiration in the unknown and look in awe at my adventures in retrospect. Ireland being my destination is already a surprise and I have no idea what this adventure holds, and that is what I find most exciting of all.

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Bryson sums up the exact reason why I love to move to new cities. I want little things like ordering a pint or doing groceries to be unfamiliar. I want to be surrounded by accents and new sights. I want to make every day an adventure.

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Oh autumn, how I love thee.

au·tumn

noun /ˈôtəm/
autumns, plural

The third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves fall, in the northern hemisphere from September to November and in the southern hemisphere from March to May

– the countryside is ablaze with color in autumn

autumn leaves

– he was in the autumn of his life

Canadian

Change. Change is good.

I’m partial to always having a little bit of change in my life, so I can appreciate seasonal change.

Of all of the seasons, autumn is by far my favourite. Yes, I would even pick it over (gasp!) summer.

Autumn is especially beautiful in Canada’s maple tree regions. I spent last year in Australia and I’m pretty sure I completely missed “autumn” because it was just a slow transition to slightly “cooler” temperatures. Winter began and I frantically asked my friends, colleagues, bus drivers, “but what about autumn?!” Needless to say I was very pleased that I got to experience autumn in Canada this year.

In the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, the fall season consists of lots of balmy sunshine, cool nights, and temperature highs ranging from 15-20 degrees Celsius. In the towns you’ll find lots of beautiful yellow or red trees but the mountains remain green. I had hoped that there would be more colour changes but with such beautiful weather who could complain?

Hiking in Kalamalka Park in September.

Otter Lake by Armstrong, BC in October.

I also spent a couple of weeks in Ontario this October. Ottawa is BEAUTIFUL in autumn. It takes me about 20 minutes longer to get anywhere because I’m constantly distracted by the beautiful colours around me. Trees turn different shades of orange, yellow, and red, and it makes regular day tasks more enjoyable. Driving to do groceries is beautiful because of the long tunnels between tall golden trees. Walking to get the mail is beautiful because in the distance the Gatineau Hills look like a blurry water colours painting. Walking through a forest is beautiful and almost sensory overload – hearing the leaves crunch beneath your feet, seeing amazing hues in every direction, smelling the  earth and fallen leaves, and feeling just enough cold in the air to make you feel alive.

My brother, Isaac, and I in our family’s maple bush.

WE LOVE AUTUMN!

Top 5 reasons why I love autumn:

1. Natural beauty.

2. Thanksgiving (my FAVOURITE holiday).

3. Pumpkins. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, decorative pumpkins, pumpkin patches. All. Things. Pumpkin.

4. Fall clothes (layers, boots, knits).

5. And, thank goodness, it’s not winter.

You never know when a stranger will change your life

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/

Noun:
  1. The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

“Waiting” is a word that I have become very familiar with this year. I returned to Canada in February with the intention of “waiting” for three months for my new visa to be approved for Australia. Three months passed and slowly turned into four, five, and six months, until suddenly it was September and I had been home for eight months.

Good things are worth waiting for, and trust me, my life in Australia was one of those things. It was so good that I cannot even begin to describe the beautiful times and amazing relationships I experienced. Eventually though I started to feel the constraints of waiting, and although I never let go of my desire to move back to Brisbane, I began to dream new dreams.

One day I sent an email to the Australian immigration office inquiring about the status of our application, and received an automated email that implied our application was considered invalid. It was unexpected, freak circumstances, but our application was thrown in the trash without them directly notifying us.

I had been waiting for so long, refraining from making any future plans. And then, once I received that email, I was released from the waiting game. It became possible to take action.

That night I served a lovely couple from Dublin, Ireland. It was a slow night at work so I had the opportunity to really chat with them. As it turns out they own restaurants in the Dublin, and after I shared a bit of my travel tales with them they told me that if I were to move to Dublin tomorrow they’d give me a job. The very idea gave me butterflies and I thought “well, why not?”

Two completely random people planted a seed in my mind and got me thinking about Ireland non-stop. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland and even looked into schools there at one point, but I had been so distracted with Australia that I didn’t even consider getting a working holiday visa somewhere else. I desperately want to travel Europe, and working overseas will give me a really affordable option to experience Europe.

After that day things quickly fell into place. I got into research mode and discovered how simple it would be for me to move to Dublin. There are plenty of serving jobs, housing, and cheap flights to choose from. Applying for a visa is straightforward and I met all of the qualifications. It was meant to be!

Ireland feels right and makes me excited in the pit of my stomach. It seems crazy that I was waiting for eight months for my Australian visa to work out, and then the possibility of Ireland unfolded so easily in a couple of days. Now I am about to begin a brand new journey, filled with new cultures, people, music, food, and land to explore. My future holds the promise of adventure.

I met that couple from Dublin on September 8, 2012, and my flight to Ireland is booked for October 26, 2012. You never know when, and how quickly, a stranger will change your life.

Thinking of moving to Ireland? Here’s what I did:

Visa application: SWAP working holidays (www.swap.ca). You have to apply at least four weeks before your departure date.

Flight: CanadianAffair.ca (found a flight for $303 taxes in from Toronto)

Health insurance: applied through SWAP for RBC’s Bon Voyage travel insurance. I got 12 months of coverage for $432, which is half of what I paid for my insurance when I went to Australia.

Accommodation upon arrival: Hostel World

Housing research: daft.ie

Job research: http://www.jobs.ie/