One of the most difficult decisions I have ever made was deciding to emigrate. I visited New York for the first time when I was 16, and over the years that followed, I kept reminding myself that I was going to live there at some point in my life.
Obviously, I had completely romanticized the idea in my head. I only ever thought about what life would be like when I got there, and was set up with the perfect job and the perfect apartment. I was leaving out everything in between – the most important stuff that people always neglect to think and talk about.
Rewind back to April of 2015, this was about the time when I realized that by not considering the Graduate Visa, I was unconsciously making a huge decision. If I didn’t at least think about it, and weigh up my options, then I didn’t get the chance to actually decide “no I’m staying put”, or “yes, I need to do this”. I had just started a new job in January with a really brilliant company, I was learning so much through my new role and was completing my postgrad in Digital Marketing in the evenings after work. Life was good and I really had little to worry about.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a year down the line, when my visa would no longer be available to me, I was probably going to get a serious case of itchy feet. It was at that point that I had made up my mind, and then the difficult conversations followed. Telling my parents of my plans, my friends, and then handing in my notice at work were all very different scenarios and ones of very mixed emotions. My parents were very apprehensive about the whole thing, my friends were so excited for me, and work – well, I think it was just a bit of a shock because I hadn’t been there for very long.
It was never going to be easy telling my Mum I was planning on emigrating that coming October. It must be so hard for parents watching their kids grow up, so I felt very guilty about throwing emigration into the mix. If anyone reading this is going through the same thing, my best advice would be to just explain your reasoning as much as possible. When I clearly outlined why I wanted to go and my goals for the next year, my Mum & Dad couldn’t have been more supportive!
My main reasons for making the move to New York were:
- the potential opportunities
- the once in a lifetime chance to live in New York (visas are very tricky)
- the fear of regret
The last four months have been a total whirlwind & there has definitely been a few lessons learned…
Lesson 1: People > Places
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. You could stand in the middle of Time’s Square and feel lonelier than ever. People make your experiences memorable. The places obviously help, but they are secondary. Surrounding yourself with good people is just essential in my eyes. When you don’t know anyone in a new place, you need to make every effort possible to put yourself out there and meet new people. I think I sent about 50 emails just introducing myself to people and letting them know of my plans, in the hopes of networking and making friends. It’s obviously embarrassing at first, but whatever, people are always so nice when you put yourself out there so you just need to bite the bullet.
Lesson 2: You’re capable of so much more than you know
Packing up your life, and leaving home for a new life is not easy. I definitely didn’t realise how much I relied on my Mum until she was over 3000 miles away! But when you’re really put to the test and have to start fresh in a new and foreign city, you really see what you’re capable of.
Lesson 3: Breakdowns will be frequent
I won’t lie, I was that girl crying on the subway looking at pictures of my dog. I was also the one borderline throwing a tantrum in the supermarket queue because I couldn’t figure out the system. It’s such a fast paced environment here, that the days that you can’t keep up feel like the worst days ever. But then the good days are so good you wouldn’t believe it. I think finding the balance and learning to accept that the bad days are inevitable makes it a little easier to laugh about it when they arrive.
Lesson 4: Second guessing yourself is second nature
At the beginning, I was homesick beyond belief. It was so unexpected too, because I was so excited. I missed my family, my dog, my friends, homemade dinners, I even cried one day because I missed sitting in my living room. There were so many days that I wanted to turn back but it just wasn’t an option. You need to plough through the rollercoaster of emotions and just get on with it.
Lesson 5: What is meant to be, will be.
This is a huge lesson for me. We viewed apartments that we fell in love with, I interviewed for jobs that I thought would make my life – and in hindsight, I am so much better off where I am right now. It’s hard to see at the time, but you just need to do your best to trust the system.
The one thing that I can’t stress enough is that no matter how hard it is at the start – it is so so so worth it in the end! Also, be sure to follow along on Snapchat this weekend (niamhos21), the girls and I are currently on a staycation in The Boro Hotel in Long Island City – the views are the dream!