It didn’t hit me that I was actually moving to a new country (again) until the plane was about to leave. Once I finally made it on the plane, buckled my seat belt, and heard the engine starting to fire up, I realized there was no turning back. I sent out my last “Taking off now, love you!” texts and accepted my unpredictable journey ahead.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling of déjà vu. Leaving it all behind becomes an easier pill to swallow after every time I leave. But my roots weren’t just in Minnesota anymore. I built roots in Chicago, then Croatia. I am now branching my roots in Cork Ireland, with the luck of the Irish on my side.
Goodbye Croatia, Hello Ireland!
By my side, I have my Croatian boyfriend, whom I met exactly two years ago while studying abroad in Dubrovnik.
A month of being back in Minnesota and Chicago for the holidays flew by. By pure determination and luck, I managed to have just enough time to secure my working holiday visa for Ireland, which lasts for up to a year!
I had an incredible time being home, but the longer I stayed, the more I realized it was time to go. Despite some insinuating that I was running away from the real-world and a “real” career, I knew what I was doing was right for myself. I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone, only myself.
Luck of the Irish
We have been settled into Cork City, Ireland for about a week and a half, and we’ve had the luck on our side. We picked a city that ended up being a great fit, with ample opportunity for foreigners and young professionals. Most of all, we were lucky enough to find an apartment in the first two days.
After Dublin, Cork City, located in county Cork, is the second most populated town in Ireland. We decided to come here instead, because Dublin is extremely expensive and housing is a complete mess. As Domeniko previously worked in Ireland, he had heard that Cork is on the rise with a lot of opportunities. So we both met in the middle in Dublin, and traveled to Cork the following day.
But we weren’t so lucky our first night here. We stayed at a bed and breakfast while looking at apartments, and the first night we ran into some trouble. Some guest across the hall from us was drunk and running around the halls like a madman. Then he tried to break into our room. I made sure that he was kicked out because #boybye I’m trying to sleep. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, because it became motivation that we needed to get the heck out of there and find our own place.
We had been trying to secure a short-term rental for weeks, and everything fell through. We started to get nervous, as people told us it could be a month before we would find something.
Yet somehow, we got lucky and found a place after another couple canceled on a fully-furnished short-term rental apartment. After viewing the apartment, we were moved in within three days. We now live in a small one-bedroom apartment just outside the city-center in a quiet neighborhood. Most people here are stunned we were able to find a place so quickly. Luck of the Irish!
Cork City: America and Europe at a crossroad
Cork may not be as scenic as Dubrovnik, but I find it much more functional. I love being able to walk everywhere or take the bus. The city has a ton of restaurants, pubs, grocery stores, and cultural events. There are many gluten free options, which are half the price they were in Croatia.
Surprisingly, the shopping is great with Topshop, H&M, River Island, New Look, French Connection, and much more. Though personally, I don’t have money for that yet.
I will say that Cork is somewhat a cross road between American and other parts of Europe. For one, everyone obviously speaks English with an Irish accent. But there are also a lot of brands like Aldi, Coca Cola, and Apple that remind me of America. Even T.J. Maxx is called T.K. Maxx here. Since there are many Americans, sometimes it doesn’t feel so far from home.
Unlike in Dubrovnik, there are a ton of expats and foreigners living here in Cork. With Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and several other corporations with European Headquarters here, this city is a hub for American and international expats. I was actually pleasantly surprised that Cork pretty diverse, as there are foreigners from all over the world.
I’ve started to build a small support system within the expat community. I’ve already gone to a book club meeting with other Americans, as well as went out with a new friend from Spain. I even literally bumped into an American on the street who recognized my American accent.
Besides loving the international atmosphere here, I also love how music is a huge part of the culture. Music seems to be playing at every street corner and pub, with one of the most famous being Oliver Plunkett. Perhaps I’ll maybe play my guitar and sing somewhere here myself.
The only downside is that the weather is rainy and cold about 80 percent of the time. It can make the town feel a bit bleak, but I’ve been told I need to get used to it. For the most part, Cork City is extremely safe, though I keep having strange run-ins with drunk Irish men.
So far I’m finished up some freelance work while applying to jobs. I’ve been looking in communication and marketing, while Domeniko is looking in sales and tourism. Our budget is pretty tight right now, so I’m hoping that my next update will come with us having full-time jobs here.
In the meantime, we’ve been exploring our new city as much as possible.
Despite a few bumps in the road, I’m feeling lucky about my new home, and I’m ready to take Ireland by storm.
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