So Long, Farewell

725 days after first arriving in Dublin to start my new life and a new adventure I am boarding a plane in search of my next adventure. For anyone familiar with my blog for some time I have been umming and ahhing about my life in Ireland and weather to leave for pastures new. Well over Christmas I finally made up my mind, and so after a short holiday to Australia to visit family and friends I am off to Canada.

Back in July 2017 I had applied and very quickly was accepted for the 2 year International Experience Canada Visa; I had not expected to get the Visa so quickly and had no intention of going so soon. Instead I sat on the Visa with the intention that I would go in June 2018. I had a great job in Dublin where I was learning a lot and working with a great team, I also had great friends who I could really rely on so although I wanted to go to Canada I was in no rush.

 

But as the year rolled on I realised I was not happy. The cost of living was getting higher and higher and impacting on my quality of life, I had started to apply for more senior roles but the salaries I was being offered were the same and sometimes less than what I was already on. I became depressed, I was sick of the rain, with no car (insurance too expensive to own one) I felt confined to the city where there was public transport for me to get around, I felt like all I ever did was eat and drink, I was sick of the “casual dating” scene I felt was so prevalent Irish culture, and I felt isolated from the things I loved: being outdoors, hiking, playing with my dog etc. I had felt it coming for some time, the weight slowly slipping on, my zest for adventure slipping away… then over Christmas while sitting on a sunny beach in Morocco I decided enough was enough, I was out.

I decided that although I want to continue to grow in my career it was not the most important thing to me. Having a healthy work / life balance, being close to nature, being able to afford avocado toast (ok maybe not avocado toast, I hate avocados… Eggs benedict, I like that), getting a dog, having a car – these are all things that are important to me and all things I feel I have missed over the last two years.

So on that basis I went looking for a place to live in Canada. For me it was important to find somewhere that:

  • Had a proper hot summer which lasted more than a week;
  • Was close to nature, with lots of hikes and outdoor recreation activities;
  • Was close to a lake, river or ocean;  
  • Was affordable to live; and
  • Embraced an outdoor, active but laidback lifestyle.

Okanagan

In the end I chose Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (BC). Settled between the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver I had visited and fell in love with the Okanagan Valley 8 years ago while on holidays after a semester as an exchange student at the University of New Brunswick. I had been a little reluctant on BC originally; mainly due to the fact that it was already the go-to destination for Aussies, and I did not want to be mistaken for just another Aussie out to get drunk, snowboard and work bar jobs. BC also only legislates for a mandatory two week’s annual leave per year, and although employers in professional industries are known to provide more leave this was a huge concern for me with my need for a better work / life balance. However all the other natural beauties of BC and my fond memories of the Okanagan Valley soon outweighed any reluctance and I had made my decision.

So now all my bags are packed and I’m ready to leave. I will leave behind some amazing friends, but as we go on our separate ways we will remember all the times we had together; and as our lives change, come whatever we will still be friends forever…

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this

I did it my way

 

friends

Level One – Dinghy Sailing

Part 2 (go to Adventures and Naps to read Part 1)

Following my sailing taster several weeks ago, I decided to start my sailing experience from the very beginning and complete a Level One – Dinghy Sailing course. The course is run over a weekend and last week I finally got to get out there and completed the course.

I showed up again all bright eyed and bushy tailed at the Irish National Sailing School (INSS) at Dun Laoghaire Harbour excited for the weekend ahead and full of notions that I would take to sailing like a duck on water. In truth, I was just as bad (or good) as the rest of my fellow newbie sailing enthusiasts.

If I thought the 1720 was a small sailing boat, it was nothing in comparison to the 3.5meter (11’6 foot) Laser Pico I was going to start my sailing adventures in. The level one course is a very basic introduction to sailing, but I am happy I choose the level one dinghy course over the level one yacht course. With the dinghy course you are the only one in the boat; you are in control and responsible for the rudder, the sails, and the boom; and when you lose control of the rudder, sail or boom you are the only one to blame. You learn about wind direction and how the direction of your sail effects how fast or slow you cruise through the water, about no go zones, and how to tack and jibe. A basic introductory lesson to sailing but one that any person starting out really needs to have.

picosBy the end of my first day I was feeling very confident in my abilities, I was lured into a false sense of ease by the lack of exhaustion in my upper body which I had been expecting, and as I had managed not to capsize all day I was now a master of the seas. The couple of small bumps to the head from the boom when I failed to react quickly enough or the freezing rain in the afternoon hadn’t ruined what I had felt had been a great day.

I woke the next morning to not quite sore but exhausted muscles and the ongoing feeling of sea legs which had not quite disappeared from the day before. The second day of sailing was spent much more on the water, refining the skills we had learnt the day before. As we came in for lunch you could see in the attitudes and conversations of my fellow novice sailors that we had set out that morning expecting to be masters of the harbour, but we quickly began to feel that everything we had learnt the day before had somehow already slipped away. The morning had been rough on our morale, and the picking up of wind which had led to a few more booms to the head had done nothing to improve our situation. But we persevered, and after lunch we began to feel like masters of the harbour again as we sailed our Pico’s around our little course congratulating ourselves for not capsizing and ignoring the 12 year olds sailing around us like pros.

CertBy the end of the weekend, with my Level One – Start Sailing certificate in hand, I felt thoroughly happy with my sailing adventure. I had really enjoyed sailing in the little Pico’s and already had plans on my next holiday to rent a little dinghy and sail around the bay of a new city. But I have not lost sight of my Mediterranean dreams and am already planning to undertake my level two course in August.

If you haven’t yet read Part 1 of this adventure follow the link to Adventures and Naps where I guest posted Part 1. While you are there have a read of Alanna and Tyler’s adventures, and if like me you like what you read – don’t forget to follow them!

Impromptu Road Trip to Belfast

A couple of weeks ago I was between homes, I had moved out of my old house before my
new house was ready following a string of irreconcilable differences between myself and the main tenants of the house (i.e. parties starting at 11pm on a weekday, moving additional people into the house – one I am pretty sure had a drug problem, people going into my room when I wasn’t there, and generally making me feel unsafe).  A work colleague and his partner had graciously let me stay in his spare room and had made me feel well at home introducing me to his friends, and eating all their food; but they was off away for the weekend and for 1 night I didn’t have a place to stay so I decided to book into a hotel for the night.  DSC_0374

I had rented a car to put all my stuff in for the move, so I had a transport and an entire country to pick my hotel from. Finally Friday afternoon I made my decision and booked a hotel in Belfast. I drove up straight after work and arrived about 9pm. I had booked into a hotel called the Balmoral about 6km from the city centre, and from the outside it looked like a decent place. I didn’t really have any plans and was pretty exhausted so ended up just hanging out in the hotel room and watching telly (considering I don’t own a television it was kind of a treat). The hotel room stunk of cigarette smoke and all the facilities where basic but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

I went to bed and was woken up about 2am by yelling, and I mean yelling. Three people in the room next to me were getting into a massive domestic in the hotel room, and by the way they shouted, swore and carried on you could imagine that these people where all flannel shirt wearing, front teeth missing and mullet haircut yobbo’s. Security came and told them to keep it down, which they did for about 15 minutes and then they were at it again. This carried on until 5am when security finally kicked them out of the hotel but it was too little too late for everyone in the surrounding rooms.

But I didn’t let it put a dampener on my visit to Belfast, and in the end I was up and out of the hotel by 9am and on my way to the Titanic museum.

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I had intended to spend maybe 2 hours max in the museum and then have a quick look around the city before driving back to Dublin. The museum was fantastic, I am not really a reader of all the little bits of information they put around the place at Museums but thank-fully a lot of it is audio and visual as well so you really get a great sense of everything around you.  The museum is divided into sections and runs through everything to do with the Titanic; from Belfast the city at the time the Titanic was commissioned, to building the ship, examples of the different classes on the ship, the sinking, the survivors, the review into the sinking, movies made about the titanic, and finding the wreckage years later… Everything about the Titanic is covered and really makes for a fascinating tour.

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Four hours later I stroll out of the museum and with no time to look at the rest of the city I jump in the car to head back to Dublin. Now it wouldn’t be a road trip without me getting lost, so after missing my exit and the next exit being closed I decided to use Google Maps to get me back to Dublin…. Well that was an adventure.  I ended up going through every little country village between Armagh and Newry before I ended up back on the national motorway and on the right road to Dublin. I was hungry and constantly on the lookout for a little village shop, café, bakery or something to get some lunch but if these places did exists in the little villages I drove through I didn’t see them. Eventually I got back on the motorway and decided I would just have to settle for something at one of those big petrol station / MacDonald / Insomnia all in one stops.

By late afternoon I found myself back in Dublin and pulling up with a car full of gear out front my new home in Irishtown. I was greeted by my new, very excited housemate and after we finished fixing my not quite complete bed I was ready to settle myself into my new home. It had been a ridiculously crazy week, and even my relaxed overnight adventure to Belfast wasn’t as relaxed as I had planned but I did enjoy Belfast and I am keen to get back up there again very soon and check out the rest of the city. My next trip to Belfast though I think I will take the train… J

Back in the Game…

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something… my bad. Between work, finding a new place to live, moving, getting sick, not having access to my music and all of the other small stresses that have seeped into my life, my motivation for writing has been at a low. I am still not wanting to talk about finally leaving my old house, but when I am ready I will share my story as I think it would be a good warning to others.

But this week I have begun to feel motivated to write and engage in my blog and motivated to be in my life again.

I moved into my new home a fortnight ago and it has been great so far. It is a shousemall two bedroom miner’s cottage in Irishtown, just outside of Dublin’s city center and less than 5 minutes’ walk to the beach. Owing to the housing crisis this 2 bedroom cottage has been converted into 3 bedrooms by turning the lounge room into a bedroom… not that I mind at all, I have always wanted a fireplace in my bedroom!

I love being close to the beach, and although it’s not the same as an Australian beach it does relax me to be so close to the sea. Irishtown is proving a great little suburb, a decade ago it would have been considered one of the more run down suburbs of Dublin but owning to the boom of marketing and IT companies in the Grand Canal Docks, most notably – Google HQ, the area is really up and coming. In-fact Irishtown is sometimes dubbed Googletown owing to the amount of Google employees living in the area. Irishtown, the Grand Canal Docks and Sandymount (all within a stones throw from each other) have many cute little bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and organic food stores all within a 10 minute walk from my front door, while if I want to do some serious shopping or have a night out it is only a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride to the city centre.

docksIt’s a 45 minute walk to work from my new place, which is great; even if I am feeling lazy and don’t want to work out I still get at least 45min of activity each way going to and from work. There are plenty of gyms as well within a 10 minute walk from my front door, a nature reserve, a sport ground, and of course the beach so I am spoilt for choice in creating my new workout routine.

Now that I have moved into my new home I am really starting to feel settled in my new life. I still have to work on finding a permanent job, but now after working in Ireland for the last 2 months and seeing the level of what is expected of employee’s I have grown more confident in my own abilities to break a few glass ceilings.

Love

Charmaine

One month in…

It has now been just over one month since I arrived in Dublin, the weather has turned wet, and the original excitement of being in a new city has begun to fade. The hunt for an apartment in the city center continues as I get another “I am sorry but we decided to go with another applicant” rejection text message for yet another place, and that elusive bank account still feels like a unicorn just out of reach. While my scant wardrobe of wintry clothes makes me dream of a shopping trip I can’t afford and the effects of my not great diet and lack of real high intensity exercise begin to show…. It has all begun to add up.

But with what sometimes feels like all the negative, there have also been a number of not always so obvious positives in the last month, and this post I wanted to focus on the positives.

Unlike many new migrants to this country I had been fortunate to start a temping job by the end of my second week here, and have been in the same temp position since. My co-workers at my workplace are amazing, you really couldn’t ask for a better team to work with, and there are a number of full-time positions coming up within the organisation which (if I am successful in applying for) would actually mean I could use my degree and have the opportunity explore my other career interests too!

My co-workers have also been really supportive in my search for a new apartment, keeping an ear out about anything that may come up, making recommendations to try different websites, and even offering to write a letter of reference. They have also been really emphatic of my banking saga’s trying to make any offers of assistance that they can. I don’t think I have had two days in that office where people have not come in with food to share with everyone and really they have just made me feel so welcome. For any temp that is not always something which you get to feel, and it makes the experience of getting up and going to work just that bit much more enjoyable.

Social media, blogging, Meet Up groups and apps have also been a huge positive in my life over the last month. As I’ve talked about in previous blogs I have been attending Meet Up groups, some have been a success… some not so much, but all worth attending at least one. Dublin Facebook groups have allowed me to meet new people, find out about things happening around the city, and sometimes just connect to someone when you are feeling isolated on a packed commuter bus. My blog has allowed me to connect to other bloggers, and the communication/ relationship you develop with your readers/ other bloggers has been just as enjoyable as writing my blog. Blogging and communicating with other bloggers has also allowed me to find out about things happening in Dublin and offered new ways of meeting new people, for example Bumble.

bumble-bff

Bumble is the Tinder for finding a BFF. Well Bumble is a dating/ ‘hook up’ app owned by Tinder but it does have a BFF option for people like me looking for female friends (it may work the same for men, I am not sure). I am only in my early stages of this app but so far I love it! – But I will keep you posted.

Apps have been a huge positive in my life over the last month. All the public transport companies have them Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and the Luas, so I always know when my bus is going to arrive – or if it has been cancelled (which as annoying as it is, at least
I know it has been cancelled now and I am not standing at a bus stop for half hour waiting for a bus that never arrives). Twitter has also been a huge help, often I find it is updating me on an accident or traffic delays etc. which may affect me long before any of the news agencies are updating their news feeds.twitter-logo

The new people I have meet have also been a huge positive in my life. Although I have not known them long, and acquaintances may be a better word to use then friends, just having those people in your life when you first move to a new city has made all the difference. A text message of excitement when someone finds a new apartment or to let you know which pub they are drinking at if you want to join them, makes you feel wanted and connected to the city.

Last but not least, the biggest positive has been that I have been going this alone. That is not to say that I don’t have encouraging family and friends back home, or supportive co-workers and new friends here. But I have been able to develop those friendships, wade the tide of frustration and anxieties when things go wrong, and just survive and thrive in the day to day on my own. I have not needed a significant other, whether they be a boyfriend/ girlfriend, sibling or parent to hold my hand through this last month, and that in itself is an extremely gratifying and liberating feeling.

Happy Friday everyone, hope you have a great weekend!

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It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner….

It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner…. Ok so that wasn’t quite how the famous opening line from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice actually went but I thought it made a good opener to today’s blog.Unknown1

My relationship status, as a single person, is apparently a topic for public opinion. It doesn’t matter if I have known you since I was 2 years old or I meet you 5 minutes ago, people feel they have the right to pass judgment, make a comment, tell me the relationship status of every male co-worker in the building, or recommended one of their single friends to me.  Having just moved to Ireland I often get asked “Did you move to Ireland for a man?” or “I am sure you will find a nice Irish boy soon enough” or “so do you think you will be settling down soon now that you’re in Ireland?”

For any person moving to a new city or country on their own there is so many other things to worry about. Finding a job, an apartment, the best restaurants to eat at, best places for coffee, finding new social or sporting clubs to join, and making new friends are the priority – we don’t have time to be dealing with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is dating.

 

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The last thing I am thinking about is dating.  I don’t care if Mark in Accounts is single, or if Ger is currently going through a messy divorce. I don’t care that you have a really nice friend in Navan who may be a little young for me. I just moved here.

The last thing someone moving to a new city / country is thinking about, or should be thinking about is dating. If you are planning on moving or just moved to a new city and you are more worried about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend then where you are going to live or about having friends then you may not have your best interests at heart.

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Being single and moving to a new city is great. You only have to worry about yourself, you discover new things about yourself, you learn how much you can do on your own, and you push yourself to try and do new things you may never have thought of doing before. For me it is the third time I have gone to a new city on my own and a highly recommend it.

So random strangers stop pushing the subject, and single people just ignore their ignorance – they obviously don’t know how fabulous it is to be a single person in a new city.

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Charmaine Xx

My first blog… 2016

Hi my name’s Charmaine, and this blog is about me. That may sound a bit narcissistic but the first piece of advice that seems to be given about writing a blog is write what you know, and I know me.

I know that I am: a woman in her late 20’s who has just moved to Dublin on her own from Australia and am hoping to achieve a complete career as well as life change all at the same time.  This isn’t the first time I have done this, at 19 I moved to Germany then Dublin before giving into family pressure and returning to Australia; and at 22 I was an exchange student in Canada.

So this blog will hopefully not only allow me to share with you my experiences  and adventures but will also offer advice to other women (and maybe men) wanting to take the huge leap and move overseas to a new country and ultimately begin a new life.  What else this blog may offer I don’t know yet, I am in the midst’s of trying new things and learning more about myself… Maybe this blog will include my own fashion views… guides to hiking the Wicklow Mountains… the top 20 pubs to pick up in, in Dublin… who knows but that is all in the adventure of discovering yourself.

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