One month ago today, I got on a plane and moved to Canada, and right now I can’t decide if it was the fastest month in history, or if it dragged the length of a year. Forgive me for the paradox, but so far moving half way around the world has been both exactly what I thought it would be and not at all what I expected. These last few weeks have been a mixed bag of house-hunting, friend-making, mountain-climbing, Facetiming, wine-drinking, frustration, laughter, tears, and learning.
Allow me to share some of the wisdom I have gained so far.
- Spending your first month(s) sleeping on a mattress on the floor is pretty much a right of passage when moving to Vancouver, as there is basically no such thing as furnished rental places.
- Buying and assembling a proper bed is hard. For so many reasons. First of all, a Canadian double bed and an Irish double bed; not the same thing – this will be learned the hard way. You will also, inevitably, put your IKEA bed frame together incorrectly the first time, meaning you’ll have to take it apart and start again. Chalk it down to a fun day of DIY. While Walmart will most definitely deliver the wrong mattress the first time, just to toy with your sleep-deprived emotions.
- Nobody will have any idea what you’re talking about if you tell them you’ll meet them at ‘half past’. Or ‘quarter past’ for that matter. You will not understand why they don’t understand, and conversations may go in a loop for several minutes.
- The sliced pan tastes amazing here. For several days after getting here, you’ll wonder how wholewheat bread could taste so much better than it does at home, until you read the ingredients and discover they’ve put about a pound of sugar in each loaf. (Seriously Canada?)
- Ice hockey is not, as you originally believed, like hurling, and you will spend most of your first game with absolutely no idea what’s going on. You’ll also be very concerned over the fact that there’s loads of refs, but they still let the players kick the heads off each other.
- No matter how many clothes, shoes, handbags, etc. you brought with you, you will still mourn for those that you left behind. You will be constantly reminded of these items by old photos on Facebook and you’ll miss them more than your family.
- Canadians don’t include the tax on their prices and it’ll be the thing most likely to drive you over the edge and make you cry in front of a cashier. They also don’t have Penneys. Someone get these guys a Penneys.
- It’s not the distance that will make you feel like you’re a million miles from home, but the time difference. Your social media feeds will stop updating after 4pm, and only get going again around about the time you’re falling asleep. Twitter will soon become like an old friend that you seldom run into anymore.
- BUT the Internet makes the world a hell of a lot smaller, so you’ll still know exactly what’s going on at home, and be able to talk to your various loved ones regularly, albeit with slower than normal responses, as they fail to understand that you are asleep for most of their day. Said loved ones will also never calculate the time difference correctly, and will definitely wake you up in the wee hours with their phone calls.
- Although you’ve moved 7,000 kilometres away from Ireland, you will only hang out with other Irish people, because nobody else will understand how hilarious you are, and they’ll be just as desperate as you are to make new friends.
(h/t Adele for title inspiration, ya ride)
People say that deciding to go is the hardest part of leaving. I disagree. The hardest part of leaving is ignoring the scared voice in your head that’s telling you you should stay. I know this to be true, because I’m writing this from the departure lounge in Dublin Airport at 6am, as I wait to board a flight that will start me on my journey to Vancouver. And I’m still not 100% sure I’ll actually get on the plane.
I decided to move to Canada nine months ago. My life wasn’t panning out quite like I thought it was going to, and I felt, at the time, like I’d spent the two years since graduation in an existential crisis that I couldn’t quite seem to shake. Mostly, I bundled through that time focused on one thing, and one thing only; keeping myself afloat.
I had spoken of moving away so many times, and eventually, there came a point where I realised the only thing that was stopping me was me. So I quit my job, sold my car, said goodbye to my family and friends and promised the dog I’d come back to visit, and now here I am.
The question asked of me most over the last few weeks has been ‘Are you excited?’. The truth is I’ve been bouncing between feelings of total denial, outright excitement and sheer terror for some time now. But I’ve been assured more than once that the things that scare us most are often those that are most worthwhile. And my Mammy says I can come back if I don’t like it.
I love stuff. I’ve had a long-standing relationship with stuff for quite some time now. As to what kind of stuff, well I’m not prejudice, I’ll welcome every kind of thing into my home. DVDs, vinyl records, shoes, handbags, clothes, pictures, scarfs, hats, books, you name it, I have 50 of it.
I don’t know at what point in my life I deemed it necessary to have so much stuff, and I don’t know why I somehow associated it with being the key to happiness. Like when I’d say to myself I just need to add this book to my shelf and then contentment would reign. Followed swiftly by something else two days later. It’s a ridiculous idea to have, and an expensive one too.
This affliction was never one that really caused me any issues before now. It hasn’t seen me rack up a large credit card debt and I haven’t had to sell myself on the streets for the cost of a pair of shoes. As a result, I’ve lived blissfully unaware that I had a problem. That is, until this week.
‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is a collection of personal essays by creator and star of HBO’s Girls, Lena Dunham. This memoir covers everything from bad sex to mental health, which will make you laugh out loud and want to die from second-hand embarrassment in equal measures.
I love Lena Dunham. She’s successful, ambitious, feminist and she doesn’t take any shit from those who criticise her work. She’s everything a 20-something might hope to be.
But I also hate her.
Lena’s on-screen persona, Hannah Horvath is selfish, privileged, spoilt, self-involved, and generally, a hot mess, and until I read ‘Not That Kind of Girl‘, I had separated Lena from Hannah entirely. However, the more I read, the harder that became. Because Lena seems to share all of these attributes, if not with a shred more self-awareness.
However, much like Girls, this book is entirely real. And painstakingly relatable.
The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge is happening, and this year, I will complete it. Mostly because I actually remembered to set myself the challenge this time.
50 books seemed unrealistic. That’s almost the equivalent of one a week, and until the invention of a three-day weekend, where would one find the time? Therefore I chose 40 as the more reasonable target for my challenge.
Due to a combination of factors working against me, I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions this year. So let this be my only one. Armed with my new Kindle (thanks bro!) and the stack of books my housemates and I have accumulated over 2014, I have made the following list. You’ll note, no doubt, that the list isn’t the full 40, but I decided to leave some space for books that come to my attention during the course of 2015.
- The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime – Mark Haddon
- The Secret History – Donna Tartt
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John le Carré
- A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
- The Scorch Trials – James Dashner
- The Death Cure – James Dashner
- The Kill Zone – James Dashner
- The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer
- Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
- Yes, Please – Amy Poehler
- The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- Just Kids – Patti Smith
- I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman – Nora Ephron
- The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
- Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris*
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
- Insurgent – Veronica Roth
- Allegiant – Veronica Roth
- City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
- Ugly Girls – Lindsay Hunter
- Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
- Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre
- Consider the Lobster and Other Essays – David Foster Wallace*
- Morrissey – Morrissey
- The Black Echo – Michael Connelly
- The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman
- The Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman
- Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
*In the interest of transparency, these books I in fact started in 2014, but due to their nature (i.e. short stories/essays), I tend to read them on and off. Is it therefore cheating if I include them in the list? NO.
Firstly, these are in no particular order, and as always, I will have none of your music snobbery around these here parts. If you so wish, I’ve also made a Spotify playlist with these albums, which you can find here.
1. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
2. Beck – Morning Phase
3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
There’s something inherently addictive about travelling. Maybe it’s the fact that seeing other parts of the world opens your eyes to how much you’ve been missing. Or possibly the heat and sunshine has infiltrated your brain, making your life in little Dublin suddenly seem monotonous. Either way, I’ve been bitten by the bug, and my travel board on Pinterest is only proliferating my addiction.
In this, the second instalment of ‘Pinterest’s most coveted’ (read the first instalment here), I bring you: Travel porn – beautiful places to visit, according to my Travel Pinterest board*.
From left: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy; Krka, Croatia; Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest, Hungary.