What’s your biggest life changing event?

This is my favorite personal story. Shortly after graduating from University within three weeks I quit my job, ended the relationship with the man I believed at the time I was going to marry, obtained a work visa, found an apartment (flat) abroad online to share with local occupants, and bought a one way ticket to Dublin, Ireland.  Some may say that having a child would be the biggest life changing event but no, not for me.
At that time moving abroad, on a whim, with no job, no savings, never having left the country, knowing nobody abroad, and making it on my own was my biggest life changing event.

ireland w_amy_Copy
My front door to my flat, Dublin, Ireland: I was overqualified with my degree, and couldn’t get a job, at first, so some of my crazy jobs in Ireland ranged from being a Bouncer to a Coaster Girl!

This change led to other changes, which also opened the door to me meeting my German husband which has led me to motherhood and beyond. Moving and living abroad changed the path of my life and the person I am today.

Many may think it dreamy or quaint to move to Ireland, but for me it was not easy– more of a nightmare, at first, and one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to face. It took me weeks to find a job, which entailed 8+ hours a day hiking around Dublin, dropping off resumes and begging for interviews.

My measly $350 savings evaporated quickly. My Speech Pathology and Audiology degree was not an advantage to getting a job but, rather, a disadvantage because everyone wanted British speakers for my specific degree not American speakers and/or an actual degree made me too overqualified to be hired.

Learning so much more about Ireland than what many American tourist know
Learning so much more about Ireland than what many American tourist know

With $30 to my name, and facing possibly begging for food, I finally convinced a bar owner to hire me as a part time barkeeper/bouncer. The bouncer part of checking ID’s was not too hard and I was also a coaster girl. This meant going through the club and making sure everyone always had a coaster for their drink. Great job descriptions to add to a resume, right?

The next bar that I worked at had me making drinks very special order for Irish, so not the same drinks I was used to making from my days of bartending through college for Americans. It was a great challenge to learn all these new drinks, not get tipped like you get in America, and then having to also work the Chinese Karaoke room upstairs, or the sketchy Gothic room in the basement. After bartending until 4am, because drinking goes past the 2am curfew which I was used to in America, I had to clean and walk home.

This usually meant walking in the cold, rainy, and dark streets of Dublin, always by myself, to my flat which was usually unoccupied because my Irish roommates were never home. Often I was verbally accosted by drunk Irish guys walking the streets.
It didn’t help that my flat was in one of the worst neighborhoods of all of Dublin. Being a foreigner, how should I have known that beforehand? No proper Southern Irish usually ventured into this part of Dublin and taxi drivers would not drop off or pickup in this area at certain times. Walking home was my only option no matter how cold, windy, rainy, time of the night (early morning) or sketchy; I was alone and had to walk to my flat, “my home.”

My French girlfriend and a trip to Wales that we made together
My French girlfriend and a trip to Wales that we made together

After bartending 9pm-4am, I would sleep a couple of hours then get up to once again spend 5-8+ hours walking Dublin looking for a proper job.
I stayed tired, broke, felt alone, in a constant state of culture shock and wanted to go home. Most nights, I think if I hadn’t been so scared and tired I would have cried myself to sleep.

No matter what, though, I had refused to give up and go home, because I knew I would find my way, and that the experience and mattering of successfully making it on my own in another country would be a challenge, affecting me in ways incomparable to anything else.

Within three weeks, I started getting some great job offers and accepted a job which to this day was the greatest paying job I ever had for what I did. It was just a great fun job!

Also, I found a French girl to room with, helping me to save more money for travel, and I ended up becoming best friends with her. Even after Ireland, we spent years traveling some parts of Europe together, one of my greatest birthday presents was a trip to Paris via her, and she was even a bridesmaid in my wedding to a German man in Germany.

Another just beautiful picture in Wales with my French girlfriend
Another just beautiful picture in Wales with my French girlfriend

I ended up staying and living in Ireland and then Scotland and eventually Germany. Working and traveling Europe as a young woman, by myself, had me face challenges that strengthened me unspeakably. Overcoming the all-inclusive change of leaving home, moving abroad, never giving up and rooting myself in another country, completely on my own, was the greatest change of my life!

What event in your life has changed you? Have you ever picked up and moved? how did that change you? What has been your biggest life changing event?

Sharing is Caring!

6 thoughts on “What’s your biggest life changing event?

  1. I would love to hear more. What made you make the tough decision to go so impulsively rather than more planned-out with greater savings or a job in place? Had you always dreamed of living in Ireland or just living abroad in general? I still dream of doing something similar, but it seems so fraught with difficulty. Getting a visa without a job seems especially tough now. I would love to just pack up and move to a different part of the U.S. even just for an adventure.

    • Hi Alisa, thanks for your feedback.
      I wasn’t happy with my job, finance, and just knew that the timing was right to take a leap of faith and go abroad at that time or I would never. Luckily, I was only 4 months graduated with a college degree so I could easily get a student visa. I wish I had of saved more money so I could have traveled even more, but when the idea to move abroad came over me, I knew I had to do it quickly before getting scared and changing my mind. It was also a rush to do something so impulsive and challenging.

      Yes, I had always wanted to go abroad: Australia, Europe, Russia, Asia. I chose Ireland because I thought it would be an English speaking country and easy introduction into culture shock….

      Where do you live now Alisa? Or where are some places in the US or abroad that you would like to move to?

      One thing that was of great help was getting on lots of travel boards for expats in Ireland. I was able to ask a lot of questions so to have at least a feel for Dublin and the process of finding a job beforehand. If you ever decided to do the same, this would be a suggestion of mine; connecting to others via local meetup groups, expats and such.

      Actually, one of the other wisemommies’ bloggers, that is our story of becoming friends; when she moved from Germany to Texas. We met through a meetup group and ended up becoming best of friends. I helped her family find a place to live, involved in some community groups and get to know the layout of Dallas….

  2. I love this! I am so happy you stopped by my blog. I feel like there are 2 types of fun: fun that is belly laughing and in the moment, and the other is looking back later and being unable to believe how cool and crazy something is. So far moving abroad is more of the latter- but still amazing!

Leave a Comment