Just do it!

Photo taken at Treasure Island, San Francisco, California

Photo taken at Treasure Island, San Francisco, California

So only about four people know what it was like for me moving away and as I sit on my bed this evening reading my cards and letters that everyone was so kind to give me before I left, I find it only fitting that I write this. Side note – YAY no more writers block!!

I was never scared about moving away and when everyone told me I was very brave, I just kind of thought ‘hey, it’s an adventure’. I got up that morning, stripped my bed (wouldn’t be like me to leave without being a little dramatic), went down for breakfast and set off with my family on my merry way to the airport. First stop was to drop our little ‘teacher in training’ off at the bus stop, which would bring her to teaching practice. It was quick and easy, like ripping a bandaid off, almost like I was going to see her later that day (ignoring the fact it was going to be 14 months).

Then there were three (Dad, Mum & the youngest)! We all lined up to check in, Dad making friends with the people in the line, hoping they’d look after me and Mum making sure I had everything I needed. Bag checked, ticket in hand, it was time to go through security. We walked upstairs in terminal two, making small talk, acting like I was heading away for the weekend. All of a sudden it was time to say goodbye..

I can’t remember who I hugged first but they all got their hugs and kiss goodbye. I remained strong, no tears!! I started to walk up to security… I looked around and in that moment I decided I was no longer going, I was staying at home! I ran back into Mum’s arms with tears in my eyes, I can’t remember saying much, but instead listening to my Mum’s encouraging words. After another big group hug I decided I was going to do this! Dried my eyes, bag on shoulder and off I went, this time without looking back!

Now don’t get me wrong, the water works started straight away once I got on the plane, sat in my lovely middle seat and began to read the letters my family had sent me away with. Now thinking back that wasn’t my smartest move, but sure I’m known to not always make the smartest of moves.

The point I suppose I am trying to make is, although things may seem scary, daunting or a little out of your reach, if it is something you want, what is the harm in trying! Nothing comes easy but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!

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Health & Fitness & all that Jazz…

Photo taken at Fort Mason, San Francisco, California

Culture in Ireland is slowly but surely changing. People are becoming more conscious about what they eat and making a conscious choice to exercise.  When I was in secondary school I would come home and make pasta with cheese. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t cause I wasn’t able to cook something fancy, but it was the mentality of what was the point when I was only cooking for one. My youngest sister now comes home from school and makes herself a sandwich, with chicken, pesto, sundried tomato’s and goats cheese. Now she may be the exception, as she is quite the chef, but I do feel younger generations are more aware of healthy eating. As Operation Transformation makes its way back onto Irish television screens, we see communities getting together to come out and get fit! Local supermarkets advertising weekly deals on fruit and vegetable, all ready to give us that kick we need to get started.

I recently bought myself an UP Jawbone, for those of you who do not know this is a fitness tracker. It tracks how many steps you take daily, your sleep and you can also record the food you eat through the app. December 2013, myself and my sisters bought one of these bands for my dad and to this day I am surprised he religiously wears it (expect for last week when he momentarily lost it, but that’s another story). It is suggested that you aim to take 10,000 steps per day and I am finding myself getting disappointed if I do not surpass this target. Another thing that gives me a slight nudge in the right direction is that I have ‘teamed up’ with my dad and a close friend back home, which has released my competitive streak… I must beat them on a daily basis, although I don’t think they are aware of this competition.

I have also joined a gym close to work and try to go every day after work and if I am feeling super motivated sometimes on a Saturday too. I am not going to lie, the steam room and jacuzzi have a huge pull on that motivation, but that only happens if I commit to an intense 45 plus minute workout beforehand. I find my peers here are very focused on eating healthy and keeping active, some go as far as eating lunch at their desk as to have time for a 40 minute run during the day. People take pride in their health/appearance going for their bi-weekly manicures and I have even heard of people in the gym talk about their weekly massages!

Shortly after moving into our apartment we bought a Nutri-bullet, something I had never heard of before and was convinced I was also never going to use it. Now, I have two juices a day, one for breakfast and another as a mid-afternoon snack. One day in the office my manager walked by and saw me drinking my dark green drink, he asked did it have kale. As I nodded he began to reply, ‘Oh you certainly are a true Californian now’! A statement that made me laugh, people at home eat Kale too!

On the odd sunny occasion in Ireland you will hear the phrase, ‘the sun comes out, clothes come off’. You will see young girls wander around as if they are in the south of Spain, and men wandering around the city centre with tops off as if they are at the beach. Imagine if Ireland was always guaranteed that sunny weather throughout the summer/year, I feel people would be more health conscious, similar to how people are when they are prepping to go away on holiday – getting beach bod ready! I certainly know I became more aware of what I was eating and ensuring I got that gym session in once I booked my one way ticket to California.

Ireland may be years behind in a lot of things (roads and transport systems to name a few) but it is catching on quickly when it comes to the importance of fitness and healthy eating. Gyms and fitness classes are popping up across the country and there are more healthy options available when eating out. I hope by the time I move back home that Ireland will be on par with the way of living over here (maybe leaving out the weekly massages), hoping that people will invest in their health and see the benefits of staying fit!

Keeping In Touch

                                     Photo taken at Lands End, San Francisco, California

As a child we go to school and during the summer we spend it with our families, abroad, at summer camps or in various other ways. The point is after the summer we all go back to the classroom, trade war stories and start all over again. The process is quite similar as we go through secondary school and even through university. Although during the transition between primary school, secondary school and university, friends may move away, but personally I found most stayed close by and remained in a similar routine to mine.

Now, as majority of us have graduated, our lives are very different and our schedules are certainly worlds apart. Friends have chosen to continue their education, others have immigrated, others have found themselves with permanent nine to five jobs in their field of study and others have chosen to travel the world!  We take holidays at different times, have different priorities and our day to day lives vary greatly.

When I decided to immigrate my dad asked me what I was most nervous about. I know he was expecting me to say ‘knowing no-one’ or ‘moving away from my family’ or anything along those lines, instead I replied with ‘losing touch with my friends’. He quickly reminded me that one of my best friends lives in Philadelphia and it had been over a year since I had seen her, he then went on to remind me of another friend who had just come back from two years in Australia, both friends I am still in touch with.

Recently the time difference has started to get to me… eight hours is proving to be a nightmare when trying to arrange chats with friends. When I get up, they’re in work, and when I’m finished work they’re in bed. Now my sister has had the bright idea to make things more difficult by moving to Finland for five months… that’s a TEN hour time difference. Last Sunday I had a three-way Skype call with my family, in San Francisco it was morning, Ireland late afternoon and in Finland it was night time. Imagine what it was like when we didn’t have Skype!

Although I have always said I didn’t want this site to become too personal, I have quickly come to realize that it might be the easiest way to keep everyone informed. While I still intend to keep information broad enough, I am going to start documenting more of my adventure here. Till next time…

Thinking of Home

Christmas Tree Union Square

Photo taken at Union Square, San Francisco, California

I am officially living here 2 months, although it still feels like I’m only here a wet week! In that time I have celebrated Halloween, gone to Lake Tahoe, experienced a real Thanksgiving, partied when the Giants won The World Series and so much more..! With only two weeks till Christmas I find myself missing home, with this in mind I thought I would jot down things I miss from home and others I don’t. Now I am not going to state the obvious such as friends, family and my mom’s home cooking but rather things you wouldn’t necessarily think of.

Things I miss:

Chocolate

Although my family has spoiled me, sending over some good ole Cadbury’s chocolate, it’s not the same when you know you have to ration it. I miss heading to the local shop and being able to buy it myself, instead of hiding it away.

Food

A lot of what I miss from home is food related, actually a lot of my life in general is based on food. If I was to go home for 24 hours I have a list of restaurants I would visit, such as Wagamama’s, Bay, Milano’s, a fresh bag of chippers chips (seriously lacking over here) and of course grab a white hot chocolate in Butlers.

Christmas Time

When someone says Christmas I think of dressing up my winter woolies, spending time with my family and curling up in-front of the wood burning fire. In California it’s not the same, the sun is shining, woolies are tucked away and for me the festive spirit is just not there.

Water

This one may seem crazy but the water is different over here and I don’t mean tap water. My hair never seems to be clean and needs to be washed all the time!! On that note I am also dreading the inevitable haircut.

The News & Weather Reports

In Ireland the main news station is RTE at 6pm or 9pm. In America there are so many news stations, therefore, it is a very competitive industry. As a result some of these stations air the most ridiculous news. I find it hard to find out what is actually happening in the World! I still find myself checking Independent.ie and the Irish Times.

Things I certainly do not miss:

Public Transport

On average in Dublin you could be waiting between 20 – 50 minutes for a bus. Here the maximum wait for the buses in my area (38, 38L & 1) is 8 minutes! You certainly don’t see people running for the bus and you’d be surprised how many bus drivers will wait for you if they see your attempting to cross the road to them. While I miss the convince of having my car there is definitely no need for one when you live and work in the city.

The Weather

Cold, wet, windy, hormonal weather in Ireland vs. bright, sunny, sometimes foggy weather in California. What would you choose?

Taxis/Cabs

I can count on one hand how many times I have hailed a cab since I have arrived. I always order a cab through Lyft or Uber, as I find it to be more secure and I do not have to worry if the card machine is working or if I have enough cash. Regardless whether I hail a taxi or order one through an app it is still so much cheaper than Ireland.

I’m sure there is a lot I have left out and I’m sure there is a lot I have yet to discover, but for now that is it! Don’t hesitate to send some chocolate my way if you’re really embracing the giving Christmas spirit 🙂

Finding THAT Job

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I was very active throughout university, always getting involved with extra-curricular activities even in my final year. As a result I have met some inspiring, dedicated, successful individuals and I continue to do so. Little did I know all these extra-curricular activities were building a foundation for my professional career. These experiences have proven to be invaluable! On graduating I was approached (via: LinkedIn) about a marketing position in Microsoft. This particular position was advertised for someone with 3+ years’ experience. Several interviews later an offer was extended to me and I started work the following week. I will be forever grateful to my manager who did not label me as ‘just graduated’, but saw beyond that to all the experience and knowledge I had gained through my involvement in extra-curricular activities. All this made moving to America more daunting for me, as I was going to have to enter into a very competitive job market, something I had not done before.

Starting out on your job search you can be faced with filling out hundreds of job applications/screening questions and on average only 10% of the them may make it to a recruiter. The best advice I have received was… step away from the computer and go network!! Ever hear the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’well it’s true! Here are some tips I found to be useful:

  • EventBrite -Register yourself and look for networking events in your area.
  • Meetup.com is also a good site to check out for meeting locals.
  • LinkedIn – Study your connections, who knows who, ask for introductions to people in companies/industries you’re interested in working. Ask them for a 15min coffee.
  • Referrals –  Know someone working where you are interested in applying to? Ask for a referral. Most time it’s a win win, you get moved to the top of the pile and they receive compensation if you’re hired!

I have always believed in finding a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. While I know finding a job is tough I still stand by this! You may not absolutely love every aspect of you job you should love about 80% of it. Keep that in mind throughout your search.

A few more tips to help you along your job search…

  1. LinkedIn – upgrade your account to the Job Seeker Premium, you get the first 30 days free. However, there is no point in doing this unless your profile is up-to-date. The thing to remember is LinkedIn is a platform to advertise yourself, only put up experience that is relevant to the job you’re looking for.
  2. Business Cards – get personal cards made. If you’re Irish you’re guaranteed to feel like a twat, but get use to it! There is a different format for American business cards so if you’re getting them made overseas make sure they are the correct dimensions, otherwise you’ll stand out… and not in a good way. Moo.com and Vista Print are 2 good sites to check out.
  3. Alumni Network – most universities have an alumni network, connecting past and present students. It is a fantastic facility, make use of it! Meet others that attended your university, you can even share war stories. Dublin City University (DCU) have a fantastic network with Chapters all over the world, including San Francisco.
  4. Glassdoor – not only can you get an overview of salaries in different companies, this is also a good platform for finding jobs.

Good luck 🙂

San Francisco I have arrived!

         Photo taken at Bakers Beach, San Francisco, California

As mentioned in a previous post I had been getting ready to relocate to the States… I have now well and truly arrived! This is my first time living away from my friends and family for a prolonged period of time and I am happy to say, ‘so far, so good’.

I arrived on the 30th of September and checked myself into USA Hotels on Polk and Jones. I stayed in a four-bed female dorm. I had booked myself in for just under 2 weeks knowing it would be tough to find accommodation, so this gave me plenty of time. The hostel provided you with bath towels and breakfast (pancakes, bananas, ‘oatmeal’), and wi-fi. This hostel is close to Union Square but also the Tenderloin, it’s safe once you do not go wander a few blocks over (walking away from Unions Sq.).

Day two – I checked out the Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre (IIPC). This is a wonderful facility and I would advise everyone relocating to check it out. The Irish community is very close and I have found everyone is willing to help you out. They run workshops, meet ups, have a list of possibly accommodation options (short-term & long-term) and career options (mostly laboring, hospitality & personal care). Since arriving I have attended their LinkedIn workshop, graduate meet-ups, networking mixer and their November Irish remembrance mass.

Coming over here I was determined to live with different nationalities and immerse myself in American culture, this is easier said than done! I had spent weeks on Craigslist before coming over and continued the hunt when I arrived… I was getting nowhere (literally no responses). Through the IIPC I met Emma*, she had been on the hunt longer than I had and knew her way around. We found an apartment together in Central Richmond. Here a week and I could finally stop living out of my suitcase (& obviously check out of the hostel early)! The apartment came unfurnished but that was easily sorted with an overwhelming trip to Ikea. I now live with 3 Irish girls and could not be happier!

Advice when looking for an apartment :

  1. Craigslist is where it is at – instead of applying to ads place your own ad, say where you want to live, your budget and a little about yourself.
  2. Arrange private viewings if possible, there is less competition this way as you get to spend 1:1 time with the renter.
  3. Go to viewings equipped with a statement of income, a reference and most importantly the DEPOSIT! We had no credit rating so this was important.

We are now fully set up and taking advantage of all San Francisco has to offer. Before I sign off I am going to leave you with some tips I wish someone had shared with me when setting up.

  1. Internet – we decided to go with Comcast as it was already operational in the apartment block. You can pay an additional charge for someone to come set it up, to be honest if its common sense, save the $. So far so good the services has been reliable.
  2. Mattress –  Aladdin Rugs is where it is at. I got a Queen mattress (spring & memory foam) for $225. Albert (the owner) is helpful, honest and such a character.
  3. Mobile Phone – this is something you should set up the day you arrive! Make sure googlemaps is both compatible and reliable on your phone, especially if you are travelling alone. When I first arrived I set up a pay monthly plan with Metro PCS, I quickly changed over to T-Mobile to the $85 per/mo plan. Its expensive but I get 5BG Data, unlimited international calls & texts (to mobiles & landlines).
  4. Google Express – when you sign up you get 4 months free delivery. They have a number of retailers on board (Target, WholeFoods, Costco, etc.). If you order before 1pm you can get that day delivery. My only compliant is that the delivery windows are quite wide but the door to door delivery makes up for it.
  5. Uber & Lyft & Sidecar – too late for public transport or sometimes its just quicker in a cab, check out these apps. When setting up an account get a friends code (or use mine) and it means your first ride is free and they also get a free ride.
    1. Lyft – ciara738507 – personally this is my favorite. If you are a party of 2 or it is just yourself I suggest you use LyftLine, this means you share the cab with people going the same direction as you and your cab turns out to be super cheap!
    2. Uber – ciarae7 – Uberpool is the same as LyftLine but I’ve found it slightly more expensive.
    3. Sidecar -the cheapest of the three, but not as well known. Haven’t used it enough to have much of an opinion.

Get up, dress up, show up and never give up!

Get up, dress up, show up _ never give up!! by Genevieve Rhode #16130

As I plan to move away I find it is important to spend quality time with those closest to me, especially my grandmother. She lives close by, however, during the summer months she spends it down in Connemara to be near her only daughter. My grandfather and her bought a house down there as they wanted to be near by to see their grandchildren grow up.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went down and spent time with her and I am so glad I did. I had the opportunity to sit down with her and learn about the era she grew up in, what was acceptable/ what was not and how women were expected to appear. Now I am a girl who enjoys her comfort, I don’t fuss over my clothes and I certainly don’t mind leaving the house with no makeup. Of course I doll up for a night on the town, special occasions and going out for dinner, however, it is not a priority for me. This my grandmother picked up on…

Yesterday she called for a catch up and told me about a saying she had read and had thought of me… ‘Get up, dress up, show up’. Now she asked me to pay attention to the middle part! Now I bite my lip out of annoyance and that little voice in my head started with ‘what is she talking about… you’ve great skin… she saw you on a bad day… you weren’t going to see anyone…’ so on and so forth.

But as I listened to what she was saying to me I realised she had a point. When my grandmother was growing up she never left the house without her hair done, eyebrows filled in and a bit of lippy, she took pride in her appearance. She always wore flattery clothes and to this day she still does. There was no such thing as a lazy day when she was growing up and you would never catch her in a tracksuit!

So I’ve decided to turn the page, put in a little bit of effort, get rid of the clothes that I know are unflattering… Who said my comfy clothes can’t be flattering? Taking a leaf from my grandmothers book…

Those 3 Questions…

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I am moving to North American at the end of the summer for 14 months. This is something I have always said I would do, so when I told my parents I was going they were like ‘yeah ok’ and I knew what they really meant was ‘come back to us when you’ve booked your flights’. I could understand this reaction as we hadn’t actually been home from Chicago 24 hours and also the fact I had been going to America for the last 3 years.

Now, the date has been set, visa has been approved and flights have been booked, it has become a reality! Slowly, I have begun to hear my parents tell people and talk about it as a reality. There are three questions that are repeatedly asked, the sequence varies…

Question 1: Do you have a job set up?

Question 2: Do you have a place to stay?

Question 3: You know people over there, don’t you?

… but it all ends the same, ‘I’m sure you’ll have a great time’, to which I politely smile and thank them.

It is funny to watch everyone’s reaction when the answer to all three questions is no! There is that look on their face that screams ‘ARE YOU CRAZY’.

The truth is I can’t bloody wait. I am the eldest in my family and have never lived away from home on a long term basis (excluding the adventurous summer spent in Chicago, but that is for another day). What appeals to me most about moving is the fact I know no one, no baggage, no expectations, a fresh start!

Don’t get me wrong I will miss my family so much, but as my 7 year old cousin reminded me over the weekend, we now have Whatsapp, FaceTime (not that I actually have an iPhone) and Skype. It is not as if my own form of communication is a letter in the post!

Through A Childs Eyes

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I’ve never had one of those ‘when I grow up I want to be…’ moments. I was never sure what I wanted to be, even now I’m not 100% sure. But I know I’ll get there eventually!

Last weekend I was babysitting a local family, one of the children asked me did I like my job. I politely smiled. Now don’t get me wrong I love my job, I work in a fabulous organisation, have great responsibility and have gained exposure in areas of the industry I use to only dream about.

Of course that question was followed by many other questions. Do you do something new every day? Is it fun? All the questions got me thinking… Children have such an innocent view on life, to them it seems silly for someone to do a job that isn’t their dream job! When did that change? At what age do we stop thinking that way?

I have always been a strong believer in never doing something that does not make you happy! My parents use to laugh at me each time I reminded them of that. Dad would always say ‘everyone must start with the ‘dirty jobs’ and make their way up’. I can understand this concept as I see so many of my friends on the repetitive cycle of look for a job, go for an interview, not get the job  due to no experience. How on earth is anyone meant to gain this experience if they no-one will take a leap of faith and give them a job??

I have totally gone off topic… welcome to my mind!

At what point in a child’s life are they told being an astronaut/ firefighter/ princess is not realistic? Why can’t we all grow up understanding that anything is possible with some hard work and dedication? Fair enough, being a princess is a bit far fetch, but a girl can dream!

It’s time to teach the children in your life that they can achieve anything they want once they set their mind to it! Better yet, show them!!