Reflections on a year abroad

One year ago I was getting on a plane, with a one-way ticket from Vancouver to Dublin, and all of my physical possessions in a few bags. It wasn’t my first expat experience, although perhaps it should’ve felt like the most momentous. This was across an ocean! In a country I’d never been to before! For who-knows-how-long! And yet, I wasn’t the least bit apprehensive. What was the worst that could happen, I figured?

It’s an attitude that I try to remind myself of often. Expats, world travellers, immigrants, and all variety of hustlers, we’re all risk-takers, but we know a secret: most risks aren’t really that risky. Getting on a plane is easy, and you figure the rest out when you get there. Starting a business or a side hustle doesn’t have to be agonised over, it can be started with a simple, single step. In fact, that’s the only way. That’s how it works, and you don’t need to wait for permission, or for some pre-tested checklist. And if we can remember that, we can gather the nerve to do some pretty epic shit.

I’ve lived in Ireland for a year now. Dublin feels like home, or home-ish. I’ve mostly figured out what I needed to, gotten the lay of the land. I’ve had those perfect, expat-magic days when everything about this city seemed wonderful and significant. And I’ve had those rough days where I felt out of place and uncomfortable and sad.

Like the day I found out I wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage here because of the work visa I’m on, for example. In hindsight, it may have been a blessing in disguise, but at the time, facing what I thought would be endlessly rising rents, and viewing a flat that I could totally, really easily afford to buy, being told “no” felt like a devastating blow. Sometimes being a foreigner means having doors slammed in your face, decisively and for no good reason. The rules are sometimes just different for us, it’s not fair, and it sucks. But #immigranthustle means accepting that life isn’t fair, and developing resilience.

Because not being able to buy a house does suck, maybe, but when things don’t come easily is when we have the chance to be our most creative and tenacious and fearless. And when we’re a bit off-script is sometimes where we can find room to play in the margins, whether it’s carefully managing our tax residency, or maintaining funds in multiple currencies. Or simply not buying a property in the run-up to another housing boom. Just a few small things that spring to mind. 😉

And I think taking these risks, and weathering the setbacks, has a compounding effect. We just keep getting stronger and braver, ready to take on even bigger risks, unafraid. I need that reminder, as I’m currently preparing to take an even bigger risk, something potentially much further off-script than I’ve done thus far. And I’m surprisingly at peace about it. More than that, I’m excited. What’s the worst that could happen?