Finding my place after moving back to Ireland as a teenager
Irish dependence on alcohol becomes more apparent the longer I’m back in Ireland
Scout Mitchell: ‘My first year back was a novelty, as I was meeting new people, going to college for the first time, drinking legally, and getting to know the wonders of Dublin city as an adult. But as time wears on, you don’t have that conversation-starter that you had when you just moved back from living in the States.’
It is coming up to the two-year mark since I made the journey back from America to Dublin. As time ticks on, I find my memories are slowly fading and that I am becoming more disconnected from the life I lived abroad, to the point where it almost seems like it was all just a dream.
I’m going into my final year of a multimedia degree in DCU and as I do so, I often think back to my final year of high school in Oregon. Having completed my secondary level education in the states, I got to check off all those movie-like moments, from going to senior prom to riding the yellow school bus, and cheering on my school at the homecoming football game.
I lived in two different states while in America, in a large Irish expat community. Growing up in Ireland, I was shy and self-conscious. I enjoyed school, but I never really felt like I fit in. Moving abroad gave me a new-found confidence that I never knew I could have. The sense of anonymity in a foreign country is like a fresh start, in that it allows you to be the person you’ve always wanted to be as you start to see what’s actually important to you.
Emigrating as a young teenager, I moved with my family so I did not have the hardship that many Irish do in leaving their loved ones behind. I left a lot of friends, but the warmth and genuineness of Americans made it easy to make new ones, and being on social media allowed me to keep in touch with everyone at home.
I knew moving back was going to be hard, as I watched all my friends pack up their cars and begin their college journeys together. But I was determined to be optimistic, and I returned to Ireland with a positive attitude.
My first year back was a novelty, as I was meeting new people, going to college for the first time, drinking legally, and getting to know the wonders of Dublin city as an adult. But as time wears on, you don’t have that conversation-starter that you had when you just moved back from living in the States. The dependence on alcohol in social settings becomes more and more apparent, and you get sick of doing the same thing every weekend, wasting money and getting wasted.
But seeing all my friends’ Facebook and Instagram posts from across the water and comparing our lives, I feel extremely disconnected from America. I no longer feel I can relate to them. Of course this is only natural with the passing of time, but I find the longer I remain in Ireland the stronger such feelings grow.
As I come to the end of college, I’m beginning to explore career opportunities and further study. It’s an exciting time in my life, figuring out the big bad world, but I know experiencing this journey in Ireland will further shape my identity, just as my time in America did too.
I miss the vastness of America and the emphasis on opportunity and positivity that as a young person, I find is lacking here in Ireland. But I also realise I was extremely sheltered in the safety net of high school, and the bubble that is expat life.
Whether I will remain in Dublin or make the move once again, I’m unsure. What I do know is, wherever you grow up has a massive impact on your character. Living in the States was extremely beneficial to me, as it made me realise I was open to new experiences and had a passion for travel.
Moving back to Ireland for university has also been a positive experience, most obviously because the tuition fees are a lot more affordable, but more importantly it has allowed me to reconnect with my Irishness that I was beginning to lose in a foreign land (the Irish sense of humour is especially irreplaceable).
I look forward to what possibilities the future may hold, and I’m excited to see whether it’ll bring me back to the States or take me elsewhere on the map.