Sunday, 29 May 2016

I'm the happiest I've ever been...

Little did I know eight months ago that I would be sitting back at home in Donegal having had the best time of my life so far, having started and completed my first year in college. For the past few years while at school the only thing that kept me motivated and was the light at the end of the tunnel was the prospect of finally being able to spread my wings and begin a new chapter of my life as a university student. I did not have the best experience of school and I was more than ready to move on. The day I completed my last Leaving Cert exam I felt as though a huge weight of pressure and anxiety had been lifted off my shoulders and eagerly anticipated starting college the following September.

Although I was quite apprehensive as orientation week in DCU approached I knew that no matter how long it took me to settle in that I would much happier than I had been for the past few years. For the latter part of my school years I had fallen out of friendships and was unsure how easily I would make new friends. I had come to the realisation that for years, spanning back as far as when I was 9 years old I had held onto friends who had bullied, manipulated me and been anything but loyal.
Through all these years of rocky friendships there was one friend, the girl I will forever call my best friend who was my rock, always there for me and someone I could confide in as we fought the struggles of school drama together. If it wasn't for her I can only imagine how lonely I would have been through my school years. She is like a sister to me and no matter how much time we spend apart we fall right back into place when we finally do get to catch up over  cup of tea! 

I had feared being alone and always tried to hold onto friends that weren’t true friends at all! My first few days in DCU I was the shyest I had ever felt, although I knew a few people from school, for the first time I had really make an effort to talk to people I didn’t know which is still something that I have to psych myself up to do.
The first person I became friends with at college I am now best friends with. In the short space of time we’ve known each other I feel as though I’ve known her a lifetime. We first spoke when we had a course induction and I asked her if I was in the right room. I immediately knew we would be friends. I soon realised that all those years of false friendships and few genuine friends who cared about me had not been my fault and I quickly built up quite a big group of friends. It still surprised me when my new friends would ask if I was ok and noticed when I wasn’t because I was so used to being the one who cared for a friend who would never have noticed if I was having a bad day.

One of the best ways I found to meet likeminded people is by joining clubs and societies. I joined Fotosoc, Cumann Gaeach, Drama and Media Production Society and these are the places I have come to know the greatest majority of my now friends. I have grown so much as person and come out of my shell a lot having been part of clubs and societies and being recognised for work I have done as Treasurer for Fotosoc, taking part in How Gaelach are you? (where I sang for just about the first time in college, receiving a great reception), taking part in the Panto despite my reservations and finally running for Chairperson of Fotosoc which to my delight I have obtained for next year.

These are the places I’ve found people with a common interest, of varying ages and maturities and for a change I have been able to pick and choose my friends. For the past few months I have been very aware of how happy I’ve been since September and it’s been the longest amount of time I have been happy for as long as I can remember. Often I say to my mammy that I wonder how long this happiness can last (there’s the old pessimist in me) but she reminds me to enjoy it especially given how much of a hard time I had while at school.
So I suppose this is how people who enjoyed school feel and why the saying that ‘School days are the happiest days of your life’ is said, although in my case my college days have been the best days of my life and I look forward to the next three years of making friends, making memories, going on adventures and just being happy!

To tie this piece in to the title of my blog, I have often gone on an adventure, night out with my friends or a college event and been so caught up in the moment, surrounded my great friends and lots of laughter that I have forgotten to capture the moments in picture form but they will forever be captured in my memories.

D xo

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Pin pricks on a map...

Travelling is one of my  favourite things, there is something wonderful about being able to climb on board an airplane and end up miles away from home experiencing a new culture. I have been very blessed in my life to have traveled to quite a few countries in my lifetime. I do however have a bucket list that is never ending, of places I want to go, and things I want to see in this great world!

My earliest memories of going abroad are of the early morning journeys from Donegal to Belfast to then get the ferry to Scotland. My dad is from outside Glasgow and until a few years ago his parents as well as most of his siblings lived where they grew up. For as long as I can remember we have visited 25 Park Road, be it during the summer or at Christmas. The first few hours of that journey were always exciting but the only thing that got us through the last long few hours to Granny and Granda's was the thought of Granny's homemade beef stew!

The first time my family went further afield than the UK was the summer of 2006 when we went on our first foreign holiday to the beautiful North of France. We were eagerly anticipating our trip and were not disappointed. We stayed in a lovely house in a holiday village and had an absolute blast. Finding Haribos we'd never seen before was quite thrilling for 6, 8, 10 and 12 year olds. The funniest memory of that family holiday was when mammy announced to the waitress that she had 12 allergic children instead of 2 (douze...deux!)

After that there were one or two trips to England to visit mammy's friends and their family and then several years later, 2010, a second trip to France but this time to the sunny South. We stayed in a quaint, old fashioned little town called Paziols just outside Perpignan. I think we may have been the only tourists there hence why the locals tended to stare at us curiously as we walked to the river mid afternoon when the town were all siesta-ing. Being immersed in true French culture at that age ignited in me a love for travelling. My poor attempts at speaking French were always rewarded with a smile and by our last few days there it was with great excitement that my younger siblings went to the local bakery and were able to ask for 'deux baguette et six croissants' without an ounce of self doubt. 

Most of our family holidays have however been in Ireland as with six of us in the family, foreign holidays can become rather expensive but that never seemed to bother us. I have visited almost all the counties in Ireland although I must admit placing them on a map would be a bit of a struggle for me. 

Aside from family trips I have been to a few other places with the school, with friends as well as on my own.

While I was in Transition Year, I went to St Louis Missouri USA for three weeks along with five other of my classmates. We stayed with host families and went to school there. America was an overwhelming experience and it definitely proved a lot of stereotypes regarding ridiculously over sized portion sizes and kids driving almost straight out of the womb! ( 16 anyway) In all seriousness though America was a great experience, particularly the differences in their schooling styles, the teachers seemed to treat their students in High School as adults and the variety of subjects was impressive. It was in Villa that I realised I had an interest in business by taking an economics class and why I am now going a degree in business. The food, the sights and the shopping was incredible and I look forward to seeing many other states and cities in the US of A!

One of my most memorable trips has got to be the six weeks I spent in Switzerland, outside of Montreux working as House-Staff coordinator in an International summer camp. Although I was quite anxious about travelling on my own and being able to make friends when I got there it was a summer I'll never forget. I made great friends there as well as getting to know family that I hadn't seen very much of growing up. Once again I attempted to use the French I had in hopes of improving it for my French Oral. Although at first I got some funny looks eventually I was understood and could understand a lot more than I could speak. Switzerland is an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful country full of lush green fields, mountains and lakes. The atmosphere of the Montreux Jazz Festival was amazing. It was quite an adventurous summer, mountain biking, zip lining, ultimate frisbee-ing, thermal spa-ing to name but a few.

If you're still reading I commend you, as I write I remember more and more trips I've been on but if you are still reading you'll be glad to know I'm almost done, only 2 more to go (hang in there!)

After a very stressful two years studying for my Leaving Cert I wanted to have a trip to look forward to. My best friend and I decided a cultured rather than partying trip was more our style so we booked flights and a hotel to spend  days in London. We booked tickets to see Wicked, we went to the Harry Potter Studios, Camden Markets, Covent Garden for breakfast in a French bakery, we shopped for hours on Oxford street and quickly got the hang of the underground, or rather Aoife did and I followed! It was a fantastic trip and the perfect get away after the hell that was the LC!


Finally my most recent trip was to a place I'd never even considered and that was Budapest. I joined Fotosoc this year, as it seemed only fitting given my love for photography and my lack of know how when it came to using my Canon DSLR on anything other than Auto. We spent 4 days in the beautiful city exploring the wonderful architecture as well as rather cool bars and clubs. This was my first winter holiday and although the minus temperatures were rather shocking it was well worth the numb hands and feet to see the city in all its snowy glory. (and the mulled wine helped!)


I have been bitten by the travel bug and along with that have decided to be more spontaneous in my 21st year as of this week I have booked a mini trip to England post college exams and I'm going to Tenerife for a sunbathing by the pool and drinking cocktails holiday with my bestie Karen for the beginning of September. I have so many places on a list that I want to see and some of those could be happening within the next year so watch this space.

As the title suggests all these places I've been I have literally pin pricked on a map that hangs above my bed, adding another one every time I travel to a new place to viualise my captured moments around the world...

D xo