It’s been a week since I jetted off to L.A. It’s been a week, and I now know that I wasn’t as prepared for the big change as much as I thought. I spent months talking about my trip away to a place called ‘Irvine’. I took time making my amazing playlist including songs ranging from ‘California Girls’ to ‘Party in the USA’. Despite this, I only realised on landing that the main thing I knew about this place is that it’s close to Hollywood. I realised I had no clue how to survive on my own in a foreign land – but, I’ve managed and if I can manage, anyone can.
To anyone considering studying abroad, just do it. So much has happened in the past week, I can’t imagine what the upcoming months hold. Beginnings can be a bit tough, especially if you’re like me. I tend to panic sometimes when unfamiliar situations arise.
On my first day, I got lost several times. Getting lost in an unfamiliar city is scary enough, without the trouble of your phone dying. I got lost in search of a shop that sold duvet. If you are like me, you are probably thinking “How hard could it be to find a duvet?” All I’m saying is when I left my house it was bright and on returning it was pitch black.
I asked several people for help and one even searched ‘find duvets’ into Google. Despite their great efforts, I had to take matters into my own hands. I walked, and didn’t stop walking for hours. I hopped on a bus and ended up near the beach, nowhere near any shop with a duvet – or any shop at all, for that matter. I ran many red lights, unaware that the green light was for the cars and not me.
I finally gave up and decided to search for a taxi. Do you know what’s harder than finding a duvet in Irvine? Finding a taxi. I had to ask Pizza Hut to phone me a taxi, and this taxi driver later became my personal chauffer. After finding a duvet, I experienced the one moment nobody ever wants to experience (especially in another country). My card said declined, and I nearly gave up on life then and there. But, I survived. I managed to get my duvet and back to our new home where I reconsidered whether I made the right decision coming here or not.
Seven days later, I’ve travelled to Newport Beach and watched the sun set with new people. I’ve gone to one of those sorority parties where everyone has red cups and are trying to prove how badly they want new friends. I’ve been rejected to pubs and learned that my new Turkish friend loves doing ‘cheers’ a lot. And I noticed because I’m only 20 my hand is usually drink-less. I’ve come to realise how much American students love expressing their opinions in classes and how lectures revolve around our opinions – something that terrified me when I was asked to speak out in a big lecture hall. I’ve laughed at Starbucks’ attempts to pronounce my name and heard the reaction, “Oh my god you’re Irish, that’s so cool!” too many times. Even though this is all scary and new, it’s also exciting and fun. Irvine is different to Galway. It’s a lot bigger, but I’m determined to find my way around it.
-By Saoirse Rafferty