Someone once told me that “friends are the family you choose.” Made sense, seemed true, but I have only now come to really appreciate this sentence.
My family is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and five hours behind me. So, I had to make another family over here. It hasn’t always been easy and the first couple months certainly got lonely, but if that is what it took to gain the friends that I now have, it was well worth it.
It is a unique experience to be brought to another country and put into a world filled with unfamiliarity. What felt like a vacation for the first little while turned into a reality. Suddenly the crazy green hillsides that I pass by on the way to games don’t mesmerize me anymore. Walking on Grafton Street isn’t something I do just to listen to the live music anymore, it is because I am walking to a store or dinner. This place is my home, and with a home comes people to share it with.
Sport Changes Life certainly helped me out by selecting such amazing people to be in this program. The first week here with all of us scholars together was incredible because we got so close and really formed a bond. As you can imagine, breaking off to our separate locations within the country at the end of the week was difficult. Yet, despite the distance between us all, we find ways to hang out or just be there for one another, whether that be staying at each other’s place after a game, meeting up on the weekends, or just texting! I definitely have the advantage living in Dublin because this is often where people come to meet up, so I love having people here.
Obviously I can’t see the other scholars on a daily or even necessarily a weekly basis. That was hard to accept at first because they were my automatic friends and the people I felt comfortable with. I’m not particularly the most outgoing person at first, so finding friends here would take some time. Acquaintances, on the other hand, are easy to make. It was not long before I had many people to smile and wave at, or have short conversations with. What I needed though were people to have over to my place, go over theirs, get lunch with, share stories with. Expecting this to happen overnight is unrealistic. My teammates, classmates, and peers have their lives here, their families here. When they leave class, they go home to their parents or significant others. I can’t magically fit into their schedule. For all they knew, I probably had my own busy schedule and life to get to.
This blog isn’t about the process of how I made my family here though, so I won’t bore you with that. It is about how lucky I am to have them now. My teammates and classmates are now my close friends. I’ve made some best friends that have helped me in ways that they can’t understand unless they go live in an entirely different country for a year. We have made some great memories together- having tea parties, getting food together, going out on the town, or literally just sitting in my room talking. I have those people that I needed and was longing for. I no longer only have a family to the west of the Atlantic, I have one to the east as well. I will always have a reason to come back here and visit.
If friends really are the family we choose, then I am blessed with the family I have accumulated. .