Student Update: Everyone needs a year away - and here’s why


Emma McCormack, a final-year Agriculture student is back with her next update.

Student Update: Everyone needs a year away - and here’s why

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  • 2 years ago

Emma McCormack, a final-year Agriculture student is back with her next update.

Emma McCormack, a final-year Agriculture student is back with her next update.

Success happens outside the comfort zone. I sit here on an airplane making my way home after 3 months in America. Before that, I spent 5 months in Scotland. I'm returning home for the back end of the year - into my final year of college. Every single young person in Ireland should travel if the opportunity arises. If it doesn't arise, go anyway.

I can't wait to touch down in Ireland this morning, get some real brown bread and tea, and catch up with my dogs. It's been a long 8 months away from home with limited visits. That said, I can't wait to get away again. I've caught the bug. Last Christmas, I had second thoughts about travelling away alone. I was hesitant about this new adventure where I needed to be a responsible adult and take care of myself.

I wasn't overly sheltered before moving away, thankfully, having been in college in Waterford for the past 3 years. It's a 2-hour drive twice a week and being that far away taught me all about paying bills, cooking for myself and dealing with life's problems without the constant advice and supervision of my parents. Moving out of the country is a lot different though - there's no tipping home for the spuds on Friday evening, unfortunately.

The first couple of weeks away aren't the best, especially if you don't know anyone but you'll surprise yourself how strong you are and how quickly this new place begins to feel like home. America was a little harder, being further away, with a time difference of 5 hours along with the fact that I was in one of the world's busiest cities, the Big Apple, far from Friesian cows or green paddocks.

WHERE WOULD I BE IF I HADN'T BOOKED THAT FLIGHT?

Like I said, you can only learn and improve when you move a little away from what you know well. I can't help but think to myself, what if I had changed my mind back at Christmas, and stayed in Ireland for work placement? I'd be nowhere near where I am now, and yet I still have miles to go. However, I definitely have learned a lot in 2018 so far and I'm eternally grateful to myself for going ahead with what I wasn't going to.

I could live anywhere now I think, and I have plans to travel plenty more before I settle into any concrete situations. This Friday I'm heading to bonnie Scotland - back to where it all began this year.

It's just a short trip before I'm back to college but it will be worthwhile all the same. The familiar faces will be welcome, as well as a catch up with the cows and taking time to note how things have changed since I was there, back in the long, cold spring of 2018. I'll never forget it and yet it seems like years ago.

ONE WORD OF ADVICE, IF NOTHING ELSE

If I could advise even one person to travel - on a J1 visa, spend a semester or a year or two away, it's you. It doesn't matter what age you are or what experience you have. If you're willing to learn, that's all you need. That and a bit of determination. You'll learn as much about yourself as you will about the surrounding culture. As cheesy as it sounds, nothing feels as good as independence and seeing your own hard work pay off. The easy way out is never one to tell stories about.

JUMPING BEYOND ALL BOUNDARIES

Last week, I jumped from an airplane from 10,000 feet above ground, with just a brightly coloured flimsy-looking parachute to save me from catastrophe. Nowadays, skydiving is considered a safe enough activity - it's not common to hear of things going awry. That's not to say it isn't extremely scary though!

As the instructor opened the door of the plane and the wind slapped me in the face relentlessly, my heart was in my mouth. I felt sick. He laughed as I told him I was questioning my recent decision to do this. Once I had my feet outside the aircraft, he gave me a wee push and we were airborne. For 30 seconds we free-fell, tumbling head over heels, I had glimpses of the plane above as well as acres and acres of land, trees and water below me. Then the parachute took over, we slowed a little, and the experience was just breathtaking. Indescribable.

No cows did I manage to spot, but the view and the rush of adrenaline was something you couldn't explain. It's experiences like that and pushing yourself further than you ever thought possible, that makes travelling the gem that it is.

If you can go, go. Honestly, even if farming at home is what you want to do indefinitely, you'll be home doing that for long enough. Don't set yourself up for any regrets in the one life you were given.

Taking on a big job or responsibility like running a farm is not something you can spontaneously jet away from in the morning. Your 20's are your selfish years, or so they say. Your chance to learn, grow, be reckless and build yourself up to be the best person you can.

THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME FOR FARMING AT HOME

You'll be home long enough. Plenty of years you'll be stuck at that farming hardship and even if you love it just like I do, it's good to see different places and ways of life to that of home before settling into decades in the wellies. A few years away produces a totally different More than one way to skin a cat as they say...

Don't trap yourself. See it all. I'm already planning my next few adventures. With full intentions of farming in Ireland when the time is right, I'm not allowing myself to feel guilty for not being able to help out 24/7. I will do it all when I'm ready and when I'm confident in my knowledge and experience. New Zealand is next to be ticked off of the bucket list and I'm sure I'll make a better farmer for going, even if it is a large distance away. I'm excited and afraid - which is good.

To any young man or woman out there, wishing to travel but feeling it's too late now, or that something is stopping you - please just get it sorted and pack your bags. There's so much to see further than your own backyard, so don't miss out.

It's never too late. The man who made time made plenty of it.

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