Molly is a successful Event Planner living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has lived in Chicago, Washington D.C., Galway, and will soon call London home. We sit down with her to hear about why she’s packing up her belongings and crossing the pond for 365 days.
When did you go abroad for the first time? Why did you go abroad?
I first spent time in Europe when I was in 5th grade. I went with my godmother, her husband and their daughter to France for two weeks. It was a completely new experience for me; new country, new language, no parents, and fourteen days away from all things familiar. We also traveled to Normandy, but I think I was too young to appreciate the experience. The next time I was in Europe was for spring break my sophomore year of college. I spent three days in a bus exploring Ireland, from Dublin to Galway. I spent one night in Galway and knew I had to return! The city and people completely stole my heart. I returned in Fall 2010 to study at the National University of Ireland, Galway for a semester.
What is the best memory you have from the time you spent abroad?
Just one? Lucky for me, I have so many to choose from. I’d have to say the best memory is from Arthur Guinness Day, a holiday in September that celebrates the founder of Guinness beer, and honors the date he signed the lease at the famous St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin. The lease is famous because it has no end date; it’s literally for eternity. Arthur was so confident in his creation, he signed a lease knowing that it would be eternal.
Arthur’s Day 2010 fell on a weekday. I skipped out of class early to go to city centre for the worldwide toast at 17:59. I had NO clue what I was in for! Bars were jam packed with party goers grabbing a quick pint to bring outside. An Arthur Guinness impersonator was there as well being followed by a herd of people and a few photographers and reporters. The toast was about to happen, and Becca, my roommate, and I squeezed our way next to Arthur. A photographer asked to take our picture, so we smiled and raised our glasses. We spent the rest of the evening drinking in the street and celebrating what you would’ve thought was the birth of Christ. But no, to the Irish it was much bigger than that. It was the birth of Guinness!
We went out with the Frenchies (what I called my close friends studying English in Galway) the next night, and as soon as we ran into them they said, “Oooh, it’s the famous American girls!” We were clueless as to what they were talking about until they mentioned that we got on the front page of a local paper. We had no idea what paper or what picture it was, but we guessed it was from the toast with Arthur. We managed to track down the paper the next day, two days after it had been published. We bought a ton of copies and I currently have one framed on my wall. It was great to feel like such a big part of a big day in my new home.
What did you learn from that experience that you didn’t know before you left?
Being abroad really changed my character. Never did I think that I’d be able to move to Europe and start from scratch making new friends, learning an entirely new culture, and gaining the confidence to travel on my own. Coming back to the States was a challenge, as I felt my eyes had been opened to a whole new world.
I have a great life in the U.S. I’ve been very blessed. Being abroad, though, showed me that there are so many more people and experiences to encounter than I ever imagined. This world is too wonderful of a place not to explore every inch possible!
You’re moving to London for a year. What are you going for and why did you decide to go?
I’m going to get my Master’s of Science in Marketing from Kingston University. I’ve known since January that I could possibly be going to London for grad school. I went back and forth so many times; I love my job, apartment, and friends here in Louisville. I’m not far from home in D.C., and I get to travel all over the country as an Event Planner. As I started to settle down with the thought of staying here, I realized that as a single 23 year old woman, I may never have this opportunity again. Technically, I could do grad school a couple of years down the road. But at that point I would like to be more established in my career, getting settled in whatever city I’m in, and really being “adult.”
Although it scares me to leave my comfortable life here, the regret that would come with not going to London scares me much more. When I told my boss I was going, he asked, “Is this about getting your master’s, or is this about going back abroad?” I replied with, “Honestly? It’s about both.” I’ve always wanted to get my master’s degree, and now I get to do it in a new environment that will strengthen me both personally and professionally.
How do you anticipate this experience will be different from the last?
I think I’m more prepared for the challenges I’ll face. Homesickness, limited amount of money, making new friends, and being in class much different than what I’m used to. I’m also excited to have nearly an entire year to learn and travel as much as I can! I wasted a bit of time when I first studied abroad. My adjustment period was longer than I would have liked. I know it will still be a culture shock when I arrive, but I’m more excited about it than I was before.
Packing up and moving abroad for 365 days is intimidating to some, though many would like to do so. What is your advice for those who may be on the fence about a similar decision?
I saw a quote recently that talked about going after your dreams. There are plenty of those floating around, but this one made a good point. So many people are worried about how long it will take to get where you want to be. No matter what you choose though, going for it or staying idle, the time will pass regardless. You might as well go out and do it! I know there are many things that will make you hesitant, (other peoples’ opinions, money, etc.), but the worst thing you can do is disappoint yourself. Follow your gut, and don’t question it!
Follow Molly on Twitter to see where London takes her this September!