I have lived in a few cities in my short years. First there was Freiburg, then Berlin, then Seoul and now I’m back in Dublin. I grew up in Ireland between Donegal and Dublin, never quite belonging in either. I didn’t get to spend my holidays with my school friend’s in Dublin. Instead, I was turfed up to Donegal where I didn’t have any friends at all to spend my holidays with. I just had my cousins and their friends, but I was the one who dressed and talked funny from the ‘big shmoke’. I’m not complaining, Donegal is a beautiful place and I think the alone time I spent as a child away from peer pressures and distractions helped me build my own identity and shape who I am today. However, it also meant I felt little affinity with any ‘home’. I didn’t have any major gra for Dublin, or for Donegal, because I was never fully a part of either.
I traveled to find somewhere to really call home. Three cities later in Korea, I realised it wasn’t a home I was running to, but my actual home that I was trying to escape. I decided to go home in December 2016 and rebuild my life back in Dublin and learn how to be happy right there where it all began. I promised myself I wouldn’t go traveling again until I had achieved this.
I know I am not the only person who has struggled with appreciating where they live. It is difficult to see the beauty in it as they would a foreign city. I know that often people blame their dissatisfaction on their location and day dream of the ‘great escape’. Since coming home, I have appreciated Dublin, the novelty of coming home. I have hated Dublin, the lows of my directionless reality a few months after returning. And now, I have fallen in love with the city. The same city that I lived in for 20 years and felt very little connection with.
I know a lot of people living abroad or having just returned home who are feeling a disconnection with the place they’re in now. I want to write this blog to share my experience and what I did to fall in love with a city I had lived in all my life.
I wish I had have known these things when I was depressed in Korea, planning my ‘Midnight Run’.
Spend time with tourists/international students
A quick tip: whenever you see a tourist taking a picture, look at what they are capturing, see if you can see the beauty they see. Nothing is as refreshing as seeing the same place through fresh eyes. A lot of what we think is based on the perspectives we have. A lot of people visiting your city can see the good in it that you may have over-looked this entire time. This could be in its architecture, free services, public transport or even just the way the locals behave.
Story time: One night I was out with a Brazilian friend and he told me how much he just loves to walk in Dublin at night. Just walk. In his city, people don’t do that. I was so confused. He said everyone there gets Ubers because they’re so cheap and it’s safer. I looked at Camden street again, it was 1 am and tried to change my perspective. The street was so full of life, I didn’t feel one bit uneasy. (not to say Dublin is the safest place on Earth, it’s not.) I would have never considered the fact that people feel comfortable walking around the city at night to be a perk of living in Dublin. But now I know it is, and it’s been added to my list of things to be grateful for.
Look up and Listen
Put you’re favourite Spotify playlist on, head phones on and phone in your bag or pocket. Music is a powerful thing. Our favourite songs can lift our moods in the dullest of situations. I say look up because I know I had a bad habit of just looking down when I walked. I was totally engrossed in my thoughts that I payed very little attention to where I was and the people and things around me. If you want to feel more connected to place you live, actually try to connect. Take the time you are walking from one place to another to enjoy the music that makes your heart sing and let your eyes explore the views higher than the ground. The colour of the sky, the funny shop windows, the smiles or frowns on the passers by. You may surprised at the things you notice that you have never done before.
Experience The City and The People in it
When I lived in Freiburg I was so social and always had something to do. Freiburg only has 220,000 people and when I arrived, I only knew 1. My network grew fast because I dived into all it had to offer, namely the meet up groups. I went to ceili dances; joined photography classes; went hiking and to vegan meet ups and so on. I saw Freiburg as a city of endless possibilities, of course Dublin could offer the same. Look up your cities event guide or check out the ‘meet up’ app and simply type in your hobby or interest and I guarantee there is a group of people in your city for you. If not, why not make one.
This list is incomplete but my brains capacity for today is. I’ll definitely do a part 2.
Thank you again for reading and for all of the positive feedback. I know this is a very simplistic view on what impacts on your time in a certain place. Trust me I know all the variable factors involved in what shapes your view, but I do think we do have a certain level of control of our perceptions and perspectives. This is to help shift them in a positive direction.
I’m more interested in the where you live and what you love about it. Comment below with your thoughts. I love hearing from you.