The first new J Visa holder
When I first came to America three years ago, I wasn't impressed.
Everything seemed familiar from the movies, and nothing was beautiful in the European sense that I had become accustomed to.
I had a fun vacation traveling around with my friend, from New York to Miami to San Diego to Chicago, but decided I'd never waste spare holidays by coming here again. If I was going traveling or vacationing, it was culture I would seek.
I had read about the massive issues here with all the undocumented Irish and how tough it is for them, and I often questioned their decision to live a risky and illegitimate life just to stay here. There were opportunities, jobs, and everything else you'd want in booming Ireland, and as a Celtic Tiger's cub I failed to see the bigger picture.
Last year, when I was in the first semester of my master's degree an opportunity that couldn't be missed arose - the opportunity to spend my second semester on an exchange program in Cornell University. While I wasn't keen on returning to the States again, I was hugely aware of the benefits of studying in an Ivy League School to my life in general, aside from the academic novelty.
I embarked on the best five-month stint of my life last January.
I fell in love with university life in America, the people in America, and the way of life in America - not to mention a handsome blonde Australian-American guy in America!
The time at Cornell flew, and I found myself back in Ireland hacking away at my thesis, but constantly looking out the rain-beaten window wondering what my next plan of action was.
I had dabbled with law, commerce and French, and all the wonderfully exciting subjects within them in my undergraduate degree, completed a master's degree in business, and still didn't know what on earth I wanted to be.
But I knew where on earth I wanted to be. In New York City.
Going to a city where jobs were being lost at a fast pace and competition is second to none, without any full U.S. qualifications and with no clue about what I wanted to do didn't bode well for me.
But I went over, started networking, a painful process for an Irish person, having to walk into a room full of new faces and somehow try to sell yourself to these random punters.
There were days where I didn't get out of bed, and my boyfriend would come home from work to find me in the exact same place - and clothes - as he had left me.
There were days where I would watch entire seasons of "Sex and the City." And there were days where I walked around Manhattan on my own planning the defeated speech I would have to give my boyfriend and everyone else before I arrived back in Ireland.
I wondered where else to go. London? Too snobby. Dublin? Too small. Sydney? Too far away. Paris? Too difficult.
My holiday visa's expiration date was fast approaching, and I faced a dilemma thousands of people before me also did. To become an illegal alien or not. The very concept I could not comprehend one year ago.
Marry my American passport holding boyfriend? I'm far too young, and that would take all the romance out of it.