One year ago today I boarded a plane in Dublin, JFK bound for what I thought was going to be a year abroad. One year to garner some experience, broaden my horizons and leave an economic storm in Ireland behind me.

Five jobs and 365 days later I’m still here with no inclination to return home. With everything this great city has to offer is it any surprise the one resounding sentiment among my Irish comrades here is our joint distaste at the prospect of returning to our great Emerald Isle.
Not because we don’t love our home, but because of the lives we have built here for ourselves that we don’t want to abandon just yet.

Bad news travels across the waters that things at home haven’t drastically improved. Our banking system remains in dire straits, as unemployment grows and every day more and more people make the decision to leave.

Of course there is good news too, stories of job creation trickle through and the Irish soccer team have won their last two consecutive games! Nothing like a joyous sporting occasion to warm the cockles of the heart.

Maybe a year ago I was disillusioned by our countries economic woes, I was bitter but now I am grateful as I have come to realize the benefits of emigration.

Throughout the world the Irish Diaspora is expanding. Every corner is represented by highly skilled Irish professionals, tradesmen, volunteers, entrepreneurs, students, graduates to name a few. We are working, networking, learning and co-existing in societies different to our own. It is a natural progression that someday, a significant proportion of us will return home, armed with global experience in our industries.

Not only are we gaining invaluable experience from our own endeavors but we are also sending a resonating message to the people we meet around the world, that we are a smart, ambitious and hardworking race.

My parents came to the US forty years ago, two twenty something’s in search of work and a life. They barely finished second level education before they were summoned by their older siblings to come join them in America. A ticket was sent home to Ireland and before they knew it they were both boarding flights in Shannon to begin a new life in America.

After ten years they returned to Ireland and re-established their lives in the West. Three decades later, their youngest daughter followed in their footsteps and found herself a life in the Big Apple, the city where they met each other.

And so the year flew past me, as the days melted into weeks and the weeks fell into months. The most important thing I have learnt from my time in America is that in my case emigration was an opportunity not a sacrifice. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.