You can take the girl out of Cavan but...

The search for accommodation is not an easy one. This time last year, I was starting to look for accommodation in Limerick, hesitant of course wondering if I would actually get back to college due to the pandemic. Even though I’m leaving for Belgium next Tuesday, I still have a feeling it’s all going to be cancelled. There is no logic behind this, I’ve done my orientation, signed the paperwork (most of it) and my flights are booked. I think it is just a pandemic mentality that has just set: When making plans, I always think they are going to be cancelled. Anybody else feeling this way?

I am very excited. The digital marketing internship is completely different to anything I’ve done before. During my orientation sessions, I learned that I would be overseeing the company’s social media pages, writing newsletters, getting involved in marketing campaigns and communicating with partners on how posts perform online.

The company takes on a new intern each year, so this year’s intern was responsible for holding my orientation. I thought this was such a good idea because, aside from knowing about the company, Aiste (the current intern) who is from the United Kingdom, was able to tell me everything about her experience moving over to Brussels.

My top priority at the moment is finding accommodation. As I am not over there, it is quite difficult to get a feeling for different apartments. Aiste gave me the name of Facebook groups where people post rooms for rent. Every spare moment, I’m on it. I know you’re probably thinking I should have it sorted by now but the Erasmus Student Network has a house, in which I can stay until I find myself something, which is a big relief.

So far, I have found a few places. I want to have my accommodation close to my workplace. This is awfully embarrassing, but I’m a disaster when it comes to public transport. I think it’s brilliant and so much cheaper than driving, but I just can never seem to get my head around timetables. Anyone who has ever been to Limerick also knows the unreliability of the green buses. After a few missed appointments, they have given me permanent trust issues.

I found one place, which I liked, and the rent also wasn’t too expensive. I was telling Aiste about this. However, she told me that a lot of scams are going on over in Brussels at the moment, where people are posting their accommodation. You transfer in the deposit money and then never hear anything back from them. Obviously I was apprehensive about handing over money without having signed a physical contract and actually seeing the room for myself but, when I am not over there, I don’t really have too many other options. I am also afraid that the pick of the accommodation at the right price will be gone.

I have found one place now, which I really like. I’ve done a virtual tour of the apartment and chatted with the woman who is leasing it. The prices over there in comparison to here aren’t bad. You’re talking in the range of €400-600 including charges for a private room, bathroom, large kitchen and living area and some even have a balcony, all in central locations. When you think of our own capital, this isn’t bad at all.

Also, the place I have my eye on is 500 metres down the road from where I will be working, which is just bliss for early starts. It has a large kitchen for all my cooking pursuits, living area and it is shared with another girl and two boys. It all seems so legit and the woman was lovely. The apartment is registered in the commune (important for working in Brussels) too. Do I take the risk or wait until I get over there?

Aside from accommodation, Aiste told me all about her travels at the weekends. I can get a four-hour bus to Paris, the nearest beach is only an hour and a half away and Belgium is situated closer to the equator than our own little blob on the map, meaning that it is a little warmer than here. I am bubbling over with excitement, travel is one thing that I have always wanted to do. I am heading off on my missed Leaving Cert holiday this week, so when you are reading this I will be sitting in sunny Spain. I see there are weather warnings in place for a heatwave, something I’m not complaining about at all.

I have started to say goodbye to some people, even though I am only going for a year. It’s almost sad that it is only when I am going away that I have made a conscious effort to take off work and meet up with my friends from school. It has been so nice to see everyone. Having been out on Saturday night, I asked if I could work on Sunday morning down in the pub. You might find it strange asking for a Sunday morning shift when you’ve been out the night before but work down in MacSeains pub isn’t actually work. It’s meeting people, chatting and occasionally pulling the odd pint. I knew it would be the last day I’d be around to work, and I wanted to see everyone before I left.

It was surprisingly hard, I love it so much. Everyone is amazing with the best sense of humour and, even though I have often landed in like a demon coming from Limerick, within minutes, a smile would be put on your face.

I know that no matter where I end up, I will never meet the same characters that I have met in Cornafean and Cavan.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a second year journalism student in University of Limerick.


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