Let us introduce our Gap Chats series. Over the next few weeks, we will feature some of our Gap Year Stinters
, share their stories, what they are working at and hear the advice they have to offer. Although each Stinter story is completely unique, you will see that everyone shares similarities in reasons or ambitions to do a gap year. Why did we decide to create blog posts around their stories? Well, because they are pretty awesome and we also get a lot of questions from prospective Stinters about connecting with others that are like them! So here goes…
Gap Chat #1 is with Stinter Ayla Graney. Over to you Ayla!
Tell us a little about why you chose to take a gap year?
As my college graduation date quickly approached, I knew I was not ready to settle down and find a steady job. Since studying abroad in New Zealand, my desire to travel and explore different cultures has become an important (and arguably vital) part of my life, so it seemed natural to take a gap year.
….and why Ireland?
There are many reasons why I chose to take a gap year in Ireland, but the two main deciding factors were my family’s Irish history and the unique visa that Ireland offers for U.S. citizens who have recently graduated from college. Other reasons include the unreal natural landscapes (which satisfies my need to sit in trees), the ever-flowing Guinness (which makes my stomach full and my heart happy), and how close I am to an airport (which fuels the travel photographer in me).
(Some of Ayla’s crazy amazing travel photographs!)
The weirdest thing about Dublin is…?
I love Dublin – its canals, its proximity to other coastal towns, its diversity… the list goes on for ages. I think that the weirdest aspect (but also something I have come to enjoy) is how it is not a picturesque Irish city. It, of course, has areas that have the stereotypical Irish vibe, but Dublin is different from other Irish cities, like Galway. It’s perfect the way it is, and it allows me to better appreciate the times that I am able to explore outside the city center.
Has it lived up to your expectations so far?
When I moved to Dublin, I didn’t really have any expectations – I think that’s a primary factor to true happiness. That said, Dublin feels like home, and I think that is the best way to describe how comfortable and welcoming it is to live in this city.
Explain what kind of work you are doing?
Currently, I accept temporary jobs when I can get them, but most days I go to a cafe (or curl up on the couch in my pajamas) and work on graphic design and photography freelance work that U.S. clients have assigned me. While this style of work is not always reliable, it allows me to live and travel a bit more freely. Temporary positions are also incredibly flexible, and working with different Irish agencies has been a great addition to my freelance gigs.
Have you any advice to people who are considering a gap year?
My biggest advice to individuals who are considering a gap year is to be entirely open and take the time to get to know yourself. I started this gap year thinking that I knew myself quite well, but after taking multiple solo trips and spending many days alone, I have become even more independent and self-aware than I was previously. Being comfortable with yourself also makes traveling with others a lot easier, as it gives you the independence to go off on your own if what you want to do doesn’t align with the group mentality. Traveling with friends is an incredibly fun experience, but having an understanding of your own mind makes everyone happier – trust me 🙂
Ayla is currently exploring Ireland and Europe whilst freelancing. We highly recommend following Ayla’s gap year journey on Instagram (@aylagraney), her pictures will give you all the wanderlust feels!