Amy Molloy takes a look at the good things in Ireland that have kept her living here instead of packing her bags and leaving like so many other young people.
Sitting on the couch in my Dublin abode watching the same episode of Friends I've seen ten times over, I think to myself, "what am I doing with my life?"
My friends are probably sipping cocktails on Bondi Beach and living the Australian dream right now.
Me, on the other hand? I decided to go back to college to do a masters and I have just come home from shopping on Henry Street where someone noted the blob of anti-coldsore cream on my face (probably caused by college stress and the cold Irish weather).
"Any change love?"
"You look like you've cum on your lip."
The icing on top of a fantastic day. I convince myself that Australians probably aren't quite as offensive.
Eventually I come to my senses and stop being ungrateful after a bit of reflection. Why have I lived here for six years and not jumped on the emigration bandwagon yet?
Because I actually love Dublin.
Sometimes you can't appreciate what's right in front of you, but this city has many admirable qualities which make it endearing to the world and such a great city to live in.
Travel opens up your eyes to different cultures and types of people, but whether you go to Bali, Buenos Aires or Benidorm, you won't get an atmosphere quite like Dublin's.
Dublin is where people from all 32 counties gather together. It is an accumulation of all the different Irish backgrounds which gives the city that vibrant, charismatic feel.
The buildings and structures won't take your breath away (the Spire for God’s sake) but what Dublin lacks in looks, it makes up for in abundance with personality.
You know the city is low in the fine architecture department when the guide of the Croke Park Skyline Tour is highlighting the Mater Hospital and Mountjoy Prison as "viewpoints" from the rooftop.
There is no place like Dublin on a scorching summer’s day - the streets and bars bustling with laughter and happiness, the atmosphere is electric. If Ireland was blessed with better weather, I genuinely do not think as many people would emigrate.
It's Home to Croke Park
As an avid GAA fan and country girl, Croke Park will always hold a special place in my heart.
On a non-GAA note, the day Ireland played England at Croke Park in the Six Nations was one of the most memorable days in Ireland's history.
I do not think Dublin witnessed such raw emotion like it before.
The sense of pride felt by every Irish person that day was nothing short of phenomenal. This country has been through a lot for a small island and it has all helped shape its character and made it into what it is today.
Croke Park is a reflection of that. After Bloody Sunday, few would have envisaged that in one hundred years’ time we would still be playing our national sport in an 80,000 seater stadium.
There are few days better spent than a match day at Croker; the craic, the banter, sweating your backside off in Quinns but having too much fun to care - thank god for GAA and Croke Park.
Then there’s that feeling which engulfs you as you hear the roar from the crowd while walking down Jones' road, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. "Hats, scarves and headbands" being shouted from every corner. It's a stadium steeped in history and one of Dublin's proudest attractions.
Sure, we all congregate in the same spots over and over again. But if something's not broke, don't fix it, as they say. There is no such thing as a dull night out in the capital; it caters for everybody's needs.
You have Diceys for the Brazilians who like to dance provocatively while sipping on Desperados; Temple Bar for the tourists who won’t object to paying €10 for a pint and packet of crisps; Flannerys and Coppers for all the culchies to amalgamate; McGowans for all the north-side nurses and guards; and Pygmalion for the hipsters who don't like music with lyrics or meaning.
To top it off, you won’t find this kind of banter anywhere else. It's probably why we are drawn to Irish pubs when abroad like flies to you know what; we long for the trademark Irish craic.
It Feels Like Home
Most capital cities can be lonely, unfriendly places. Dublin? Not a chance. You are always guaranteed to meet someone you know and that’s one of the main things I love about it. It always feels like "home."
I visited London a couple of months ago and, while it is a fantastic city, it actually made me appreciate Dublin even more. It's quite harsh in ways; people are too consumed by themselves and their own lives. Everyone on the tube stares blankly into space, oblivious by choice to what's going on around them.
Dublin is more embracing and down to earth. When people get off the bus, they all say thanks to the driver. If you ask someone for directions, they'll take the time to answer. In London I asked someone where a certain road was and got told to "use google maps." An hour later I thought to myself, "did you use google maps to get to arseholeville?" Too little too late unfortunately (I hate when that happens.)
The grass always looks greener on the other side, and while I have no doubt I will live abroad at some stage in my 20's, it's comforting to know I can always come back to a city I love. Everyone gets sick of home after a while because life can start becoming mundane and opportunity is rife in other cities and countries to take a break from the "real world."
Dublin is the real world, but it's real because it's genuine. That's why everyone comes back eventually I suppose. Life takes us to many unexpected places but in the end, love will always bring us home.