Wednesday, 29 May 2019

What a difference a year makes!!

It’s hard to believe that a year is gone already. I left Ireland in May 2018 to start a journey of a lifetime in Canada. I've now been home in Ireland for the last month. Its’ given me a lot of time to reflect on my experiences throughout the year both in Canada and France.

The past year has gone by so quick and has been filled with so many amazing experiences, incredible people, lots of emotions, hard work and cultural shocks.

In this, my final blog post at part of the BA (Hons) In Culinary Arts International year, I want to speak as honest and open as I can. 

I started my journey in one of Canada's most famous national parks, Banff which is in Alberta. I left Ireland in the unknown. I had no idea what life was going to be like on the other side of the world. I had no idea what work would be like and how I would settle in. I had no idea on where my journey would take me. But I did know one thing, leaving Dublin I said to myself when the plane took of that there was no going back now, this is it this is the opportunity of waited and longed for in my life. I said to myself to take every opportunity that was on offer and not to waste my time. Many people asked me before I left was I running away from my problems, in a way I was. I needed a new fresh take on life.  Life hasn’t always been good to me, whether it was being bullied all through school for being different or trying to fill the loneliness of life with love. But Canada changed me and changed me for the good. 
Peyto Lake 2018

For my internship I choose to work at The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a world-renowned hotel in the heart of Banff national park. It was very daunting at first, but as the weeks went on and I became more comfortable in my work and my surroundings life became easier. As the saying goes its good to breath a different kind of air, and that saying is beyond true. Its hard to put it to words, how getting the opportunity to live and work in one of the world’s most beautiful locations has an impact on your life. When living in Banff, and the months and experiences went on, I really started to get a feel on who the true me is. I thought hard on where I would like my life journey to take me, but I also reassured myself that we can’t plan our lives out every detail by detail its juts not how it works. I learned that it is completely acceptable for us to not be happy with what we thought would make us happy. We must be open for change and accept change. We must learn from the people we meet and the experiences that weren’t good to us. We must learn that success doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice but to live a successful life we must find balance.

But Canada wasn’t always perfect and that was ok. It was hard at times missing family and friends back home. It was hard to work with people who didn’t care about their job or always had attitudes towards things. It was hard to get respect for somethings when you’re not in a position of authority. But I learned from this working environment and there came points when you just had to turn other people’s negativity into your own positivity, because surrounding yourself with that all the time is bad for your mental health. Working at the Banff Springs I met some truly wonderful and fun people that’s I miss every day. People that always had a smile on their face no matter what. It was very hard for me leaving Canada, but I had to, my next journey, my study semester in France was fast approaching. 
Wine Wednesdays Banff AB (bad things happened) 

I left Canada 2nd of January 2019 just after the busy Christmas period. It felt right but wrong at the same time. it had taken me nearly 7 months to fully settle into a life I was comfortable with and then having to end it all was difficult. I admit I didn’t want to go home to Ireland, life just felt easier in Canada. Canada and Banff in particular will always and forever hold a special place in my life, I will always remember that it helped me find a small piece of the true me but for the moment the world has so much more opportunity’s and experiences to offer and someday  I will return to the land that refreshed my soul and body and changed me for the good.

Open Roads 

Good friends & Good times
Lyon Feb 2019
As a young boy growing up and loving food and as the years went on and you become more aware of cooking and chefs and foods etc France was like a calling I always had longing to go there. Originally France wasn’t my first choice. I had my mind set on Providence in Rhode island but for various reasons I chose different. I got the opportunity to attend classes at a world-renowned college set up by one of the most famous chefs to have ever lived Paul Bocuse. I travelled home for 2 days from Canada as the semester started quite early in January and I need to be there to sort my life out before classes started. This was tough and very tiring both mentally and physically. Your trying to catch up on life at home having missed so much for the past 8 months yet trying to sort everything out for a completely new adventure that was about to begin. 

I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for before I moved to France, I knew that the language would be challenging and that I really need to immerse myself into the French way of living. My Erasmus was very different than any other experience somebody else would have. As the college is private and small it’s a more of intimate experience. We had some minor difficulties at the start of the semester, however, at IPB they run the classes in 4 week rotations which was good. Overall, it was incredibly hard work, a true test of character and not for the faint hearted.

During my 4 months, it was some of the hardest and loneliest times of my life. Being surrounded by some genuinely nice people and amazing food etc more than any training chef could want, life was very difficult and dark at times. However, I’ve been brought up to work hard and not give up, I have a thick skin to not let the little things get the better of me. I learned that at times we must give in to people and give them what they want or desire but to never lose what I believe in or to doubt my self worth and to come out the other side knowing right. My time and experiences in France will forever stand to me, again I found a piece of my true self. I learned things on how I want my career to go. I learned a lot on how I don’t ever want to treat people in certain was.  I learned that working hard for somebody else to take the benefits and not get respected is not where I want my life to go.

Paul Bocuse statute 

The last 12 months have been the best times of my life even filled with all the emotions, the good and bad experiences looking back on it now I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. It’s been a roller coaster of learning and growing over all aspects of my life.

In my last blog I said this, “I believe that everything happens to teach us something. I’ve certainly had my fair share of lessons this year. If I’ve learned anything in the last year its this, the most difficult and testing of times are the ones you’ll always remember. Not for the pain, the struggle, the tears, or the heartache but for the strength of your character and the depth of your heart”.

But now I say goodbye and thank you to those who have helped me along the way and enriched my journey. My journey is not over and will never be over until the day I leaves this earth. So, keep smiling even in times of darkness, keep learning and growing as an individual. Most importantly keep true to who you are because its you journey to live not somebody else’s.


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