“Will we just book flights?”

The 5 words that prompted, what was about to be, the best year of my life.

We kissed our parents’ goodbye at the gate and looked back at them with tears in our eyes, excitement in our hearts. “So this is what they mean by ‘bittersweet’” I thought. The time comes in all of our lives, for us to let go of our parents’ apron strings and for them – to let go of us.

It was the first time I had moved away from home since my first year at University (but we all know that doesn’t count when you are only living in Belfast and you can go home to get your clothes washed every weekend).

Touching down in Perth, there were many emotions and feelings running through me. The majority of this was probably just jet-lag but there was also a little guilt, mixed with happiness and a dash of nerves. However, as soon as I arrived in the city and got my first glimpse of the western coastline, everything else faded into the background and I knew, this was where I was meant to be.

At the beginning, we had no real idea of where we were going, taking each day as it arrived. To most people, we had practically nothing, but we had each other – and that was a lot in my eyes. It was here that I realised what is really important. Like, REALLY. I stopped dwelling on the trivial and instead, starting looking at the bigger picture. Sometimes we just take the time to look up from our phones and appreciate the beauty around us, in the here and the now. (Because when you’re living in a shipping container with just a bed and a toilet, you don’t really have another option.)


When we arrived in our new home, Byron Bay, it was masked with uncertainty. No one tells you about the struggles of being away from home. It is not all like what you see on Instagram. It can be lonely, it can be tiring, and some days you may wonder if you’re doing it all wrong. But remember, I did say it was the best year of my life. And I wasn’t lying…

As the author, Emily Jenkins, once wrote, “…we’ll deal with it, because the good outweighs the bad”. And that’s exactly what we did – dealt with it. Because when that’s the only choice you have, you make it work; and the result is something more perfect than you can imagine.

One of my favourite sayings became more prominent to me during the first few months of 2018 than ever. “You can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain”. All of a sudden, the tables turned for us. I found myself in a job I had never thought of doing, but one that turned out to be a perfect fit. We managed to find a house better than we ever thought we could afford. And when I looked around me, I was surrounded by the most amazing company I could have wished for. (Not to mention we were in the best place on earth.)


It was at this point, I realised how completely, truly and utterly happy I was. I know, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but to me this pretty much sums it up (and I think most people will agree):

“Happiness is a feeling of contentment, that life is just as it should be.”



Niamh Doherty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/niamh.doc.9 ; Twitter @niamhydoc