"ARE you happy to be back?" This is the most common question that has been put to me over the past few weeks.
For a moment, part of me considers lying a little; putting on my sad face and launching into a monologue of how wonderful my time away way, and how devastated I am to be back. But I can't.
Before I can stop myself, a resounding "Yes!" always escapes my lips, followed by a broad grin sweeping quickly along my face.
I left Dublin at the end of October 2012 to take some time out after my Masters. Myself and my friend, Sarah, decided to head to Australia for a while and try our luck out there. With no intentions of making a permanent move, we set off with a "we'll take it as it comes" attitude, telling all those who asked we didn't really have a clear idea of how long we would be gone.
In the end it worked out to be about six months. And while we had a great time travelling around, seeing new places and meeting new people, those few months were undoubtedly some of the hardest of my life. This was mainly due to the difficulty we encountered in getting work. Although we were living in Western Australia, a region currently experiencing strong economic growth, a few casual hours in a shop or bar can be hard to come by, let alone permanent work within a skilled field.
While living in Perth, we spent our time floating from odd job to odd job, doing everything from office temping to toilet cleaning. And while some of this was very well-paid work, it was never enough to keep up with the cost of living in Australia.
It seems as though the tide is turning slightly in Australia. Opportunities may not be as easily gained as they were before. Many people I have spoken to found themselves in similar positions.
Since coming home, we have been extremely lucky (much more so than we were in Perth). We have managed to find work and are happily getting settled back into life here. Ultimately, it is thanks to Australia that we realised how much we appreciate Ireland.