The Homecoming; Farewell Florida

I find myself back at my aunts in Atlanta, writing a post completely parallel to the one I wrote in the same location almost exactly one year to the date.

It’s almost like Deja vu, except I’m thinking to myself, is this the feeling I anticipated I would feel in this very moment.

Hmm, not quiet.

I may be out of line for comparing the two, but it’s almost like that moment people describe in a life and death situation. When they see their whole life flash before them, a montage that pays homage to all the things they’ve accomplished in their life.

I imagine the same thing, bar the fact it’s not my whole life, merely a smidgen of, and the soundtrack would obviously include Heather Small singing, ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud’.

Image result for what have you done today to make you feel proud gif

Preparing to go home has been the trigger to a snappy attitude, increased anxiety, acute panic attacks, lose of rational thinking and dramatic phone calls to mum (which I’m sure she could have done without).


(Mood: represented by my Godson)

When you’re in a moment or certain period of time, it’s hard to focus or even consider anything outside of it. Like when you’re in pain, it’s hard to think about anything else other than the pain. Well similarly throughout this year going home is something that gradually became harder to think about as I got more and more engrossed in my ‘wonderland’.

Everything outside of my Florida life was a blur, a blur that has begun to get clearer as this experience drew to a close.

Image result for blur to focus gif


Travelling the States/ booking ticket home.

Ok, let’s talk about booking a flight home. I never had a set date to come home but when the thought of booking a flight home came around, I found myself fixated on the 4th of September. No particular reason, just felt like the right date. So I stuck with it and booked my flight around late June early July for $300.

I flew out using STA travel at a similar price. They offer flights for students and persons under 25. I’m not sure if they’re the cheapest out there but they’ve done right by me both times.


I had always planned to a road trip before leaving the states, question is could I do it alone.

No, I managed to find a fellow J1 as enthusiastic for touristic activities as myself.

Welcome to stage Gavin Rushe. A patriotic Irishman, passionate about Manchester united, drinking Guinness, beating people at anything possible and dabbing at any given opportunity.

Here is clip from our visit to Devils Den, Gainsville.

Our original plan was to drive up to New York making stops at key places along the way. In hindsight for someone that hasn’t driven longer than two hours, it was a little outlandish. Skipping through a ridiculous amount of back and forth with regards to routes, transport options, accommodation, rest stops and whatever else we could argue about.

We made a plan;

August 18th: (Fly) West Palm Beach, FL to Atlanta, GA

August 21st: (Fly) Atlanta, GA to Washington DC

August 23rd: (Train) Washington DC to Philadelphia, PA

August 25th: (Train) Philadelphia, PA to New York City

September 4th: Homebound

We booked flights through Southwest, Trains through Amtrak and accommodation through Airbnb.

Side note: In my next blog I’ll break down costs, do’s and don’t’s and of course go through all the things we did.


After a brief battle with procrastination, I decided to start sorting through my things, throwing away stuff I knew I wouldn’t be taking home. Having done that, I packed one suitcase and sent it home. I had already planned to travel some of the states and doing that with two large suitcases, one carry-on and a back pack really wasn’t appealing.


NOTE: For future J1 students, I sent my luggage home using UniBaggage. It was very transparent, in terms of price there were only two depending on whether the suitcase was below or above 24kg. There is a lot of paper work to complete but it a minor inconvenience. I had my suitcase collected at work on a Thursday and it was home by Saturday, simples.

Actually leaving.

Leaving was difficult, it meant it was final, the minute I left Ballenisles for the last time I was already homebound. My last shift proceeded as normal, did I care a little less? In all honesty, yes, not in a negative way more in a sense of the shift was a novelty. My mind was already 1000 miles away.



I had built a good relationship with the vast majority of my managers, especially the Bistro manager Greg Bowens. I’d cried, lost my temper, been disciplined and laughed till tears ran in his office. I even nicknamed him Uncle Greg.

So toast to Uncle Greg, probably the best boss to employee relationship I’ll ever have.



Saying bye to him was difficult, as well and my nearest and dearest colleagues and Florida friends who definitely know who they are. Either way I managed to save all my tears till I was home, which for Me, is pretty good.

Farewell meals and drinks were had, bags were packed and plans were settled. This ‘American adventure’ was drawing to close and I wasn’t ready.

It’s a strange thing, but when your dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”

– J.K. Rowling







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s