Life Is Like Mapping A Tattoo, My Journey Through Erasmus (Part 2)

Ever since the first, I’ve looked forward to the days ahead of me where I can get my next one. 

The first tattoo I got was something that I loved since I was a child, a Pokemon trainer and Pikachu sprite from the original Red and Blue games on my left ankle. I essentially grew up with it similar to how children now grow up with iPads and YouTube. The next a small airplane right next to the first, symbolizing my mental health battles of high school where I attended an aviation-aerospace inspired academy, a point in my life that was so hard I gave up my love for the sport of swimming. The next one a dragon with cherry blossoms on my left forearm, the dragon is a reminder of a childhood hero I had growing up that I still idolize today and the cherry blossoms representing my home college UW, the city of Seattle and the ideology of a new life beginning. Another a Chinese lion on my right forearm with a lotus flower representing my Vietnamese heritage and a combination of my love for Harry Potter and the Gryffindor mindset. Finally, a small four leaf clover on my right ankle symbolizing the journey I’ve had here in Ireland.

My natural interests of learning new public health systems returned. I can highlight so many events that gave me much needed international experience such as the Waterford Dragon Boat Club, New Communities Workshop and the Irish Men’s Shed events. Working with so many individuals outside of the United States broadened my perspective on a country’s effectiveness in implementing projects, collaboration between community organizations and a difference in public health outlook compared to the United States. Whether it was volunteering, crafting interview questions or simply attending webinars and other forms of events, there was something I gained each time to further develop my knowledge on global health. Seeing the work between these community and national organizations such as Healthy Ireland and the HSE, it’s fueled passion that I’ve had since starting my bachelor’s degree, working in public health projects on a local or federal level. I will use everything I’ve learned with the resources and people I’ve met and continue on into my master’s of public health at the University of Washington Seattle, where I’ll work more directly with health systems and population health.

My time here is counting down and there’s so much more left about me that I want to rediscover and map. But the love I’ve gained even more from getting tattoos has given me more purpose in a world where I felt nothing. It brought something that I looked forward to when I woke up, it brought much needed confidence for me to feel myself again when connecting with people and the world. It brought back passion for my love in public health work, finally doing what I set out on achieving. But I’d argue most importantly, it helped me navigate another chapter in my own mental health journey. When I’m older and I look back on these tattoos and reflect, I want to feel proud, where I can say I did that all on my own and not feel afraid to share my struggles. I re-learned how to take care of myself, discover new hobbies, meet new people and connect it back into a story. I’m still very excited to be home and see all my friends and family again, but I’m truly grateful for the Erasmus experience and thank everyone around me who provided me with additional support, you were an integral part of this life-shaping journey.

Life Is Like Mapping A Tattoo, My Journey Through Erasmus (Part 2)

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