Ballinamuck blogger reflects on international adventures

Ballinamuck blogger reflects on international adventures

Updating your CV can be an odious task, but for one Longford lady, it's a chance to look back on adventures had and experience gained.

Ballinamuck native Orla Corrigan, daughter of Sheila and Brendan, has spent the past five years travelling and working all around the world, counting the likes of Zakaynthos in Greece; Perth and Melbourne, Australia; London, Vienna and Chanthaburi in Thailand as “home”.

A past pupil of Moyne Community School, Orla's passion for travel began when in 2011, she graduated with a BA in Social Care from DIT, and decided to spend the summer working in Greece.

“I lived and worked there for three months and it was during that time I realised I wanted to see more of the world,” Orla told the Leader. “I moved back home to Ireland after the summer in Greece to save money for a few months and then I headed off to Australia on the working holiday visa.”

Though trained in Social Care, Orla's travels led her to experience many different professions and occupations, from pruning grapevines in Australia to securing a Visa for a second year, to teaching English to a class of forty students in Thailand.

“I have been really fortunate to land some amazing job opportunities during my five years of travelling the world,” the 26-year-old smiled, recalling some of her personal highlights. 

“Being a TV extra on an Australian TV show was a really fun job, getting to experience being on set. I couldn't believe how many times we had to shoot the same scene in order to get it perfect.

“Some of the other job highlights for me have been working at the Grand Prix in Australia and getting to be part of the exhilarating atmosphere for the whole weekend.

“I also worked as a fashion stylist for a luxury fashion brand in London and taught English along with all the other core subjects to non-native students in a really remote part of Thailand.

“I have also worked some jobs that haven't been as amazing,” she admitted, “but I still count them all as learning experiences such as working in a call centre in Australia selling electricity over the phone and having massive targets to reach daily.”

As with any career, there are what Orla describes as “down days”, when she has felt home sick, or when money has been tight, but her travel tales to date have all been positive.

“One of the most wonderful things about travelling is the people you form friendships with along the way,” she revealed. 

“People are so helpful and really look out for you. That can be said especially of the Irish abroad; we are a close knit group no matter where you go in the world!”

While language barriers can also be an issue, it's not something which bothers Orla. In fact, for her, it has added to the experience.

“During my year of living in Thailand I ate food off menus that were completely in Thai so it would be exciting when the dish actually came as I would have no idea what I had ordered!” she laughed.

Orla's latest role is that of a travel blogger, which she took on over a year ago. The founder of www.travelorlabout.com documents her journeys online, offering tips and recommendations to other adventurers. As with her other jobs, it's one which has acquainted Orla with new friends and contacts.

“People get in touch with me to ask for travel advice or to help them with their travel plans,” she revealed. “My blog has been a really great way to express myself and keep in touch with like-minded travel-lovers.”

Although she is now settling in Ireland to undertake a Postgraduate course in Digital Marketing and Online PR, travel is never far off Orla's mind. 

“I do some freelance writing online at the moment and ideally the end goal will be to be location-independent where I can travel as freely as I like and work from my laptop,” Orla continued.

Aiming in particular towards a career in global destination marketing or travel public relations, the Ballinamuck native is also  planning her next trips abroad. Indeed, since this interview was carried out, Orla has already traveled to Marrakesh in Morocco, and will set off for Lisbon, Portugal and Amsterdam, Netherlands with her mum this month. 

In terms of her next “home”, Orla pointed towards Canada and possibly America, but when asked for her favourite destination to date, the answer was slower and more considered.

“It's so hard to pick just one place,” she conceded, “but definitely a little village called Hallstatt in Austria.

“It's an incredible alpine village that is a world heritage site. Colourful houses sit along a glass-like lake and there are panoramic views of the snow-capped Alps all around. There is nowhere in the world that compares.”

Other areas in Turkey and Italy come in at a close second, however.

“Another of my favourite locations is Cappadocia in Turkey. The whole place displays cavern architecture. Everything is located inside cave dwellings from restaurants to the accommodation you stay in.

“Lastly, another favourite is Cinque Terre in Italy.

“The region is made up of five multi-coloured villages that sit right on the cliff edge along the Italian Rivera.

“I would recommend travelling to everyone,” the blogger added, concluding by outlining the personal and professional benefits.

“It really takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you more open-minded. Travelling helps you gain a whole new perspective when you experience other cultures and ways of life. 

“I also feel that experiencing employment on a global scale helps you develop a set of diverse skills that are adaptable to any industry.”

Go along with Orla on her worldwide adventures by reading her blog at www.travelorlabout.com or by following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.