Last weekend, I traveled to the beautiful and very green Ireland to visit my roommate from Pitt, Emily and my friend Phoebe. It was my first time really traveling on the plane alone. When I go to Colombia, I always have my family with me. Luckily, when I traveled to Madrid, I had many students from the IIP program with me on the same flight from Philadelphia.
My dad always taught us that every successful plane ride begins with arriving at the airport extremely early, which we lovingly call “camping out at the airport”. I always think that security lines are going to take forever, but in Europe you do not have to take off your shoes which saves a lot time! It was very relaxing to eat dinner calmly before my flight instead of rushing around. Studying abroad has taught me one thing: go with the flow. This concept is very difficult for me since I am a planner and like to know exactly what will be on the agenda for the day. The reality is that in a new country you never will know what is going on, so might as well enjoy the unknown. I followed with “go with the flow” attitude when I managed to lose my keys to my host family’s house somewhere in Dublin. We’ve learned that foreign keys will never be my strength.
The first Irish people I got to interact were the flight attendants on my Aer Lingus. Our flight was late and since I have very limited time on my weekends, I was beginning to get a little grumpy. The flight attendants were so happy that I instantly felt amazing. Their smiles were infectious! Throughout the entire trip, I noticed how the Irish people would talk to you about anything! Our tour guide also mentioned that the weather is a common topic because it is always changing. If you ever need anything to talk about in Ireland, just start with the weather and it should turn into a great conversation!
As a business student, a country’s tourism and evolution of that tourism is always interesting to me. We went on a Sandeman’s tour of Dublin. This company operates in many major European cities, but not as the typical tour company. They are technically a marketing company who advertises “free” tours by local tour guides in each city. These tour guides actually pay a fee to be a Sandeman’s tour guide. Tourists on these tours tip the guide the amount they think the tour was worth. This system gives the incentive for the tour guide to give the best tour possible and the best advice. I think this concept would be interesting for my HR friends to study. It would give a great glimpse into the motivation of employees!
My tour guide was awesome and definitely deserved all his tips from our group! He began with a 15 minute recap of over 10,000 years of Irish history. I learned so much about the complicated history of Ireland. Some of the information that stuck with me was the fact that the trait of the Irish people, red hair, comes from the Viking invaders who occupied much of Ireland during periods of time in their history. The native Irish actually had darker hair! Additionally, we learned more about the complicated relationship between Ireland and England. The English had repressed the Irish for many years and discouraged (sometimes rather forcefully) the use of their native language, Gaelic. The population who speak this language are a minority within the country, but the language seemed alive in Dublin. The bus would announce the stops in English and Gaelic and many street signs would be in Gaelic or English. Also, it was a big deal when Queen Elizabeth visited the country and spoke the first words in Gaelic. This act helped mend some of the animosity between some groups within the country and the English monarchs.
In my last couple hours, I knew that I had to try a glass of Guinness. Who goes to Ireland and doesn’t try one of their famous beverages? I really enjoyed the beer, even though I am not an avid beer drinker. Its taste was a little bitter and it did not have many bubbles. A tip from our tour guide was to try Guinness at a bar outside of the Temple Bar tourist area to get a slighter lower price. This is great advice if anyone is planning on stopping in Dublin soon.
Dublin was amazing and I would definitely consider going back in my lifetime! What I’ll remember most is the friendliness and warmth of the people, even when it could get dreary and rainy.