“North of Ireland and Northern Ireland—what’s the difference?” asked the Black Cab tour guide as he drove past political murals lining the streets all throughout Belfast. I read numerous articles and historical texts relating to Brexit and the political climate between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland before coming to Dublin; however, the severity of the situation was more extreme than I imagined it to be when I stood within the borders of Belfast. Gates separate sections of Belfast in which some areas are inhabited by the British and others inhabited by the Irish. Opposing viewpoints can be seen within the artwork of the walls on the borders, as well. I highly recommend doing a Black Cab tour because you learn so much from incredibly knowledgeable individuals who are directly experiencing the effects of Brexit and historical turmoil. Being able to actually drive around within the city and learn the meaning behind the things you see is priceless in comparison to anything else you do in Belfast.
After the Black Cab tour in Belfast, I headed toward Giant’s Causeway, a beautiful landscape of high hills, the sea and hexagonal rocks. Surprisingly, the weather was perfect with only little bouts of rain for a few minutes. I was able to get a spot all to myself at the edge of a hill overlooking the coastline far away from all the other tourists and I couldn’t have been happier. I was grateful that the tour allowed us a couple hours to roam on our own rather than being restricted because all I had been wanting to do was be at peace and enjoy the scenery before me. The last stop of the trip was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. I absolutely love heights and anything adventurous when it comes to exploration, so I couldn’t contain my excitement when I had the opportunity to cross the rope bridge that shook above the coasts. My camera was definitely put to work throughout the day almost to the point of the battery dying, but all the photographs will become precious memories of mine for the rest of my life.
The Saturday tour was a nice change of pace in comparison to the weekdays preceding it. My internship had started, and the work culture was quite different than what I was used to back in the United States. Fortunately for me, my internship is only a seven-minute walk away from the apartment, so managing commute time isn’t difficult at all. The hard part, though, is making progress in the work I must do within a workday’s time. The internship revolves around reading thousands of articles from the Irish Times and selecting the ones that pertain to corruption in Ireland. Although I don’t have to meet a specific number of articles per workday, the objective is to get through as many articles as you possibly can—all the way back until the 1850s. Hence, working quickly is good, but inaccuracies may pop up. I must make certain I read some articles carefully to ensure its relevance to the research study. Any inaccuracies can lead to major changes within the data of the research and can ultimately ruin the findings of the study.
Thus, my supervisor prioritizes “tea breaks” quite a lot. After all, staring at thousands of words on a screen in an eight-hour workday isn’t the best way to treat your eyes, or your brain. The supervisor will pop in a few times a day to check in on the progress and will always end with the words “make sure you go on tea breaks” before he leaves. The atmosphere is strangely relaxed in comparison to the United States where the only breaks you typically get are lunch breaks. Funny enough, I also think my supervisor finds it strange that I’m okay with not going on small breaks and just working with one lunch break. There are no strict guidelines to follow in terms of time at my internship and it makes me feel rather uneasy. No one really cares if you are late, though I always arrive ten minutes early anyway.
Overall, managing time at my internship isn’t difficult. I do set my own quotas to meet at the end of the day and though I don’t necessarily go on “tea breaks,” I do take a couple minutes off my screen after completing a hundred or so articles each time. Truthfully, the concept of having a tea break is novel to me, but nonetheless refreshing.