My third week in Dublin has been another really great one! I am definitely settled in and am having no difficulty getting around or adjusting to daily life. The roads are difficult to navigate in center city, but if you’re confident and just choose a way to walk, you’ll always make it where you need to. At our orientation with EUSA one of the first days, someone made the analogy that an upper view of the streets of Dublin would be like taking a handful of spiders, dipping them in ink, and letting them run all over a page. A very unique and accurate comparison of the unique city planning! It is also interesting that here, people don’t know the names of streets when giving directions, but they use landmarks. When getting on a bus or asking for directions, you always need to ask in relation to a pub, bridge, church, etc., rather than saying “St. Pappins Road”.
Before leaving for work we were warned that there would be a lot of ambiguity in our internships because of differences in communication. Ireland tends to be much less direct than the United States. Back home, a boss would spell out everything he/she needed me to do, how to do it, and when to have it done by. Here though, that is very different. Even with all of the warnings, I did not expect that to be as much of a reality as it has turned out to be. With just about any task I am given, I ask so many questions to clarify upfront as possible. I don’t want to continuously go back to my coworkers, interrupting them, asking how to do something so mundane to them. Even just the other day, my boss asked me to go mail something out. I asked where a mailbox or post office was, and she said “just down there” pointing out the window. I asked again and she said, again, “just down there”. I went off to find one, thinking it would be really close. I walked blocks, across the river, asked multiple people, and finally found a mailbox that was in a coffee shop. When I got back to the office after what seemed like forever, she just said “that was fast” with all seriousness in her tone.
This ambiguity is something that I’m not sure I’ll get used to. While it may stem from the more relaxed nature of the culture here, I do prefer the directness that we have at home in the States. There are some phrases at work that I’m getting used to and figured the meaning out. For example, if I’m sorting and alphabetizing papers (which I do a lot of), when I’m supposed “mind the dates”, that means to order them by date. Its definitely little things like asking about that that makes me feel a little foolish, but I’ve definitely set the tone early that I’d be asking a lot of questions over the course of the summer.
While it may not be ambiguous, some of the language and phrasing my coworkers (and everyone else) use throws me off sometimes. It took me a while to figure out that “what’s the story” is just a simple “what’s up”. Everyone seems to throw around the words “grand” and “brilliant” which are not prevalent back home. Additionally, even though everyone speaks English, some accents are very strong and difficult to understand. Two of my coworkers seem to be speaking gibberish half the time when they’re talking fast, and I can’t even try to understand. My other coworker has moved around quite a bit, so he’s picked up pieces of lots of different accents. I feel bad not being able to understand them, but I’d rather ask them to repeat something than to completely miss a direction.
The Fun Stuff
This weekend, my friends and I decided to stay in Dublin and not travel anywhere. It’s supposed to be a washout over the next couple days, so my coworkers said to wait until nicer weather comes to go travel the rest of the country. We decided we would finish up doing all the touristy things in the city while we would all be here. We’ve been hitting up a lot of different coffee shops and restaurants, always trying something new. I do, however, have my two favorite morning coffee shops that I’ll alternate between based on how much time I have before work. One is a bit more of a walk down the river, and the other is closer to my work across the river. Disappointingly, I have yet to find a close resemblance to normal coffee; americanos don’t always hit the spot!
I also decided this week that I am going to try to push my flight home back a week to stay Ireland and travel to Europe before heading home. Not having to worry about work will be relieving and very freeing. Some of my friends are staying extra time so I want to travel with them, and I think independent travel will be really good for me. Two years ago, if someone told me I’d be spending my summer working in Ireland with a bunch of people I hadn’t met, I never would’ve believed them. But here I am and I’m having the best time!