A True Irish Experience

Another week down and another week of unforgettable experiences.

This weekend I was lucky enough to meet up with my third cousin Adam, his mom Catherine (and my second cousin once removed), and her husband Ger to catch a Gaelic football match in Ireland’s biggest stadium Croke Park. Watching a Gaelic football match between Dublin and Meath was like nothing I’ve seen before. Of course, I remembered the basic rules from the time spent at Na Fienna GAA club but being able to see one of the best teams in Ireland play the game was something else.

Because the game is so unlike anything we have in the states I was at a disadvantage when it came to understanding the strategy behind the ball movements and defensive schemes. But luckily my cousin played the game since he was in primary school, so he took this as an opportunity to school me up on the game and give a player’s perspective. He never got too upset with me either as I continually asked questions like “why did the ref blow the whistle?” and “wait, he’s allowed to do that?” Not only was watching the game an amazing experience but so too was getting into and leaving the stadium. As Catherine drove us in towards the stadium after picking me up, I had to ask myself where all these people came from. Once we turned a corner close by the stadium it seemed like the entire city was here to watch the game. There wasn’t a bar empty or a restaurant not filled, and mind you in traditional Irish fashion it was also pouring down rain. But that didn’t stop these fans. They cheered on their fans the entire game, and the rowdy fan section known as “Hill 16” never seemed to get tired of waving the team flag.

For these fans Gaelic football is more than a game. It’s a connection to their shared heritage and what makes many of them feel truly connected to the island and their history. Walking towards the stadium I could feel that comradery and it was exciting. Those two hours in the stadium I heard the deepest and widest variety of Irish brogues thus far on my trip, a detail that exemplifies the authenticity of my Gaelic football experience.

But where there is fun there must also be work. As my work progresses, I am finding myself given more complex projects and a greater deal of autonomy during my day. These projects allow me to showcase all of hard work I put into my classes the past two years and the real-world application of the skills I have learned so far. For example, many of the projects I am work on involve using excel. Because of the classes and resources that are available to me at Pitt I have been able to apply the upper level functions and equations that I learned during my operations management class including VLOOKUP and if-than statements. Being able to apply this knowledge in real world scenarios demonstrated the importance of the hard skills that I am learning in school, even if at the time I can’t see why I am learning something.

The areas that I feel less prepared for involve communication, especially with nuanced communication with my superiors at work. Although some may say this is something that only comes with personal growth I disagree and believe that this important subject could have been covered in more depth in classes like Business Communication or Organizational Behavior. In our professional careers we will all have bosses, and sometimes our ability to get along with those bosses can mean the difference between a promotion or stagnation. This relationship will be important to us, so I hope that in the next two years on undergrad that I will be taught some important and applicable advice in this delicate arena.