Subtle Contrasts

I think back to my first day here in Dublin often. As we approach the one month mark of being here, I am left in utter amazement of how the time has passed. The time has felt fast, but, more than that, it has felt full.

This week was marked by incredibly interesting conversations. All of which were rather unexpected. I’ve seen a significant shift in the conversations that I’ve had with my co workers especially. Conversations glazing over biographical information and fun facts have grown into conversations of more depth, with topics ranging from family to international politics to individual passions. Being in an office that has an average of six people in it at a time certainly brings it’s down occasional sides, but opportunities to build close relationships with a variety of individuals from a variety of backgrounds has been a true highlight of this experience. One of the other interns, Emma, is from France. We’ll often enjoy our lunches together, all while sharing about pieces of our lives. While in the process of learning of different countries, it’s been interesting to reflect on unique attributes of the United States that haven’t been brought to my attention until now.

Being in a workspace that is predominantly not from Ireland has made the cultural differences of working in Ireland a little less obvious. Everyone brings their own leadership and work style to the table; at the same time, however, I also think the comradery and dynamic of the group is very much specific Caffe Parigi/FXCH. Of all the subtle contrasts between this experience and other experiences, I’d say it’s been the most challenging to assimilate to the ambiguity that I experience at my internship. While I think part of it is a reflection of the unique work culture in Dublin, I largely see it as a reflection of the unique set up and limited resources of the specific company I’m working with. When it comes to working on projects, a question or opportunity will often be delegated to me with barely any other additional information. It’s often challenging to schedule the time with Victoria in the midst of her dynamic schedule between the two companies. The lack of concrete guidance has been an incredible opportunity to learn, however. I’ve had opportunities to navigate what I see are proper next steps in a project and take initiative in seeing those tasks get finished. Currently, I’m working to navigate the technological piece of Caffe Parigi, attempting to encourage an even more efficient and productive process within. It’s been a rather unstructured task, but has allowed me to embrace the ambiguity, instead of being intimated by it.

Although the space I work in isn’t a direct reflection of elements of Irish culture, I’ve had a multiple of opportunities to pick up subtle differences in other aspects of my time here. Conversations with strangers have invited me to discover more about unique attributes of Irish culture and, likewise, unique elements of the United States. Conversations on the bus are some of my favorites. It’s been interesting to identify unique attributes to how people speak with one another. There is a sense of openness and honesty that I personally enjoy, but don’t see universally when I am conversing with strangers typically. Along the lines of honesty, people regularly speak much more bluntly and forwardly. It’s not uncommon for swear words to be used rather regularly, even in a professional setting.

The weekend involved a rather spontaneous excursion to Amsterdam. It was interesting to be back at the airport and think back to all that has changed since my last time there. The time was both exciting and relaxing; yes, a rather odd dichotomy. Being in an environment so novel and new continued the feelings of excitement that have yet to subside since arriving in Dublin. At the same time, however, the time away invited an opportunity to slow down and find rest in a slightly calmer environment. Although our days were spent in the bustling city of Amsterdam, exploring sights like the Van Gogh museum and tulip markets, the mornings and nights were spent in a small house outside the city, located directly on a canal.

It was a wonderful weekend. As much as I will cherish it, I’m thankful to be back in Dublin and reunite with a sense of familiarity. I’m amazed by the ways a place that was unfamiliar just a few weeks ago now feels familiar. While I love developing a routine and gravitating  toward certain coffee shops (Simon’s place is my personal favorite), I also want to maintain the sense of curiosity and desire to explore as the weeks progress.