I am now over halfway through my summer in Dublin, and I realize how fast time is flying. After spending all day at my internship, I have been trying to try new restaurants, find new parks, or just spend time walking in city centre to make the most out of my free time. These past few weeks have been more fun and rewarding than I could have ever imagined, and I expect that to continue even more for my last few weeks. I feel so comfortable and adapted in my new city and certainly feel more like a local than a tourist at this point
Preparation at Pitt
Before leaving for Ireland, I planned to spend the first few weeks of my summer preparing on my own for my abroad experience. I planned to check out Irish news outlets every day, look more into cultural differences, and even start watching some television shows made here or in England to get me up to date on pop culture. However, because of my poor planning and losing track of how fast time was flying at home, I ended up doing almost none of that. Days before leaving, it started to hit me how unprepared I was to spend eight weeks on a completely new continent in a completely new country. I realized I had to rely on my previous life experience and how Pitt has prepared me to adapt to a new place to live and work.
That being said, Pitt has definitely prepared me for spending my time in Ireland. One of the major things that prepared me was the pre-departure country-specific meeting held by the Pitt Business Study Abroad office. While there was only one, we went through a great presentation specific to our program, where we would be living, different stereotypes of Americans and Irishmen, and more. It was the first time all thirteen of us on the program had the chance to see everyone and who would be traveling with each other as well. The meeting started really getting me in the mindset of being out of the country and being a representative of myself, my university, and my country.
I think the biggest thing that prepared me for my study abroad experience came from a different study abroad experience. Last semester I participated in Pitt’s Global Service Learning program in Bolivia. With five other students, I was consulting for a nonprofit in Cochabamba, Bolivia and taking a class taught by the Pitt Business International Programs office and the Pitt Business Associate Dean. Because I had a full semester long course dedicated to adapting to other cultures (and what service learning is), I gained a lot of great classroom preparation before going abroad and reflecting on my experiences. On top of that, I spent a week in Bolivia which certainly prepared me a lot. Prior to going to Bolivia, I had never been out of the country except for Canada, so I had never been immersed in a new culture. Even though that was only for a week and South America is majorly different from Europe, that trip really prepared me for my time in Ireland.
The most important thing I learned was the necessity of flexibility and keeping an open mind. The main concept I focused on when coming to Ireland was keeping an open mind of everything. From my roommates to work to etiquette in a coffee shop I tried not to set too many expectations and just take on the experience as it came. I think that was the best move I could have made coming in. My roommates ended up working out perfectly, my work experience has been great so far, and I am definitely comfortable at my daily coffee shop (shout out to Craft Coffee Roasters). As mundane as it sounds, I think the most awkward change has been adapting to each restaurant I am at – figuring out whether I seat myself, order at the bar, or pay at the table.
The Fun Stuff
This past Sunday I took a daytrip to Galway to live out my Ed Sheeran dreams (sorry for the basic blog title). It rained the whole time, so there wasn’t much I could see or do, but I still had a lovely time seeing another town. I didn’t make it on any of the hikes because of the weather, but I did take a small boat tour down the River Corrib. It was really interesting learning about some of the history of the town, and our tour guide showed us traditional Irish dancing and how to make a true Irish Coffee!
This week I’ve spent a lot of time relaxing and taking it easy. It feels like since I’ve arrived in Ireland, I’ve been trying to keep busy all day every day, and I think that finally started to catch up to me. I had been pretty tired and struggling to stay awake at work, so I spent a lot of time for myself this week. I went to bed pretty early most days and made some good comfort food for dinners. I went for a couple walks in the park near my apartment and even immersed myself in the Irish Netflix culture (which does have different shows and movies)! I wanted to rest up for my weekend that I plan to spend in Northern Ireland.
It has been hard for me to go straight home after work and to have some early evenings, as I feel like I’m wasting my time abroad. On the other hand, I know that to continue to have the best experience here I really need to take the time for myself. Now that I feel well rested and my head is back in the game, I’m really looking forward to my last three and a half weeks in my second home!