It’s extremely difficult to predict what life will be life abroad. I feel as though I tried my best to prepare, but there was no way I could know what was in store for this trip. At Pitt, I have taken a myriad of business courses that theoretically should have prepared me for my internship. However, I find that the best way to be successful at work has to do with soft skills. Don’t get me wrong, the more tactical skills I have learned in class are what brought me to this point in my career, but there are some areas that I definitely overlooked in the past. I find myself thinking about the business communications class I had at Pitt. In this course, we learned not only how to communicate but how to interact with others in a professional setting. I feel as though these lessons are the most applicable in my current workplace. This might have to do with the fact that the Irish value relationship building more than in other cultures. My coworkers always begin the day asking me personal rather than work related questions. I enjoy this but I also look back on my education and realize there is much less emphasis in these areas. Knowing how to have a conversation and social interaction is so important in any job. This is how you build trust with others. Being able to communicate has allowed me to gain responsibilities in the office. For example, this is the first week that I do not have to send in all my invoices to be checked before registering them. I consider items like these to be small victories. Although I am in no position to make influential decisions at my organization, I feel like I am still contributing in some way.
Furthermore, my academic experience could not prepare me for the obstacles of day-to-day life. Part of this is just accepting that you are not knowledgeable in certain areas. This is something that is difficult to accept. I enjoy being in situations where I feel comfortable and prepared. For example, a few nights ago I was watching some live Irish musicians and my friend mentioned to them that I was a singer. The band asked me to join them in a song but I was too nervous to go through with it. I will regret not taking this opportunity for a long time. I was too scared of being unprepared and sounding bad than taking the chance and having a unique experience. Living in Ireland has definitely taught me to try new things and attempt to overcome being uncomfortable.
This weekend brought me to the city of Belfast. It was interesting to visit another Irish city and observe its similarities and differences to Dublin. One thing I immediately noticed was its smaller size. The area is much more intimate and our tour guide mentioned the people were more close knit and “humble”. Furthermore, I could also see the British influence in Belfast because it is part of the UK. We had to switch our currency to pounds and some of the products in shops were slightly different. Although northern Ireland is technically a different country, it still had the Irish charm and beauty that I have begun to love. We visited Giant’s Causeway, a gorgeous rock structure on the coast of northern Ireland. We also rode through the countryside to see the green rolling hills and the farm animals. It was amazing to get out of Dublin and explore a new place and I hope I can continue to be adventurous and open to trying new things.
Studying abroad is a lot like starting college. I remember when I was a freshman that feeling of excitement and anticipation that I felt when I boarded my flight to Ireland. Part of my education at Pitt occurred outside the classroom as I lived on my own for the first time. Because of this, I am more comfortable adjusting to a different living space and being flexible. I wasn’t nervous about sharing a living space or cooking for myself and this just released a little bit of stress when leaving for the trip. Although living on your own is just a small part of the study abroad experience, I am glad that I was prepared for at least one element of this trip. Overall, my academic experience taught me numerous lessons that I can apply here in Ireland. However, there is no way I could have been totally prepared for this unique opportunity.