North for the Weekend

And just like that, another week is gone! This past week was definitely a busy one for me. At work, I spent one day taking a course offered by my company, Public Affairs Ireland. It was a 3-hour course on the Freedom of Information Act of 2014. While this isn’t incredibly relevant to me as an American business student, I was thrilled to get to be on the consumer side of my company, and also learn about something vital to Irish culture and business in today’s world. I had that in addition to my normal work week, and also spent time with my family who is visiting! This past weekend we traveled north together for a road trip and saw amazing sites like the Dark Hedges, the rope bridge, Giants Causeway, Carrickfergus castle, and the temporary Game of Thrones Exhibit in Belfast. As a big game of Thrones fan, I was thrilled to get to be at these spots with my family! It was a nice weekend spent outside enjoying the warm sunny weather.

In my time at Pitt, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of several organizations that have helped prepare me for my time abroad. One being society for international business, which I served as Vice President for this past semester. In this club, we focused on all things abroad, including daily life, networking, and how to conduct business abroad. With multiple guest speakers, staff, and students sharing their experiences abroad, I felt this was a fantastic way for me to mentally prepare for this trip. In addition, I am also a member of Phi Beta Lambda. In this club, there is a diverse set of students in the business school, many of whom have traveled abroad and are happy to share their experiences with other members. I asked many PBL members about their experiences abroad and what I should do to prepare. In addition, I used my network of friends at Pitt to locate students who had done this specific program in Dublin in the past. That way, I had an even better understanding of what was coming.

However, despite a great education from Pitt, there are certain things no one can prepare you for when going abroad, both from a personal level and from a business standpoint. Professionally, adjusting to their work pace is something I have never been able to grasp as an American. I was told that it would be higher context and laid back, as compared to the fast-paced American work ethic. This has all proven to be true, and despite the hard work all my co-workers put forth every day at work, I have had several people tell me to take a step back and relax during the day. If I work through my lunch break, my boss sometimes notices and insists I take a break rather than continue working. She also has offered on multiple times to let me take a half day from work so I can be with my family as long as I finish my work, but I find myself declining so I can continue to be a good employee. Adjusting to this change has been a true challenge.

One way I am trying to combat this is by trying to form better friendships with my co-workers in the office. In this way, I am forming better relationships and adjusting to their culture more. Taking time out of my day to ask about their weekend or show them I am interested in their day to day lives not only forces me to take a step back from my fast-paced work ethic, but it also allows me to follow their high context business culture as well.