One of the benefits of studying abroad in Europe is the close proximity to other countries that allow you to easily experience more than just one culture. Not knowing when I’ll be on this side of the Atlantic again, I intend to make the most of my opportunity. Beginning with London two weekends ago and Lisbon just this last week I am off to a great start on my European exploration.
Taking a weekend to experience these amazing cities has been like nothing I’ve done before. Stepping out of a plane after a two-hour flight into an entirely different country with its own language (in the case of Lisbon) or its own currency (in the case of London) is a jarring and delightful mix of emotions that I am continuously looking to recreate. I found that my experience adjusting to Ireland has made the transitions to these other cultures much easier. I had put in my time in Ireland and it had prepared me for the culture shock that I would experience and how to remain calm and cool when trying to navigate in cities that I wasn’t familiar with.
My time in both countries was made all the more special because I was able to link up with friends that were studying abroad in those cities. In London I was able to skirt the high hotel costs by staying with friends on their extra couch one night and a traveling roommate’s bed the next. I have to say couch surfing in the EU was much more glamorous than my experiences doing it in the states. Being able to meet up with friends gave me even more of an enriching experience. It was great to be able to experience so many new things, getting to experience them alongside my friends was even thrilling. Besides getting to hang out and catch up with people that I have been away from for so long it was great to be around people that have made the city their home.
In London navigating the underground (their name for the subway) was simple when you had someone who has taken it every day as part of their commute guiding you. On top of that was their expertise on restaurant suggestions and the local’s perspective on the parts of the city you may want to stay away from. With my friend from high school that I visited he used me as an excuse to catch up on the tourist stuff that he hadn’t done yet. My friends from Pitt took me to Brick Lane, an outdoor market and proceeded to tell me about the history of the neighborhood and the impacts of gentrification throughout the city, something I should have expected from my friend that is an urban studies major.
In Lisbon the wonders of social media brought a friend who I had no idea was studying abroad there and I together after he saw a post on social media that I made. It was great to be able to hang out with him and even more special because of the serendipitous manner in which our connection was made.
Now to answer the actual prompt that was given for this week’s blog. I’d describe my leadership style as an organizer, I saw it as my responsibility to get everyone on the same page and get team members into roles and help assign responsibilities where necessary. Leading to me felt like captaining a boat, we are all in this thing together and it was the leader’s job to make sure we are going in the right direction. During my internship I was happy to see that my supervisor seemed to take a similar approach to leadership as I did. Two differences that I noticed however where, that for one, they relied on the input of their team member to adjust the direction of the ship and that the supervisors above them sometimes made sudden changes in the final destination of that ship’s voyage. This elasticity and desire for input where skills that I knew where important, but in my mind separated them from the characteristics of leadership. Seeing them be put to use right in front of me both allows me to see them in action and understand the operation importance behind them.