Leisuring in Lisbon

It is now weird to think that it is only the seventh week that I’ve been in Dublin – it feels as though I’ve been here for much longer. I feel completely assimilated to the city and haven’t felt like a tourist here in a long time. A few tourists recently have asked me how to get somewhere, and I’ve been able to help them out and get them exactly where they are looking to go. Because of this, it is sad for me to think that the excitement of everything being new as I am studying abroad has passed. The mundanity of working everyday has now made it feel less like an exciting study abroad time and more like daily life, which is what I wanted to achieve. However, it is much less exciting! Going to work for eight hours a day every day has given me a lot of time to experience Irish working culture and reflect on what aspects I want to integrate into professional life back in the States.

Cultural Competence

As I’ve mentioned before, I work in an accounts office with a lot of deadlines needing to pay suppliers and employees on time, so the work culture at my organization is a lot more similar to that of the United States than some of my friends’ organizations. We don’t take multiple breaks a day or have flexible start and end times, rather we work through lunch, arrive early, and sometimes stay late. Even with this, I can tell that the employees are much more relaxed about work than employees in the United States are. With the exception of my boss, the office manager, no one takes work home with them at the end of the day, and even she barely does. It doesn’t seem like the employees spend their time stressing about what is going on at work in the evenings or over the weekends, and they start each day fresh reviewing what they need to do for the day with fresh eyes.

The key takeaway that I’ve gotten here is that Irish working culture truly is “work to live” instead of “live to work” like it is in the United States. This is something that will important to me to bring back in my professional life back home. I don’t think many people, if any want to adapt a “live to work” lifestyle but people end up falling into it, so it’ll be a big challenge to continuously remind myself that there is more to life than work. As I aspire going into public accounting, starting at a Big Four, this will be especially hard to achieve. I think I’ll have to live to work at the beginning of my career to gain credibility and experience and later be able to move to another company that will let me live the kind of life I want to live after work, rather than stressing over work all the time.

Another aspect of Ireland’s work culture is that it is more friendly than business in the United States. Every phone call my coworkers make starts with some casual conversation and asking about each other’s families, relationships, vacations, etc. before ever bringing up the reason for calling. I think this is something that would be valuable to integrate into my professional life, as I will likely be working with a lot of different clients and the same people for years. Relationship building is huge in the business world and remembering things about everyone I interact with and casually asking about their lives could help me build better working relationships.

The Fun Stuff

Like most students abroad this summer, I missed the Fourth of July back home this year. I was very interested to see if people in Ireland knew anything about our Independence Day, and it was pretty split. Some people knew exactly what day it was and wished me a happy Fourth of July, whereas younger people seemed to have no idea what it was. It was weird being away from my friends and family on a day where you celebrate where you are from and who you love. I celebrated by going out with my friends for dinner and of course wearing a classic Old Navy Flag shirt around the city after work!

I spent this past weekend in Lisbon, Portugal and had a fantastic time in the beautiful country. I never would have imagined that I would ever visit Portugal, so when one of my friends asked if I would want to go, I had to jump on it. The first day we were there, we hit all of the classic tourist spots in Lisbon like Castelo de S. Jorge, Praca do Comercio, Sao Nicolau, Jardim de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, and more. The second day, we took a trip to Sintra seeing Palacio Nacional de Pena, Quita de Regaleira, Cabo de Roca, Cascais, and more. Our last was spent in the city and at the beach relaxing! Everything I saw was beautiful and I’m so glad I took the weekend away. It was great getting away from the mundanity of Ireland and being excited about seeing something new!

This week when I got back to work on Monday, I had the first feeling of being content with going back to the United States soon. This is a feeling that I feel like nobody actually talks about when they’re abroad, but everyone hits it at some point. I think everything is so new at the start of programs and you start to like the newness, but then you get comfortable and it becomes boring because the novelty has worn off. No one wants to admit that they’re ready for another change. I’ve started getting sick of typical intern work without pay and spending way too much money. I’m also really missing my friends back home that I’ll now only get to see for a week or two before we all head back to school. I think I’m just in a bit of a rut after such a fun weekend and back to the basic, so I think it will turn around a little bit! This upcoming weekend, I’m heading to London for the first time, so that should wake me up a bit! Even with the mundanity, I am still loving my city and so happy I chose to study abroad here for my summer!