After a (wonderful) weekend spent in London, I’m beginning the week a little bit sleep deprived, but with a refreshing, slightly new perspective on Dublin. It’s rather interesting how going somewhere new can open ones eyes to the familiar. Or what has become familiar. I’ve thought about this since arriving in Dublin in relation to what is familiar to me back at home in the United States. Going somewhere new invites time to reflect on what is conventional and complicate the conventional. Although my time in Dublin has been relatively short in the grand scheme of things, going to London this weekend invited an opportunity to learn about Dublin and reflect on elements that are unique to the city. A little bit counter intuitive, don’t you think?
Being in a much larger city made me put in perspective just how condensed and relatively small Dublin is in terms of size. Similar to the times I have visited New York City, which have put in perspective the relative size of Pittsburgh as a city. In many ways, Dublin reminds me of Pittsburgh, aside from there being significantly less bridges and a significantly lower skyline. Prior to leaving to go abroad, someone had mentioned that the two are rather similar, but those similarities have been more subtle and more challenging to notice than I had anticipated. Both cities are incredibly accessible, perhaps because of the size of the two cities. I’ve come to appreciate the amount of time I spend walking instead of relying solely on public transportation. Additionally, the juxtaposition between the historic and modern aspects of each city is rather evident, seen in the architecture and infrastructure. I’ve had the chance to venture to the financial district of Dublin a couple of times and each time I do, I’m struck by the contrast in atmosphere. I find it to be almost a bit eerie considering how different it feels, and even sounds, and how different the energy is from the rest of the city.
Both Dublin and Pittsburgh have rich contexts, although the two contexts are dramatically different from one another. It’s been interesting to have conversations with people from Dublin and find out they’ve lived in Dublin their entire lives. It’s not uncommon for that to be the case, something consistent in Pittsburgh as well. Although much of the city of Pittsburgh is occupied by individuals drawn there because of a work or education opportunity (or simply because it is an incredible city), there are many individuals whose roots have been in Pittsburgh for generations.
It’s been interesting to identify similarities and differences between working here in Dublin and working in the United States. I’ve spent time directly comparing this experience to other past experiences, but it’s important to take a step back and identify how the experiences are similar or different based on the contrast of country and culture. As I’ve mentioned, the majority of the people I work with aren’t from Ireland, so I’m curious if the differences I’m picking up on are specific to our work culture here specifically in Caffe Parigi/FXCH or representative of general work cultures in Dublin. There seems to be a much more established balance between work and life, seen in the amount of time my co workers spend at work and the mentality towards work. Work hours are much more concrete and there doesn’t seem to be the assumption that working more is correlated with being more productive, emphasising the importance of working efficiently with the time given. Vacations (or “holidays”) are taken much more seriously, with the concept of working while on vacation being rather foreign.
Looking towards the future at my professional career, I see it as important to be intentional about a balance between work and life. The concept of a ‘work life balance’ has been a recent topic of conversation around company cultures as something to strive for and achieve. The balance is important, but I do think it requires intention and initiative. All too often I find myself blurring that divide when it comes to work and life as a student. At this stage of my life as a student, there isn’t a clear framework of a job to create a sort of structure, so it’s been a priority to establish that balance to the best of my ability. That balance is something that looks different from semester to semester, but I’ve seen it as a priority to establish. Prioritising time to invest in hobbies, personal passions, and relationships are all ways I attempt to strike this balance.
It’s a bittersweet to admit that I am in my final two weeks at Caffe Parigi/FXCH. Surreal, actually. In attempt to be engaged with the present, I haven’t thought about the end very much. I feel a sort of internal conflict. On one hand, I’m looking forward to seeing beloved faces and reuniting with cherished places. On another, it will be a challenging adjustment back to reality and will be tough to bid farewell to my time here. Thankfully, those farewells are still quite a few days away.
(Pictured is my lunch from today, our newest addition to the menu for Caffe Parigi that I actually had the opportunity to create and contribute. A Buddha bowl with rice, edamame, roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, broccoli, beets, and pomegranate seeds on top, with falafel and honey/soy dressing)(Absolutely delicious).