It’s rather surreal that today marks the beginning of my last week with Caffe Parigi/FXCH. I think about where I was close to two months ago, not only physically but the position I was in. There was anticipation for the adventure that was ahead of me, but, at the same time, an understanding that I was accepting an invitation to resist the setting of concrete expectations and, alternatively, enjoy every moment for what it was. I think back to the many drafts of The Packing List that evolved as my departure date approached. I feel no regret for the (many) moments spent figuring out the perfect number of shoes to bring or adequate amount of rain gear, but realize that in those moments, I was hyper focused on elements of the experience that, in retrospect, weren’t truly significant. Don’t get me wrong- my rain coat was essential (and has been used often). But perhaps the most valuable things I brought with me were an open mind and curiosity.
My boss Victoria was on vacation this past week with her husband Franck. Franck is actually the CEO of FXCH and spends most of his time traveling between their three apartments- one in Budapest, one in London, and the last (the one I spend every day in) in Dublin. I’m still caught off guard when people talk about their holidays/vacations. Weekends in Edinburgh or weeks spent on an island right off the cost of Italy sound so extravagant and luxurious to me, where as someone from Europe may see it as rather typical considering the easy access that comes with other countries being relatively close.
With Victoria on vacation, the week took a different pace. The gaps in between tasks were longer, opening up opportunities to spend time with my coworkers and continue conversations over lunch about differences we see between the various places we are from. Although it’s been a part of my work day since my first day here at Caffe Parigi/FXCH, I’m still not used to sitting a desk for the majority of the day. Runs after work and evening walks have been excellent ways to balance the time spent sitting, but I still notice myself feeling restless sitting at a computer for such an extended amount of time. There are a couple of other interns here, two of which are from France. Emma has been here since close to when I started, while Claire got here this past week. Claire and I shared an amazingly thought-provoking conversation over lunch on Thursday. She was very intrigued by our political system in the United States, both the structure of it and how it is being executed today and asked me questions about my political views and my thoughts on the current political climate. I highlighted my own personal confusion and frustration with how things are currently and mentioned to her that conversing with someone else who has different views than I do and believes strongly in the current political climate could be really productive. I’ve had more conversations relating to politics in the past two months living in Dublin than I’d expected. Back in the United States, political views and contrasts in political ideologies have become such a barrier for conversation, which is something I have noticed but has become increasingly obvious during my time away from it.
It’s been interesting how “success” is defined differently from place to place, city to city, country to country. I think our individual definitions of success are influenced by a variety of factors, with the families who raise us, the physical place in which we are raised in, and the media we consume being rather large influences. I was raised in a family where success wasn’t necessarily determined by the end outcome but rather the road that was taken to get there. I look at the ways my parents have instilled this mentality of success in myself and my siblings, and how that mentality has incorporated itself in the pursuit of passions and adventures. My own definition of success is evolving and becoming, and will continue to do so in time, but it’s interesting to identify where my own definition of success stands in comparison to the general view of success in the United States. I see the ways we collectively attribute success through numbers, whether that be salaries or a test score or the amount of time it takes to complete something.
In the midst of conversations that have been had, it’s interesting to identify the conversations I haven’t been having. What do I mean by this? Well, it’s interesting how the conversations I have had in my work place rarely gravitate towards achievement or even career aspirations. Granted, I think part of this has to do with the stage of life most of my coworkers are in considering they have jobs and are no longer in the position I am in of figuring that out. But, even so, conversations have been more likely to gravitate towards topics such as individual hobbies and interests, personal lives beyond the work place, and family, revealing how success is defined here. I’m curious if this is something consistent throughout all of Europe, or, rather, specific to the particular setting I am. Regardless, it’s interesting to notice this contrast in conversation topics and how these differences reflect the general values that construct different communities and societies at large.
My mom will be making the same journey (from New York City to Dublin) that I took just a few short months ago to come and join me here on Saturday. Together we’ll be spending just under two weeks traveling around Ireland and exploring pieces of the country outside of Dublin. I’m very excited for her arrival (as is she), but, at the same time, am in no rush for this final week of my internship to be over. With goodbye’s and farewells still a few days away, this week brings an increased desire (and opportunity) to truly enjoy, appreciate, and savor each moment (especially sunsets like the one captured above).