My last week in Ireland could definitely be described as bittersweet. I would find myself getting sentimental over the strangest things—like reloading my LeapCard used for busing. I would try not to think too much over the fact that that would most likely be my last time ever doing that. I would also make an effort to walk around city centre every day after work, and try to find new places to go to or revisit some of my favorite places. Doing that, I stumbled upon the Garden of Remembrance which was very close to my work. I would also do some souvenir shopping and walk around St. Steven’s Green.
Entering my last week of work also had me feeling sentimental. Saying goodbye to my co-workers and the elderly members felt weird, and it definitely helped me to appreciate the opportunities that arose this summer and the connections that I made. On my last day of work, both of my supervisors ordered a pizza and they ate lunch with me and the other interns. We had a great time discussing the accomplishments of the summer and chatting about other, more personal topics. I realized that I wasn’t just leaving Dublin with work experience and college credit—I also was walking away with some new friends.
This also ties into how I received feedback from my internship supervisors. My supervisors were always readily available to tell me what they needed of me, and would usually praise my work. They also wrote my performance reviews that I would have to send back to Pitt, and they went over their reviews with me. The reviews were all positive and very kind, and it made me feel good knowing that they enjoyed having me as an intern just as much as I enjoyed being there at Friends of the Elderly. The way feedback was provided to me was very effective, and throughout the internship experience I felt like I could always communicate with my supervisors about any questions or concerns that could have popped up.
Since leaving Ireland, I have had a better opportunity to reflect further on my internship and my time living abroad. In all aspects of life, using contextual clues can help people to effectively communicate and problem solve. This was something that I had to rely on, especially during my internship. At times I worked closely with the elderly members at Friends of the Elderly, and with certain members, for one reason or another, it occasionally was difficult for me to communicate with them. If there was ever and instance when I couldn’t understand someone, I would use the context of our surrounding or what I knew about the person in order to get them what they needed. For example, during the Wednesday clubs, I could use the context to understand that they probably wanted some more tea. Another time, when I saw a member looking flustered by the entrance, I approached her and asked if she needed help with anything, and then after inserting myself I found out that she needed help calling a taxi.
During my last day in Ireland, I decided to finish off my study abroad experience off strong and took a train into Killarney, county Kerry. Sharing the same as a county and spending the summer in the country that the county is in, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit. I took the train early in the morning, and once in Killarney I treated myself to a full Irish breakfast. I then got on a tour bus and saw the best sights that Killarney had to offer—many of which are included in the scenic ring of Kerry. I saw Torc Waterfall, Aghadoe, Ross Castle, Muckross house and the Lakes of Killarney. I enjoyed all of the sights, and especially enjoyed hiking the trails by the Torc Waterfall. The weather was amazing and I truly was able to relax and enjoy my last day in Ireland. After the tour, I also had the fun experience of going into some of the Killarney gift shops and purchasing a mug that said “Kerry” on it. Growing up I would never see my name on any gift shop merchandise, so I definitely enjoyed seeing my name written in a gift shop for the first time ever.
I am really going to miss Ireland. Without a doubt studying abroad in Dublin was the part of my college career, and I will always treasure the memories that I made here and feel grateful for this experience. I hope I can go back someday!