Looks Like a Local, Talks Like a Tourist

My first week in Ireland has been amazing, but of course there were also a few bumps in the road! My struggle with the time difference was made slightly worse when I accidentally locked myself out of my bedroom at 2am on my very first night here. When I realized I had left my student ID and phone in my room while brushing my teeth I immediately panicked. I wasn’t sure what to do but I didn’t want to wake my roommates since everyone was exhausted from traveling all day. So, I ended up making a makeshift bed out of the two small couches in our living room and found an extra pillow in the hallway. In the morning I borrowed my roommate’s phone to call the front desk to unlock my room, which was easy and quick. While this definitely wasn’t where I was hoping to sleep my first night in Dublin, I’m proud of how I adapted to the situation and glad I didn’t let my initial panic completely takeover.

Besides that first mishap, the rest of the week was great! I’ve been able to meet so many new people from Pitt as well as students from other universities doing the same program. We’ve explored Dublin’s city center going to places like Trinity College, the Irish Whiskey Museum, St. Stephen’s Green Park and different pubs to try to soak up as much Irish culture as possible! On Wednesday we learned how to play the traditional Gaelic games of hurling, handball, and Gaelic football. With the rest of the students on our program, we went to a Gaelic sports club where we were taught the rules of each game by very impressive (and patient) Irish athletes, then got to practice each game! This was such a cool experience (even though I wasn’t great at any of the games), it was so fun to bond with the other students and gain insight into such an important part of Irish culture. I hope to see at least one hurling match or Gaelic football game in person during my time here!

On Friday we went to County Wicklow and our first stop was the Powerscourt Gardens. They were unbelievably beautiful! We walked around the property for about 2 hours, getting to see the Japanese garden, pet cemetery, Pepperpot tower, lots of statues, fountains and all the exquisite flowers and landscaping. Next, we hiked around two reservoirs in County Wicklow that were built in 1868 and 1908. Besides just the gorgeous views, I’m happy I got to experience more of the Irish countryside since a lot of my time will be spent in the city. Our final stop of the day was in Glendalough, one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. Even though I was pretty tired from our previous stops, I loved learning about the history and walking around the site. Yet, my favorite part of Glendalough was actually meeting two older Irish men who I bought a real wool sweater from. They were so kind and funny! The first thing they asked me was what my Irish ancestors names were (I think my red hair gave me away) and when I told them my mother’s maiden name is Ryan and my grandmothers maiden name is Kelleher they started laughing and had all sorts of opinions on the two family names. Having the opportunity to talk to and laugh with such genuine people made me feel so welcomed and connected to not only the country itself but my heritage as well.

 My last trip of the week was to Belfast in Northern Ireland on Saturday. I went with a smaller group of new friends just for the day. After a two-hour train ride from Dublin, we went to St. George’s market where we got to try delicious local food and appreciate local crafts. I spent most of my time rummaging through stacks of postcards and movie prints until I found my favorites! We lucked out with beautiful sunny weather—which I’ve already noticed is rare on this famously rainy island—and walked around the town before going to the Titanic Museum. After spending a couple hours at the museum, we went to dinner where I got the best seafood linguine! Overall, I had an amazing time exploring the city, but was also interesting to see the subtle differences in culture between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Tomorrow is my first day interning with the Restaurants Association of Ireland and while I’m a little nervous, I’m also very excited to get into a routine and start learning more about the marketing industry. In order to be successful in this industry, it’s important to be able to adapt to new environments, be willing to take initiative, be creative, and not be afraid to ask for guidance along the way. Being able to adapt to new environments is crucial in this industry because things will not always go according to plan, but you need to be able to problem solve when situations arise. Taking initiative and being creative are also key parts of marketing because people consume so much information and media every day, so companies need to find ways to stand out and be consistent. I think it’s important in any industry to always be trying to find ways to improve and asking questions of those around you is a great way to learn. Since this is my first internship, I want to work hard and learn as much as I can from the experience and my coworkers. In Ireland specifically, I think it will be important to be patient, research and understand the differences in communication styles, uses of social media, and the societal/workplace norms. I can’t wait to start!