Hello from Dublin! These past seven days have been a blur, filled with so many exciting adventures: hurling lessons, a tour of our accommodations at University College Dublin, a Gaelic football experience, a field trip to three of Wicklow County’s most popular destinations, a day trip to Belfast, and a few night-outs in downtown Dublin. I have never felt more comfortable in a foreign country before, and I believe it goes to show just how wonderful the people are here. As orientation week winds down, I am slowly starting to prepare myself for the week ahead. Up until now, we have had nothing but fun events planned and extremely packed days. I have had to wake up at around 6:00 AM twice now and around 9:00 AM every other day. It has been a whirlwind, so I am ready to fall into a routine from now on. I have had a blast mingling with other students from other universities, locals at restaurants, and even my roommates that also go to Pitt, but now reality has hit: I begin my internship in just one day and I could not be more excited to dive in.
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, I will take the bus into town and begin my public relations internship at Limelight Communications. Limelight Communications is a full service agency that represents various clients all over Ireland working with numerous industries. Since the company is a communications consultancy, the employees must be knowledgeable about the latest trends and events in the country. Their Mission Statement even states, “Our mission is to provide our clients with the best communications strategy, proactive media relations, and fast, effective execution, which enables them to meet business goals and secure market-leading positions.”
In the communications industry, it is extremely important to be familiar with how to talk with those around you. You have to be able to effectively communicate with your clients and clearly understand what they need or want. It is ironic that I am working in the communications field in a foreign country simply because communication poses a potential threat. After living here for one week, I have already encountered quite a few culture differences. Even during our orientation presentation, the leaders pointed out the kinds of culture shock we may experience during our time here: culture surprise, culture conflict, culture acceptance, etc. I can honestly say that on a personal level, I have felt all of the above. For example, people have tended to be nicer here than in the United States and life is not as fast-paced here.
So, as a communications intern, my work could be twice as difficult; not only do I have to do well in my position, but I also have to assimilate to their kinds of communication. In order to successfully do my job, I must understand how to communicate with co-workers and clients. There are many words and phrases that the Irish use that are different than those with which I am familiar. Furthermore, their tones of voice differ from ours in that they phonetically say sentences differently. Here, it is quite common to finish a sentence as if they are asking a question. So far on this trip, I have had to ask them to repeat themselves because I’m not sure if they are stating a fact or asking me a question.
Fortunately, though, there are a few things that make me feel confident in my abilities to succeed in my internship role. Firstly, I have had a week to adjust to the lifestyle here and I will continue to learn about cultural differences as time continues. I will reside here for seven more weeks; it’s not like I am here for two weeks then I am gone forever. Since I have so much time left to work and live here, I can continue to learn from those around me and expand my cultural knowledge. Also, one of Ireland’s main languages is English, so really the only barrier there is the accent. Even then, I have been able to read lips and listen intently to understand the language.
Overall, I feel confident in my abilities to succeed in the communications industry. I have studied communication and taken communication courses for the past three years that have prepared me for this kind of job. My journalism course, public relations course, and media relations course — to name just a few — have all adequately showed me how to work well in a communications role. Although I am nervous to interact with those from a different culture, I feel more ready to learn and adapt; after all, this is what I am here to do!