I can’t believe this is my fourth blog post during my time abroad. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting on my couch in Pennsylvania writing my pre-departure post, and now I’m sitting at my desk halfway across the world. Time flies when you’re having fun, and I have never understood the real truth to that statement until now. This past weekend, a few friends and I took a train to Galway, a city in Ireland on the other side of the country. We left on Friday evening immediately after I got off work, so we arrived at around 10:00 pm.
On Saturday morning, four of us decided to embark on a five mile hike up to the Cliffs of Moher, a set of cliffs that run along the southwestern edge of County Clare, Ireland. When we got to Doolin, a very small town that marks the beginning of the hike, a woman warned us about the wind advisory. “Be careful,” she said. “It is especially windy today and the trail can become quite dangerous if you’re not agile enough.” While I would say I’m in decent shape, I didn’t think I would have to worry about being “agile enough.” We had heard that this trail was no easy feat, but the fear didn’t settle in until I heard this local tell us this.
Alas, we began our adventure. We started off strong and even laughed off how bad the hike could actually be. We munched on granola bars and walked on the steadily growing path at an eighteen minute mile pace. Little did we know that it would be one of the wildest experiences we’d ever have. After about a mile into our journey, the rain commenced. Not just any rain, but rain that pelted us as we trudged up the path. We tried to take cover with our rain jackets and windbreakers, but the wind was too strong. Our hoods flew down and we were forced to stare at the ground. Luckily, I had bought a wool headband at a shop in Doolin, thanks to the woman who recommended we keep as warm and dry as possible. My friend Lucy’s ears were exposed the whole time and said she could hear ringing in them the whole hike due to the intense weather. The rain was so strong it almost felt like hail. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t — my mind was too focused on staying on course and not being blown over the edge of the cliff. After about twenty gruelling minutes, the rain lightened up and it felt as though all was okay again.
The trail was right next to the water the whole time, but it just kept getting progressively more steep. At around mile 3, though, the views started to become more and more incredible. We could see the cliffs ahead of us and finally, it was the light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in a very long time, I was speechless at how beautiful the view was ahead of me: the waves of the ocean crashing against the cliffs, the birds flying around the mossy ledges, and even the rocks peaking out of the angry ocean. The wind was harsh against my already-chilled face, but I didn’t mind. The sensation I felt was one I wish I could feel forever and one I will never forget.
As I’m writing this post on my lunch break at work, I reflect on how to take in these precious moments. I didn’t even know such a beautiful sight existed and I wish everyone in the world could see it, too. When we arrived back in Galway on Saturday evening, I asked a few locals if they had been to the Cliffs. One man answered casually, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen them. They’re right down the way. Too touristy now, though.” Imagine having one of the greatest views just two hours away from your home, let alone one that is so accessible, as well. There is a bus that goes all around Ireland, and since the country itself is about the size of Maine, it takes less than a day to get all the way around. There are so many sights to be seen in such a small radius that I plan to see as much as I can while living here.
While traveling and seeing different parts of the country has been a blast, I spend the majority of my time at my internship. Although it has been an incredible learning experience so far, there are inevitably some challenges. Navigating uncertainty in an internship is difficult no matter where you work, let alone in a foreign country. Asking for help, clarification, and approval is a daunting task in every professional situation and one I am all too familiar with. However, I have found this especially burdensome in a foreign culture. I know that this feeling of discomfort builds character and ultimately leads to personal and professional growth, but it has been somewhat troubling trying to adapt to the Irish workplace manners.
What I have found to be the most difficult to decipher is how pressing each task is. Almost everything that is asked of me or my co-workers is prompted in a casual manner, but the other employees seem to know when a task is needed immediately or if we can take our time. On Tuesday, I was asked to print out some documents via email. I printed them within five minutes of being asked and it turns out it was not needed until the end of the day. Yesterday, I was working on social media scheduling with one of my co-workers and missed an email saying I needed to print something. I printed the paper twenty minutes after it was sent to me, but it was too late. My boss needed it immediately. However, the wording was the same exact wording as the email on Tuesday. Ambiguity seems to be what I’m struggling with the most, but I’m simultaneously realizing that my co-workers are understanding. I am allowed to ask when tasks need to be completed by; in fact, they encourage that! I think sometimes I feel like a burden on them, but in reality, things will only get done if everyone is transparent.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Find comfort in the uncomfortable. That’s how you grow.” I have felt many levels of discomfort over the past two and a half weeks, but I already feel myself thinking differently and growing into a better version of myself. Maybe that sounds cliché, but I don’t care. I have felt extremely uncomfortable, whether it be on the narrow path right next to the ocean where I could’ve easily been swept away by the wind or at my internship when I’m not sure what needs to be completed first. These are both challenges that I’m proud to have been able to face, and even more proud of how I overcame them. I’m ready to experience even more.