Flexibility and Finding the Right Words

Now that I’ve reached the halfway point of my International Internship experience, it’s really interesting to look back on everything I’ve done. It’s even more interesting to think about everything else that will happen in these final four weeks. Considering how much has happened and how many new things I’ve experienced in these past four weeks, I know that there will be so many more things to see and do during the second half of this program. It’s also engaging to consider all of the other things that I will be doing at my internship over the next four weeks. I wonder where I will be and how I will be feeling throughout my last week at my internship site. It will be really compelling to look back at these earlier blog posts to compare my headspace and my learning experience from the start of my internship to the end of it. Whenever I’m walking to and from my internship, I often think about my day-to-day life before coming to Ireland. It’s somewhat strange to think about all of the people and places that I never knew existed before coming here. There’s a quote from the movie Ocean Waves where one of the characters says, “The problem is, your world is too small.” I think about this quote a lot in the context of going abroad for this internship program. A lot of the challenges and problems that I was experiencing even right up until I left for Ireland now seem different – less intimidating and less important. Before leaving home, my world was smaller. Now, I’ve come to realize and recognize all of the other worlds that exist outside of me.

Adaptability and flexibility have been essential during these first four weeks of my internship, but not necessarily in the way that one might think. Although there have been broader adjustments and assimilations I’ve had to make as I’ve gotten used to living and working in Dublin (navigating the bus system, orienting myself with where things are in the city, and getting used to new schedules), I haven’t really run into any aspects of Ireland’s culture that have been impossible to navigate or exceedingly difficult to assimilate to. Over the past four weeks, I’ve been interning with an independent Irish publishing house, and overall, the business culture at my internship has been fairly similar to the other internship experiences that I’ve had back in the United States. This is not to say that there are not some slight differences, though. I’ve noticed that the people in the Irish publishing industry are very social – at least in the sense that socialization seems to be a bigger part of the publishing business culture. At book launches and book festivals, I’ve seen my coworkers interact with other people in the publishing field, and I’ve come to realize that the publishing business is all about connections. This isn’t necessarily that different in America, but in Ireland, the publishing culture feels a little more dependent on people talking with other people and not being completely competitive or completely solitary.

Another difference between Irish business culture and American business culture that I’ve experienced has been the expectation of collaboration and the lack of confinement to one assignment or one job. By this I mean that as an intern, I have been expected to do a little bit of everything and to help all of my coworkers out with their different jobs. At my internship site, there have not really been strict guidelines or parameters about which jobs I can and can’t do and which people I am allowed to assist. I’ve seen this at play amongst my coworkers, as well. People at New Island are expected to cross over and dip into other areas of work, even if these other tasks don’t necessarily fall under their jurisdiction or responsibility. In general, everyone kind of helps out wherever help is most needed.

The part of Ireland’s culture that I’ve found most difficult to assimilate to has probably been the language. This has been interesting to realize, especially considering that English is the primary language spoken in Ireland. Even though the actual language is the same, the different phrases and references used in Ireland have sometimes been difficult for me to decode or understand. Some of the written conventions have taken some getting used to, too. Whenever I make social media posts and online content for my internship, I have to be mindful of the differences in how the date is written in Europe (with the numeric date coming before the month). The way that times are written (with a period instead of a colon) is also something I have to keep in mind when creating advertisements for book events. Since I am working for an Irish publisher, I have also had to adjust to working with Gaelic writing and text as well. For some of the press releases I edit, there are sections of the documents that are written in the native Irish language. Because my coworkers are familiar with Gaelic, they have an easier time working with these documents than I do. Whenever I am working on a document that involves non-English texts, I usually have to ask for assistance. Even though these language components have probably been the trickiest part of my assimilation to my internship work, my coworkers are always helpful and understanding about the potential language barrier, and I’m really grateful for their kindness.