Maybe America Could Use Some Pointers

This past weekend, my friend Tegan and I decided to venture off to Edinburgh, Scotland. We booked our plane tickets about a week and a half ago when the prices were low; we also figured we might as well see a different part of Europe! This was all fine and good until we realized our cheap tickets were for the most inopportune travel times: our flight to Edinburgh was at 6:25 am on Saturday and our flight back to Dublin was at 11:00 pm on Sunday. Alas, we booked our Aircoach — the bus to the airport — for 3 am on Saturday and 1 am on Sunday night/Monday morning; we were ready for the weekend.

There were no issues getting to Edinburgh; in fact, the bus from the Edinburgh airport to the city centre was extremely easy to find so we arrived at around 8 am, well before any establishments or attractions were open. We walked around and eventually found our hostel. As soon as we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the architecture. Every single building looked so gothic and historic — it didn’t even feel real. Next thing I knew we were going through Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, an illusion museum that just so happened to be open at 9:30 am when we walked past it.

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Tegan and I had a jam-packed 42 hours; we went on a Harry Potter walking tour (Edinburgh inspired many different parts of the series!), engulfed ourselves in the Scottish pub culture, experienced the Edinburgh Dungeon attraction, walked through the National Museum of Scotland, and even tasted myriad different kinds of chocolate at the Chocolatarium, a new chocolate factory and tour in the city. We kept extremely busy but also had time to check out the different shops and monuments Edinburgh has to offer. Next thing we knew, we were on the bus back to the Edinburgh airport, fully expecting to be on a flight home in just a few short hours.

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Well, we made it to the airport, but let’s just say we were not on our flight soon enough. In fact, our flight was so delayed that we were there well into the night, and did not arrive back in Dublin until around 2:30 am. Not only that, but the Dublin airport was extremely hectic. On my first day of being in the city, my taxi driver told me that the Irish have begun to travel more and more. Nowadays, you have to arrive to the Dublin airport at least three hours before your flight or you risk missing it. Furthermore, arriving back into Dublin is also crazy because there are flights going in and out all day long. So, when we arrived to Dublin, there were people everywhere. Tegan and I were so exhausted that we could not even comprehend there would have been other flights getting in just as late as ours. We made our way through customs and joined the queue for a taxi. That’s when we realized we would not be getting home for two more hours — at least.

As we were fervently trying to figure out any other way to get home, a woman in front of us overheard our conversation. We were looking at different bus options when she said, “If you have the chance to take a bus, do it. You will probably get home sooner.” So, we went for it. We got out of the taxi line and headed for the bus stop. Fortunately, a bus came after about fifteen minutes of waiting and we headed into the city centre. From there, we caught another bus about thirty minutes later and arrived back to our accommodations at around 4:00 am. We were exhausted from the day, but alas, we had work the next morning. I slept for approximately four hours before my blaring alarm rang through my skull. Good morning… again.

During this whole process, though, I realized something: no one else was as stressed as I was. Tegan and I were not the only travellers on that delayed flight back to Dublin. When I looked around and saw that no one was stressed, I decided to relax, too. When we arrived in Dublin and saw the customs queue, I immediately felt anxious. But, I looked around and noticed everyone else was either chatting, looking at their phones, or patiently waiting. Lastly, when we got in the taxi queue, people were tired, yes, but no one seemed angry. It seemed as though everyone accepted that there would be a wait and that is what comes with traveling.

Adapting to a new environment is a concept that has taken me awhile to get used to. During this seemingly stressful time in the two airports, no one seemed to worry. I’m realizing more and more that the culture in Ireland — and the UK — is much more easy-going than in the United States. It’s okay that my flight was delayed; I will have made it to my destination eventually. If the flight had been cancelled, I would have caught the next flight out. If we would have had to wait in that long the line for a taxi, so be it. Everyone else was in the same boat, too, so why stress about a situation out of my control?

This mindset also rings true in the workplace. Tasks can be pressing, but it is okay to be unsure about what is asked of me. The work environment is fast-paced, but not as quick as in the United States. Back home, I work for the tour guide organization at Pitt. We make it very clear that all tour guides must be on time — “on time” meaning fifteen minutes early to work. As I told my co-worker this when I was explaining why I kept arriving so early to work at Limelight, she could not comprehend it. To Irish people, if an event starts at 9:00 am, you are expected to arrive at 9:00 am (maybe even 9:05 or 9:10). Very few aspects of Irish society are as serious as they seem, and I have learned to love this aspect of the culture. It has taken me awhile to get used to it since I am so used to worrying about deadlines, being on time, and making sure everything is always perfect. But I like this lifestyle. I enjoy not having to constantly worry. Maybe America could use some pointers.