Up until this past weekend, I have been able to go out after work, explore the city, go on hikes, and go to museums without worrying about my health. I have been staying hydrated and sleeping for seemingly enough hours every night; I thought that would be enough for the remainder of my travels. Alas, it has been about a month since being here, so it’s only natural that real world consequences — like being sick — would come with having fun.
Last week, I overexerted myself to the maximum — both in the office and out — and it was quite the time. Last Wednesday, I went to the Harry Styles concert at the Aviva Stadium and it was absolutely incredible. I bawled my eyes out to all of his songs and sang with no shame. I felt happy and free and proud of myself for going to such an event by myself in a foreign country. However, simply going to a concert in Dublin is not as easy as it sounds. In Irish culture, people take their time, as I have mentioned a few times already. So, when there were 60,000 people in that stadium and everyone wanted to leave as soon as the show ended, I knew I was in for an exit that would take at least an hour and a half to accomplish. Although the concert ended at 10:15 pm, I was not back home until around 12:00 am. Another detail to keep in mind is that I stay at work until 5:30 pm every day and my office is just two blocks away from Aviva Stadium, so I went to the concert straight from there. I had been out of my apartment since 8:10 am.
On Friday, Romane — my French sister/foreign exchange student from about ten years ago — and her sister arrived in Dublin for the weekend so we were able to go out to dinner. Romane, Eva, and I chatted and walked around the city until around midnight until we finally called it a night (we were even able to plan my trip to Paris scheduled for the end of July!). Exhausted yet again, I caught a bus home and was finally in bed at around 1:00 am. This was yet another day that required me to go straight from work to an activity without any break in my day.
On Saturday, I ‘slept in,’ laying in bed until around 10:00 am for the first time since being here. I wanted to continue sleeping, but I had made plans with my friends. That day, I attended the Dublin Pride parade and eventually made my way to the Lewis Capaldi concert. My co-worker Sarah and I made the mistake of believing the tickets when it said the concert began at 4:00 pm when in actuality, Lewis did not come on the stage until 9:00 pm. Fortunately, concerts are not like the ones in America where the only thing to do is sit around and wait for the music to start. There were various food stands, drink vendors, and even some games to play while we waited. We even met Lewis’ VIP bartender and were invited to the pre-show events. We didn’t meet Lewis, but we did meet the opening acts and some of Lewis’ friends and family. With all of this excitement going on, the eight hour adventure eventually took a toll on me. On Sunday morning at 6 am, I woke up unable to swallow or speak.
The hospital was an interesting place, but I feel as though this is not that different from anywhere else in the world. I really don’t want to elaborate too much on my time in the ER, but I will say that sometimes you have to listen to your gut instincts. I knew I was overexerting my body last week, but I kept pushing myself anyway. Luckily, all I needed was to follow a few prescriptions and take time to rest, so that’s exactly what I did. I gave my body a break that was so needed. I slept in without any alarms for the first time since being here, and it was liberating.
It’s extremely hard to find a balance between saying yes to everything during this experience while simultaneously taking care of my wellbeing. As an outgoing person, it’s difficult to relax and not have anything to do. I have always been this way, but it’s been especially heightened while on this trip. I now know to trust my instincts and really listen to my body; if I’m doing too much, I will take it easy and force myself to rest. I know I will thank myself in the long run.
Spending time taking care of myself was not as simple as it sounds, as I have responsibility while being here. I have a job that I must show up to and put my best foot forward for. However, given the circumstances, I had to take two days off of work. I felt badly about this, but luckily my supervisors were extremely understanding. They told me to take as much time as I needed in order to feel better which made me feel much less anxious about the recovery process.
I have loved going into work every day, and I have taken some time to reflect on my experience. When it comes to soft skills I have been gaining at work, I believe it has happened gradually over time. It has taken me awhile to grasp the concepts of communicating correctly with clients or solving problems with my co-workers, but I am making progress. I think what I have struggled with most, however, is creativity. I have always had trouble with thinking creatively about how to solve a problem or complete a task, but that is a majority of the work in public relations. Luckily, I have been able to collaborate on projects with my co-workers and gain professional insight as to how to go about being creative.
In addition to soft skills, I have also gained various hard skills, including in Microsoft Excel, various website builders, and data analysis. In the public relations field, there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to managing clients’ websites, social medias, and overall organization. So, there are many tools on the computer that we have to learn how to use in order to make our clients’ work easier.
With all of these soft and hard skills that I am continuing gain knowledge in, I know I will be set up for success when it comes to working after graduation. This experience is one that I will not take for granted and continue to capitalize on during my time here. Also, it only helps that I am learning these skills in a foreign country. I still sometimes have trouble with understanding certain types of Irish accents, but it only makes me listen more intently. In these cross-cultural situations, I know that they will only benefit me in the future. For right now, I must focus on the tasks at hand and completing my assigned work — all while staying healthy. Here’s to my second month in Dublin!