Rolling with the Punches


This week has been all about exploring. My friends and I decided to take several day trips to many scenic locations not too far from city center Dublin and UCD, to Bray and Howth. Bray is a town located on the east coast of Ireland with a scenic view of the sea. With a gorgeous boardwalk, beautiful rocky beaches and a grandiose cliffside walk on the edge of the island, Bray was a spectacular day trip filled with flaky fish n’ chips, lush landscapes, and friendly townsfolk. Howth, on the other hand, is a small fishing village just east of Dublin on a peninsula. In Howth resides another cliff walk with just as mesmerizing views and even more mesmerizing seafood dishes. In Howth we hiked, strolled around a market admiring local artisans’ and chefs’ wares and food, and admired the green seas waves crashing as we were serenaded by the strums of a man’s guitar. Once again, another peaceful and successful day trip.

However, in both trips, we encountered the unexpected: we got lost. In Bray, what was supposed to be a simple hike atop a hill to a gigantic stone cross monument, ended up being a 5-mile hike in which we had to scale rocks, crawl under barbed-wire fences, and dodge cowpies. Meanwhile, in Howth, we were in search for what was supposed to be one of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, but to no avail. In all of these situations it would be easy to get frustrated when things do not go according to plan; however, with the many roadblocks I have had to face while working at UCD, I have adopted a lot of patience.

Patience is a soft skill I have developed in and out of the workplace since being here in Ireland. Whether it’s because my IT team keeps running into roadblocks with errors regarding the network overhaul on campus or a lack of familiarity with our software, or because I have personally had to deal with medical problems on this trip, I had learned to take everything in stride. As much as we as humans would like life to go according to our plans, this notion is quite unrealistic. My patience and go-with-the-flow attitude have definitely improved since embarking and working abroad. I have to take on every obstacle as they come rather than stress the minute things go wrong.

 Not only that, but my communication skills have also improved. Since my team works primarily remotely while I am on campus, it is key for me to constantly keep them updated with my progress and any obstacles I run into, while I expect them to keep me informed and updated in return. This applies for planning trips with my friends as well, as we need to agree on times and locations to meet as well as our agendas for our trips.

In terms of hard skills, I feel I have definitely gained a confidence in my technical skills involving troubleshooting PCs. I have become intimately familiar with a lot of PC hardware as well as software like Microsoft operating systems as well as Microsoft Azure and Intune which are utilized as remote directories for storing PC information. I have also familiarized myself with applications such as SAS and Revit which we have had to monitor in our upgrade initiative due to their data size.

While the technical skills have not come in as much use in cross-cultural differences, patience and communication have been key in adapting to Irish culture. Irish people are typically less wound-up and uptight than Americans in both the work place and in social settings. They tend to take things in stride better than we do. As a result, it has aided me in being less hung up and stressed on small obstacles to be immersed in the Irish culture. I tend to be more patient with others and pull myself out of my comfort zone in situations I might normally not be in in America, like travelling alone, for example. 

Communication has also been helpful in bridging culture gaps. It has been enjoyable to talk with local Irish people not only about the differences between our cultures, but also the similarities. We can easily bond over conversations such as these. And when I have questions, in work and in social settings, I am less anxious about being vulnerable and asking for clarification when needed. Bridges are built between cultures through communication and patience: two of the soft skills I have learned since touching down in Dublin about a month ago (which still blows my mind that we have been here that long!)