As the inevitable goodbye approaches way too quickly, I feel conflicted about how to feel. On one hand, I have to think about my travel plans to go home, buy another suitcase (I bought too many pairs of shoes and clothing items while here; sorry, Mom), and prepare for life back in the United States. On the other hand, I want to live in the moment and only think about leaving when I absolutely have to. I have been able to see and experience so many new things while in this beautiful country, so it’s difficult to think about going back to “normal.” Because, at the end of the day, what will be “normal” when I go back?
Last week, a piece of home came to visit Dublin and I felt homesick for the first time since being here. My aunt and cousin booked an Ireland and UK tour and their first stop just so happened to be in Dublin. The inner tour guide in me came out and I was able to take them to the Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Emigration Museum, and one of my favorite spots to eat in town. Waving goodbye to them was difficult, as they reminded me of all of the other family members and friends I have back home, but I knew I would see everyone soon enough. It was a lovely day and I’m so grateful I could show them my temporary home.
Over the weekend, Dublin became a victim of a massive heat wave and I knew I had to take advantage of the shorts and tank tops weather. On Saturday, Lucy and I headed to Phoenix Park, the “Central Park of Dublin,” and rented bikes for the afternoon. Although we had a few bumps in the road, including Lucy’s bike chain snapping and us having to walk forty-five minutes back to the rental shop, it was a beautiful afternoon. Biking over the summer is a hobby I have been accustomed to my whole life, so it was nice to feel a bit at home.
Sunday was one of my favorite days so far on this trip; I know I say that in almost every blog post, but my time here just keeps getting better! Lucy, Lucy, Tegan and I hopped on the bus and headed for Dún Laoghaire, a town on the coast of the country. We didn’t realize how hot we would be until we walked around a farmer’s market profusely sweating. This was the first and only time I have ever felt hot during my time in Dublin. And surprisingly, I did not miss it. I’ve actually enjoyed not having to worry about sweating through my clothes or lather up on sunscreen every day; the 50s and 60s have been perfect for me this summer.
After walking around, trying some homemade jam, and sitting on the rocky beach, we treated ourselves to a nice lunch. That evening, we headed to a local beach and plunged in the frigid ocean for the first time since being here. At first, I was hesitant to go in. After all, the water was quite literally freezing. But, I looked around, and everyone else was laughing and splashing around. I took a deep breath and dove into the Irish Sea. I felt a chill go all the way through my body and leave me as I emerged from the water.
Back home, I probably never would have dove into a body of water as cold as the Irish Sea, let alone go in at all. The Irish live a different lifestyle and I’m learning to love all of the differences. What I have noticed most about the cultural differences, however, is that although there is not a language barrier, there have still been many times in conversations when I have to pause and ask what the other person means. Yes, the main language here is English, but there are quite a few barriers that make the locals difficult to understand.
The Irish have many sayings — just as Americans do — and they are used frequently and even in the workplace. Over the past month and a half, I have had to ask for clarification when my co-workers or new friends use slang I am unfamiliar with. “What’s the craic?” or “How’s it going?” seem to be the most common ones that I have had to learn (“How’s it going?” is actually used as a greeting — as if they were saying “hello” or “hi.” They aren’t actually asking how you are.) I understand most terms now, but every now and then I will hear a new phrase that takes me aback.
In the workplace, communication is key, especially when working with a communications company. Clarification and confirmation have been crucial to achieving success in my work, so I have learned to consistently make sure I am understanding directions correctly. Overall, though, I think the American work environment and Irish work environment both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily think one is better than the other simply because everyone works in their own way. Neither ways of working are wrong; they are just the way things get done!