This week it hit me just how quickly this summer has flown by. Sometimes I think back on my first week here, trying my hand at hurling and catching a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city and it feels like just yesterday. Then I think about hiking along the Cliffs of Moher in the pouring rain and it feels like so much has transpired in the past six weeks to put into words. Regardless of my warped perception of time across the Atlantic the fact is that I only have a week and a half until I fly back home to Philadelphia.
With limited days left, this past week has been spent trying to accomplish the last remaining goals on my Dublin bucket list. On Monday night we visited Dun Laoghaire, a small seaside town 40 minutes South of Dublin City Center. Since arriving here I have realized my affinity for seaside towns and cities. I enjoy being around water and love the pace of seaside towns. In Dun Laughaire we had dinner and then made the walk along the coast to the 40-Foot. The 40-Foot is a popular cliff dive into the Irish sea. University College Dublin has had a few trips out, but with the cold weather a dip in the sea hardly sounded appealing. The past week has been unusually warm, with temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit for much of the day, making it nearly perfect for a swim. I jumped in first, and the water was ice cold! It was perhaps the greatest physical shock to my system I have ever experienced Although I scampered out quickly I really did enjoy it. Jumping in felt reckless and free and fun, despite the pain of the coldest water I’ve ever felt hitting my skin.
Tuesday brought another adventure. A coworker and I toured the Guinness Storehouse after work. I learned that because Guinness was around before the Republic of Ireland they trademarked the harp symbol for their logo before the country could adopt it as a national symbol. The Republic was forced to mirror the image to avoid a copyright dispute with Guinness. Learning this helped put the significance of the company in to perspective. Its longevity, and the depth of importance to the country illuminate a central part of Irish pub culture. Although I did not find a reason to like the taste of the famous Guinness beer, I could appreciate its cultural value more after my visit.
Communication in my workplace might be unique relative to other Irish work environments. I really only work with one person, my boss and county mayor Emma. I do not believe it is due to a cultural difference that Emma is often terse and direct in her communication. She is extremely busy, and when we get a chance to talk Emma speaks very quickly and business-like because she is so busy. I’m in the office in person everyday, but Emma is not always. We communicate primarily through Whats App, and she usually sends me voice memos from the car instead of typing instructions. I think the reason for this communication style is Emma’s busy schedule. Altogether, her communication style is not much different than American politicians I have worked with. Stress and a need for efficiency go hand-in-hand, and might be universal experiences in politics.
As I said in my discussion post this week, it’s rare to experience a miscommunication due to a language barrier in Ireland and English is the primary language spoken. With that being said, however, the Irish language is heavily present in my workplace. My boss and I have had numerous conversations about the Irish language, often while we’re driving around the constituency, because Irish is a big part of the political sphere here. As a member of the Fianna Fáil Group in Ireland, Emma believes in the Irish Republican identity, or the unique cultural values that distinguish Ireland from other European nations and particularly from the United Kingdom. One of those values is the Irish language and advocating for its instruction in schools and use in day to day life. As I have worked for her I recognize the stress that having those values and an international intern can put on a person. She advocates for a stronger Irish identity while relying on an American to serve her office well. I can see how that might create internal conflict or contribute to bad political optics. However, Emma has always been welcoming to me and willing to include me in a variety of experiences and events throughout the internship. She handles the apparent conflict with grace and genuinely seems to enjoy sharing bits of her culture and Irish identity with me.