Friends from Near and Far

It’s hard to believe that my time here in Ireland is almost coming to a close. Because the clock is ticking and my return voyage to the states is inevitable and in less than a week, I have wanted to make the most of my final days, exploring in and around Dublin, my home for the past two months that I will be upset to leave. I’ll miss the scenic bus and train rides, the lively streets filled with cheerful locals embracing the warm weather at pubs with their mates, and most importantly all the friends and connections I’ve made throughout this journey. While seeing all of the famous sites across Ireland has been great and definitely worth it, it would not have been as magical if I didn’t see all of these places with my friends, new and old, Irish and American, in and out of the workplace. That is what I have loved about Ireland the most, it’s lively and warm culture and atmosphere.

This personable culture seeps into the Irish workplace and professional communication style, being higher-context than the US. While in the United States directions are laid out explicitly for employees to follow, and specific goals are expected to be met by the end of the day, I have found that I have often had to guide myself and set expectations for myself in the workplace. Not only have my coworkers been pretty lax about when I arrive (even though I still try to arrive at 9:30 promptly), they have often left me to my own devices in my daily goals, allowing me to lead myself. I have had to set my own expectations of what I need to get done in a day and my initiative in doing so and working ahead has really impressed my coworkers. Because of this lack of super set daily expectations; however, it has been easier to readjust in the face of setbacks. While there is a general idea of what needs done in a day, I have found it more relaxed than a US workplace in the face of an obstacle that prevents progress as attention can easily be shifted to other work because of the less rigid expectations.

My coworkers have been great communicators in terms of feedback. They always make me feel like a valuable member of the team and thank me for my hard work, encouraging me to continue giving it my all even if all of them are working remotely one day. This also leads to an open work environment which is conducive to the sharing of new ideas to fixing problems or the voicing of confusions. Not once have I been afraid to ask for help from my coworkers and not once have they ignored any ideas I may have. This has led me to being excited to go to work and learn from them more about the field of IT and their experiences in it.

Not only has their positive professional communication made me enjoy the workplace, it’s also made me want to get to know them outside of the workplace. My coworkers and I have gone out for coffee and drinks a few times after or during work, discussing our lives, culture differences, and experiences in Ireland. They have taken an interest in me both professionally and personally which is something I fear is not too common in an American professional setting.  I have greatly enjoyed our conversations while we are working and while we are out. This is one aspect of work communication culture that I would love to bring over from abroad to the states.

While it first it was hard for me to adjust to a communication style in which clear instructions and guidelines were not as commonplace as the states, I not only got acclimated to this, but grew to appreciate it as a more flexible way to communicate and plan out daily tasks.

Communication is all about forming connections. What I appreciate about Irish work culture is the overlap between personal and professional communication, leading to a more comfortable and tightly-knit working environment in which questions and communication are encouraged and appreciated. In this same way I have grown to appreciate connections more and more. While it has been a great professional experience working at UCD, I will never forget the people I worked with and the fellow students I’ve connected with while here in Dublin. Seeing the sights, learning about my field, and growing in my confidence as an IT specialist has been great, but what has been truly enlightening about my whole time in Dublin is the memories I’ve made with the people I’ve met and worked with while I have been here. I hope even when I’m back overseas in the States that these connections will transcend time and location on the globe. I will rep the UCD IT Services shirt my coworkers gifted me with pride!