The Unexpected Souvenir

I can’t believe our eight weeks are over. It seemed like forever ago that I was waiting in the customs line in a country where I knew no one. Our last week there flew by. After my bike ride in Killarney I knew I wanted to fit in as much as possible for my last weekend. I made sure to hit my favorite pubs one last time and tried some new places as well. My roommate did a study abroad program in Paris so we decided to do a souvenir swap where we each got each other a surprise. I had trouble figuring out my gift until I found these small prints in Howth. On Saturday I took a quick trip to Howth to snag the prints I had found a couple weekends prior and also snagged a beanie from Murphy’s. Murphy’s was an ice cream shop that had flavors like Chocolate Whiskey and Sea Salt and they were made in Dingle (a town in County Kerry). My roommate loves beanies so it was a perfect edition to her collection. I also picked a traditional Irish sweater for my sister because those Chicago winters can be brutal. A few other little things here and there for friends and family and ended up needing a second checked bag. We said farewell to EUSA at the farewell reception with pizza and Irish dancing (although I did not participate as I have zero coordination on land) The next day I had my open day for my exhibition. I spent some time making sure everything was perfect for the physical exhibition (held in two display cases in the library) and the online exhibition. I had spent seven weeks on it so it was really cool to see everything come together and actually happen. My last week was spent finalizing everything and part of me thought I would never finish. After my open day I was ready to make the most of my last two nights in Dublin but unfortunately disaster struck. I woke up with a severe sore throat and medicine was not helping. With my departure so close I wasn’t able to see a doctor and my flight home consisted of a large supply of cough drops and a smoothie. It wasn’t COVID luckily but my first stop in the U.S. was at urgent care. I ended up having mono and strep (hence why my blog post is a week late) and spent the next few days sleeping. That was definitely not the souvenir I wanted to bring home. Luckily I felt better just in time to move into my new apartment in Pittsburgh this week.

I think success is measured differently by everyone. Some see it as having the best connections or being well respected by peers or how much knowledge someone has. For me success is finishing what you set out to do. In Ireland, I set out to write a really good exhibition and learn everything I could about Francis Bacon. My supervisor told me several times that she really enjoyed by exhibition and that it was easy to read which is part of my goals for the project. I plan to get my Masters in Public History which is all about making history accessible to the public which means making dense history easier to understand and learn from. While some might see my exhibit as unsuccessful because I only had two visitors on my open day, I viewed it as a success because I had expected no one to show up. So I exceeded my own expectations! I also was able to accomplish my goals of learning to navigate Dublin with very little to no help from my phone which is always a goal when I go to a new city. In terms of success in Ireland vs success in the U.S. I don’t see much of a difference. I do think the workplace is more relaxed in Ireland which can translate to how success is viewed. In the U.S. it seems to be all about the deadlines and a successful employee as someone who is constantly on the go, reaching new clients and making the company more money. There seems to be a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing in Ireland and a successful employee isn’t necessarily the one who brings in the most money. At my internship my supervisors encouraged several breaks throughout the day and when I went down to the canteen there were employees of the HSE relaxing and taking their time with their lunch instead of eating at their desks or working through lunch.