Just finished week two of my internship! I cannot believe how fast the days are going by here. I have been trying to make the most of every day that I have here, and I have been having a great time working, exploring the city, and meeting new people. This week, I took a bus tour of the city, walked through Phoenix Park, and did a bit of shopping!
There have definitely been more cultural things to adjust to in Ireland than I anticipated before coming here. One of the major things I have had trouble adapting to at work has been knowing what I am supposed to do during the workday. The work culture in Ireland is much less direction-based than it is in America. This can lead to some uncomfortable situations and points where I am constantly asking my co-workers for tasks I can work on or activities I can do. This can also make me feel a bit lost and unguided, so it has been a struggle at points to adapt to it and learn how to approach solving this issue. This has been difficult to assimilate to because I have been used to people giving me direct orders and tasks without having to ask for them. In previous jobs and experiences I had, I was given a specific list of tasks I would accomplish during my time working there. Here, it has been more up to me as to what I want to accomplish and what I must work on during the day. It has been a bit difficult to assimilate into this work lifestyle, but I am slowly getting the hang of it by asking my coworkers what I can help with and creating a daily schedule of my typical tasks for the day.
Another aspect of the work culture here I have been trying to adapt to is the types of conversations co-workers have here. I have found that it is much more normal in Ireland to ask very personal questions to co-workers than it is in America. They also make a lot more small talk in general than I have been used to in jobs I had back in the US, and they seem a bit more uncomfortable with silence than Americans do. There is never really a silent moment during lunch, people love to talk here. It has been interesting adapting to a workplace where people are always chatting and asking me personal questions about my life. I was never asked if I had a boyfriend, or anything related to that at my jobs in America, so it has been interesting getting accustomed to this type of work environment.
I have also noticed that people have a different idea of timing in Ireland. It is common for people to be quite late to pretty much everything here. It is uncommon to show up early to work or be on time for things. “On-time” here pretty much means up to 25 minutes late, which would be unacceptable in most places in America. This applies to most aspects of the Irish lifestyle as well, not only in the workplace. People are also late to meetings, reservations, seeing their friends, the bus, and just about everything else imaginable. It has been a bit difficult adjusting to this because I usually show up everywhere 5-10 minutes early at the least, so it is very different from the norm here. It is also even more difficult to adjust to this when I take public transportation, so I have little control over when I arrive at places. This causes me to be even earlier than usual because I always want to give myself plenty of time to get to work, so it has been hard adjusting to this new lifestyle.
One of the general cultural differences in Ireland I have noticed and have been working to adapt to is the accents and words that people use here. Some people have very thick accents which can be difficult to understand. It can be uncomfortable at times when I have to ask people to repeat what they are saying repeatedly, but I am slowly understanding the accent better and getting a better grasp on what people are saying. Also, people here often use certain dialect that is not used back in America. When I was talking to my co-workers about how I am a rising senior at Pitt, they did not know what a senior meant. I found this interesting because I had not really considered that there would be different phrases for things, or that some phrases are never used in Ireland. However, it has been fun having locals here teach me Irish phrases and words so I can better understand people in conversations.