Dublin Chapter 4: Assimilation


When first arriving in Ireland, I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time in Europe and I came in with an open mind, but that didn’t change the initial anxiety I felt before settling in. Questions like what will the people be like here, will my co-workers be friendly or kept to themselves, what will the work culture be like vs. how it was in the U.S.? These questions rang in my head for the entire first week. As I got closer to my start date, I began to feel a bit excited about all the opportunities that I could be presented with. My thoughts started to shift from anxious to excited and I almost couldn’t wait to get to work on my first day. The first challenge I struggled with though first that I had to assimilate was the bus system. The bus system in Ireland is very inaccurate with timing compared to the ones in the U.S. I’ve used. This proved to be a significant part of my work week I would have to assimilate in order to estimate when I would have to leave for work. Each day the bus would be different in terms of time to get to my work. This was due to the one-way traffic on many of the streets that Ireland has been trying to implement for years to be greener and encourage less to drive cars and more to bike. As days passed, I got more and more used to the longest and shortest the bus would be to get to work, and on which days which helped me start to plan my mornings more and more accurately. Now I am able to aim for arriving at work within 5-10 min of my targeted timeframe. I would say this was one of the most difficult aspects I had to assimilate due to its randomness and variability. With the busses seeming unpredictable at first, it made it hard to initially assimilate to. The second challenge I had to assimilate was the language culture. Many of my co-workers use Irish slang, to no surprise, but I never always knew what they were talking about. For instance, I learned that craic meant something was good, similar to if someone said “that’s grand”. Another phrase was deadly. Normally I thought of deadly as something gross, or difficult. But in Ireland, people will use deadly in a positive light usually for if something tastes really good. Hearing “deadly” around the office was definitely off-putting at first, but was easy to get used to. One phrase that grew heavily on me is “Cheers” which means thanks. I mainly use it leaving the bus because it’s respectful and also a common courtesy to say thank you to the bus driver when getting off. For me “cheers” is always a fun phrase for me to say and I have gotten quite used to it. Thinking of maybe bringing it back to the U.S. (for only a week at first though to see how it goes over with people). I would say this was difficult for me to adapt to because of the contradiction of some phrases or the uniqueness of some words I have never heard before coming to Ireland. Learning languages was already not a strong suit of mine, so having to get used to new phrases and words was definitely difficult at first. The third biggest cultural difference I had to assimilate to was the shelf life of the food. For the first weekly grocery shopping trip I took, I was unaware of the lack of preservatives in the food compared to America. I found out the hard way when my bread grew mold on it and the yogurt went bad in a few days. This was a shock to find as I bought in bulk like I normally would in America. So for my next haul, I significantly reduced the amount of food I got and checked the expiration dates on them before buying to give myself an idea of how long I had to eat it. This was difficult to assimilate because of the previous notion I had regarding certain product stereotypes. To come and find that food that could last 2 weeks in America can barely last a week in Ireland made me have to reconsider my entire grocery list and the way I shopped. Going forward, I have definitely come to better adapt to the culture in Ireland and the differences I initially faced that I had to assimilate to. 

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