It’s currently a Sunday afternoon, the 2nd of July. I am writing during my ride on the Irish railway, returning to Dublin from a trip to Ballina, Co. Mayo this weekend to visit my family. I arrived in Mayo on Friday afternoon and settled into my aunt’s house. Saturday, a couple of my aunts and cousins spent the day showing me around beautiful Mayo. We explored all the beautiful scenery of the coastal town. It was a wonderful weekend spent with family and I am so grateful I was able to see them this weekend as it has been roughly 8 years since I have seen them last. The “Sunday Scaries” are setting in now, as it is back to the work week tomorrow. Who doesn’t love a Monday morning?
As I prepare for yet another work week, I reflect on the soft skills that I have developed throughout my time so far both within my internship and daily life. Since arriving, I have become extremely adept, that is, quick to learn. I really have had no choice but to learn quickly the commonalities around here in terms of the UCD campus, public transportation, night-life in city centre, and the day-to-day life at my workplace. I believe I became quickly accustomed to the environment, speaking relatively.
It feels as though I have been living here for months–much longer than I actually have been. I almost feel completely acclimated to my surroundings. That being said, I have considerably increased my sense of adaptability, again, both in day-to-day life and in the workplace. Arriving in Ireland not knowing anyone, I had no choice but to figure things out for myself. I viewed this as a challenge for myself, because I knew it would only prove beneficial in the end. I am grateful for the strengthened sense of independence and confidence that the challenge has instilled in me.
My communication skills have also been significantly challenged and improved. Luckily, English is still the primary language spoken here in Ireland. If anything else were the case, I would be struggling a lot more than I am. That being said, however, there is still a language barrier that is sometimes difficult when I am trying to participate in a conversation with one or more Irish native. I have struggled on more than one occasion in conversation, but have overtime been able to deduce from context clues when there may be a phrase or two that I do not initially understand. The same happens at work, when sometimes I do not understand the exact reference one of my coworkers makes, or the phrase that is being thrown around. I do my best to participate and have become more comfortable asking questions when I don’t understand something.
Having spent a total of just about 4 weeks so far at my internship, there are also a couple of more technical skills that I have picked up throughout the experience. I have developed efficient interview skills as I have so far conducted a few different interviews with individuals in the area. I have learned a lot about the interview process itself, and how the process entails much more than simply posing questions and waiting for the response. Before each interview, I do significant research on the person I am interviewing and on the topic of conversation in order to properly prepare. For example, I have an interview scheduled at work tomorrow with a famous author. I have done extensive research on the author herself and her background, as well as on her specific book that we will be discussing. I have also devised a wide array of questions about her and her book.
The idea is to use the information I obtain, and compose it in a way that tells a story. While I have experience doing some extensive writing in the past, I have not done anything quite like this. It is great to see the process through to the end, from beginning with the initial research, to formulating questions, to posing those questions, to using the responses combined with my research information to compose a captivating written piece for the paper. All in all, I have enjoyed the process of improving my interview skills, which in turn, has also improved my research skills, communication skills, and writing skills.
Ultimately, both within my day-to-day life and within the workplace, I have had the opportunity to gradually increase my global proficiencies, which in turn, have aided me each day as I navigate Ireland. I believe that I have developed a stronger awareness of my surroundings, and truly weigh multiple perspectives each day in different situations I encounter. I am confident that when this experience is over, I will continue the habit of weighing and considering different perspectives on a daily basis, as my strengthened sense of cross-cultural awareness will stick with me.