Back At It

Time is flying!

With only two weeks left in our program, I have begun reflecting on my time in Dublin. I am still to make the most of the time left – two weeks is significant, after all – but as things start to wind down, I want to get a complete picture in my mind of what I’ve done. To do this, I’ve started writing down things that have happened, places I’ve gone and what I’ve done there, and how my perspective has developed. Doing this is very important to me; I don’t want to forget the details of the time I’ve spent here.

For example, this past weekend I went to Cork to meet up with a friend from home. It was great to see a familiar face. We joked about how we can barely see each other back in New Jersey, but we were able to meet across the world. The trip was on a bit of a whim, but I’m glad I did it; I haven’t been out of Ireland yet, so it is important to me to see as much of the country as I can.

I returned to my internship on Monday after being sick for a few days. It felt good to get back into the swing of things. Even though there is only a few weeks left, I’m still doing new things in my internship almost every day. This week, my supervisor had me make several social media posts concerning national policy initiatives and local traffic news. I had yet to post on her social media, and the thought was a bit daunting. Whereas with my supervisor’s email, I’m handling her communications with only a few people, on social media, I am speaking for her to many people. I have never managed social media for a representative or organization before, though I know enough to know that it’s a communication form of its own. However, once completed, I found that I was only overthinking; my supervisor approved of all my draft posts with minimal edits.

At the beginning of my internship, I was prepared to meet the high-context communication style used by many Irish workspaces. However, I have found that my supervisor and I have a low-context communication style. I believe this is due to our work environment and the nature of that work. Regarding the former, our team consists of only me and my supervisor. Because of this, she has the time to give me very clear directions, and I have the time to clarify these directions if necessary. There is also the factor of the work we are doing; often times, I am corresponding with people over email, phone, and (now) social media either as my supervisor herself or as a representative of her. Because of this, my supervisor likes to give me very clear directions on what to say or write to ensure that her message is not being misconstrued by my own interpretation of it. During our program orientation at Pitt, our advisors told us that the United States has and prefers a low-context communication style. This is definitely true for me, so I appreciate the clear directions I receive from my supervisor.

Despite what my work experiences might imply, I have experienced many high-context communication situations during my internship. These situations, while they take place in the “office”, are made up of casual conversations with my supervisor. I have found that it is during these moments when my supervisor and I are not discussing work where our conversations begin to lack context. For example, sometimes during conversations with my supervisor, I will not be able to tell how she feels about a person or situation we are discussing until later in the conversation. In times like this, I usually withhold my opinion about what we are discussing until I can be sure of what her opinion is.

With the time we have left, my supervisor plans to have us make and distribute many leaflets and newsletters to be dropped door-to-door in her ward. This involves research, writing, and taking photographs around her ward. This project has been anticipated for a few weeks, so I’m excited we’re making so much progress on it; at this point in the week, we’ve already got one newsletter written. I’m looking forward to having a tangible example of the work I’ve done here.

With one weekend left, I’m excited to be going out of country to Amsterdam. Ever since I decided to join this program, I’ve thinking about going; I’m very grateful that this plan has come to fruition.

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