Two Weeks in Dublin
To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first about the whole thing.
Anxious, yes, but I've never been out of the country, and flying over the Atlantic seemed kind of scary. All in all, the preparation and the course we took prior to leaving helped me adjust!
Dr. Falco and Professor Turner prepared us well for a trip filled with the unexpected. As soon as we arrived in Dublin, our tour guide, Dudley, got us on the move! He was an older Irish man who walked as fast as any 20-year-old I've ever seen. I honestly didn't know where we were even going or who our tour guide was at first!
That type of atmosphere was present to a certain extent throughout the trip. One of the cultural differences between Irish and American people became evident in the first few days. We were so excited and anxious to sight-see and experience Ireland that we began looking for fine details. We were more or less seeking instruction from Dudley almost 24/7!
It was apparent through his actions that Irish folks are a lot more relaxed, or laid back when it comes to life. They are more process-oriented as opposed to task-oriented. For example, as a typical American tourist goes about his or her visit, they are in tune with what they want to do. I'm sure that most Americans develop a list of things to do, places to be and people to see. (There's absolutely nothing wrong with that - it seems to be the whole point of touring!) However, on the Irish side of things, the most important aspect becomes how you go about doing those things.
The people you meet, conversations you have and the overall culture that you experience becomes the main goal while in Ireland. I can remember many of the places we visited: the Cliffs of Moher and Giant's Causeway. However, our journey to those places and the people we met along the way are the parts of the trip that I'll remember forever.
As photographs can capture the pretty landscapes and the people you meet, nothing can capture the conversations you have and the impact the culture will have on you! As an example, I met a family during a street festival where we had an opportunity to work security. We were to just keep vehicles out and inform anyone who was interested about what was going on. As the couple drove up, I expected them to be unhappy with their street being closed off, and for them to complain about something since most people would react this way in the States.
Instead, they asked about it (while taking notice of my accent) and asked me about America. For the rest of my shift, I spoke with the couple about education, politics, crime, and just about any other major societal topic. They wanted to know how the U.S. operated, and I wanted to figure out how everything worked in Ireland! It was a great conversation that would probably top any educational event anyone could have planned for us. They answered all of my questions and were happy people just looking to continue living their lives. It was an opportunity that I would've never been afforded anywhere else. I'll have memories to share with my family as I grow older.
Networking while we were there became the social norm. It's common courtesy to have a conversation with someone you don't know. If I could go back to Ireland, I would without a doubt! I could continue my relationships that NU allowed me to build!
My final comment on Ireland comes with a shot of reality: There is a lot that we Americans take for granted. It will be extremely noticeable to anyone who has (or had) the pleasure of traveling abroad. There's a common societal goal here as history has helped us uncover. The house and yard surrounded by a white picket fence becomes a symbol of success in the U.S. Means to achieve our goals become the forefront of what we do day to day.
As we overlook other means of settling down, places like Ireland help to uncover different ways to measure success. This became evident as we all experienced a different way of living. It may seem unheard of, but there were many Irish people who didn't have cell phones! They didn't text or check their email every few minutes of the day. Using our own phones was impractical due to roaming fees, but it didn't seem to have much of an effect on our experience. It was nice to be able to revert back to our basic social and conversational skills. Self-consciousness seemed to fly out the window as we met and spoke with more and more people.
Simply experiencing life in Ireland became a reference to how I wished to continue experiencing life in America! I will continue following my dreams as my journey to Ireland has helped me to prepare for my journey in life. I am truly grateful for being able to take part in such an amazing program!