Pre-Departure: Ireland

As is every decision I’ve made in my life, the decision to travel to Ireland was made on a whim. I had just gotten home from a one-night stand and the uncomfortable reality of living in the same place for the last year had sat it. I was itching to move and experience something else unknown. I Google searched “Countries that speak English and drinking age is under twenty-one” The first result was Ireland and within two weeks, I had picked a program, submitted my paperwork, and had been accepted.

Over the last year I’ve been immensely in tune to the unhealthy characteristics I posses. The one that has been the most damaging is my racism. I grew up with my Grandma saying things like, “those damn Mexicans” and my father saying “Should I hit them cause they’re brown”? It wasn’t until now that I realized how detrimental it was for me to hear those words. I’ve began to notice that my jokes have became more and more racist, and though I label them as, “jokes” there is a degree of truth behind every racist word I speak.

I recently came across a quote by Wade Davis, which has begun to influence my change in thought process. Davis says, “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” In this quote, he’s essentially saying that just because other cultures are different from our own, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. This quote has been influential, as I try to accept and embrace other races and cultures.

The biggest barrier that I aim to achieve while studying in Ireland is becoming more accepting of other cultures. I desperately want to lay my ideologies to rest about other cultures being “wrong” and instead, accept them in all of their beauty. I’m hoping that my traveling to Ireland can be a stepping-stone in my journey to accept other cultures.

There will be a lot of barriers that I face while traveling abroad. I like my solitude, I rely heavily on other people helping me, I get annoyed quickly in the behaviors of others, I’m uptight about everything, I make inappropriate comments, and social interaction gives me anxiety {though luckily I can drink in Ireland to aid in that}. All of these behaviors/luxuries that I enjoy are going to be ripped away from me while traveling over seas. I will be emerged in other people and other culture, the only person I will have to rely on for help is myself, I will be living in a house with at least four roommates, and I will not be able to avoid social interaction. If I want to make my living situation peaceful, I will also need to learn not be so uptight.

Traveling to Ireland is going to be scary and I’m going to face a multitude of barriers. But my hope in traveling is that I can lay be ideologies and uptight behaviors to rest, and can instead learn to be more accepting of other cultures, and a more fun person to be around.

Getting Ready to Leave

Well, once again I am preparing to leave the country. Unlike last time, I actually have time to get everything together.  I’ve got my passport ready and just ordered Euros and my Eurorail pass for when I go. For now, I am working as much as I can for money to spend when abroad. Not to mention that I am soaking up as much of the California sun as possible before I head over to rainy Ireland.

Even better, I am officially healed. I no longer need crutches to get around so walking will not be an issue. I don’t require pain medication or anything that would make the trip itself a hassle. Which is nice. I didn’t want to be forced to go around on crutches in a foreign country.

Me on Crutches

Finally, I know we’re supposed to talk about what we expect when we go. I’m not sure what to expect, most of what I study about Ireland comes from Medieval history. My younger brother has faithfully informed me that I will be listening to electric bagpipe music but I doubt he’s correct. We’ll see when I get there in two weeks.

Until then I’ll keep working so I can have more money to spend on food.

Emerging From my Bubble

This last weekend I finally got to do a little exploring! It was such a beautiful day on Saturday that I took advantage of the somewhat sunny day and went to the beach. I went to Killiney beach and although it was not hot it was a clear day.

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Clear day on Killiney beach!

I was amazed to see surfers in the water because I was barely warm bundled up let alone being in the freezing water in only a suit! I walked along the pebbled beach collecting stones and simply enjoying the scenery. It was a peaceful way to begin my day.

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After I was ready to move on I went to a neighboring village (Sandycove) and explored the many shops. One shop in particular ended up being my favorite because it was full of interesting knick-knacks and local handmade jewelry. I also ate at a local café, which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of although it had the word moon in it. The food was delicious! The bread was homemade and fresh same with the soup. Definitely have to go to that café again!

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On the way back home I made one more stop in Dun Laoghaire, which I had debated about all day. I had already been to Dun Laoghaire and at this point was getting tired so I almost didn’t stop, but I am sure glad that I did! Dun Laoghaire ended up being my favorite place that I went to that day. The reason being is a local musician had set up shop at a place called the Pavilion, which is right next to the water. He was playing the electrical guitar and was quite good!

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The street musician doing what he does best…

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Look at the puppet dance!

The atmosphere was relaxed and to top it off just before leaving the town I got to see another musician this one being a woman on the flute with a dancing puppet. It was the perfect ending to an amazing day.  The rest of the week went by mostly uneventfully. I have started to develop my schedule of waking up in the morning getting ready for work and so on. The days have started to go by relatively fast, especially now at work. I have started getting more work load and projects, which makes me busier allowing the time to past faster. I am starting to really enjoy my job and have already learned quite a bit. I did go out Wednesday night with a few people to a pub. It was an interesting experience, because the group consisted of several people from Spain, Brazil, and Italy.

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What an amazingly diverse group!

It was fascinating to talk with all of them and just get a feel for each culture. If I had to choose one thing to take away from this week it would be embracing my emergence from my bubble. Tonight I was talking with my host mom and I was telling her before this trip I hadn’t travelled much and my ignorance of even the basic things were astounding. For example there being different plug-ins all around the world. It is not necessarily significant information, but what it represents is significant. My untraveled self has been living in a bubble where, I realized, I view the world from. Meaning I have assumed the rest of the world is similar to what I know. This has continuously been highlighted these last two weeks with each new piece of knowledge that becomes known. This became especially evident Wednesday night I found myself surrounded by several different cultures. I am forever thankful I choose to embark on this journey, because I want to shed my ignorance and hopefully grow in the process.

And So It Begins…

I have completed the first week of my internship. The first thing I had to learn was how to get to work! Last week I decided to do a trial run where I went to work to meet everyone, which had the added benefit of figuring out how to even get to the place. It was a good thing I did because I got lost. I needed to get to the DART, which I did after going a round-a-about way due to a missed turn.

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Here comes the DART! I ride this to and from work everyday.

Once I got into Dalkey I couldn’t find Max Media. I ended up calling the number that was given to me and ironically I was only across the street. I just didn’t know it. You have to go through what is called the “Courtyard” then go up some stairs to get to the office. I couldn’t find it because it was set back out of the way.

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The infamous “Courtyard”.

I met everyone and was able to make it back to the DART station without any mishaps.  Well unfortunately once I got off on my stop I realized I didn’t know how to get back. Normally I am pretty good at retracing my steps, but due to my round-about-way of getting to the DART originally it left me slightly confused. I ended up walking around searching for anything familiar for at least two hours. I later learned the walk should have only taken me ten minutes! I figured it out. You live and you learn. Thankfully, I did this before I started work so I was not on any time schedule. The first day of work I made it there no problem. The office was quiet all this week because two people are on vacation and one is out sick. This leaves only three people, besides myself, in the office! I really am enjoying what I am doing and was given a project to start on the first day. I am mostly handling social media projects with facebook and twitter. How many jobs do you get to spend on facebook all day? Not many! It is rewarding to work on a project that you get an immediate response to by the public. Especially, when people are sharing something they feel passionate about with you, it draws you into their interest. I have also had to do a lot of research for posts and I have found myself getting sucked into some of the research and this is on topics that don’t normally draw my attention. Overall, what I will take away from this week is getting lost is not a bad thing , in fact, sometimes you need to get lost to know where you are at. I am now able to navigate around Monkstown, due to my earlier escapade, fairly successfully.

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Monkstown where I wondered for what seemed like forever!

I have learned that it is rewarding to draw people together that share an interest and watch them interact. The most important thing that I will be able to take away from this week is even when you are doing a task you don’t like put your all into it because it may surprise you how much you end up enjoying it.

Arrival

My flight plan took me to Amsterdam before I actually arrived in Ireland. In Amsterdam the airport was chaotic. Picture a large mass of people swarming around made up of all different nationalities. Just from walking two minutes I heard at least three different languages. My biggest concern was finding my terminal. I managed to find it without any problems, although it was on the other side of the airport. This allowed me to walk through the entire airport where, to my amusement, there was a shop named simply “Tobacco, Liquor, Chocolates”. My layover ended up being 5 hours due to snow storms in Ireland. It was snow, in fact, that greeted me upon my arrival.

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Snow..snow..snow!

Once I was off the plan, through customs, and had collected my luggage I needed to figure out how to get on the right bus. Luckily the people in the airport were really friendly, probably having dealt with plenty of lost travelers. I was directed to the right location where I could await the air coach. Once on the air coach it allowed me my first glimpse of Dublin and neighboring towns. I admit to a holding slight misconceptions about places outside Dublin. I knew where I was staying was relatively small in comparison to Dublin and wrongly assumed that it would be farmland or fields of green with a town of course. That assumption was very wrong. While the location where I live is small in comparison to Dublin, that does not mean that it is small. I guess size is relative and when you live in a town consisting of only a college really for the last two years small to you is really small. The streets are narrow and the setup of the streets is completely different. The streets are made up of a lot of one ways and round-a-bouts.

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One of the many round-a-abouts.

It was easy for me to get turned around especially since street signs are not as popular here. I will admit my poor sense of direction did not help my case. I am just thankful that the people are extremely friendly and were always willing to stop and help direct me. While my misconceptions have been laid to rest it does not mean that I am disappointed with the reality. Ireland is so alive with people. It is hard to put into words what my first look at Ireland was like. How do you describe something that is completely intangible. There is a different feel in the atmosphere  here, one that may have been heightened by my excitement, but I don’t think so. I looked around and even just my first casual glance caught sight of the remains of a castle. The castle was situated within the town and seemed to blend into the surroundings, because the town itself appeared to be so rich with history. Maybe that was the cause of the in explainable feeling upon first arrival. All I know is I look forward to fully exploring this beautiful country!

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Bustling streets of Dun Laoghaire!