Wow, it seems like just yesterday I was writing my evening blog post on the couch in my StayCity Apartment after one of our site visits or guest speaker lectures at Griffith college. I spent my spring semester preparing and telling people that “ I’ll be attending a two week study abroad experience in Dublin, Ireland.” Now, every time the words “I just got back from Dublin, Ireland” or “ I got the opportunity to go Ireland” spill from my mouth, it feels surreal. Honestly, I’m still trying to process the entirety of the experience. Whether it was getting popped on my bird not once, but twice, or getting to learn about technology from major tech giants like Google and Microsoft, there are so many lessons to takeaway from this program.
Those two weeks in Ireland not only taught me about culture emergence and the globalization of business, but it also taught me a lot about myself. Perhaps the biggest lesson from this experience is knowing that life is too short to not take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Given what I know now, to think that I even contemplated applying to this program last December is unthinkable. I jungled with fears like stepping out of my comfort zone, feeling isolated and being accepted by the Irish culture, but I am incredibly thankful that my apprehensions didn’t hold me back from applying. In such a short amount of time,I learned about appreciating life, culture, knowledge, and experiences outside of my “American bubble”.
One of my favorite things to do while in Ireland was to “People watch.” I tried to take advantage of every opportunity I could to open my eyes and ears to the new culture I was immersed in. Being surrounded by accents that you don’t typically hear or mannerisms/styles that you don’t usually see is an unforgettable feeling. Experiencing the evenings of Ireland taught me about appreciating the small things in life like getting to eat dinner next to the Liffey river. Dr.Kelly taught me more about the historical foundation to the present day of Ireland than I feel that I could gain from any textbook. This opportunity in itself was a life altering experience.
I knew very little about Ireland at the beginning of this program other than St. Patrick’s Day. Today, I can confidently say that I know much more about the “agriculture and technology” country. “Blossom where you’re planted” was a phrase that became all too familiar to our group, one that reminded us to be adaptable and flexible when navigating the challenges of the unknowns in Ireland. I would also consider this phrase to be suitable for the country itself. Early Irish history has been characterized by strength and reveling. Ireland and the Irish people have blossomed by persevering and serving as the global tech and start-up hub through the country’s foundational agriculture economy, the historical fight for liberation from British rule, and recovery from the potato famine.
Other than my souvenirs, I’ve made sure to bring the youthful and “cheeky” spirit of Irish culture back with me to Pittsburgh! Ireland, thank you for a fantastic experience filled with lifelong growth and memories!