Connection

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My last blog I focused on my first experience in Dublin. My first impression was a jumble of emotions, which I tried my best to explain. I have found that emotion is a hard thing to convey in words. I have now been to Dublin two more times since then. I am not sure I can confidently say that my relationship with the city is straightforward enough to label it as simply “I love it” or “I hate it”. I am not going to say more on Dublin, except to say that I have started to see a new side to the city and realize it is rich with history and culture. During the night on the weekends the music is everywhere and that I can confidently say is my favorite part of Dublin. Every pub had music; the streets were teeming with musicians/artists/performers.  I was swept up in the magic of the moment. The excitement was a tangible element that had become laced within the air and swiftly spread throughout the city. It was one of my favorite moments to date when I closed my eyes heard the music and felt the connection for the first time since I have arrived here.

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A connection that has slowly begun to develop this week. I remember sitting through orientation and they told me the first few weeks you will compare everything to America, about the fifth week you will stop comparing and except as is and by the end of your stay you will finally be integrated in time to come back. I remember thinking in that moment that “that won’t be me”. I had this fantasy in my mind that this instant connection would form once I arrived. I will admit to arriving and being disappointed that instead of a connection I felt disoriented and bewildered. Throughout these last few weeks I had begun to give up on experiencing a connection with the culture and the place. Yet, this week it happened in one moment. I felt it. Everything has begun to fall into place. I have finally created a spot for myself at work. I feel like what I am doing is meaningful and I have developed a sense of purpose. I have started to develop friendships with people at work and the other student living at my host family. I have begun to explore Ireland and feel like in the process I am discovering pieces of myself.

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If I were to impart a piece of advice to someone going to another country I would tell them that no matter the preparation arriving will be, to some extent, disorientating. Even with preparation there will be misconceptions or preconceived ideas about the place that are completely wrong. The only thing to do is to have an open mind and be aware of the fact that the bewilderment is natural, accept it and the adjustment will be easier. I learned this lesson the hard way, but am thankful that I did because now on my travels I will bear this idea in mind as I explore other cultures.

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Reality

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I finally made it into Dublin on Saturday. The experience was a jumble of emotions. I loved the life that the city center seemed to be teeming with, and yet at times it seemed overcrowded. I loved how easy everything was to walk to, but I also didn’t like how all the buildings were crammed together. I guess I have a love hate relationship with Dublin. I will be going back because I don’t want to only make a decision based on one experience. It probably didn’t help that it was raining and relatively cold the day I went.

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Trying to warm myself

What also brought down the experience was the amount of homeless that were on the streets. I later learned that Saturday is a popular day for the homeless to come out. It felt like every few minutes I was passing another homeless person, it was a heart wrenching visual picture. The temperature outside was freezing and the air was laced with mist.

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The wind was relatively high adding to the stormy conditions and outside were people on the street sitting on the cold wet ground all huddled in a sleeping bag. It was like someone decided to press repeat on the image because it soon was playing over and over again right before my eyes. What hit the closes to home was when I saw a young woman huddled in her sleeping bag with a cup in her hand. The way she was sitting all hunched over had, at first, concealed her face. It was not until I was passing that I happen to catch a glimpse of her face. She was not much older then I was. I could see it, how young she was, yet she appeared to be older. I shared an all too brief glance with this woman, but the memory became imprinted into my mind. Later I realized what had bothered me so completely (aside from her situation) was her eyes. The look in her eyes was desolate. It was an indescribable look, but the age she carried within her eyes far outweighed the age she carried in her body: age that had been wrought with the harshness that life can choose to deliver. I painted a pretty ugly picture, but like any place it has two sides to it. I am sure most relatively large cities have a similar scene to the one I just depicted.

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As I said Dublin had two sides to it, one that was heartbreaking, but the other was beautiful. There were beautiful buildings interspersed with the normal ones that highlighted the wonderful architecture. The city streets were bustling creating a sense of excitement in the air that was invigorating. There was an incredible amount of things to see and do, so much so that I was not able to get to everything that I wanted to that day (another reason why I am going to go back). I went down Graffton Street (a street completely dedicated to shopping). It was wonderful just to go around looking at everything (not necessarily buying because Graffton Sreet prices are high). The food selection throughout the city is relatively diverse, although I have heard from several people that the American restaurants here are not very good. I think what surprised me most about Dublin (although I am not sure why) was the sear amount of tourist! Although, this was in certain spots like the Trinity College and the Blarney Stone. I get that those are hot spots for tourist, but the number did catch me by surprise a little. Overall, the experience was good for me it allowed me to experience what life in a bigger city is like (can be completely disorientating to a girl from a small town).

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Definitely a hot spot for the tourists!

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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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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 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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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. 

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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.

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

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

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.

Here is the "Courtyard" I mentioned.

Here is the “Courtyard” I mentioned.

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.

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.

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Arrival

One of the best clothes shopping in the area!

One of the best places to shop for clothes in the area!

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. 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. 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!

The bustling streets of Dun Laoghaire

Good ole' McDonalds

Good ole’ McDonalds

Random street muscian

Random street muscian

 

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Preconceived notions about Ireland

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When I picture Ireland I picture castle remains and rolling green hills. I know not all Ireland is like that, but from pictures that is what they portray.I view Ireland’s culture as being traditional and people oriented. I have always heard how friendly the people are and it is one of the things I am looking forward to: is meeting the Irish! I am a mixture of emotions. I am excited that I have the opportunity to explore a new culture, but I am also apprehensive. This trip is completely outside my comfort zone. I come from a small town and my traveling experience is very small. I am now going to a completely foreign place where I essentially know no one. My excitement far outweighs my nervousness. Part of this experience is to separate me from the familiar. By pushing myself outside my comfort zone I am allowing myself to grow as a person, which is one of my goals I want to achieve by the end of this trip.  

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Ever approaching date

My name is Morgan Curry and I am a marketing major at Western. My internship is with Max Media in Ireland where I have been given the opportunity to obtain hands on experience with my major before I graduate in June. I am a combination of nerves and excitement for my first trip outside the US, especially considering how close I now am to actually leaving. When I began this process it always seemed so faraway and had a dream- like quality to it. Now that I a within weeks of leaving the reality of it has reached me. I look forward to taking this journey and not only obtaining knowledge for my future career, but ultimately growing as a person.

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