Going into my CEA Virtual Global Internship, I was worried about how much I would learn about the Irish culture while not actually being in Ireland. People like to say that the best way to learn about a culture is to go visit the country. Of course, if you have the opportunity to do so, you should absolutely jump at the chance. But with many schools remaining remote and travel currently not an option for most, I’m here to tell you it is still entirely possible to have an amazing cultural experience through a virtual program with CEA. Here are just four of the things I learned about the Irish way of life during my internship.
Be prepared to talk about the weather
While we would consider it small talk and avoid it in the States, talking about the weather is a surefire way to get a conversation moving in Ireland. It’s the perfect way to start a meeting off on a light and cheery note before moving into the topic at hand. Throughout my virtual internship, this was one of the things I appreciated the most. Whenever I spoke to one of my supervisors, our conversations about the weather made me feel as if I were in Ireland with them.
Identity is tied to where you are born
This is something I truly admire about the Irish. It doesn’t matter how long they have lived somewhere; an Irishman’s heart and their identity will always belong to the county in which they were born. Each county comes with its own unique history, legends, and personality.
Sports are life
The Irish are passionate about their sports! Hurling/camogie, handball, and Gaelic football are the traditional sports the Irish love. The highest level a player can reach is the county level, meaning fans carry their love of their county of origin when it comes to sports. But, even at the highest level, these sports are “non-professional,” meaning players do not get paid to play. Because of this, joy and pride are the biggest takeaways for both the players and the fans.
The laid back approach
The Irish are a friendly and welcoming bunch. I never felt as if I wasn’t part of the team, and the energy my supervisors brought to the internship made me feel as if I were there with them. In Ireland, the workplace is slightly more laid back than we are accustomed to in the U.S. As an intern, I was given the freedom to take the lead on every project I was assigned. Rarely was I given a project with a set list of what I was supposed to do --rather, I was given a general idea and the desired end result. In the end, this allowed me to be creative while also thinking critically about the best way to present information.
Overall, the warm and comforting elements of the Irish way of life captivated me throughout my virtual internship. But, there are so many unique cultures in the world worth learning about! With placements in Argentina, Australia, France, Ireland, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, CEA virtual internships are the perfect way to immerse yourself in a culture remotely.
Anna Wojciechowski is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Paris, France, during the Fall 2019 semester, and who completed a Summer 2020 Dublin virtual internship. She is currently a student at Northern Illinois University.
Anna Wojciechowski is the Fall 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Northern Illinois University.