I am home now. I have been for quite some time, actually. I was caught up in some post-internship travels through Germany to Paris to Amsterdam, and then I was stuck in bed (not actually, but I was quite tired from the hubbub of travel). So finally, after cranking out the past two blogs (late) and spending far too much time being a lazy bones, I am ready to write my final reflection.
To write this, I’ve decided to camp out in a small cafe in Dearborn, where it all began. I sat in this exact same spot three months ago, researching and planning for my time in Ireland. It’s a bit of craic thinking of how overly ambitious I was back then. I created a behemoth of a list: sights to see from coast to coast, obscure foods to try, pubs to crawl through. Surprisingly, I was able to experience the vast majority of my top findings, but I was rather mad to think that I’d be able to exhaust that list.
I cannot deny that my time was well spent, though. During the week, I worked 35-40 hours at Zeeko, and on the weekends, I explored various regions and landmarks of the Emerald Isle. A full-time job and extensive travels for 8 weeks proved to be as rewarding as it was exhausting. In the course of my time at Zeeko, I gained the perspective of a researcher, a teacher, a presenter, and an age-specific audience. Conducting research, creating lesson plans, writing speakers’ notes, and developing in depth and engaging presentations regarding internet safety allowed me to achieve a diverse set of skills while creating one comprehensive project.
Aside from the enhancement of my career skills, I learned a great deal about life, about myself. I was not just some student intern at Zeeko; I was treated like any other employee of the company. With that came a certain level of responsibility, but also a certain level of respect. My contributions were equally valued and appreciated, an experience one doesn’t often achieve in a “student job.”
Outside of work, I was left to my own devices. That meant gallivanting around Dublin, adventuring through the countryside and along the cliffs of Ireland, laughing and thriving with my friends; however, that also meant budgeting my continuously depleting supply of money, searching for student deals or sales, cooking and cleaning and maintaining my place of residence. While at times, it felt like a vacation or even a dream, reality always came creeping back. Work was waiting for me bright and early at 8am on Monday. I lived off of a sack of rice for weeks. Water-logged, worn out shoes kept me grounded.
It wasn’t easy at times, having no income, living in a city as expensive as Dublin. But then I’d be sitting at the edge of the Cliffs of Moher or standing atop a pillar of 60 million year old basalt columns at Giant’s Causeway or listening to my friend and colleague singing her heart out at one of my favorite watering holes, and I’d know that everything was going to be just fine. More than fine, actually. Life was grand, with the hardships and all.
On my last day in Dublin, I was overcome with immense gratitude. I had the ability and the means to not only survive, but to thrive, with no income, while working and taking holidays. Of course the university and my program helped bring this to fruition, but I maintained it; I made it flourish. It has certainly planted seedlings in my mind for what kind of future I can lead, working, exploring, learning, rejoicing.