Internship Blog Series – ‘Cultural Differences’

In the spring we are launching our first dual location internship with Learn International. Our first brave intern will be excavating at Ferrycarrig and then undertaking desktop archaeological work, contributing to ongoing research projects, in our Midland office. To celebrate we will be publishing a series of blogs from our fantastic ex-intern Kelsey Gamble on what an intern might expect. If you are thinking of undertaking a professional placement in Heritage, that is highly supported and supervised, perhaps this blog will help you make that decision…

Cultural Difference – Kelsey Gamble

Interning abroad may seem a bit scary at first, daunting even.  There are so many unknowns and so many new things to deal with, from the more obvious differences in currency, time, and weather to the subtler intricacies of living in a new cultural environment – like colloquial language, which happens a lot in Ireland!  In this blog I will be covering the most common differences that I have had to deal with as an American intern in Ireland.

Currency Differences

Being in a new country has made me re-evaluate how I think about money.  The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro.  At the current exchange rate, a single United States Dollar (USD) is equal to 0.86 Euro, meaning every Euro I spend is really 1.16 USD.  In the end, it’s not an overly large margin but it does mean that every time I pay for something the number I see displayed on the till and the amount that is deducted from my bank account are not the same.  A little mental, but frequent checks to online banking maintain my budget just fine.

Time Differences

One of the few drawbacks to interning abroad is the time change.  Being five hours ahead of friends and family back home makes communication a little disjointed at times.  To combat this time difference, it’s a simple matter to set-up weekly skype or video chat dates with those friends and family back home.

Weather Differences

This is the big one! Irish weather is unexpectedly and notoriously unpredictable.  Interning at an archaeology field school means working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions.  Warm and sunny can change to a cold windy rain at the drop of a hat.  Waterproof trousers and a coat are always on standby in my backpack safely tucked away, alongside extra layers if it gets cold.  Alongside various layers of clothing I also keep a bottle of sunscreen on hand.  Due to the hole in the ozone layer UV radiation in Ireland is a larger concern than in the US.  For example, though the weather when I was on site in the summer normally maxed at 25 C (77F), the UV index was so high it only took 25 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun to cause sunburn.  One spot of sunburn is a painful enough reminder to be ever vigilant in reapplying sunscreen.

In the end these are relatively small inconveniences that I found cease to be a problem after about two weeks, especially if you immerse yourself in the cultural experience completely.  I was always told it takes about two weeks to break a habit, so it seems apt that at the beginning of my third week in Ireland I felt l had become accustomed to the differences.

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