My former teacher once told me: “No internship is an unsuccessful one. Either way you know you would like to end up in the experienced job or you would know that you want to do something else for a living.”. Personally, I think that makes sense.
Organizing the trip
I was planning to do an internship with my friend Henrike for a while now but because of the Brexit and the corona crisis nothing was possible. However, in about summer our teacher told us about an organization in Ireland which is a long-standing business contact of our school. To our surprise, we were told we could fly to Ireland in October. To be honest, I was excited to go to another country and to complete an internship but the fact that it was in Ireland didn’t impress me that much. Nethertheless, I applied for an internship in a hotel company. Spoiler, I didn’t end up there.
Henrike and I weren't going alone. Eventually, two of our classmates, Lara and Julia, were coming with us. I liked them but it’s not like we were friends or anything. We’ve simply known each other.
As I just mentioned, not a lot was possible because of Covid so Lara and I ended up in in a copy shop and Henrike and Julia in a tax office. This also meant that Lara and I were going to live together in a host family for the 4 weeks in Ireland.
The outward journey
All four of us had booked the flights together so we ended up meeting in the morning at my house for the departure. We were flying from Amsterdam to Dublin which meant that we had to get to Amsterdam first.
We arrived punctual at Schiphol, got ready for our flight and headed right for the gates. Neither one of us is an expert when it comes to flying, especially alone. So, let’s just say there was a kind of chaos which provided a lot of fun and stress, but no detail is needed. Some secrets are better off not told 😉 All that matters is that we arrived alive in Dublin. We’ve got picked up from the airport and headed directly to our host families. I won’t lie I was a little nervous because I literally exchanged like 10 sentences with Lara before we have planned that trip but I was also really exciting to get to know her and of course or host family.
Our host family
Our host family was sweetest. Our host mother, Marian, was so kind and lovely. She greeted us with a big smile and provided a lot of comfort. Her husband, Tommy, was not only smart but also funny. Both wanted to make sure that Lara and I were comfortable. Sometimes we just sat down and talked to them for like an hour to get to know them. We’ve talked about ourselves and asked questions about their lives. Marian was a retired seamstress who did graduation and wedding dresses back then. Nowadays, she works in vulnerable organizations to help teenagers with mental issues and also hosts many guests in her house. She has over 14 years' experience as a host mother. Tommy is also retired and works vulnerably as a bus driver for students with handicaps.
Once we’ve talked to Tommy about what music we liked. Lara said she was a big fan of Harry Styles. You must imagine I had a structured day at work so Lara and I usually arrived at 7 pm at out host house for dinner. Once we got home and were about to eat dinner in the background there was a five-hour playlist of Harry Styles playing. We know Tommy did that because the music was playing from his side of the living room where he usually played his guitar.
He also played and sung Ed Sheeran for us once. He was really attentive.
Marian and Tommy always tried to make us feel like we were home. We had our own key and bathroom. We could use the kitchen and the utensils. Both always made sure that they gave us enough space but also made sure that they talked to us regularly. It was a blessing to live with them. Another trifle they did but what meant a lot for me is that they baked a little cake for my birthday and got me a card. I turned 17 that day and I was really happy to celebrate in Ireland.
I’m glad I got to stay with them because over the time I got more and more impressed to be in Dublin. I learned how to love the culture and especially the people there. Marian made sure that if I ever want to go back to Ireland I have somewhere to stay for a few weeks. She really made sure to say that as often as she could. Same for Tommy.
Lara and I wanted to thank them for their hospitality, so we got them a bouquet of flowers. It just felt like our “Thank You's” weren't enough.
I am also thankful that I was able to stay in Dublin with Lara. As I mentioned earlier I didn’t really know Lara when we arrived in Dublin but now we know each other and we are friends. (This is the lovely part where I appreciate my friends).
Reads is the copy shop Lara and I were about to work for four weeks. Now, here comes the part with the unsuccessfully successful whatsoever internship. Lara and I arrived at the store and we were greeted by a woman who also had to take care of eight other interns. The manager didn’t arrive yet so she had to tell us what we should do. The trouble was she didn’t know what we should do. The end of the story was that we should clean the storage room. I admit sometimes I can be a messy person too but, in my defence, I would never ever move to a new shop and throw all the things I don’t need at the moment in the storage room. I would organize it first. Well, that didn’t happen here so I spent a few hours in a stinking storage room, really small and stuffy, with about 5 other people to climb on boxes of paper to organize something else before I organized the boxes.
The employees were nice but there was no way I was staying there with eight other interns and without something to do. Actually, Lara and I arrived in the mornings to get told “walk around Dublin, visit the Dublin castle, Dublin is nice when it’s not raining”. Oh, it is but the Dublin castle loses its charm after four weeks.
So, Lara and I decided to call the lovely woman, Christina, who was our general contact person. We explained her our circumstances and she made sure we could change our workplace. Luckily.
Chopped was the actual company I worked for during my internship. I’ve spent three weeks working there from 9 am to 5 which means I had a daily eight-hour shift. Chopped is an Irish food company which mostly exists in Ireland and England. As the name says it’s all about chooping which means I’ve spent my days chopping salad, making salad bows, burritos, wraps, smoothies and juices. Sometimes I also had to organize the store. Just rarely I had to clean some small utensils. What I always did was serving the customers and taking in orders. I simply loved it. Firstly, I had a one-hour break in which I was allowed to eat my freshly chopped salad and drink my juices. Three weeks in a row eating different salads and wraps sounds perfect to me. But what I really enjoyed during my internship at Chopped were the people.
I sometimes can be shy and quiet. Especially in the beginning when one first meets me. This means I was quite reserved in the beginning trying to get to know what I’ll have to do during my internship. Lucky for me after two hours of working my co-worker, Leonor, asked me in front of other co-workers: “Are you always this quiet or just shy? Or do you just need time to be comfortable?”. My answer was “yes” referring to whatever. My answer could have meant everything so I explained myself again, the ice was broken, and Leonor was just so comforting and funny.
I got up in the mornings knowing I’ll have a day ahead of work with funny, nice and charming people who are pleased that I can help them with their work. I made friends with them really fast and I loved to spend my days with them.
What I also enjoyed a lot was that the whole staff was international. Leonor was from Asia, my manager from Brazil, other co-workers from Italy, India or Ireland. It was simply wonderful. We all spoke to each other in English, told each other about our cultures and how they differ, where we want to travel next and what or future plans were. We got along so well that I even got a job offer but obviously I had to get back to Germany.
I remember on my birthday I first didn’t tell anyone that I turned 17 because I simply couldn’t find the right moment to say that. Eventually, before I left to go to Marian’s I told my co-workers about my birthday and they didn’t want me to go before they got me a muffin from the chocolatery next door and a self-made improvised smoothie (because the smoothie maker was broken out of nowhere). As I said, those are sweet and caring people.
Before I left for Germany it was Leonor's idea to go out and enjoy my last evening in Dublin together. Funny story, my shift was over, I got handed over a lovely present with the sweetest card and message ever. So, I sat on some stairs in the city centre, tearing up because of the goodbye while eating me dinner. Then, I got up to change and made up myself on a McDonalds toilet to go out with my co-workers. I really had a nice time with those guys! I even sent them a Christmas present. It was the same as the welcoming present I got for them: a Weihnachtsstollen. I gave it to them on my birthday and a few days later Leonor asked me how to eat that because “someone with weak or bad teeth can’t chew on this f- hard cake”. A couple days later she told me it was delicious.
This is a kind of team I’ve never experienced before.
My spare time
Last but not least, my spare time.
Aside from work I, of course, enjoyed the time with my friends. We arrived on Saturday which means that we obviously had to explore Dublin on Sunday. On this Sunday our coffee meetings begun. Since that first Sunday we have had a coffee meeting each weekend in Dublin.
One of our first spare time activities was visiting Howth. It’s kind of an island next to Dublin. It has a cute little market, lots of cafes and fish restaurants. It’s kind of like a little fishing village. We had lunch there, explored the island and the harbour and we drank coffee. For the record, don’t drink pumpkin spice latte. It was definitely the best start to get to know Dublin and its surroundings.
We also had this dinner dates every Saturday. Once we ate pizza, once Chinese food, once vegan burger (that was my birthday meal), once we at a restaurant in Galway.
That was a lovely trip. We drove to Galway early in the morning but arrived back in Dublin on the same day in the evening. We didn’t have a lot of time so we drank a coffee in a student café and headed right to the sea in Galway. The weather was cold, rainy and windy but the trip was really funny and beautiful.
Next to Dublin is a seaside resort called Bray. There is this mountain with a big cross on top of it. Our original plan was to walk beside the water. There is a route and an extra road to do that but we didn’t really know where we had to go. Well, we kind of improvised and ended up on that mountain. All I will say is that it was hot and sweaty. But we made it. It was kind of planned to end up on that mountain but on the other hand it wasn’t´. Kind of confusing.
We actually wanted to eat or lunch on top of the mountain but we were so exhausted and ate it somewhere in the nowhere only to find out it would have taken us five more minutes to reach the cross.
Despite our trips we enjoyed the rare good weather in Dublin to explore the city itself. For example, we visited The Book of Kells which is connected to the Trinity library. In simple words, it is a huge library for students from the trinity college and it looks absolutely magical.
We, of course, also had to try Irish beer. It is called Guiness and if you like to mix your beer with coffee you will like it. We tried it in a bar the day before Halloween. Again, a lovely experience (except of the taste).
We went walking, visiting big shopping centres, visited parks and grew together as a group.
I had a lot of fun with Henrike, Lara and Julia and I’m glad I got to knew them better and to experience something as interesting and beautiful with them.
Ireland is a beautiful country. Dublin was so good that I’m actually planning to go there again.
I learned a lot from this experience and I would do it again if I had the chance. Dublin itself and the people there were truly lovely and great. I wish it didn’t end that fast.