Navigating Culture Shock and Other Mishaps On My First Day in Ireland

By Desirae Kay Johnson

For my birthday last year, my mentor gave me the book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s the true story of Cheryl Strayed: Her decision to hike the trail after a series of events that included her mother’s death and her divorce from her husband; her journey on the trail and the mishaps she encountered along the way; and how she found herself again by taking a leap of faith and entering a virtually unknown territory alone.

Before beginning her hike, Cheryl did her due diligence and researched everything she thought she would need from the best hiking gear to the stops along the trail where she would pick up supplies that she pre-mailed to herself.

However, things didn’t always turn out like she planned, and situations arose that she didn’t even consider before beginning her arduous trip. For example, Cheryl didn’t take into consideration that the water she would need for one particularly grueling part of the trail (2.6 gallons) would weigh 24.5 pounds.

It was that specific part of the book that flashed through my head as I was trekking it from a grocery store that I found while wandering around Dublin back to the Trinity College campus where I’m staying on my trip to Ireland.

Trinity CollegeLike Cheryl, I had done my due diligence research on Dublin, Ireland: I wrote an in-country analysis, watched documentaries, and purchased three books on the subject in preparation for my month-long research trip on how Irish PR practitioners use social media to build relationships with key audiences.

However, what I didn’t realize was that carrying 4 litters of water, a jar of jelly, some peanut butter, four apples, and a loaf of the strangest tasting wheat bread from the grocery store to my dorm room on Trinity College would be a backbreaking event.

Another thing I didn’t account for is the amount of culture shock I have already experienced on my first day in Dublin. I knew that there would be some (like navigating an unknown city and fighting jetlag), but I didn’t realize that EVERYTHING would be different here. From the showers, toilets and microwaves to the word choices of the Irish, I feel lost…and alone. Although, I must mention that everyone I have asked for help so far has been more than willing to point me in the right direction.

So, like Cheryl, I’m here in an unknown land all alone. And, although I haven’t finished the book yet, I know everything turned out OK (otherwise there wouldn’t be a book, right?). So, even though I’m a little unsure about my situation I know that I’ll be OK too.

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