By Austin Anderson
Year in School: Junior
Major: Journalism and Mass Communication
Internship: International Intern, Metro Éireann
The pain in my jaw was sharp, but I didn’t have time to worry about that. I only had a few hours before I flew across the pond to start my internship in Dublin at Ireland’s leading multicultural newspaper, Metro Éireann.
I arrived in Dublin and walked out of the airport into pouring rain, which, if you have ever been to Ireland, is no surprise at all. It rains every single day.
I was immediately mesmerized by the accents and the lingo. For example, I learned “savage craic” (pronounced “crack”) is an Irish phrase for a “good time” or “good fun.”
My first experience communicating with anyone from Ireland was with the taxi driver, a retired Irish military captain who said he woke up each morning at 4 a.m. and drove a taxi so he could “get away from his family.”
Some of the best stories I heard came from taxi drivers. They see and hear it all.
I went out to see the city and explored the pubs but throughout the night my jaw kept bothering me. I still wasn’t concerned – until the next morning.
I woke up at 4 a.m. drenched in sweat, yet I still, for whatever naive reason, looked past it.
For lunch on the first day, I was starving but could barely open my mouth without a sharp pain. I settled for a soft granola bar and coffee. I had a dull constant ache that felt like I had been hit in the face.
I went back to my apartment and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was shocked. My face had swelled so much I looked like I was wearing a fat suit on the right side of my face.
A trip to the doctor the next day revealed I had the mumps.
I was 4000 miles away from anyone I could call, and as I laid in bed the next four days with a swollen face, I had one thought in my head: “What the heck am I doing here?”
But to keep the theme going, rainbows only come after rain. After a week of pain and isolation, my face was back to normal and I started my internship at Metro Éireann.
I immediately was pressed into action with my first piece, a story on those forced to live under the inhuman living conditions placed upon asylum seekers in Ireland.
Having a grown man tell me directly about what it’s like to go from being a successful engineer in Swaziland to now living on €19 a month made me see life differently that day.
“We are basically robots,” he told me after describing his lifestyle of sleeping all day only to wake up for meals because there is nothing else he can afford to do.
Then I heard the excitement in his voice when talking about the Supreme Court ruling that will allow him to have employment by the beginning of next year. “I will finally be able to live my life,” he said.
Forget learning about journalism, that conversation taught me more about life than I have learned in a classroom.
I have also gone on to write stories about the 18-year-old who was the first woman to win a gold medal in Ireland’s history of track and field, the Ireland junior record holder in the triple jump and a local comedian who has given up a lot to chase a career in comedy, amongst other stories.
All things considered, interning in Ireland has been an amazing learning experience, not only as a journalist, but as a human being. Take that, mumps.
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