Monday, May 21, 2007

My First Starbucks

I've missed too many days to try and play catch up with my blog. I have a couple posts as drafts and I'll try to finish them this weekend, but for now I'm just going to start writing about current stuff.

The entire time I've been in Dublin I've been looking for signs of globalization and americanization. What I've noticed so far is that there is a McDonald's and a Burger King (usually side by side) everywhere you turn. A McDonald's is even a 10 minute walk from my flat in my little and very irish suburb. A ten minute walk to feel American again. I have not yet felt this surge of homesickness and culture shock, probably because I don't eat fast food. Something to point out to my Tarantino fan friends, however, is that Ireland, a very european and metric system country, has quarter pounders with cheese vs. the famed myth of the Royale with cheese from Pulp Fiction. I'll investigate further when I go to France...if I ever find myself craving "chips" at 3 in the morning again.

So, although I've seen at least 5 or 6 McDonald's and Burger Kings in my confined explorations of the city, I noticed on Saturday that I had yet to see a Starbucks. It always seems like those would be much more prominent...and even across the street from other starbucks as the joke goes. While shopping at another globalized store, Aldi, on Saturday, my flatmate explained to me that Starbucks had only 2 years ago decided to invest in and sign contracts with Ireland. In fact, the first Irish Starbucks is on the College Campus near my flat.

Fear not, friends, though, because today I found my first in-the-flesh Starbucks. The myth was true, their watery chais and over-priced frappucinos had permeated Dublin culture. I will continue to see this Starbucks everyday on my way to work and continue to see capitalism and globalization at work. What a sight for sore, homesick eyes. :)

After being reassured by my first sighting of Starbucks, I was ready to start my first day at my "work placement" as they call it in Ireland. I am officially an editing and publishing intern for New Island/Brookside. New Island is one of the oldest and most successful irish publishing companies in part created by and now completely run by the jovial Edwin. They mostly market their books within Ireland and the UK, so many people from the U.S., including myself, have never heard of them. They publish a wide variety of titles and everything from start to finish in the publishing process is all done under one roof. Brookside is a sister company to New Island and shares its office space. Brookside is a book distributer that markets and distributes books for publishers including such names as New Island (der), Houton-Miffler, Cambridge University Press, and much more.

After my hour and a half commute to work, which is pretty normal for dublin standards, I arrived at the two story bungalow that houses both New Island and Brookside. The building is made entirely of brick and is very quaint and very Irish. To get to the door, I pushed the latch on an old, wrought-iron fence, and rang the doorbell. Upon entering, although I was on time, I was only the second person there. The irish have a notorious habit of being late to everything. Not because they are lazy, but because they take their time, enjoy life, and don't worry as much about schedules. They still get to work, they still get things done, but on a less stressful and more personal level.

I set up my workstation on an extra table that during my interview had been stacked almost to the ceiling with books upon books upon books. They had graciously been moved to the floor next to the table in order to make room for my workspace. My supervisor and I share the space, my table being about 3 feet away from his desk. The director of Brookside helped me get settled and made the both of us tea. When my supervisor, Mr. Darcy (I'm supposed to call him by his first name, and do to his face, but the opportunity to refer to someone as Mr. Darcy was too good to pass up), arrived, he and Conor began discussing their gripes about the current political status quo. Politics is a very hot subject in Ireland, especially with the elections for their new Prime Minister occurring this Thursday. According to the polls in the newspapers, Ahern, the current Prime Minister, and Bertie's Team will again hold office. This conversation, over tea and coffee in the cramped kitchen, involved much cursing and polite cursing. I'm still trying to get a hang of the play on language.

My first day went very smoothly. I think I owe it to the Starbucks sighting. I did some google hunting first. I then did some inventory in their hallway stacked with books upon books up to the ceiling, but somehow very organized, and then I learned about ISBNs. Read about them Here. and Here. I never knew something so small, on the barcode on the back of books could be so important to publishers. It was a topic of conversation throughout the day and will probably continue to be in the future.

In the afternoon we had a very long meeting about the redesign of the New Island website. I linked to it above. They are in the process of revamping the entire website, and once they found out I had some background in website design they took my opinion very seriously and even called me an "expert." IT skills can take you a long way in almost any field...go figure.

The commute home was very very long. I left work at 5 and got home at 7. I will need to explore better ways of getting home, especially with a laptop on my shoulder and walking for 30 mins. The best part of my commute home is I get to walk through the campus of Trinity College Dublin, an impressive and beautiful enclosed campus.

1 comment:

Barb S. said...

Hi Molly! Barb Shipman from OMERAD here. Nice to hear from you/read your blog. Say, if there's any way you can stop into the library at Trinity College and take any pics I'd love seeing them. Being inside of that library would be a dream for me. :)
Be safe, Molly!