The World at Home: Rainbows only come after rain
2017-08-15 -

COMMENT: By Austin Anderson

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 left my home in Iowa and flew across the pond to start my internship in Dublin at Ireland’s leading multicultural newspaper, Metro Éireann.


I arrived in the Irish capital and walked out of the airport into pouring rain which, I would soon find out, should have been no surprise. It rains every single day.


I was immediately mesmerised by the accents and the lingo. For example, having ‘savage crack’, as I heard it, is a lot different – and more acceptable – in Ireland than in the United States.


My first experience communicating with anyone from Ireland was the taxi driver, a retired Irish military captain who woke up each morning at 4am and drove a cab 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 that concerned – until the next morning.


I woke up at 4am drenched in sweat, yet for whatever naive reason, I continued to look past it.


For lunch on my first full 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 swollen 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. The mumps!


I was 4,000 miles away from anyone I could call a friend, with a swollen face, lying in a bed I would not leave for the next four days, with 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 was pressed immediately into action with my first article, a story on the life of people 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 week 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 might soon allow him the legal right to seek 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 could have ever learned in a classroom.


I have also gone on to write stories on the young Dundalk woman who became the first to win an under-18 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 dedicated his life to chasing a career in laughs, among others.

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.

Austin Anderson is a student at Iowa State University and an intern at Metro Éireann.

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