Ireland and Northern Ireland: A Reflection – By Ashley Smith

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When I anticipated my travels abroad, I tried to think ahead and prepare myself for the potential differences in culture and media. I always have to remind myself that even though many aspects transcend distance and exist in both places, there are also significant differences between the way we interact with media and each other. The example I always refer back to is tv show “The Office”: how it originated in the United Kingdom and due to its success was later remade and aired in the United States. The reason being lies in the fact that the culture of each place of production differs, therefore the aspects that would be considered comedic would range depending on location. After nearly two weeks abroad, I have been able to pick up on the different ways culture affects advertising and communications, as well as how they are similar in both places.

Growing up as a woman in American society, there has always been more stress put on beauty and lifestyle advertisements and how they affect our growth and perception of ourselves and those around us. Therefore, I feel as though I have become more in tuned to the presence and perception of advertisements. The biggest difference I have noticed so far has been the fact that advertisements in the United States seems to put more pressure on the need to achieve a desired and specific lifestyle, while advertisements in Ireland have done a better job acknowledging different lifestyles and offering products and services to match the consumers individual needs. This difference in acceptance of diversity has been the biggest difference I have noticed thus far. American advertisements are starting to become more like the advertisements I have noticed over here, but in the past there has been much more of a presence of a singular desired lifestyle portrayed in ad campaigns.

The most significant example I experienced as far as embracing and praising different cultures and lifestyles was during my visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. There was an entire floor of the building dedicated to advertising efforts throughout the years, and a screening room highlighted some of their most successful advertisements. One in particular focused on a group of men from Congo, Brazzaville. The commercial portrays hardworking men by day, and men dressed to the nines letting loose and dancing with their friends by night. This ad dove deep into the culture of the area, as well as outlined their target consumer: hard working and respected individual yet someone with class, personality, and passion.

Finally, I noticed a difference in the level and quality of communication here compared to back home. Americans tend to be known to be more standoffish and to-the-point, and after experiencing the openness and hospitality of the people in Ireland, I understand why there seems to be such a drastic difference. There have been multiple occasions so far where a brief interaction has turned into an in-depth conversation. For example, while at a pharmacy our cashier took the time to make sure we had everything we came in looking for, while also asking us about our travels and even talking about U.S. and foreign politics. Maybe it is because we are American and that adds a level of intrigue, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of interest and sincerity the people here have shown. Reflecting on this and my observations so far, maybe this interest lies in the fact that it is more common for them to be open and interested in people different from them. Or maybe this all relates back to our current political situation and they are just dying to hear from the people experiencing it first hand. Either way, my overall experience in Ireland has been nothing short of delightful and I look forward to observing and taking part in the communications and media in our next country.

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