Groupon Planet is a blog series made to share the experiences of those who have relocated to a new country or city with Groupon. It’s here to help alleviate any fears or reservations one might have about moving and also serves as a common ground where those who have made the move can relate and discuss their new lives with fellow vagabonds!
Today Hillary Proctor of the Chicago office tells us about her new life in Dublin.
I’ve worked in Groupon’s Chicago headquarters for nearly five-and-a-half years. I started in the Editorial department and joined the Application Operations team in Engineering a little under a year ago. I’m currently on a six month training assignment in the Dublin office, along with another teammate, and have spent the last five weeks adjusting to life in Ireland.
My Morning Ritual
I start my morning with coffee (Nescafé, a European staple) and the ubiquitous Irish brown bread. I usually make toast that’s topped with some combination of eggs, beans and avocado – the latter of which I was relieved to find is still readily available in Ireland. (It’s probably worth noting at this stage that food and drink are a bit of a priority for me. I maintain my own restaurant blog, hillaryproctor.com, and am excited to keep documenting my dining experiences while in Dublin.) During breakfast I also catch up on a podcast or two. I’ll admit that listening to the same voices that used to fill my earbuds in Chicago makes my Dublin apartment feel much more like home.
It only takes 20 minutes for me to walk to the Groupon office, joining a throng of cyclists, double-decker buses, and DART train commuters. I stroll by beautiful Merrion Square Park and admire dozens of the brightly colored Georgian doors for which Dublin is famous. Right before I reach Groupon’s glass-walled office building, I walk along a short stretch of the Grand Canal, where vendors are already setting up the popular food market that’s held weekly at lunchtime.
Work Day Commences
Once I get to work, I make an Americano using the high-tech office espresso machine and snag some of the fresh fruit that’s available daily. There are usually at least a few friendly faces ready to chat about the great craic (local slang for “fun” or “good times”) they had the night before.
We all then settle into our daily tasks in engineering, marketing, and other functions. However, this office also cultivates a culture of pleasant distractions. One moment a tea trolley loaded with cakes and other treats is rolled through the office to raise money for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice, with whom Groupon has a charity partnership. The next a fellow American coworker zooms past on his scooter heading back to his seat on the opposite side of the office.
At lunch I join a few coworkers and eagerly head across the street to the market. On sunny days the queues are especially long. Hundreds of business people flock here for culinary specialties such as chicken coconut curry, fish and chips, and paella. I try a new dish every week (read more on my blog) and take a seat on one of the market-provided blankets to enjoy my meal.
It’s also easy to take a quick fitness break over the lunch hour. Employees can use the building-wide gym free of charge or do lunchtime yoga in the Hairy Lemon, our largest conference room. If that conference room name seems odd it’s because each of the conference rooms in the office is named after a different Dublin pub. My goal is to have a pint in each one (the real pub, not the room) during my time here. I’m happy to say that I’ve already crossed a few off the list, including Hairy Lemon. By the way, what they say is true: Guinness really does taste much better in Ireland.
Later in the afternoon, I join a video meeting with my teammates back in Chicago. It’s certainly taken a while to adjust to the idea that they’re just starting their day, coffee and all, when we’re nearly finished with ours. But I’m grateful that video technology lets us keep in touch in real-time about ongoing projects and team happenings, even from across the ocean.
Post Work Activity
After work I’m usually up for trying one of Dublin’s many excellent restaurants (The Pig’s Ear and Sister Sadie are two recent favourites) or catch some sunset views along the Liffey river. But tonight, my team is off to a literary pub crawl where we hear entertaining stories and little-known facts about James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and other Dublin greats. We walk through the Trinity College campus and down Grafton Street, and also stop at a few pubs that played a part in literary history. It’s an especially engaging way to learn about the vibrant, historic city that’s feeling more like a second home every day.