Pop Culture

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I have been keeping busy the past few weekends, but I have a few pop culture bits to give you an idea of what the small talk is like during teatime here at Cork.

Film/TV:

D’unbelievables are a famous comic duo that will give you a taste of the country accent, and the kinds of characters that you meet in Ireland.

If you only see one Irish film, watch Waking Ned Devine It will keep you in stitches, has beautiful shots of Ireland and it has dry Irish humor not unlike Death at a Funeral.

If you are ready for some more uncensored examples of Irish films, see The Guard or In Brudges, both with Brendan Gleeson and both full of Irish stereotypes. Also, Colin Farrell is from Dublin, if you didn’t know.

If you know Boardwalk Empire,  you’ll love Peaky Blinders, an English version of the show set in the same genre. Lead actor Cillian Murphy is actually from Cork, and attended UCC!

Music:

On Raglan Road and The Fields of Athenry are probably the most Irish songs you can find. The former a love song, and the latter written in the 1970s about the Irish Famine, became an anthem at Irish sporting events.

a constant state of confusion

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For the first few weeks everyone knew I was from ‘the States,’ just by looking at me. Then I graduated to being able to pass as a local until I opened my mouth. Now that I have finally fooled a few people, it’s time to share my knowledge.

To help you feel the same disorientation I first experienced, here is a quick ‘Cork Slang’ activity for you. (Answers below)

 1. “It was Grand”

Does this mean:

  a. It was good
  b. It was terrible
  c. It was bearable

2. “That place was Jammers!”

Was it:

  a. Wild and crazy
  b. Extremely crowded
  c. Extremely loud

3. “How’s the crack?”

Does this mean:

  a. Is the quality of the drugs acceptable?
  b. Do you like what I am wearing?
  c. What’s going on?

4. “He was taking the piss”

Does this mean:

  a. He was urinating
  b. He was joking
  c. He was napping

It is strange how we focus on topical differences like how we talk and express ourselves, but it is a fun way to get to know people from different cultures, and everyone has a story about being misunderstood in a different country!

More expressions:

Deadly = Awesome.

Fierce = Intense. Primarily used to refer to the weather.

It was a gas! = It was great fun!

 

Some you don’t want to confuse, such as:

Have a lash = have a try

Go on the lash = Go out on the town

Have a slash = Urinate

 

Then there is Gaelic, which is something else entirely.

Lough = Lake (pronounced ‘lock’)

Gaol = Jail (pronounced ‘jail’)

Quay = Avenue/street (pronounced ‘key’)

 

Answers:

1. “It was Grand” a. It was good

2. “That place was Jammers!” b. Extremely crowded

3. “How’s the crack?” c. What’s going on? (Spelled ‘craic,’ Gaelic term for fun, gossip or entertainment)

4. “He was taking the piss” b. He was joking

 

Sterotypes and Higher Ed. differences

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Being displaced into a new environment has some advantages. It gives you a chance to look from afar at the place you call home, and gain a little more objectivity then you ever could have when there.

Talking to the lovely Irish women I work with, and the range of international students I have met and befriended, I have gathered a collection of observations and stereotypes about Americans, which I will attempt to share here. I am sorry to say that I embody many of the stereotypes.

In general, Americans have been perceived as:

  • Superficial
  • Spoiled/rich
  • Potentially obese/out of shape
  • Entitled, also possessing an inflated sense of self-worth
  • Extremely competitive, workaholic tendencies
  • Ignorant: Americans know little about the world outside of their own country

Higher Education Differences:

The best description I heard that illustrates the difference between European and American higher education systems, is,

“European students become adults when they go to college. American students go to college to become adults.”

“European students become adults when they go to college.” They have to, and there is a kind of pride that comes with the coming-of-age and simply walking onto their university’s grounds for the first time.

 Now for Americans, the college experience is not a sink-or-swim procedure as it can be with Europeans, and there is a lot more, how do I say, ‘handholding’ that occurs in the American higher education system. Without making any accusations, I think that the systems are so different that it is really comparing apples to oranges, and unfair to measure them by the same standards.

Free education has its benefits and downsides, as you can imagine. One of the biggest challenges is that the office I work at is severely understaffed. The orientation staff is primarily student volunteers who provide support to students throughout the year. There are no RAs or live-in student staff members, besides a warden who is on call each night for lockouts. Students have to get involved, grow up, and look out for themselves, because no one else is going to.

Sink or swim, really.

The American education system on the other hand offers more because people expect more, and are paying more for their schooling. Despite American students being perceived as more outgoing then their Irish counterparts, Americans are also typically more entitled, and less likely to take advantage of the opportunities that are placed in front of them.

When discussing the week of social events intended to get incoming students involved, one of my coworkers said,

“Every year we put these events on, and every year only a few American students attend. Then when they are filling out a survey at the end of the year they always complain about not enough social events and not making any Irish friends. It’s like they expect us to knock down their doors to get them to go to these events!”

I guess we can’t blame the individual parts, there are many factors that create the college environment in every country, and some, as you can see, are very different. 

In Ireland and the UK students take tests their junior or senior year of high school, called ‘leaving exams’ or ‘A-Lists.’ These exams are similar to the SAT in that they cover topics such as applied sciences, business studies, as well as arts and humanities, and the grades determine students acceptance into university programs. The difference here is, students are accepted into a focus, or major, right off the bat, and they begin studying their major within the first year of college.

Now although the American liberal-arts colleges may give a wider base of knowledge then some Irish and UK schools, can you see why many employers consider a bachelor degree graduate from a European college to be equivalent to a masters degree in the States?

Week 2.5

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I have been working part time at the International Education Office at the University of College Cork, in Cork Ireland, going on 3 weeks now. Although I am tired of explaining to everyone I meet,

“No, it’s like a study abroad, but without attending classes… I’m interning abroad,”

it has been a fantastic experience so far.

The past two weeks were spent helping my staff prepare for the incoming students, and this week they started arriving. The student orientation staff here is run by an administrator, and a few hundred volunteers. They are quite a devoted and enthusiastic crowd, essentially serving as short-term RAs. I sometimes think that the RA role should be a voluntary position, so that only those who really want to make a difference will get involved, and it has been inspiring seeing what that looks like here at UCC, with pros and cons in comparison, naturally.

I was just telling someone today that I feel like I get the best of both worlds; I get to work at a college and be around international students hailing from all over Europe and the Middle East, and I get to work with a group of Irish staff members, spending lunch break and tea time asking them about what sights to see, local customs, Irish history and so forth. No homework is another added benefit.

My RA training has already been put to good use, and although people tilt their head when they hear I studied advertising in school, I think my experiences here will only help me think outside of the box later in my career/life. One of the most valuable parts of my experience has been getting submerged in a culture and away from “The States.” More on that later.

Being exposed to more diversity then I think I ever have, and being a minority, sometimes the only American in a room of 50 international students, has been incredibly eye-opening. I started a list of stereotypes the Irish have for Americans, but after meeting students from Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy…. I had to start a new list all over again!

I will share those soon, but prepare yourself: most of the stereotypes are not positive.

Besides school/work, I have only been outside of Cork a few times to see a castle here and there, but I have more trips planned so stay tuned for photos.

Cheers!

Ireland, week one

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Whew! A week ago at this hour I was sleeping off jetlag for the first time, curled up in my wee apartment in a new city over four thousand miles from home. I’ve caught up on sleep, and the time difference is not the only change that has taken some getting used to.

Its true, they drive on the left side of the road out here, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Wild. You’d think it wouldn’t affect you as a pedestrian as much, but I still get confused at crosswalks! Look right, then left, then right again because it feels so wrong… I end up rooted to the ground, head bobbing back and forth.

Everything is smaller here: the roads, the cars, the serving sizes. In a week I think I’ve seen two consumer trucks, looking mammoth compared to the hatchbacks and coupes speeding around everywhere. They name some of their cars differently too: the Volkswagon Jetta is a ‘Bora’ here.

Shopping at Tesco, (a more expensive and self-controlled cousin of Costco) I quickly realized that American portions are enormous. Talking to my coworkers, we surmised it is because in Ireland at least, there is a ‘going to market’ culture, and because of the close proximity to everything, you can find farm fresh eggs and dairy at any store on your weekly shopping trip. Oh and most of the food ‘goes off’ in a week or two, because it isn’t pumped with preservatives to last for years like much of American groceries.

This is how far 50 Euro got me:

50Eurobought900

 

My first night out, my roommates and I went to a traditional Irish pub, probably the best way to experience the cultural differences firsthand. As soon as we sat down, the owner came over and introduced himself. There were singing young men wanting everyone to dance with them in the middle of the room, elderly gentlemen at the bar drawing us into political discussions, and some old birds who looked like they belonged to a knitting circle in a corner, with pints in place of needles. When a middle-aged fellow threw his arm around my neck and roared with laughter,

“ELI ME LAD!”

I think that’s when I realized I was in for a grand old time.

 

 

 

 

Dirtwashing : Advertising to Men

Forget ‘Greenwashing,’ we need to lock down ‘Dirtwashing.’

Maybe I’m crazy, but I have noticed a trend of advertising to men that has boiled down the essence of manliness to be… dirt. I call this ‘Dirtwashing’ because it is similar to the Greenwashing tactic that makes products and services appear environmentally friendly when they aren’t. Likewise, advertising to men should not be over-simplified.

Now do I find this rugged depiction of manliness funny? You bet. Do I think it is the most effective way to speak to men? Not at all. This approach is overused to death and is one-dimensional, and a little insulting; I mean, men are more then dirt and muscles, right?

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This bar of soap from Dove Men+Care:

“Deep Clean Purifying Grains” kinda looks (and feels) like someone tossed a handful of sand into the mix.

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This tactic has been successful in the past, but it is old, tired, and impersonal. It’s time for something new: I challenge companies to do better than just dirtwashing their products. Whoever figures it out first is going to make a load of $$ that’s for sure.

Until then, men, keep rockin’ those Jubilee Wash Levi’s. Bootcut, naturally, because we gotta fit those all leather, triple-stitched, steeltoed lumberjack boots under those jeans.

Disclaimer: I wear Levi’s jeans, use Dove soap, and my best (man) friend drinks Dr. Pepper ever day. Take this with a grain of dirt, sorry, salt.

NSAC Ad Team. Learnings and Yearnings

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This past weekend wrapped up my experience with the University of Oregon’s Ad Team. Working for two and 1/3 terms with some of the most talented, hardworking Ad students at UO has been quite the ride.

I have learned so many lessons over the course of our project, some of them bitter, some sweet. I learned that I work best on my feet, with a dry-erase marker in my hand, and as one of my peers said, “You are a born facilitator,” a compliment I hold dear. I learned everyone has a different way of processing information, taking criticism, and presenting ideas. At times, it was an exercise in stamina and people skills more than advertising.

This past Friday I presented with three of the finest public speakers the Ad. Program has to offer, and we killed it. At the end of the night, Oregon was awarded 3rd place. The University of Idaho won, for one good reason. Their strategy was bonded to their creative with super-glue.

Ours wasn’t. Looking at our work after hearing the judge’s feedback, I realized that although our tagline was spot-on, our executions lacked the consistency that would have made them great. Tough stuff, but chalk it up to another learning experience. 

I’m so proud of my team, the work we created, and the fact that we emerged from the competition with a trophy in our hands and arms around each other. Though we didn’t get gold, we won, because we value each other over the final product. I don’t need any judges to tell me how important that is.

Spencer Adrian says it best. Look out next year ‘cause Team Spacey is going to blow them all away.

 

Resumes fer Dayz

I am a firm believer that you should use a unique resume each time you apply for a position. I currently have two multipurpose resumes, one on my portfolio for advertising, and one that I send to non-advertising folk, who want to see the details of what I have done in past positions.

Why are we expected to have such different resumes? Do advertising folks have less time to look at resumes? Do they take less time? I think the main difference is that if you want to get a job in a creative, productive industry, you need evidence that you have cut your teeth on some ambitious creative projects, hence the portfolio.

Resumes are more of a formality for Ad folks, methinks.

It all comes down to how you brand yourself: Darcie Burrell may have trouble getting a job as a middle school teacher with this resume. As a copywriter however, it instantly shows her voice, spunk, and whether or not you would want to work with her. Bold, smart choice.

Here are my resumes, let me know I pass the test.

Short resume

Extensive resume

Allen Hall Advertising

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As my time as co-director of AHA draws to a close, I’d like to share some of the most important lessons that I have learned at the helm.

  • Show, don’t tell,
  • Communicate like a Baus, and
  • Always say thank you.

Co-directing AHA has been one of the most challenging learning experiences that I have had while in college, and it has also been one of the most fun. The most rewarding part was working with the most talented and passionate students in the Ad program at the University of Oregon. I know they are the best, because I sat down with Leah and Austin and read through the approximately 115 resumes + applications that we received for fall term. The biggest takeaway I have for Ad students, and Journalism students in general, is to “Show, don’t tell.” Yeah, you’ve heard it before, but it works. If you present a resume that you threw together in an evening, and  list “Adobe Creative Suite” as a skill, who is going to believe you?

If you say you are an Art Director, you better have some FREAKING compelling work to show on that portfolio.

Show, don’t tell also treats your audience (the people who will be giving you your first job, for instance) with the respect they deserve. If you want to be a Strategist, show evidence of how you think, make a flowchart, include ideabook pages, be interesting!

Communication is more important to any military then weapons, and likewise, especially in a student-run organization, communication is what will determine their success, without even considering creative talent. Austin, Leah, Chris and I met at least once a week to plan the class, and we all answered email promptly. There is always room for improvement with communication, we’re human, so occasionally there will be misunderstandings or forgetfulness, but find the best way to communicate with your team, and stick to it religiously. Then, and only then will you succeed.

“The ones with the manners have the money.” says Mark Lewis, and if you want money, better get some manners! Say thank you, when necessary, which should be always. Thank your parents, thank your professors, thank your janitors, thank visiting professionals, thank your peers, thank your employees. Sometimes just saying the words isn’t enough. Compliment your roommate on how they handled that upset visitor last night, send a thank-you card to a professional who visited a class you were in. Actions speak louder than words, remember? Show, don’t tell.

Check back soon for the next chapter in the series “What Eli learned.”

 

 

… 6 months later

ad team

Wowzers.

Time surely does fly when you are having fun. Forgive me faithful blog followers (mom), it has been far too long. in August, I finished up an awesome internship with COLAB + the Portland Advertising Federation.

My top three takeaways from the experience were:

1. Skills + Work hard + Being nice = Employable.
You need all three. (Strangely, only one is taught in college, if that).

2. Talk to everyone.
Call it “hobnobbing” or “networking” or whatever you want, you can’t afford not to! Your future best friend may be sitting across the office from you, or you may find someone worth quitting your job with to create your own start up, you never know. As an intern, you will probably find someone who’s job you want, that you never knew existed. Awesome.

3. Be Brave.
It goes without saying, but it is still so true: If you never try, you will never know. This is partly to myself, as I start looking for people who I want to work for, I have to remember to put myself out there and be confident, try something new, leave home and all that jazz. (Classes with Mark Lewis help).

Check back soon for ruminations on Allen Hall Advertising, Ad Team, and loads of other goodies. This is a semi-binding promise that I will write more often. Have a good spring break.