Studying abroad has become more and more popular on campuses nationwide. Students travel all around the world for the semester having the times of their lives partying and exploring an abundance of different cultures. Thanks to my dad, and inspiration from my fourth-grade teacher, I had always dreamed of doing a semester abroad in Ireland. Eventually, I realized that it was just not going to work with my course load and work. Instead of being totally defeated, I decided to look into interning abroad for the summer. After a few weeks of paperwork, I was set to intern abroad in Dublin, Ireland in the summer of 2015.
Not to say that I was young and naïve before I left for Ireland, but in a sense I was. Only 20 years old and having only been away from my parents for at most two weeks in my life, I knew this was going to be a big change. My first few thoughts upon arriving in Dublin were ‘’wow this is the beer capital of the world’’ and ‘’wow listen to these Irish accents and look at the boys.’’ Being 20 years old I was ready to go out every night of the week, take full advantage of the Irish drinking age, stay out until the sun rose and just live my life freely doing whatever I pleased. I drink on weeknights in college so what would make it different here, right? College was the land of doing whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.
No, no, no.
What no one ever told me about interning abroad; it forces you to grow up and become an adult faster than you could ever expect. I was working 40-hour weeks, 9-5, Monday- Friday. Going out on a weeknight? Forget it. By the time I got home from work it was almost 6 p.m. and I was exhausted. Then I would cook dinner for myself (yay for being an adult am I right!?) then would crawl into bed and repeat for the rest of the week. I didn’t have my mom a quick phone call away at any time of the day (let's not forget the time zone difference) nor did I have my professors looking out for me and making sure I was doing everything just as I needed.
Of course, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I just made it sound. (I just happened to learn that I hated cooking in my three months abroad). The difference between studying and interning abroad is that while I interned, I truly learned about Ireland and the culture. Working in a small Irish office, I quickly immersed myself in the ‘’Irish’’ way of life. I found myself learning mannerisms, quirks (they put butter on everything. I mean everything), sayings (what’s the craic?) and the history of Ireland and their people. I didn’t just work in Ireland, but Ireland really became my home.
Studying abroad gives someone the opportunity to discover the world while interning abroad gives someone the opportunity to discover a new home. I lived in an apartment with six other students from all around the world. There were some from France, Spain, Italy and some Irish. Living in such a diverse apartment also really helped me grow. I learned about so many different countries and their cultures and their ‘’norms.’’ Not to mention that most of the people coming in didn’t speak English, they were in Dublin learning English for the summer. You can imagine how difficult it was trying to explain the definition of the word ‘’both’’ or that a plumber is not a ‘’plumper.’’ As frustrating as it may have been at the time, I now look back and just laugh and am so fond of all the different people I met who touched my life.
Not to say I didn’t get my partying in or exploring, because believe me I did. My roommate and I discovered a bar that had two euro beers on select days of the week. Needless to say we spent quite a bit of time (and money) at that bar. I had some of the best times of my life out in Dublin. Meeting so many different types of people and just talking to strangers all night and making new friends was more than I could of ever asked for.
I went into interning abroad thinking that I was going to get great work experience and meet new people and drink all sorts of different beers. While yes this was all true, I also learned so much more. It’s great to succeed at your job at home and to get praise. But to succeed at a job in a different country and to receive positive feedback is unlike anything else. I felt successful in a foreign country and that I was capable of so much. From starting at my job, my confidence only grew. I took each step with more confidence and pride. I found myself smiling at strangers, saying yes to new adventures and wanting to do more with my life. I felt in control of my life, I felt that I was able to do whatever I set my mind too. My confidence I gained in Ireland is something that I will never lose; it will forever be a part of me. The summer of 2015 was my summer because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I did things I didn’t think I’d ever do, travel around Europe by myself and just slowly fell in love with my beautiful life.
All in all, my experience while interning abroad made me realize that I can accomplish my dreams. My summer abroad was my summer because I let myself be pushed out of my comfort zone. The discomfort turned into adventure, laughter, smiles, tears and memories that will I will hold onto forever.