Incredibly inspiring experience that fostered growth and independence. November 13, 2017

By (Clark University - Worcester) - abroad from 01/23/2017 to 05/05/2017 with

CAPA The Global Education Network: Dublin Study or Intern Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot. Being immersed in a different culture is exceptionally beneficial because it teaches you cultural intelligence: in invaluable skill in all modern-professional realms. I learned how to perform professionally in a number of cultural contexts, I expanded on professional and basic skills such as techniques to use in interviews, team management, presentation skills etc. I also cultivated independence; and having an internship really helped with this aspect.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic experience was exactly what I was looking for in a study abroad program: it was challenging to the extent that it kept me interested and engaged, but lenient enough that it allowed me to explore my international city, learn from experience, and become more independent in the process.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrative and organizational CAPA staff in Dublin were phenomenal. Not only did they provide a platform of social and emotional support, but were extremely engaged in our academic and experiential lives. Any issue I had at all, they were easily and readily accessible and always eager to help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a suite/dorm-situation where I lived with 3 other girls on the college campus. I loved being so close to my classes and being more integrated with the school. The suite/dorm comes fully equipped with a kitchen along with all necessary appliances and utensils.

* Food:

This varies according to each program and each location, and varies according to every person. Griffith College (the local university in Dublin) does provide a meal plan to students if they so wish to buy it. Like all university meal-plans, it is slightly more expensive than buying your own groceries and making your own meals. Thus I decided to forego a meal plan and purchase my own groceries weekly. The price of groceries is astoundingly cheaper there than anywhere in the U.S. The ingredients in Dublin, as well, were far more organic and natural and grocery stores were within walking distance of both the school, and the off-campus housing apartments.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I decided to partake in an internship while I was abroad, and thus I felt extremely integrated in the local community and culture. My bosses and colleagues were all Irish and we were heavily immersed in the Irish working class community, as well as the youth community. In terms of housing and living. At times it did feel a l little isolated being on a university campus, however, a majority of the students living on campus were international thus it was easy to meet new people not in the program and build those connections.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got extremely lucky and did not have any severe medical issues. The one time I did have a small medical issue the CAPA staff were extremely understanding and helpful and went out of their way to ensure I was getting the best treatment possible, and felt comfortable every step of the way.

* Safety:

Dublin felt like an extremely safe city. We were new to the city and though it took us a couple weeks to navigate the city and the public transportation system, during this process of navigation all members of the public were so helpful in directing you to the right way, or recommending places to eat/drink/tour/see. The sense of community in Dublin is astounding and whether you are from Ireland or not, they always make a point to make you feel included as well as safe. Dublin is a city and thus I would not recommend anything reckless or dangerous, and since it is a city, to simply use common sense, however, I did not once feel like I was in danger in any sort of way.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

CAPA is unique in that it allows you to use an internship as a form of experiential learning, an extremely important aspect of education in my opinion. I loved feeling connected to the community, and simply living in Ireland. I truly fell in love with the city and wish I could go back and spend another year there.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

5=Extremely easy! I was able to spend only 10 euros on groceries a week, which made a huge difference! Depending on how you organize your semester budgeting can be easier or harder. I made the decision that I was not going to travel during the weekends and would wait till the end of my program and then travel for over a month! My home institution, as well as CAPA provide a number of opportunities to receive scholarships and financial aid that can help you finance your study abroad experience, as well as traveling.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent roughly 10 euros on groceries a week, and possibly 10-20 euros on miscellaneous items every other week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Everyone's plan is completely different. My one suggestion to you would be, if you can, save the traveling for the end of the semester. By doing that I was able to spend a lot more time in every city/country, while spending a lot less money! However, if your time constraints are a little more strict and traveling on semester holidays and weekends is the only opportunity to travel, make sure you're not doing it every weekend. It is important to spend some time in your host-city and get to know it on multiple levels. If you are planning on traveling during the weekends, look into alternative methods of traveling such as busses and trains, they're extremely cheap!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? For Irish Gaelic = nothing
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid to ask the people you work with, the local bartender, or other Irish speakers in your class to help you and talk to you in Irish. One of my bosses could speak fluent Irish Gaelic and just speaking to him, and having him teach me a couple of different words a week really helped me retain more of the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Internship
  • Culture
  • Language
* What could be improved?
  • Course load (sometimes)
  • Structure of some of the classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Though it is exciting to plan things and feel like you are organized, sometimes it is important to allow things to just happen. You don't necessarily have to plan everything down to the minute - I found to have more fun and learn more when plans were not organized or set up, rather they happened organically.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Irish Language and Culture

Course Department: CAPA
Instructor: Oisín Uibh Eachach
Instruction Language: Irish Gaelic, English
Comments: The class provided an amazing opportunity for students to engage in their cultural surrounding while learning valuable lessons about Irish culture, history, and the importance of their Irish identity. It was challenging learning a language that was not widely spoken both domestically and globally, but surprisingly, it proved to be immensely beneficial when entering the professional world of Ireland, and later when I came back to the states. Showing you have attempted to learn their language and thus understand their culture places you in a much brighter light when conversing with the local community - something required of you if performing an internship. Moreover, the structure of the class was both interesting and informative; often consisting of field trips that exposed us to the many facets of Irish traditional culture. Some of my favorites included going to old Irish-speaking pubs and practicing how to order and speak Irish conversationally, and viewing/listening to shows which showcased traditional Irish music. Classes were only once a week, and I was consistently enthused to participate. We were assessed based on our weekly presentations about cultural topics, our essays, and our final exam which consisted of both Irish language, and culture sections.
Credit Transfer Issues: I had no issues transferring the credit to my home institution. I needed to fulfill a language requirement and thus had this course pre-approved by my institution. Not only was it an amazing class to take, it also provided a platform for students looking into rare languages and cultures to broaden their horizons.