Heather is from Oklahoma and studied Mass Communication (Broadcasting) and Graphic Design in college. She interned in Ireland with World Endeavors.
How do you sum up your experience in Ireland?
My experience in Ireland was life-changing, breathtaking, and overall magical.
From my very first day in Dublin to my last in Westport, my feelings about the place were enriched. After my experience, I had developed a love and deep respect for the people and for the land.
Had you been abroad before? Were you nervous?
I had never been abroad before my trip to Ireland and I wasn’t a bit nervous.
Why did you want to intern abroad in Ireland?
My whole life I had been fascinated by the beauty of Ireland. Also being of Irish descent, I had a yearning to visit. I chose to Intern there because I didn’t merely want to be a tourist. I wanted to work and live in the culture.
I wanted a change in my life and World Endeavors gave me the perfect opportunity to pursue my dreams of travel and work experience. It was the next step I needed to get outside my comfort zone of living in predictable, safe Edmond, Oklahoma.
What was your internship like?
When people ask me what a typical day at my internship was like, I don’t quite know how to answer; when you’re living in a different country, your days are far from typical. Every day I had a 20-minute walk into town, I sat at my desk and was utilized as the graphic designer. Not every day was the same though. Some days, there would be a story that needed to be covered and I was assigned to interview, film and edit the package. Others, I sat at my desk, listened to music and designed logos for local businesses.
[The company where I interned] is a small business so there weren’t many employees. This allowed me to get close with each person. The majority of the workers are family members. They took me in as one of their own. My supervisor became like an older brother to me, and the youngest brother of the family became my best friend. He picked me up for work occasionally, and we hung out on a regular basis. By the end of my internship, I had developed many close relationships with all my co-workers and hope to keep these relationships for a lifetime.
My favorite part of the internship was when my boss assigned me to present a part of West Fest. West Fest is a music festival in Western Ireland. There were many big-named bands there. It was a two-day festival and people were camping out in the fields beside the giant tent in which the bands performed. The first day of the festival, a cameraman, a director, and myself as the presenter, walked around to all the campers and interviewed them on how excited they were about the music festival. It was such an exciting weekend! Even though the temperature was below freezing at night, another intern and I camped out on Saturday night. But overall the weekend was amazing and an experience I will never forget.
Did you have any problems with understanding the Irish dialect/accent?
The first couple of weeks, I did have trouble understanding the Irish dialect. They talk very fast and with foreign slang. When I was asked to do a task at work, I had a hard time understanding what they wanted from me. I felt a little obtuse at times, but most of my co-workers had patience to talk to me slowly so I understood clearly.
How were your housing arrangements?
I couldn’t have asked for better housing arrangements. I was in a comfortable house, with four housemates, including the landlady. They were all very nice and good company on lazy evenings.
What did you do on your time off? Did you get a chance to travel?
In the evenings, when it wasn’t raining, I took a nice run through the greens that were right behind my house. The Greens was a lovely running/bicycling path that was about 2 miles in length. The scenery was fabulous and the air was always fresh. I also joined a leisure club that was just down the street with a pool and workout area. I worked a lot of weekends but I didn’t mind. These were the days I got to travel the most. I saw a lot of the countryside traveling to cover stories for [the company where I interned].
How was the food in Ireland?
When first arriving in a different country I had no idea what to cook for myself. I was lost in the grocery store. I knew what chicken and pasta were, so I just bought that for most of my dinners. But upon eating out, there was no such thing as a “typical” meal. The variety and freshness of the food in Ireland was mind-boggling.
My favorite Irish food would have to be their breakfasts. An Irish breakfast pleased my pallet. I loved the Blood Pudding. Blood pudding is congealed pig’s blood and it was in every Irish Breakfast dish! Topped with a tomato, this food is a must try when in Ireland.
How do you think your time abroad has impacted you?
Right now I am working on a portfolio for myself. Traveling abroad has inspired me to travel more; it’s almost become an addiction. I want to learn more about different cultures and somehow intertwine these experiences in with my broadcasting degree.
In addition to building your resume, do you believe your internship has helped or impacted your career goals?
Oh yes. My internship in Ireland and helped me push my boundaries on what I think I can and cannot do. Before my internship, I was terrified of interviewing people. My boss threw me into several spur-of-the-moment interviews and these helped me overcome my fear. Interviews being a major part of my career, I believe this internship has helped me substantially in what is to come in my future.
What advice would you give to someone traveling abroad?
Don’t worry. Don’t stress. Take everything in around you and don’t take advantage of those who help you along the way.
Do you have any plans to travel abroad again?
I’m leaving soon for Asia. Yes, I am traveling more now than ever!!
Number one challenge about being abroad:
I honestly did not have any real challenges while there. Everything worked out like a dream come true. Honest.
Most important aspects you gained from your time abroad:
I learned the true art of conversation. People in Ireland can talk a person’s ear off. They are so interested in an individual’s life. I learned how to be more personable and relate with others.
I learned that I am a very strong woman and can take care of myself. My whole life, my parents have guided me along the way, in ways making decisions for me. This trip was my plan, my money, my courage, and my inspiration to live to the fullest.
People in Ireland are very hospitable. I want to strive to be more inviting to strangers.