Kristin is from Texas and graduated from college with degrees in Marketing. She interned in Ireland with World Endeavors.
How was your experience in Ireland?
As cliché as it may sound, my time abroad was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I knew I wanted to travel more before I settled into a full time career, and I was putting off the real world just a little while longer. I justified it with the professional experience I would be gaining through my internship. What I didn’t expect was the incredible amount of personal learning that took place. Deciding to move to Ireland…alone…to live and work for three months, completely changed my life.
Were you nervous to go to Ireland?
During my undergrad at Texas A&M University, I studied abroad in Australia. I loved every minute of that experience as well, but I was in a group environment and even went with a good friend of mine. This time I was more independent. I was nervous before leaving and once I got there, and by the end of my 3 months…totally distraught over the thought of having to leave Ireland and return to the US.
What were your first impressions of Ireland?
Green. Rainy. Friendly. The countryside was absolutely beautiful, and everything was so vividly green. Pictures cannot do it justice. It also rains…a lot. I learned, though, that sunshiny days are just that much more special, and I really did get used to the rain. By the end of my trip, I hardly even noticed. I would just pull my hood up and keep on walking. And despite what can be some crummy weather, I came across some of the nicest people I have ever met. Throughout the course of my trip, I fell in love with the country – its history, its scenery, its music and its people. It became my home away from home.
What inspired you to intern abroad in Ireland?
I wanted more work experience before I entered the real world and thought an international internship would look even better on my resume. I love to travel and wanted to see more of the world. And an internship abroad just sounded like fun.
Interning in an English speaking country was a priority for me. I don’t know a second language and was a bit nervous about going abroad by myself to begin with. I didn’t feel like I needed that extra challenge. I chose Ireland because it is somewhere I have always wanted to visit and had heard phenomenal things about. I also appreciated its proximity to continental Europe where I planned to do some traveling after my internship.
What as your internship like?
During the course of my internship, I worked primarily on a market research project. My duties and responsibilities typically surrounded this project: creating and distributing the survey, collecting research, and analyzing results. To help inform companies about the survey, I also wrote blog posts and monitored our Twitter account.
I worked for a small web development company, so I also took part in other forms of research, Search Engine Optimization activities, and blogging.
Because I worked in a company of only 4 full-time employees, I was able to develop a relationship with them. We chatted throughout the day, occasionally had lunch together, and would go out for a pint after work on Fridays. I remain in contact with them.
What was your greatest challenge with the internship?
Coming to terms with the work culture. It was amazing, and I enjoyed working with the 4 other employees. However, it was very different (in a good way!) than anything I was used to. It was much more casual and less structured. I had to become more independent and self-sufficient than I was on prior internships. In the grand scheme, it was a wonderful learning process for me.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
I was writing the report on the survey results up to the last day of my internship. My eyes had started to cross from analyzing the data and writing what turned into a 40 page report. I felt so accomplished when I finished on time and turned it over to my boss!
Did you have any problems with the Irish language or understanding the Irish dialect/accent?
There were definitely some people whose accent was harder to understand than others. For the most part though, I didn’t have a problem understanding.
How were your living arrangements?
I lived in an apartment that was only a 7 minute walk from the city center and also within walking distance of the bus and train stations. I felt very safe in my apartment. While I had my own room and bathroom, I did share and living room and kitchen area with 7 other people. A few of my flat mates were in Ireland on internships and others were there to learn English. Being from Italy, Spain, France, and China, they were fascinating people!
What did you do in your free time?
On my time off in the evenings, I went out to a variety of restaurants and pubs. Cork is an incredibly lively city with much to do. I even went to see Stomp at the Cork Opera House. A co-worker and I had a Wednesday night tradition of going to a pub right down the street from us and listening to traditional Irish music.
Did you get a chance to travel? Any travel mishaps you would like to share?
On the weekends, I traveled around the country by train and bus. I tried not to have any mishaps, only adventures. I missed my bus a couple of times but tried to be flexible. I was told biking to the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin would be fun…what I didn’t know was that it was 4 miles…uphill. But it was definitely worth it when I got there, and I had great company along the way! I also traveled to Dublin and Galway, drove the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula, hiked to Charles Fort in Kinsale, and visited a number of small towns along the way.
What was a typical meal in Ireland?
Meat and potatoes. Cork is actually quite diverse in restaurant options, so I never went hungry! FarmGate, a restaurant in Cork’s English Market, had fabulous food. I had some of the best seafood I’ve ever eaten at Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale. And I even got a few home-cooked Irish meals while I was there!
What are your plans now that you are done with the internship and back in the U.S.?
Right now I am doing a variety of temp jobs in Houston as I am still in transition. My time abroad has impacted me more than I ever thought possible. I will actually be moving back to Cork, Ireland soon and living there for a few years. And I plan on traveling more—I already have a list of places I want to see while living in Ireland for the next few years! Top of my list: Croatia, Spain, and Germany.
What advice would you give to someone traveling abroad?
Don’t take any moment for granted. It’s hard at the beginning, you will experience culture shock, but it is absolutely worth it. By the end of your time abroad, you will be wondering where it all went! Get to know the locals, explore the country, and have fun!
The number one story you love to tell about your time abroad:
My visit to the Cliffs of Moher. My phone died so my alarm didn’t work, and I missed the bus I needed to take to connect to another one into Doolin. I ended up spending the day in Ennis, with my bags behind the counter in the tourism office (Irish people are so nice!). Ennis ended up being beautiful and a nice break. We finally got into Doolin after 8 that night and went down to the pub for dinner and live music. We rented bikes the next day to ride to the Cliffs…I died. It was so long and the whole ride there was uphill! Not going to lie, I definitely walked part of the way. When we finally got to the Cliffs of Moher, it was so foggy; I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. Bummer!! But the sun came out and pushed the clouds away, and the Cliffs of Moher are truly an incredible sight to see. The bike ride back home was even awesome…it was all downhill!
The most important thing you learned from your time abroad:
I am stronger than I thought I was and have the confidence now to face all challenges head on.