Top 5 Things I Learned About Myself Abroad

Kelly Holland

Reflecting back on the past few weeks I’ve spent abroad in Dublin, Ireland, I’ve realized that this summer has taught me so much.  From now on, I will automatically refer summer 2016 as the summer I spent interning abroad. My time in Dublin with Global Experiences is something that I’ll cherish forever. I have had some incredible experiences and learned about myself personally and professionally. What exactly did interning abroad teach me? Well, I’m glad you asked! Read along!

1. Independence

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Interning in an unfamiliar country with new people and surroundings teaches you a lot about the concept of independence. Don’t get me wrong, the GE program allowed me to meet many new people who worked in the program, like their wonderful employees and co-workers.

However, they’re not following you around all of the time. Being abroad really allowed me to feel like I had complete freedom with my own schedule, which was so refreshing. Not being around any family or close friends really teaches you how to rely on yourself, and you never want to let yourself down.

2. Patience in the workplace

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Working in Ireland challenged me at times, as any meaningful thing in life should! As an eager intern, I so desperately wanted to prove my worth to the company that I was working for. I basically wanted to be the best intern that they had ever had. I found out quickly that accomplishing that feat doesn’t just happen by simply walking through the door.

So with that being said, I experienced a little bit of a work culture shock. These small yet important differences in the workplace taught me to be patient while at work. I realized that not everything was going to come or click in my mind right away. So I had to take my time to learn about the differences in the workplace and expand my mind to do more than just what I was accustomed to.

3. Confidence

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Spending time abroad challenged me in ways that I never would have dreamed of. Being able to overcome some of the cultural differences is very empowering (go me!!). Once you adjust to new ways of learning and thinking, you feel great about yourself and can accomplish even more.

4. How to Navigate Abroad

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There was nothing more difficult, yet more rewarding than learning how to navigate a new city. I’ve lived in a rural part of the United States for most of my life, so using public transportation was something I had never had to think about. When I arrived in Dublin (which is considered to be a relatively small city), I was undeniably completely lost. But, after a few days there, I started to get the hang of using the bus, the Luas (essentially an above-ground Subway) and the dart (train).

After a few weeks, I was basically a professional with getting around Dublin and began giving directions to tourists. Helpful tip: Google Maps and other apps helped me tremendously! Spending a lot of time on public transportation, I learned that it’s always in your best interest to bring some things to occupy yourself. This may include books, headphones, good conversation topics and work you can do from the road.

5.  Working with celebrating and appreciating new cultures

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Meeting new and exciting people is always something that I enjoy! Living and working in Dublin, I was really able to get a feel for the Irish culture. I was also able to meet interesting people from all over the world, whether it was on public transportation, in pubs, at work, or anywhere at all! Talking with locals and tourists allows you to get to share stories, experiences, and unique perspectives on almost anything.

Working in Ireland, I was able to experience their bank holidays, which was a craic of a time. (Craic is a common Irish phrase for good laugh.) I also got to see how Europeans experienced Euro games, which were treated like a holiday. Just by putting yourself in a new environment, you’re able to truly absorb the culture around you. 

A question one of my friends asked me when I got back was “would you do it again?”

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I smiled at this question as I had not really thought about it before that moment. My answer was “absolutely” and that was completely true. If I went back to this time last year, when I was just thinking about doing an internship abroad, I would do everything exactly the same. Global Experiences really did give me the experience of a lifetime. I may have spent all of my savings in Europe, but the experiences I had will stay with me forever, and just look at how much I learned!

Our thanks to the author of this post Val Woods, a most enthusiastic and awesome intern who has been a pleasure to work with. We are so pleased to share your story!
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