Completing an internship abroad was a requirement for my master's program in global sustainability.
Why did you choose Stint Ireland?
I actually heard from a colleague of mine that graduated a couple of years ago that there was an organization called Stint based in Ireland. This excited me because Ireland has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I talked to my colleague a little bit more about his experience and decided to apply with them.
What was your favorite part about living in Ireland?
My favorite part was my last week in Ireland. My mom and my partner came to Ireland for a week and we spent the whole week traveling around Ireland. I also got engaged to my partner on the top of Blarney Castle!
What made your experience abroad unique?
I would have to say that getting engaged made my experience unique. As far as the overall experience though, I would have to say it was unique because this was my first time abroad, and not only was I traveling to another country, I was also living there for two months and had to go to work everyday and build a life there temporarily.
How did the local staff support you throughout your program?
The staff at Stint Ireland were absolutely wonderful. They helped me with any and all issues I had and made me feel very comfortable.
What was the hardest part about doing an internship abroad?
I would have to say that the hardest part about doing an internship abroad was the initial culture shock. I wanted to go home almost immediately after arriving and for about two weeks in. Once I really started making friends and learning my way around though, it got much easier.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day consisted of waking up and getting ready, going to work, coming home and working on my research paper for school, and then either going out somewhere for a bit with my housemates or relaxing and going to bed. Weekends were different because we all tried to use weekends to go explore outside of Dublin or see some of the attractions within Dublin.
What surprised you most about Dublin?
Honestly, I did not expect Dublin to be so populated and rustic, to put it nicely. I honestly thought Dublin would have more greenery and would have been more modern.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before interning abroad in Ireland?
I wish I would have known more about the transportation system before traveling to Ireland. I thought that there would have been more trains or rail systems than there were. I thought I would have been able to travel throughout Ireland via train during my internship, but the fact that the main mode of transportation to other parts of Ireland outside of Dublin was bus made things a bit more difficult.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoyed reading, writing in my journal about my experience, walking, and going outside of Dublin to places like Howth (probably one of my favorite places there).
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
The accommodation was wonderful. We had a nice big house with a maximum of 10 people and lots of space for people to sit and talk or sit and relax on their own. What I probably liked most was the neighborhood; it was very quiet and the canal was right behind us.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
I think it is important for participants to know that if they are having troubles with anything, a housemate, the living arrangements, adjusting to the new culture, anything, that they can and should always talk to the program director. She, or one of the other employees, will always do their absolute best to help and they will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Dublin?
Yes! Make sure you bring warm clothes! Also, make sure you bring an actual rain jacket (or three) with a hood because you’ll want something that rain will roll right off of. You will also need really good walking shoes (a couple of pairs) and bring clothes you are comfortable walking in; you can always change once you reach your destination if need be.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have gone into it with more money. I thought I was going to be getting more from my school than I actually ended up getting so it was a bit of a struggle trying to live abroad and pay bills back home while not having any income.
What do you feel is the biggest benefit of doing an internship abroad?
Without a doubt, I feel that doing an internship abroad benefits students not only in terms of education, but in terms of personal growth. I was only abroad for two months but I know that I have changed as a person because of my experience in Ireland.
I think everyone should travel at least once in their lifetime; it really does open your eyes about life.
How has interning abroad impacted your life at home?
I think my time abroad really has impacted me as a person. I feel like I am a lot less anxious now (I have always had bad anxiety) because I had to put myself way outside of my comfort zone in Ireland and I am proud of how I handled it. Since I was able to overcome a lot of things there, I feel like I can tackle anything. I am also noticing that I am being more social, which was a big part of life there in Ireland.
Would you recommend Stint Ireland to others? Why?
Absolutely. It is very comforting knowing that when you go to another country and begin education or an internship abroad, you will have somewhere to live. Not only will you have somewhere to live, you will have somewhere really nice to live and you will be surrounded by people in similar situations as you. You will also have a support system, whether it's made up of your housemates or the Stint staff.
If you could intern abroad again, where would you go?
If I could intern abroad again, I would definitely consider going back to Ireland, but I would also LOVE to go to Switzerland. I have always been very interested in traveling to Switzerland, especially being a sustainability major. Switzerland is significantly more sustainable than the United States, their income inequality ratio is much smaller, the citizens are generally happier, and I would love to be able to visit (or intern with) the UN headquarters in Geneva.
Kayla lives in Florida. She earned her undergraduate degree at a local college, and is about to receive her master’s degree in global sustainability from the University of South Florida. Kayla has worked as an administrative assistant at a solar company, interned as a sustainability assistant at the City of Oldsmar, and interned at two nonprofits, one local and one abroad.