Luz Arregoces - 2015 Program Participant

St. Patricks Day celebrants in Dublin, Ireland

St Patrick's Day in Dublin!

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I have been sure I wanted to study abroad since I was little! The first time I left the country was when I was barely two years old, and I believe this really gave me a travel bug at a young age. I think the chance to live in another country for an extended period of time is an amazing opportunity.

Why did you choose CAPA International Education?

I spent a LOT of time scrolling through different programs. I felt really overwhelmed by all the options! However, once I finally came across the CAPA program, it really caught my eye. Dublin seemed like such a charming little city. The internship component of the CAPA program was really exciting to me. When I attended the first info session, all of the advisors were extremely friendly to me and told me all about the program.

What was your favorite part about Dublin?

Dublin is the hub of Ireland. In a country of only 4 million people, this city is home to a quarter of those residents. From the moment I landed at the Dublin Airport, I felt so welcomed. The program set up a shuttle driver to meet us all at the airport and bring us to Griffith College, where our apartments were. The staff and city residents were always sympathetic to our confusion about the city, and were willing to help us whenever needed. My favorite place in the city was the River Liffey; this river runs straight through the middle of the city, and creates beautiful scenery. On sunny days (which were somewhat rare), I loved to go sit on a bench by the river with my lunch, and take in the electricity of the city. It only took a few days to really feel like Dublin was a new home to me.

What aspects of your program made it unique?

I would say my program was unique because of how personalized the staff made it, and the amazing work experience I was able to acquire. There was a CAPA advisor located right on the college campus, and she always left her door open for anyone who needed her. The size of the program is a bit on the smaller side, but I really enjoyed this. The staff knew you by name, and were always willing to lend a helping hand.

I received an amazing internship placement at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, and my coworkers became a second family to me. They were funny, encouraging, and hard-working individuals who helped me accomplish my own goals.

I learned a lot about not only Irish business, but about staying open-minded to working with people from various backgrounds.

Red telephone booth in London, England

Weekend trip to London!

In what ways did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff was always available for any help or support needed. For example, one of the people in my program injured their foot; by the next day, the staff had contacted a local doctor and scheduled an appointment for her! Whenever I needed help with homework or just someone to talk to, they were always willing to help. Our advisors set up really fun events in town for us to attend, which helped us experience things different from our usual routines. We had field trips to the Cliffs of Moher, monuments within the city, and more.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have budgeted my money better! It is really hard to estimate how much money you will be spending over an entire semester. I went in with the mentality that it was a once in a lifetime experience, so I was a little generous with my spending. However, I can think of quite a few things that I could have been more frugal with. My biggest advice is: make sure you try to include international traveling in your budget!

Describe a day in the life of your program.

A day in my life as a CAPA intern started around 7:30 a.m. I had just enough time to get ready before I had to hop onto a Dublin bus. It took about 15 minutes to get into the city center, where I would then walk 10 minutes to the Chamber of Commerce (stopping along the way for a coffee, of course!). I would work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., working on new tasks every day. Some were typical intern activities (mailing invoices, updating Excel spreadsheets). Most of the time, though, I would be able to attend events with many Irish companies. I observed how these representatives interacted and networked with each other, and gained my own insight.

At 5 p.m. I hopped on a bus back home. I typically had a warm Irish dinner in Arthur’s, the dining hall at Griffith College. Then, on a couple days, it was time for my Learning Through Internships class! This class was a way to discuss internship placements with other students. We could discuss our own experiences, new things we might have come across, or simply discuss how to handle a new workplace abroad. This class made it much easier to adjust to Ireland and the different social norms.

What was your favorite thing to do on your free time?

My favorite activity was definitely being able to travel throughout Ireland. Traveling is so much easier in Europe than it is in the U.S. Since Ireland is a small country, we were able to do a lot of day trips to other counties. Buses run constantly around the country, for relatively cheap prices.

My favorite place I visited was Galway! It has a small town feel, but with the hustle and bustle of a bigger city. I experienced genuine Irish culture here!

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

I lived in an apartment on the Griffith College campus. There was one large common room that included a living room, kitchen, and dining room table. There were two bathrooms, and two bedrooms (two students in each room). On the downside, the apartments on campus were generally small. Since most students usually bring way too much with them abroad, my roommates and I felt like we ran out of room sometimes.

However, I really liked being able to live on my own. There are definitely some plus sides to this type of living arrangement, rather than living with a host family. It gave me a chance to really become independent; I bought my own groceries and cooked my meals, cleaned around the apartments, etc.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce staff and interns

My internship at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce

Now that you're home, how has interning abroad impacted your life?

I feel like I gained so many new life skills from this program.

I consider myself much more open minded to the world now. Every culture has its own social norms and traditions, and that really excites me.

I am a more independent person now, and feel comfortable traveling and experiencing things on my own. I met friends that I still talk to now, and they helped me progress through the highs and lows of being away from home.

In a more practical sense, my work experience abroad is really going to help my attempts at landing a job post-graduation. My internship helped me gain a high level of intercultural competency, and I hope to bring this global awareness to the workplace.