View of The Guinness Lake in Wicklow County, Ireland.
This is my first time travelling abroad. As such, I have no realistic idea of what to expect, how to feel or what I should be doing. I have only heard stories from others and listened to the advice offered to me. However, I find comfort in this uncertainty. It is perhaps this feeling of being lost that excites me the most. I have arrived at a blank canvas.
A city I have very minimal knowledge of, a culture I have only researched and an internship unlike any other. My only expectations this summer is to paint this canvas with my newfound experiences. I hope to leave Ireland with a beautiful mural full of my adventures and growth. My goal this summer is to learn more about myself and become more independent as an adult.
I am currently living in Shanowen Square, a student housing apartment complex. In the few days that I have been here, I have already improved my skills in budgeting for groceries, navigating public transportation, and cooking. In addition to becoming more independent, my internship has also begun. I am currently working for Spirasi, an NGO focused on helping refugees, immigrants and survivors of torture integrate into Irish society.
It is Ireland’s only center to help these vulnerable populations and is supported by many international organizations including the UN and EU. Although I am beyond excited to work here, I am also very anxious. I have already met quite a few clients of Spirasi and it is heartbreaking. The immigration crisis is quite severe in Ireland and the process to be remitted as a refugee or asylum seeker is harsh. Having to see my manager deny applications because of funding and the “strength of cases” based on UN definitions is challenging.
However, it is these experiences as well as the Spirasi team that inspire me to continue advocacy work. As a part of this organization, I will be helping with the rehabilitation process, planning events for fundraising, and teaching beginner level English classes to clients. Although I have worked in a professional setting before, this internship is far more intense and meaningful to me. I hope to one day go into international law so that I can continue helping vulnerable populations.
This internship is the perfect introduction to my career goals because of its individualistic care of clients. Often times, policy makers and researchers forget the faces behind the statistics and numbers. I hope my experience at Spirasi can help me understand the immigration issue through the eyes of actual clients. The most rewarding part of this summer abroad will definitely be the work that I do for my internship.
Although I do enjoy living in Dublin, the weather is very unpredictable and is always shifting. Admittedly, it is quite challenging living alone in a new country. You don’t really have a support system here and have to make new friends. However, I am ready for all the challenges ahead of me. I hope to adopt better living habits so that I am even more prepared for living off campus next year.
As a part of this program, I also have to take an academic course on intercultural communication, occupational sociology, and professional discourse. After reviewing the syllabus, the topic on commodified language caught my eye. I have done research on code-switching in professional contexts before so I am looking forward to learning more. Hopefully, I can use the knowledge I gain in class and apply it to my internship as well!
This summer abroad program has been shaped to help me develop as an individual, professional and academic. I am excited to not only learn more from working in my internship, but also from the readings in my class. It is my hope that I leave this summer more informed about professional discourse and ready for future work experiences.