The Real World: Interning in Ireland with CAPA
I think about how lucky I am to call Ireland, with its surreal, stunning beauty, my temporary home.
December 1, 2015
It’s a beautiful, sunny March day at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. The air is fresh, the water is crystal clear, and the grass surrounding me is the the greenest I’ve ever seen. While walking along the edge, I find a sanctuary of land hidden from the other tourists, and I approach cautiously. I get closer until I find a rock to sit on as I dangle my legs off the side, the ocean hundreds of feet below. I avoid looking down and inhale the brisk, spring air. I think about how lucky I am to call Ireland, with its surreal, stunning beauty, my temporary home.
I made the decision to study abroad my sophomore year of college, taking initiative after hearing my brother and mother’s regrets about not doing an exchange. As a sophomore with little work experience, I knew that I needed to start preparing for life after graduation. With the last name Moriarty and ancestors from Killarney, I felt that Ireland would give me a sense of home while also providing me work experience in a foreign country. I decided that CAPA, a study abroad program that offers internships, would be the best medium to achieve both experiences.
After applying, I began picturing myself in Ireland, immersed in the authentic culture, a magical land full of Irish step dancing and lively pubs where people of all walks of life would become friends. In November, I got the email that I was accepted by CAPA to study abroad in Dublin; and in late January, I left the United States for Ireland.
CAPA placed me as a marketing intern at the Irish Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that aims to exonerate wrongfully-convicted individuals. My role was to register guests that attended a conference, create newsletters and spread brand awareness through different social media platforms.
I had a lot of responsibility and in my first week, I worried about meeting deadlines and pleasing my boss with my assignments. But Dublin is a city where the work style is more laid back and hands-on. The Irish have big personalities that carry over into their professional lives; they prefer to have a comfortable business setting where people work together rather than an office separated into cubicles, all too common in this country. My boss gave me the freedom to work at my own pace. I worked closely with another girl in the CAPA program from Auburn University in Alabama, as well as two girls from Sweden and one from Ireland. Surrounded by these different individuals, I had a cross-cultural experience.
CAPA puts forth faith and trust in its students and offers us opportunities to use our skills in real-world settings. The program also encourages students to make friendships, and as a group, we took many trips to places like Belfast, Northern Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher. We saw more of Ireland this way, and enjoyed experiencing it with our newfound friends.
During my time abroad, I traveled to seven countries and over a dozen cities. I spent a weekend eating pasta in Florence and cheered on a national rugby team in London; I embraced history at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam; I went to the spring version of Oktoberfest in Munich; I turned 21 in Barcelona; I witnessed the magic of Paris; I spent a week island-hopping all over Greece, and swam in the Aegean Sea. I traveled all over Ireland and saw the places where memorable scenes from “Braveheart“ and “P.S I Love You“ were filmed.
Twenty thousand students may roam the streets of Amherst for St. Patrick’s Day, but that will never compare to being able to watch the Irish march in pride on March 17.
For those of you who have fears about going abroad, do not. If you plan ahead, you will find the perfect program, be able to spend a semester in a different part of the world and still graduate on time. Between going to classes, interning, traveling, and exploring the city, I found no time to sit in my room and feel homesick about not being at school.
After all, Dublin had become my second home.