Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Thompson


Rachel Thompson, IES Abroad Dublin: Summer Internship 2013 (June-July.) Rachel Thompson is a journalism student at The University of Texas at Austin. Originally from the Bay Area in California, Rachel spent a summer interning in Ireland and is currently studying with IES in Barcelona, Spain.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Rachel: For me, going to Ireland was partly about tracing my roots, partly about discovering a new city and having the opportunity to travel, partly about gaining international work experience and mostly about personal discovery. During my trip, I found my great-grandfather's house in Dublin, grew my journalism skills interning at a local radio station, spent afternoons exploring the city and weekends traveling with new found friends. My study abroad experience helped me find my independence.

What is the best place you visited outside your home city?

Rachel: I spent a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland with some friends from our IES group. We saw the castle, picnicked in the park, climbed Arthur's Seat and sat in the café where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Visiting Scotland was something I'd always wanted to do, and being in the city was like walking back in time. I took a solo day trip to see Glasgow, Loch Lomond and Stirling, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Having a bit of time to myself to appreciate a place I'd always wanted to see was invigorating.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to future IES students?

Rachel: Take advantage of all the program has to offer! We had great program dinners, get-to-know each other activities as well as guided field trips. I met some amazing friends through IES and the program made adjustment to life in a new country a very easy process. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, find a way to make it happen. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Did you forget to pack something important?

Rachel: I packed really lightly, and while there were times I wished I had more clothes to go out in or more shoes to wear to work, I was really happy with how much I was able to live without. A rain jacket in Dublin is always a must, even in the summer. Comfortable walking shoes with arch support are also necessary (I brought my running shoes for hiking and jogging.) Choose items that you can mix and match to cut down on suitcase size! You'll thank yourself later.