Alumni Spotlight: Kirsten Marschke

Kirsten is a senior at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND, where she studying Occupational Therapy.

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Why did you decide to intern abroad with Connect-123?

Kirsten: When I came across Connect-123 it seemed like the opportunities were endless. They offered volunteer and internships in so many areas as well as in a variety of different destinations.

I Skyped with one of the program coordinators and soon all my worries were at ease. Connect-123 did all the work, the only thing I had to do was make a commitment.

I was nervous about going abroad alone, but not only was I roommates with other Connect-123 interns, I also lived in the same building as all the other interns.

Connect-123 made the opportunity of a lifetime possible and I encourage anyone who is interested to take the opportunity to do this for themselves.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Kirsten: This experience is more than anyone could learn in a classroom. I wanted to take the summer off from anything school related so I chose for my volunteer experience to not be related to my future occupation as an Occupational Therapist.

I can say I have grown more as a person and a professional in my summer in Dublin compared to a year in my professional program. I learned so much about myself, how I communicate, and what my strengths are.

When you are in a foreign country, you are challenged every day whether you know it or not. The growth I’ve seen in myself over this summer will ultimately benefit me in the future in anything I do.

What was the best place you visited outside of your intern abroad city?

Kirsten: I met up with a friend, who was studying abroad in a different country, in Paris for a weekend. Being in Dublin I was more at ease because everyone spoke English so being in a new country that’s first language was not English was a new experience. We learned to take the metro, shared some wine in front of the Eiffel tower, and explored a beautiful city. Paris was amazing, and having this experience with one of my best friends is truly unforgettable.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

Kirsten: The Irish slang was very catchy. Phrases like “Was the craic good?” meaning “Was it a good time?” and others like “Thanks a million,” and “That’s grand” were common ones I heard from my co-workers as well as the locals. They are also very different about time.

If I was to be at work at 10:30, but I came at 10:15 I would be offered a cup of tea and would wait until 10:30-10:45 until I started. The Irish culture is also very laid back compared to Americans.

We are so on a time schedule and so structured so it was refreshing to immerse myself into these different aspects of the Irish culture.