While abroad, most of my time was spent interning back and forth between two theatres in Dublin, so I only had one class each week. We met Tuesday evenings for about an hour and a half. The class material was enlightening and engaging, but not difficult in nature. The first few weeks we focused on learning about the Irish culture/workplace, and then the class became a general internship course. "Homework" assignments would usually consist of self-reflection papers, watching a video and writing a response, creating a powerpoint, etc. We had one big group presentation, and one out of class mock interview. The workload was absolutely doable, but some of the assignments seemed unnecessary a couple of times.
The CAPA administrators in Dublin were incredible! From our day of arrival to our departure, they were always readily available to answer our questions and give dining/shopping/touring suggestions. They were very responsive to their emails and easily approachable in person. There were attacks in Europe during my time abroad this summer, and the CAPA team handled it like pros and made sure that everyone checked in and was safe. I know that we were in good hands.
I lived at Lad Lane Apartments. CAPA utilized many different housing areas for their students in Dublin, and this was mine. The staff were always so kind and ready to assist, so I will give them credit for that. However, it took almost two weeks to get my own key for the flat (I relied on my flatmates to always be around to let me in) and the wifi was not always reliable. The shower head didn't have a place to hook into the wall, so you had to hold it the entire time you were bathing. The flats were in a fairly good area, though. I never really felt unsafe if I was walking around alone, and it was within walking distance of a grocery store, pharmacy, several great pubs, and a couple American fast food chain restaurants. I was happy to come home to my charming little flat at the end of the day.
In regards to dining, I like to call my time abroad, "The Fish and Chips Tour of Ireland". The food was absolutely incredible, and yes, I indulged in so many fish and chips. Whenever I missed home, there was a Burger King right by my flat, so I went there a few times. The Irish are big fans of Thai food, so I tried some Thai a few times and it was great. But the traditional pubs were my favorite, by far. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was cozy and musical, and there was never an unfriendly face.
It did not take me very long to integrate myself with the Irish culture. My ancestry is heavily Irish and I was so incredibly excited about this study abroad experience, that I wasted no time thrusting myself into the Dublin scene. I frequented pubs to eat and listen to music, I toured the city and the rest of the country during every spare moment I had, and made friends with my coworkers. I made sure to spend just as much time alone and traveling as I did traveling with other people, because I learn best if I am on my own. I also made it a point to hang out with more Irish people than Americans, and it shows. I quickly picked up on the behaviors, the way that they talk and express themselves, etc. I still catch myself saying that, "I'm grand". I admire their culture for many things, but above all else, the Irish are friendly and accepting. I miss it so much.
I had no health emergencies during my time abroad. I know that during my second weekend in town I got what I call the "traveler's sickness": sore throat, tired, congestion, etc. It passed within 24 hours. I had a slightly sore throat at one point a few weeks later, but it was easily remedied with cough drops and tea. I
am unaware of any big health emergencies that occurred with other students in the program, but CAPA did a great job of making sure we knew where to get medical help if we needed it, where the pharmacies were and what resources they provided, and how to contact them if something happened.
I never felt unsafe once in Dublin. The people there were all so kind, hospitable, and carefree. Everybody jay-walked, and everybody helped strangers if they needed directions. Even when I got lost on my third day in town, I did not feel unsafe (just very turned around). I still wouldn't advise women to walk around alone at night, and always use good discretion since Ireland has a definite alcohol culture. But I never felt terribly unsafe in our city.
Rollins did well when it came to prepping me to go abroad. They sent plenty of information out, held one-on-one meetings, and we had a pre-departure orientation where our Campus CAPA Ambassador came and talked to us about her experience in Dublin. All of this, plus a LOT of personal research and prep, assured me that I was ready to go.
I worked mornings-early afternoon at Bewley's Cafe Theatre, located in Dublin City Centre. I prepped the theatre space for shows, folded playbills, seated guests, flyered around city, helped with administrative work, and guest relations.
I worked late afternoons-evenings at The Viking Theatre at Sheds, located in Clontarf (a northern part of Dublin city). I did a lot of marketing and publicity work. I flyered, organized lists of groups to reach out to for promotions, managed social media accounts, designed promo emails, etc.
Go out and sit in a pub and just talk to people. Seriously. I made plenty of friends in my workplace and that was a great base. But I made so many friends just by being friendly and having conversations with the people.
As long as we were respectful, they reciprocated. Most of the Irish people that I met loved Americans and were as fascinated by us as we were by them.
When I wasn't walking then I was taking the bus. It got me most everywhere that I went. I took the train a couple of times in town if I wanted to go to the most northern or southern parts of town. I only cabbed if I had to. Using the bus was the most convenient, and after getting used to it, it proved most effective.
I just appreciate people so much more. It is so important to appreciate the differences in people and this experience reminded me of that. At the end of the day, we're all just people. I wouldn't change a single thing about my time abroad. The weekly class got annoying at times, but my internships were eye-opening and the out of class travel was life-changing. In a way, I found myself.