I really had no idea what to expect when I came to Ireland. The days leading up to my departure were busy with preparations and goodbyes. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the Los Angeles airport where I would begin my journey. I exchanged one last goodbye with my grandmother, who had been helping me prepare in the weeks before and who saw me off at the airport. While I sat in the busy terminal, waiting to board my flight, it all hit me that I was about to trek halfway across the world for the first time. As we took off, I watched out my window while the plane climbed into the sky away from the buildings and palm tree lined beaches of Los Angeles.
I grew up about an hour south of Los Angeles in Orange County, California and now live half way between the two in Long Beach where I go to school. I’m a Communications and Journalism student at California State University, Long Beach and up until now, I had never left the North American continent. I knew I had always wanted to venture across the Atlantic but there was always the question of when. I’d been planning to graduate in the spring of 2015 and a semester abroad seemed out of the question. I expressed my desire to go abroad and partake in an internship with a few of my professors, and then, an opportunity presented itself. A program called CAPA was offering a summer internship opportunity in Dublin where I had wanted to go to.
I’ve always had a keenness for media, especially music. Most of my work experience has been in radio but before I came to Ireland, I was looking to gain more knowledge in different areas of media communication. It was through CAPA that I got placed with Olytico for an internship.
On the plane ride over, I felt a sort of vulnerability I had never experienced before. I was going to be away from California for a good two months, the longest I’d ever been from home. I was going to be staying in a country that was completely new to me, where I didn’t know anyone. I suddenly was becoming quite aware of my accent, and wondered how I would adjust to the jetlag and to using the Euro.
Within a few days of being in Dublin, I began realizing that I had no reason to worry at all. There was a sort of friendly feeling within the city that made me feel welcome. There was a similarly accepting feeling I got when I started at Olytico. In my first few days, everyone really made me feel welcome as they took the time to sit and work with me. I began gaining an understanding of what it is like to analyze pieces of social media and read sentiment. I was given opportunities to work on presentations and do different types of research, not to mention, my excel skills progressed quite well. Getting to work at Olytico has been beneficial to not only my professional goals, but to my experience in Ireland altogether.
As my stay in Dublin is now coming to an end, there is a sort of bitter sweetness to it. Although I have missed my family and friends, part of me really doesn’t want to leave. In my time here, I have gotten to understand and appreciate Ireland’s rich history, beautiful scenery and vibrant culture. Dublin is a genuinely brilliant city that I found myself becoming more and more apart of. I am going back to California with new stories, friends and a truly wonderful experience. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to Ireland, but I’ll be looking forward to the day that I do.