We heard from CAPA International Education alumna Mary Godnick on CAPA World back in November 2013 while she was still in London participating in her internship at the Walkabout Foundation. Now that she has returned to SUNY Oswego in New York, we caught up with her once again and asked for her reflections on studying abroad in London as a whole. Below, Mary talks about attending a court case on the Leveson Inquiry, how her internship made her realize she wants to be able to work for a company with a global reach and the joys of discovering city life after growing up in a rural area.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
MARY GODNICK: I am a licensed scuba diver, avid foodie, and crafter. I studied and interned in London in the fall semester of 2013. I am a senior at SUNY Oswego pursuing a B.A. in public relations with a concentration in marketing. I grew up and live in Upstate New York. My interests in creative projects, business, and communication led me to become a PR major, however, my many internships and experiences with non-profit organizations (including my placement in London) has ignited my passion to publicize and market international non-profits as a career.
One of my greatest achievements and most fun projects has been when I was a freshman at SUNY Oswego, I co-founded and grew a brand-new on-campus club called “Cut the Craft”. What was once a group of crafty friends has grown to a club of over 250 students who regularly meet to complete organized projects, volunteer, and raise funds for various causes.
CW: Which MyEducation event was most memorable for you and why? How did your participation in this event change your understanding of the city?
MG: The first MyEducation event, a walking tour around Primrose Hill and Camden Town was most memorable to me. My flat was located in Camden Town, so it was really interesting to see that just a few blocks away from the eclectic and eccentric Camden High Street is the beautiful views on top of Primrose Hill and the wealthy surrounding residential area. It really goes to show that London’s culture and vibe changes from street to street. Just about every other weekend after that, I would take a walk up Primrose Hill just to get one more glimpse of the gorgeous view, and to enjoy all that Regent’s Park has to offer.
CW: Give three examples of ways in which you were able to tie the knowledge you've gained in your CAPA classes into the way you understand your host city.
MG: In my Ethics in British Media class, we examined a lot of different kinds of London news and media sources. This really helped me critically filter what kind of news sources I found reliable and trustworthy while I lived in London. Also, in my international marketing class, I was able to tie in many of the theories to my internship experience. Many times I would be communicating with donors and supporters from other countries. Keeping my international perspective in mind, it helped me understand and communicate more effectively. Finally, I was able to connect what I learned about the Leveson Inquiry in my Ethics in British Media class to real life when I attended a court hearing on the case. It was awesome being able to see in real-life, real-time what I learned in the classroom.
CW: What were your first impressions of your host city? How did these change over the course of the semester?
MG: Coming to London, I did not think that it would be so much different than other cities I have been to, like New York City. I was all wrong. My first impression of London was that it is hugely global and is truly marketplace of international ideas. It is normal to meet people from all over the world in London, and you see that in its vibrant culture. Over the semester I got used to it, and learned a LOT about different cultures from all over the world.
CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
MG: The biggest change I have seen in myself since studying abroad is that I am now much more tolerant. Before, small things like rude people, delayed travel, or inconveniences would bother me. My experience has taught me that it is not about the destination, it is about the journey. Some of my favorite memories from my experience have been the surprising things that happened along the way.
CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments. How will this experience help you in your future career?
MG: My internship was with The Walkabout Foundation, an international non-profit that raises money to support spinal cord injury research, and distributes wheelchairs to those who need it around the world. I was responsible for creating and scheduling content for our social media platforms, helping develop new ways to report research, assisting with the last minute planning and execution of the London Walkabout 2013 5k, and helping out the team with whatever they needed may it be helping with travel plans to their next distribution, or pricing out different options for supplies.
One of my favorite projects was planning a #GivingTuesday campaign. Just hearing about #GivingTuesday the day before, I planned an impromptu campaign where I interacted and posted content all day long. It was a great opportunity to chat with other non-profits and to show off all of our great donors support.
CW: Give an example of a valuable contribution you made to your internship site and how it has impacted the operation of the workplace.
MG: I think that my internship site valued my eagerness to help with any project. Just spreading the work-load out and making it a bit lighter for everyone and taking on tasks like social media to give them time to work on projects they wouldn’t have time for otherwise.
CW: How has internship experience impacted the way you think, study, work and/or live back home?
MG: My experience has definitely made me realize that especially in the non-profit world, it pays to collaborate globally. Utilizing the resources and education that others have around the world can help you with your mission, no matter what it is. I now want to pursue a career in a non-profit that donates and operates globally, and that is something I never even considered before my experience with Walkabout.
CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
MG: The biggest challenge I faced was just living in a city setting. I grew up in a rural area and attend college in a suburban area along Lake Ontario. I have never lived in an area where I needed to take public transportation to work or school, or where I lived in an area with so many people. It took a little adjusting, but I learned to appreciate everything city-living has to offer, like being able to grab a falafel at 3am!
CW: Describe an area of the city that surprised you and tell us what it was about it that you didn’t expect. How did this change your perceptions of the city as a whole?
MG: An area of London that really surprised me was Uxbridge. One weekend towards the end of my semester I took a trip out to zone 6 to visit one of my friends from my home university who was studying at a university in Uxbridge. Once I got off the tube it was like entering a small suburb in the English countryside. It was nice to take a step outside the high-rise and busy London city, and to see the quaint houses and college campus. It made me realize that London is not just a city, it is also a cluster of neighborhoods that reflect traditional English culture.