In this week's post, Brandon chats with Hayley Ni Bhriain from CAPA Dublin on his semester and internship abroad in Dublin, as well as his impressions of Ireland and its friendly people.
This week's post is an opportunity for the tables to be turned and have a local ask me about my time so far in this charming city of Dublin. Hayley Ni Bhriain, Senior Program Coordinator at CAPA Dublin, has kindly agreed to interview and chat with me about my thoughts and impressions of the city, country, and my study abroad program.
HAYLEY NI BHRIAIN: Why did you choose to study abroad in Ireland? Why did you choose CAPA specifically?
BRANDON MOONEY: I chose to study abroad in Ireland because I had some family from here, so I was really interested in that part of my family history. I had also spoken to some students at my home university who had been to Ireland on this program and they spoke about how friendly and welcoming the people and environment was. They also said that Ireland was a European country but was also distinct and by itself. I chose the CAPA program because it was the only one available for Ireland, but I spoke to a lot of CAPA representatives before I chose the program and they were very on top of things and receptive to my needs, so I felt secure in my choice.
HB: Has anything surprised you about Ireland?
BM: Yes, I think in America there’s this notion of Ireland that it’s a place stuck in time with everyone working on a farm and sheep running everywhere. Almost like a P.S. I Love You, rolling hills, idyllic landscape. Which Ireland has in the western parts and in Cork and Kerry! I knew that Ireland had modernized a lot, but I had spoken to my family who had come here in the 1980’s, and their idea of Ireland was very different from what it is now. What I’ve come to see is that Ireland is a very happening nation, with technology and industry and an international presence. You can find a modern Ireland and a traditional Ireland, and they blend nicely.
HB: Do you have a favorite place in Ireland?
BM: It might be cheesy, but I really like Dublin. I’ve really fallen in love with it as a city, and I’ve gone on a lot of trips around Europe and whenever I step off the plane I feel like I’m home. It’s become my home-away-from-home.
HB: Can you tell me about your internship? What were the highlights? How has it shaped where you want to work in the future?
BM: Yeah, so I interned at Food Cloud, which is an organization that takes food surplus from food retailers (supermarkets, grocers, etc.) and redistributes it to charitable causes. While I was there I worked on the business development side, but I also did a lot of other things. I worked in the warehouse, with the regional coordinator, with food deliveries and pick-ups, and with checking up on the programming. I feel that I got a very multifaceted, rounded picture of Food Cloud.
The highlight of interning there was that I felt that we were helping people. You felt like you were making a difference because the food was going to those in need. The people at Food Cloud were also amazing. They were very friendly and would chat about America and Ireland. It was a very community-based organization.
It made me realize that I want to help others. I want to have a positive impact upon the world. I came here thinking that I wanted to help myself but having worked at Food Cloud I have realized that I want to do charity work or some other type of work that gives back to the community.
HB: How do your classes at Clark University compare to the CAPA courses and the courses at Griffith College?
BM: I would say that my CAPA classes felt more like the ones back home. They did have smaller class sizes, though. That was nice because we got to go on a lot of field trips around Dublin and I got to know my classmates on a very personal level.
In terms of my Griffith classes I took Creative Writing and International Business Environment. I’ve never taken a writing course, so I can’t really compare it to anything I’ve had before. However, the professor was very willing to help us out and was available all the time. International Business Environment was a larger class size than I was used to, but once again, the professor was very friendly and willing to answer any questions.
The biggest difference between the courses here and back home is the grading. They grade on a scale of 1 – 80 or 1 – 70, which is very different than back home. Your grade is also based off your midterm and final only, but it makes you more independent in your education.
HB: Any tips for a CAPA student coming to take courses in Ireland?
BM: I would say keep on top of your work but try not to stress yourself out too much. Coming from America, thinking about how your midterm and final make up your whole grade can be stressful, but keep in mind that it’s just like any other test. It may count for more, but we all know how to study for a test. Don’t lose your head over it and keep doing what you’re doing in terms of studying and you’ll be fine. Darren Kelly, who is the CAPA academic advisor, is also always available to talk about classes and stress and whatever you need. He’s a fantastic resource.
HB: Is there anything you wish you had known before coming to Ireland?
BM: I wish that I had known to be friendlier. Coming from America where people don’t talk to strangers or people on the street, Ireland is a big shock. People in restaurants will chat about just about anything. Being in Ireland makes you more confident socially and be more like yourself.
HB: Would you recommend the CAPA program to future students?
BM: I am not forced to say this, but I would highly recommend the CAPA Dublin program. Everyone is very friendly; be it Hayley, Susanne, or Darren. I’ve had a fantastic time here!
Brandon's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.