Katerina Russo is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A communications and political science major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, with her own experience a month from finishing, Katerina shares her best advice for anyone considering a study abroad program.
Researching and making a decision about a study abroad program can surely be stressful, especially when you’re deciding where you’re going to live for the next three to four months of your life, likely without ever even having visited that location before. You can never really know what to expect and programs can really vary a great deal from one another. There’s also the decision of whether to live on campus, or the suggested housing your program provides, or even in a homestay. These kinds of decisions really do affect your experience a great deal, so it is important to do as much research as you can about your options. From just reading descriptions online, things can all sound pretty similar. The best way to really find out about a study abroad program is to hear about it first hand from students who have experienced the program themselves. They will be able to give you the most accurate representation of what you really go through as a student and whether or not it would suit you.
As for the CAPA Dublin program, it has many distinguishing aspects that make it a very different from other programs and even the other CAPA locations. For me, CAPA had originally stuck out because of the opportunity to complete an internship while abroad and, as a current senior, I saw this as a great way to really make the experience worthwhile. Completing an internship during my time here has really allowed me to become more engaged with the Irish culture and to see the differences that exist in the workplace. I have found it to be a much more in depth experience than I had expected, as working twenty hours a week and taking classes is a fairly large commitment, though I have still found plenty of opportunities to really enjoy Dublin and travel around a bit. While it is not required that you complete an internship while studying with CAPA, if you are able to fit it into your schedule it is surely an amazing experience that you have the opportunity to really learn a lot from.
Another unique part of the CAPA Dublin program is how we are actually located on the Griffith College campus where all students, besides those who are living in homestays, reside among fellow CAPA students along with the many other Griffith students who have chosen to live in the residence halls. As Griffith boasts a wide range of international students who are enrolled each year, the environment and community here is very unique. The location also could not be any better as it is only a short walk or bus ride to get to any of the more central areas of Dublin with plenty of cute cafes and restaurants only steps outside of the campus gates. The CAPA Dublin program is not the kind that is going to hold your hand every step of the way, but the support is surely there if you reach out for it, especially with the conveniently located CAPA office right on campus. There are also plenty of events that they put on throughout the semester that allow you to bond with the entire group.
Ultimately, for me, the CAPA Dublin program has been a truly great experience from which I have learned a ton from thus far.
Katerina's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.