From CAPA Students to Alumni: What 7 Students Gained from Studying Abroad

Oct 13, 2020 10:02:00 AM / by Hayley Ni Bhriain

CAPA Dublin’s Senior Program Coordinator Hayley Ni Bhriain connected with Dublin and London alumni to find out more about their study abroad journey from students to alumni. Read more about their experiences and how studying abroad helped prepare them for life after graduation.

Nervous, excited, anxious; these are often the first words students use to describe how they are feeling once they arrive in their host country. Experienced, cultured, and thankful are often the words they use to describe their experience at the end of their semester abroad. But how do you go from nervous to experienced, excited to cultured, and anxious to thankful?

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing experience for many students. Often, it can be a student’s first time leaving the United States or even their home state. There are so many unique benefits of study abroad for CAPA students, and these experiences can impact many areas of students’ lives in the long-term, both personally and professionally.

To study abroad is a journey, so let’s look at it like a timeline of events…

Cliffs of Moher from Emma Struwe

Personal Development Skills: Independence, Confidence, & Adaptability

When students arrive in their host country, they have to figure out how to navigate the city. How do you get to your accommodation? Where is the CAPA office? Where are your classes taking place? How do you get to the city center? Where do you get the best coffee in Dublin (spoiler: Noshington Café!)? It can be nerve-wracking trying to figure out the bus system, starting your internship, making sure you get to the right classes, venturing out on your own – but it becomes easier every time you do it! Through learning how to navigate the city, classes, and their internship placement, students learn to become more independent and confident.

“Dublin is an incredible city, rich with history and culture. Studying in Ireland inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in Classical Studies! In my internship, I gained the confidence to navigate diverse professional environments. I can't speak highly enough of this program.”

– Annie Curtis, Rollins College. CAPA Dublin, Summer 2015

Jill Sylvester 13

Cultural Competence

Studying abroad is also an opportunity to experience a new culture and broaden your mind. There are so many things to discover – art, museums, food, music, nature, language, and much more. CAPA’s tailored My Global City events encourage students to get out and about and explore all their host city and country has to offer.

“I learned to appreciate the things I didn’t understand about a culture that wasn’t my own. It helped me become more curious about life in general but also helped me to let go of expectations and live a little more freely.”

– Casey Rhode, Arizona State University. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2018

“While on the CAPA program I learned to be more culturally aware. While my home institution is diverse, I feel that I never truly understood how different, and similar, other cultures and people are until I had completely immersed myself in a new place. Especially a place that is vastly different from anything I had ever experienced, or anywhere I had ever lived before.”

– Kendall Ivey, Merrimack College. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2019.

“Study abroad was hands down the best thing I did during my college career. Not only did I learn so much about myself while living in a new country, but I was pushed out of my comfort zone to learn how to live in a major city, immerse myself in a different culture, and work through cultural differences.”

- Jillian Sylvester, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. CAPA London, Spring 2016

Global Cities at Dublin Castle

A Broadened Education

What is ‘study abroad’ without the ‘study’?! Teaching styles differ all over the world and CAPA programs offer a range of courses that students of pretty much all majors can participate in. If you’re a marketing major, why not take a marketing course in Ireland to learn about different/international marketing methods and styles? This will help you broaden your mind and adapt to new ways of doing things. Having these types of educational experiences will add to your professional skillset and help make you more employable in the future.

“Studying with CAPA in Dublin was one of the most rewarding things I did during my time as a student. I gained practical skills while learning a lot about myself in the process. Studying abroad wasn’t always happy and perfect, yet it was everything it should be; educational and immersive. The hands-on experiences I got from my marketing internship and from the different excursions we went on were what really made my study abroad time come alive.”

– Casey Rhode, Arizona State University. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2018

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin City

Professional Development Skills

Millions of new graduates are entering the job market every year, and that’s a lot of people to be competing for jobs with! So how can you stand out from the crowd and add a competitive edge to your resume? According to an Open Doors 2019 report, only 1 in 10 US undergraduates study abroad before graduating, and even fewer US undergrad students intern abroad. Having international work experience is very impressive to a future employer, and as so few students take an internship while studying abroad that is something that can really set you apart from other candidates in the future! Studying abroad will look great on your resume and employers want to hear about your international experience. Students can take an internship through CAPA, and the benefits of completing an internship abroad are endless. Through your practical placement and CAPA’s highly engaging internship course, you will have the opportunity to gain so many professional development skills such as how to adapt to a new business culture, how to network and communicate with a diverse workforce, and time-management and organization skills. In fact, we have had plenty of students get in touch after they return home from a semester abroad to tell us they got the job they wanted or have been accepted to graduate programs at top universities. Not only that but studying and interning abroad was one of the key factors that contributed to the success of being hired or accepted – how’s that for the icing on the cake!

“Not only was [studying abroad] a fantastic networking opportunity and I am incredibly grateful to have built a network in London, but it was the first ‘real world’ experience that I was exposed to. I had to learn how to commute an hour each way via the tube, balance my coursework with my internship work, and conduct myself in a professional environment. It's an experience that I feel so fortunate to have had!”

– Jillian Sylvester, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. CAPA London, Spring 2016

“The most valuable aspect of my internship experience was to learn how things were run in my field of study in a workplace setting. I learned that things are definitely done at a different pace abroad, which I had to get used to, but it was fascinating. I loved interacting with Irish people every day as well. I enjoyed that I was treated as a part of my internship's team and that I was fully immersed into the Irish culture.”

– Nicole Florio, Ursinus College. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2019

“My experience with CAPA has assisted me in my professional development, as well as job opportunities. I have been able to use skills that I improved abroad, such as problem solving, communication, and adaptability, to set myself apart from other candidates in interviews. Already, I have been able to tell stories of situations where I had to think quickly on my feet, whether that was at my internship or while I was traveling. Being able to provide examples of adaptability, problem solving, has allowed me to set myself apart from other candidates in a greater way than just having a great resume.”

– Kendall Ivey, Merrimack College. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2019.

“My experience with CAPA and the internship abroad better prepared me for communicating and working with people of various backgrounds. Learning how other cultures go about their daily business in the workplace taught me to put myself in someone else's shoes and consider new perspectives when working with them on a professional level. Not only did I find this to be a mind-opening experience, but several employers asked me about my study abroad semester when I was interviewing for jobs!"

– Thomas Reddington Kincaid, University of Florida. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2015

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_London_Annabel Thorpe_internship

Friendships & Connections for Life

Students often make friends for life through their study abroad program, but why? Not everyone gets to study abroad, so not everyone will understand the emotional journey you embarked upon. The friends you make on your study abroad program will go through the same emotional stages as you; together you will experience what it is like to leave your friends and family back home, you will likely have common goals and a thirst for adventure and to see the world, you will understand what it is like to experience visiting a foreign country that often becomes your second home. Homesickness will pass and the end will be very bittersweet. Whether it is the friendships you build or professional connections you make through your internship, who knows where these will take you… Maybe to France to visit a friend you met in Dublin or maybe your internship supervisor will introduce you to your future employer!

“I'm forever grateful for the experience and the friends I made along the way.”

– Casey Rhode, Arizona State University. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2018

“My study abroad experience was a once in a lifetime journey. It was filled with so many positives and cool experiences that I will never forget. I met amazing people and friends that I still talk to everyday. Studying abroad with CAPA was such an easy transition; they really made us feel at home and like a family. It was truly the best experience of my life and highly recommend it to others.”

– Nicole Florio, Ursinus College. CAPA Dublin, Fall 2019

Studying abroad can be one of the most life-changing, beneficial experiences of your life. By enrolling in a study abroad program with CAPA, you will have the comfort of being part of an organized program that encourages you get out there and explore on your own, but the CAPA team are on the sidelines in case you need any support or guidance along the way. And by end, there certainly is a lot to be thankful for; from the sense of achievement in overcoming challenges, to seeing the world, making friendships for life, building your career readiness and opening the door to job possibilities. To study abroad is to invest in yourself, invest in your career, and invest in your future!

Croke Park

Author's note:
Huge thanks to our fantastic CAPA alums; Annie Curtis, Casey Rhode, Jillian Sylvester, Kendall Ivey, Michael Glenn, Nicole Florio, and Thomas Reddington-Kincaid for sharing their thoughts and experiences on the benefits of study abroad with us

Thanks Hayley!

Hayley Ni Bhriain


Hayley Ni Bhriain is the Senior Program Coordinator in our CAPA Dublin Center. From orientation week to the farewell dinner, Hayley works with our students every step of the way during their time in Dublin, which includes helping them get connected to awesome volunteer experiences like this one!


Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program