Stepping Out of the US for the First Time On My Journey to Dublin

Aug 14, 2017 12:30:00 PM / by Julie Ritz

A CAPA Alumna Interview: Anna Budny

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Photo: Cliffs of Moher, Country Clare, Ireland

Meet Anna Budny, a Psychology major at Ursinus College who studied abroad in Dublin in the spring 2017. Below, she talks about why she chose to study in Dublin, what it's like to leave the United States for the first time, and how she made life-long international friends.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
ANNA BUDNY: I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland at Griffith College. I attend Ursinus College back in the States and I am a psychology major. At Ursinus, I play on the women’s soccer team. Some of my hobbies include drawing, painting, and hiking.

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Photo: Howth, Ireland

CW: Talk about why you decided to study abroad and why specifically your chosen location. What were your expectations? What were your biggest worries? What excited you?
AB: I decided to study abroad because I had never been out of the country before. I heard from other students who had studied in another country that it was an incredible learning opportunity and I was curious about other cultures. I chose to study in Ireland because of its beautiful landscape and its reputation for live music and kind people. I thought Dublin would be the perfect city to be my first experience living outside of America, as it is quaint yet diverse. Despite Dublin being on the smaller side, I feared getting lost and using public transportation every day to get around. It ended up being extremely easy, but being a girl from the suburbs, public buses, trams and trains were a little intimidating initially. I was excited to meet new people and learn about how they lived, what they liked, what kind of hobbies or interests they had and then comparing them to my own.

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Photo: St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

CW: What surprised you about your host city? What did you discover that went beyond your expectations or stereotypes that exist of the city?
AB: What really went above and beyond my expectations was quite simply how kind the people truly are. I remember getting terribly lost on my way to my first day of my internship. It was an hour away, in the opposite direction that I had never gone before. I also had to take two different forms of transportation, the Luas and the public bus. After realizing I stayed on the bus entirely too long, I got off and saw an Irish woman standing nearby. I asked if she could help me find a bus that would take me to my location. Without hesitation, she held my hand, guided me toward a line of buses, hopped on each one to ask where they were headed, and eventually got me on the right bus, all in the time she was supposed to be taking her lunch break from working at the hospital nearby. Somehow, I still ended up getting to my internship on time, saving that forever indelible first impression as a new intern in a foreign country. That is just one example of the kindness I experienced, which is something I will never forget.

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Photo: Upper Lake in Glendalough, Ireland

CW: Were you an intern? Talk about American work culture versus the work culture in your host country. Were there similar or different attitudes in the office? Were there any challenges (big or small) in settling in because of this divide if it exists?
AB: I had the pleasure of interning at a non-profit organization called The Childhood Development Initiative. Although this was my first internship, I recognized the differences between the Irish work environment from an American one almost immediately. Firstly, Ireland is a high context society, and that reflects in the workplace environment through small innuendos and nuances. One of my professors described it perfectly to me one, he said that it was almost as if you are always caught in the yellow light (referring to a traffic light) where you are always doing a little dance around someone. For instance, tea and coffee breaks are frequent, and it is polite to offer everyone in the office some (you would never just pour yourself some without asking everyone). However, sometimes if someone says no, they really are just being polite.

A big difference from being an intern in Ireland as opposed to the United States, is the structure of the workplace. As an intern in the States, you are aware of a very visible hierarchy, in which you are placed at the bottom. In Ireland, the hierarchy is flexible and you can really contribute to the team. For example, it was not uncommon that we all ate lunch together with our CEO. I am so grateful for the people I have had the opportunity to work with at CDI; they helped made my experience unforgettable.

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Photo: Paris, France

CW: Talk about your favorite class at CAPA. What did you learn? What activities did you enjoy? How were you able to apply your new knowledge to the way you explored the city around you?
AB: My favorite CAPA class is the GIP (global internship) class taught by Dr. Darren Kelly. The advice in that class was vital to my experience, and I will use it for the rest of my life. For example, Dr. Kelly reassured us the by living in a new country, there were going to be several times in which we are put in a situation where we don’t know what to do. This was inevitable, but what we can control is how we react to it. Instead of panicking, stay calm and assess the situation. Throughout many times during my study abroad experience, the opportunity to panic had made an appearance on multiple occasions. However, I learned to take it in stride, not to be scared to make mistakes and most importantly learned to laugh about it. The internship class in general helped my professional skills, from mock interviews to writing my resume. These skills helped me in skyping in for an interview back in the States, and getting an internship for this summer. I gained confidence professionally and if there is a time in my career where I don’t know what to do, I remember not to panic.

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Photo: Amalfi Coast, Italy

CW: Talk about your favorite local foods. What did you try that you had never tried back home? Did you find a favorite place to shop for food? Did you try to make any local recipes?
AB: My favorite place to get food was the Eatyard. It is an adorable alley-way filled with different food trucks, that each sell something completely unique. As a lover of cheese, I loved the truck called “Cheesus,” who served amazing variations of the classic grilled cheese and mac n’ cheese. When the weather became warmer, the Eatyard was a must on a sunny day. Thanks to my co-workers, I tried Black Pudding for the very first time.  I had no idea what it was prior to trying it, and I seriously couldn’t believe it. How could something that looks and tastes like that be…Pig’s Blood! If I had to choose a food that tastes somewhat similar, I would pick scrapple as the American version. Aldi was great for weekly shopping trips. It is easy to get there, and the prices are cheap, making it a perfect place to get groceries for the week.

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Photo: Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy

CW: Did you find that there was a sense of community at CAPA? Was it easy to make friends on your program? Tell us about some of the relationships you built while in Dublin that you won't soon forget.
AB: I felt as though it was relatively easy to make friends at CAPA. The activities throughout the semester brought everyone together on numerous occasions. I became close with genuine people that I will hopefully remain close to for the rest of my life. Not only was the CAPA community inclusive, but the community on the Griffith campus is as well. Thanks to the Student Union, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and meet new people. Through some of Griffith classes, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk to students from all over the world. From learning about what the fashion trends are currently in France, to how life is living in county Cork, these students opened my eyes to brand new perspectives. More importantly, I’ve made some life-long international friends.

The CAPA team does an excellent job to personally making sure that each student is settling in well and making themselves available to the students. I always felt welcome shooting an email to Hayley Ni Bhriain or Susanne Bach or just walking in their office to talk about life.

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Photo: Hiking in County Kerry, Ireland

CW: Did you travel outside of Dublin? What were the challenges you faced and do you have advice you can offer other students?
AB: Outside of Ireland, I traveled to France, Belgium, England, Whales and Italy. My advice is to travel in a small group. A group of four was perfect because it was easy to get a private room for four in a hostel, and the group could easily split up in two’s if needed. The flights are cheaper the farther in advance you book the ticket, and I suggest keeping the packing to just a backpack to make traveling easier (especially for weekend trips). It is very helpful to learn a few sentences in the language of the country you are visiting. For example, learning how to say “Hello, do you speak English?” in the native language will save you time and possibly an awkward situation.

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Photo: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Dublin, Ireland

CW: Tell us about a specific moment when you felt you were completely immersed in the culture of your host city. What was it about that moment that made you feel that way?
AB: On St. Patrick’s Day I remember seeing a lot of international travelers and tourists. I recall using the words “tourists” to describe those people, yet I had only lived in Ireland for a few months. It was amazing that I already saw myself as a Dubliner, instead of an American visitor.

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Photo: Temple Bar Market, Dublin, Ireland

CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? Are they positive or negative? Why do you think these changes have occurred?
AB: Traveling around Europe and living in Ireland has made me a more empathetic person and has increased my emotional intelligence. It has opened my eyes to the way different people live their lives based on cultural influences and has allowed me to experience these cultures. I now embrace the excitement of new endeavors, instead of getting nervous. I can’t wait to continue traveling and meeting new people, and I truly believe this past semester has been an excellent start.

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Photo: Dublin, Ireland

Thanks, Anna!

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Interviews, Dublin Interviews