Katerina Russo has been 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 has been studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
This is Katerina's last post as an official CAPA blogger. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us this semester, Katerina. We wish you all the best!
On returning home from Ireland I was filled with many emotions, both excited to see my family and enjoy the holidays but also very sad that my time studying and living in Ireland had come to an end. I have found that my surroundings at home have for the most part stayed very much the same though I am returning as a different person. I see these changes as positive ones as I have grown to be much more independent and confident in many of the things I say and do.
As for my career goals and professional development, through my internship at the Peter McVerry Trust working in the communication and fundraising department, I have been able to develop a much clearer sense of what I hope to do in the future and the things I am most passionate about. I was also fortunate to develop professional skills during this time and see the way that some workplaces operate outside of the style that I am familiar with in the US.
During my time back at home, I have certainly experienced some reverse culture shock just in small things like the etiquette when going out to eat or the differences felt while no longer residing in a busy city center. Going from life in Dublin to a small little town in New England was certainly a difficult transition to make. When people ask me of my experiences abroad, I enjoy speaking about it with them but I often find it difficult to accurately characterize and describe the lifestyle and cultural differences of Ireland, as it seems like a lot of the time you have to be there and really understand something for yourself in order to get a sense for what it truly is.
Upon returning home, I’ve found that it’s okay to be sad or nostalgic about your time abroad but that it helps to keep in contact with the friends that you’ve made as they’re likely feeling the exact same way you are. After spending the past three months traveling all over Europe, it’s hard to imagine staying in the same country, let alone state, for the next couple of months. I find myself unable to keep from searching for new travel destinations and making lists of the places that I would most like to visit next. It’s nice to be able to look forward to the next new adventure that lies ahead.
This experience has also opened my eyes to different career options and paths I could take after graduation that are not restricted to within the United States. I have gained a confidence to look outside of what may be conventional and traditional for most college-aged American students to see all of the opportunities that are really out there. My time abroad has given me so many opportunities and I would highly encourage anyone else considering studying abroad to absolutely get involved.