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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Internship Q&A with Katie May

Katie May is a second-year graduate student from Indiana State University. She’s currently doing an internship in County Kildare related to her study in Student Affairs in Higher Education.

We asked her some questions about her experience and advice for other students.

Katie meets St Patrick

Katie meets St Patrick who is looking well at 1500 years old.

So why did you choose Ireland?

I came to Ireland first for a service learning trip with my university in May 2015. I loved it. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. It seemed like a good place to travel on my own since it is an English speaking country and the gateway to Europe. I wanted to experience life away from everything I had ever known and on my own for a little while.

And I’m now able to mark ‘spending Saint Patrick’s in Ireland’ off of my bucket list!

You’re interning with a small company. How is that going?

I am very glad the internship is in a small company. It has a family feel to it which is nice. Everyone is great!

There are lots of benefits with a small firm. There is more one-on-one time with supervisors. I know both of the owners of the company. I know my co-workers, and we occasionally go out for lunch. They also know me better as a person, so they know my strengths and weaknesses which is helping my development.

I am learning a wider range of skills than I think I would be learning at a large company.

Katie wearing the St Patrick's Day leggings all visitors must wear on 17 March

Katie wearing the St Patrick’s Day leggings all visitors must wear on 17 March

What has the internship taught you so far?

I’ve learnt a different side of advising since I have only ever been involved in the academic side. I have also learned about marketing and time management, and a new application system. I have also learned how to talk to people that I do not know. I have learned that things change and that you have to roll with the changes.

You’re staying a small town. Are you glad you chose a town rather than a city?

I have never been in a big city, so I am not sure what it would be like. I do love where I am now in Naas, County Kildare. Naas is very cute and has a lot of lovely shops. I enjoy walking around before work. There is a lot to do even in small towns in Ireland.

Katie out to dinner with her host family for Mother's Day

Katie out to dinner with her host family for Mother’s Day

How’s living with an Irish family going?

I’ve stayed with three different homestay families, and I have yet to have a bad experience living with any of them. The family that I am with now is fantastic. I am close to them and will miss them when I leave. They always make sure to include me and to encourage me to make sure I make the most of my time here.

Katie in Donegal

Katie posing for a postcard photoshoot in Donegal

What’s been your favourite activity so far?

That’s a tough question! I really enjoyed my time in Donegal with the group, especially at Glenveagh Castle and the Irish dancing.

What advice would you give to someone considering an internship?

This experience is going to change you. I decided to pursue an internship abroad for this very reason. I wanted to learn to live a little and to grow as a person. I left home behind to find me and to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in life. Each and every day I learn something new about myself that I would not have if I had I stayed where I was comfortable.

Do you feel your internship was worth the cost?
Cost was a concern for me since I was getting ready to start a job search at home. But the internship has been a huge learning experience, even outside of work, and I’m so glad I did it.  So for me, yes, it was worth the cost.

Learned any good Irish phrases?

I have a couple. I love the word ‘wrecked’ and ‘jumpers’. I also like the phrase “I will yeah”.

So will you come back to Ireland again?

I will yeah!

Some Differences Between Ireland and the United States

A few differences that I have discovered while in Ireland:

  • Mother’s Day is different: So, maybe I should have caught on when the cards starting come out in February, but I did not know that Mother’s Day was in March until about a week before Mother’s Day. It was really interesting celebrating Mother’s Day with a family that was not my own and that I have only known for a short amount of time. I have been very lucky to have such a great host mom that I am so close to. We went to her favorite restaurant!
  • The paper is a different size: This might seem like something silly to note, but it really messed me up the first week when I was trying to print and I kept forgetting to change the size. The standard paper size in Ireland is A4. I also learned this week that 8.5inx11in is 215mx279m when I was trying to get things printed.
  • People drive on the opposite side of the road…
  • …AND of the car: I knew both of these things from the first time I was here (and from TV of course :) haha), but it took me a really long time to remember which side of the car the passenger side was! I kept wanting to get in the driver’s seat!
  • Shops open later and close earlier: Especially on Sundays. It seems like most shops during the week open around nine and close around six. A lot of stores are closed on Sundays or open later.


Bonus: McDonald’s is different! I forgot my keys one day when I was out exploring and decided to wait until I was meeting up with my group, so I went to McDonald’s to wait (the only thing that I could find open at that time on a Sunday :) haha). The food options were a lot different (no breakfast burrito, so sad!). However, they did have free WIFI! :) Day made!!


– Katie May, Indiana State University



St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

I was able to mark off spending Saint Patrick’s in Ireland off of my bucket list! I was very excited to experience Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland. We did not get to go to Dublin due to the weather. It rained the entire day and was really cold. But I spent the day with my host family! I have an amazing host family!!

The day began with my host mother making waffle fries, baked beans, and sausages for breakfast. We then went into Newbridge for one of the many parades around the country. My host brother, sister, and dad were all in the parade and it was really interesting to see! After the parade, we stopped off for some hot drinks and some treats to warm up before heading back to the house to change into dry clothes.

After getting dry we headed to the hotel that my host parents got married in for a quick drink. We ended up going into a kid friendly pub to watch the horse races and listen to some very entertaining traditional Irish music after the hotel. Everyone was in high spirits! I noticed that a lot of people were dressed up for the occasion also. I am glad that I was in Ireland to experience Saint Patrick’s Day. One year I would like to come back and experience the atmosphere Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin!

– Katie May, Indiana State University

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A Guide to Your First Month in Ireland

There are many things that I have learned in my first four weeks abroad, but below I have listed my top five learning experiences so far.

Always be open to new experiences. I usually like to know exactly what is going to happen and when, but sometime you have to be open to going outside your comfort zone. I have learned how to talk to people that I do not know. I have learned that things change and that you have to roll with the changes.

Always ask questions. I have always feared being the girl in class that annoys everyone because she is constantly asking questions that everyone else already knows the answer to. I am learning here that asking questions can be really important to making sure that I am getting the right information. Even after a month, I am still learning and it is okay to ask for clarification.

It’s okay to miss home. I can go several days without being homesick and then out of nowhere something will remind me of my loved ones back home, and I will go through a small funk with missing them. I think it is okay to miss home and to sometimes be a little sad, because the people I left behind are important to me. I am learning to be more independent and to step outside my comfort zone. Home is always a phone call away, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It’s okay to not know everything or to be wrong. This was a hard one for me. I hate being wrong or getting in trouble, but as I said before, this is a learning opportunity. I have a tendency to dwell on mistakes and beat myself up, so this has been an eye opening experience for me. I am learning how to ask questions, how to handle things on my own, and how to own up to my own mistakes.

This experience is going to change you. I decided to pursue an internship abroad for this very reason. I wanted to learn to live a little and to grow as a person. I left home behind to find me and to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in life. Each and every day I learn something new about myself that I would not have realized had I stayed where I was comfortable.

In addition to the things that I have learned since going abroad, I have included my top three favorite things that I have seen/done.

  • Glenveagh Castle and National Park
  • Glencar Waterfall
  • Irish danced in Leo’s Tavern in Donegal


– Katie May, Indiana State University

Internship Abroad: What to Expect When You Land

When you first arrive at the airport, you will be greeted by a member of Learn International. The staff member will take you where you need to go. Just make sure when you are going through immigration to have all your paperwork handy, because you might be asked to show it!

Once you leave the airport, you will go through an orientation with Learn International. We covered a lot of information about culture shock, differences between Ireland and home and what you’ll be doing during your placement. After orientation, I met my homestay family. They took me to their house and showed me around. It’s always nice to sit and talk with them. I find it helps you to get to know the family right away! All of my experiences with homestay families have been wonderful.

The weather in Ireland reminds me a lot of the weather in Indiana. It can go from sunny to rainy in five seconds, but it is super green out! I love the cool air, but it is a damp cold so make sure you dress in layers.

Although, overall nothing has been different than I expected as I had been to Ireland before, so I had a rough idea of what to expect this time around. But being here for three weeks now has been a little different. Last time I only spent two weeks on a short-term study abroad program,so I’ve have had a harder time adjusting than I thought I would because I have been suffering from a little bit of homesickness and culture shock. Everyone here has been super friendly and helpful!

– Katie May, Indiana State University


What to Expect From a Homestay Experience

Living with a homestay family is amazing! This is my second stay in a homestay in Ireland and I have been beyond blessed with both placements. I do not usually like staying with people I do not know because I am shy, but it is such a great experience. I would never have guessed that I would be so close to my host family. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met and they feel like a part of my family.

A few things to note about living with a host family is that you have to be flexible. You are joining in with their life, so keep an open mind and be willing to try new things! Be respectful of their home and family. The experience is what you make it. You can be included or keep to yourself. One cultural difference I have come to learn, is that people in Ireland tend to eat a little later than I am used to, but all of the food has been delicious! We eat a lot of curry and chips!

I have learned from both of my experiences that everything comes down to what you make of it. Communication with your host family is very important. If you are not having the experience that you want, it is up to you to nicely tell someone. Everyone is so helpful and they want nothing more than for you to have the best experience possible. My host family always makes sure to get me out and doing things on the weekend, but they do have a life of their own so I do things on my own as well. We went hiking this past weekend. Just always be open and willing to try new things, and you will love staying with a host family!

– Katie May, Indiana State University