Challenges of Interning Abroad

Picture of Cara Simon

Interning abroad may seem a bit scary at first, daunting even. There are so many unknowns and so many new things to deal with; from the more obvious differences in currency, time, and weather, to the subtler intricacies of living in a new cultural environment such as colloquial language. What follows is a breakdown of the most common differences that I have had to deal with as an American intern in Ireland.

Currency Differences:

Being in a new country has made me reevaluate how I think about money. The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. At the current exchange rate, a single United States Dollar (USD) is equal to 0.90 Euro, meaning every Euro I spend is really 1.11 USD. In the end, it’s not an overly large margin but it does mean that every time I pay for something the number I see displayed on the till and the amount that is deducted from my bank account are not the same. A little mental and frequent checks to online banking maintain my budget just fine.

Time Differences:

One of the few drawbacks to interning abroad is the time change. Being five hours ahead of friends and family back home makes communication a little disjointed at times. To combat this time difference, it’s a simple matter to set-up weekly Skype or video chat dates with those friends and family back home.

Weather Differences:

Irish weather is expectedly unpredictable. Interning at an archaeology field school means working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. Warm and sunny can change to a cold windy rain at the drop of a hat. Waterproof trousers and a coat are always on standby in my backpack safely tucked away, alongside extra layers if it gets cold. Alongside various layers of clothing I also keep a bottle of sunscreen on hand. Due to the hole in the ozone layer UV radiation in Ireland is a larger concern than in the US. For example, though the weather for today maxed at 25 C (77F), the UV index was so high it only took 25 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun to cause sunburn. One spot of sunburn is a painful enough reminder to be ever vigilant in reapplying sunscreen.

In the end these are arbitrary inconveniences that cease to be a problem after about two weeks. Especially, if you immerse yourself in the cultural experience completely. I was always told it takes about two weeks to break a habit, anyway, so it seems apt that at the beginning of my third week in Ireland I feel I’ve become accustomed to the differences.

– Kelsey Gamble, U.S.A

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