Intern Spotlight: Carin’s Summer Abroad in Galway, Ireland

Eager to step into the footsteps of a college student who is interning in Ireland? We recently caught up with AIFS Abroad internship program participant Carin, a Human Kinetics major from the University of Ottawa who has been spending her summer break interning abroad in the charming Irish city of Galway.

Read on to learn more about her internship experience with AIFS Abroad and the impact of being an international intern in Galway.

Carin shares a day in her life as an intern abroad in Galway, Ireland

Choosing an Internship Program Destination & Term

Deciding when and where to study or intern abroad can be a challenge for a lot of students and young professionals (our team can help with that!), but no matter where you go, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Carin chose Galway, which may not be the very first destination that comes to mind when you think about interning overseas — but it should be! Hear more about why this hotspot in Ireland was ideal for her summer internship experience:

“I decided to [intern] abroad because I love traveling and immersing myself in new environments. This summer I was really looking to get strong practical experience in my major, so when I came across AIFS, I realized this was a great opportunity to do both. I would definitely recommend it because it’s not only a great opportunity to get practical experience as well as visit a new country, but you also end up finding out more about yourself, which [I did]. You also are able to have a better scope of your strengths and weaknesses and how to build/work on these characteristics in the work place. You also have the opportunity to make new bonds, make new connections with people in your field, and make a difference in the community/work space if your choosing.”

But, why intern abroad in Galway during the summer specifically?

“I wanted the opportunity to [intern] abroad, and I felt that the summer was a great time to do this experience. My host city is very green, lively, and a mix of summer and city. They people are pretty friendly, as well. I also always wanted to visit Ireland because I’ve heard it’s very multicultural, as well as has very beautiful scenery, so staying in Galway has met all of these expectations.”

aifs abroad internship program participant in galway, ireland
Carin in Galway, Ireland

Why Intern Abroad?

There are so many reasons to intern abroad! It’s an opportunity to gain professional experience in a unique environment, test out your chosen career field, gain soft skills, expand your network, see the world — and so much more! Through AIFS Abroad, Carin’s summer internship in Galway allowed her to push herself outside of her comfort zone and grow immensely.

“I wanted to intern abroad because I wanted to experience applying my skill in a different cultural setting, as opposed to what I was used to. I feel that it’s important to be able to adapt in any work space you’re put in, and being able to intern abroad allowed me to expand my knowledge on how to do so.”

Internship Placement in Galway

Carin’s international internship placement in Galway focuses on the career fields of Public Health and Sports Technology, which perfectly aligns with her Human Kinetics major.

“I am currently completing two internships. The first one is for Precision Sports Technology. Using a mobile device or tablet, Emma Meehan and her team developed an app that allows individuals to preform exercises and general movements and get recorded, which then provides feedback and analysis on the biomechanics of their performance. There I work hybrid as a Human Kinetics intern, providing feedback on human movements, exercise descriptions, and information on their measurements. I have the opportunity to sit in on labs and updates made to the app. My second internship is with Usafety, which is a Health and Safety Moving and Handling — along with ergonomics — consultancy agency. My role for this internship is to assist with the research and program planning of plus size moving and handling.”

aifs abroad internship participant interning in galway, ireland
Carin at her internship in Galway, Ireland

Work Culture in Ireland vs. Home

One of the most interesting parts of interning abroad is learning firsthand about work culture in a new city or country and comparing it to what you’re used to back home. As an intern in Galway through AIFS Abroad, Carin has gained a better understanding of what professional and office dynamics are like in Ireland as compared to Canada or the United States.

“Things are a bit more fast-paced in the United States and Canada compared to here, where the work day feels more relaxing and allows me to get to know my coworkers better.”

Professional Development Opportunities

Interning abroad means you’ll have the opportunity to gain unique, hands-on experience that will further your career growth and develop your skillsets. During Carin’s internship in Galway, she’s gained incredible insight into Human Kinetics and Exercise Science by participating in a laboratory setting.

“I have had the opportunity to sit in on a lab for Precision Sports Technology and see a full motion capturing and gym laboratory, as well as I got to observe a moving and handling course. Both of which were very insightful opportunities.”

Language Learning

If you want to intern abroad in a place that’s primarily English-speaking, Galway is a great choice! The locals all speak English, but what you may not know is that many also speak Irish Gaelic. While you won’t need to learn Irish to intern abroad in Ireland, it’s a unique opportunity to be exposed to a new language — as well as learn some fun local slang!

“The main language of Ireland is English but there are people that do speak Irish here as well. My advice is being open to learn common phrases which allow people to know you have an appreciation for their culture.”

Housing

Did you know all AIFS Abroad programs include housing? Typical options include shared apartments, student residences/dorms, and living with a local family in a homestay. Carin’s accommodations in Galway were in a student residence — a perfect way to meet other people!

“For my housing, I lived in student accommodation with 17 other interns. In my apartment, there we had 7 roommates and we each had our own room and bathroom which were really nice. Everything was pre-furnished and there is lots of natural light. The accommodation came with lots of patio space, a gym, movie room, and game room, so even the days it rains or you’re at home, there are still things to do.

I share a common space with 6 other interns which are all very nice. The other interns live right next door so we often times spend time in each others’ apartments — whether it’s a post work debrief, getting ready for a night in town, or just hanging out.”

AIFS abroad internship program participants riding bikes in Galway, Ireland
Carin riding bikes with a friend in Ireland

Making Friends Abroad

College is often the first time many students are out on their own, forging friendships with other students that can become almost like family. Because of this, it can be understandable that some are on the fence about doing an internship program abroad alone or consider holding off applying until a friend is available to go with them. Obviously the more the merrier, but we recommend that you intern abroad when it’s convenient for you. Chances are you’ll forge new friendships once abroad, like Carin did as an intern in Galway with AIFS Abroad.

“Going into the AIFS program, I didn’t know anyone prior. A group chat was made to get us all connected, but after that it has all felt very natural. The processes was to engage with everyone from the group. Everyone has a different story for why they are here, so learning about them is really cool. I was able to find a lot of similarities with some of the other interns.

We all often did different activities together, including going out to new food spots, different pubs, seeing the coast, the AIFS introductions and the excursions, and even [catching] up on the bus to-and-from work. It was nice that interns from the AIFS program and other students worked at my job, so I definitely got the opportunity to get to know them better both inside and outside of work. It’s nice to have a good support system when you have longer days or when you have exciting news to share.

My advice is to get to know everyone because you will 100% find people you share common interests with, which will make your abroad experience extra special.”

AIFS abroad internship program participants in Galway, Ireland
Carin with friends in Galway

Co-Curricular Experiences

Each and every AIFS Abroad program includes social and cultural activities, as well as excursions — and our internship program in Galway is no exception! These co-curricular experiences are an amazing way to learn outside of the classroom, and for interns to get to know their host region and its culture. Interns in Galway can choose from a variety of activity options, and Carin has a few favorites.

Social & Cultural Activities

“So far, we have had a couple of activities. Starting with the introduction event [upon arrival], which was really fun — getting to know the other interns at M. Fitzgeralds (a nice restaurant) where we bonded over food, drink, and ice breakers. Then we had an Irish dancing class and enjoyed Italian food after at a family-style table.”

Excursions

“We have had one excursions so far, which was to Inishmore one of the Aran islands. There we did a Jeep excursion and got to see a natural pool, different animals, visited a fort, and looked upon the cliffs. It was unbelievably beautiful.

An excursion my group deduced to do outside of AIFS was visit the Cliffs of Moher, which has been my favorite experience so far. Opting in to do the seaside walk/hike was the best decision we made that day. Hiking from the bottom of the cliff all the way to the visitor center 5 miles up and 5 miles back down was a very scenic journey. The weather was on-and-off from rain to sun, but worth it. I had to opportunity to see all the natural rock formations and the sea, as well as additional cliffs that aren’t shown by the Visitors Center. I’m excited to do many more excursions over the next month.”

AIFS abroad internship program participant in ireland
Carin on an excursion in Ireland

Culture Shock

When you first arrive to your internship program destination and start to transition into your life overseas, odds are you may experience a little bit of culture shock. That said, it can be different for each intern — some experience it more or less than others. In Carin’s case, she felt it in some daily activities and logistics.

“The culture shocks I experienced were adjusting to the car directions (which I overcame after about a week), waiting 5 minutes to cross the street, tipping culture (which was assisted by the culture shock guide provided by AIFS), and how nice recycling is done in Ireland. Something as simple as recycling really made a difference. With Ireland’s bottle return policy, it really helps [highlight] the importance and gets more people to recycle. I’m already someone that did so, it was just nice to see everyone else partaking, as well.”

Exploring Cultural Differences

No matter where you choose to intern abroad, you’ll discover new cultures, traditions, and ways of life that may be different from your own. Carin’s summer in Galway has allowed her to get to know Irish culture firsthand.

“One thing I really enjoy about my host city’s culture is how often people spend time walking outside. Every hour of the day, rain or shine, the residents of Galway are either filling the city centre or on the trails by the university’s campus. I really enjoy being outside, so I’ve definitely immersed myself. I practice this at home but will have to continue to do it through all season.”

“My favorite [part of the] culture has been how lively the city is during everyday of the week. It being summer, too, it’s nice to be outside — whether it’s a Tuesday — surrounded by people that are soaking up the sunny days and social experience.”

Growth Through Education Abroad

There’s no shortage of growth that happens when you study or intern abroad. Whether you choose to intern abroad for a summer like Carin or do a longer-term fall or spring semester program, you’ll see an immense change in yourself academically, personally, and professionally.

On a personal level, Carin has seen incredible growth as a student and young adult by taking on an international Internship experience in Galway with AIFS Abroad.

“I have grown academically because, with everything I have learned in university so far, being able to apply it in the practical world has allowed me to see my strengths and look at how to support my weaknesses. Professionally, having the opportunity to network has allowed me to see how to better connect with people on a professional and personal [level]. […] Personally I have seen myself more willing to try new things since [interning] abroad, and that has improved my optimism, allowing me to assure to myself that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.”

Final Thoughts

And so, as she embraces the journey, Carin gives advice to anyone looking to intern abroad — whether in Galway, Ireland or beyond.

“My advice for any future study abroad or international internship participants would be to be open to all experiences. The word yes will be your best friend during this time. There are so many places and things to see and do while living in a different country for an extended period of time, so be open to trying as many new things are you can. Meet the locals and try to partake in their cultural activities, which will give you a more authentic experience.”

Are you a student or recent graduate ready to take the leap and do an internship program in Galway like Carin did with AIFS Abroad? We’d love to help you start your journey!

Here at AIFS Abroad, we know a thing or two about helping college students and pre-professionals study and intern abroad. Our programs are incredibly inclusive, which takes a lot of the stress out of planning. From coordinating your housing to providing things like cultural and social activities, excursions, comprehensive insurance, 24/7 emergency support, on-site staff, and more, you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ll have support throughout your entire experience abroad.

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