Berkeley Study Abroad Fair - September 27 in the Pauley Ballroom

Emily Lopez

Emily Lopez

Major: Civil Engineering

"Working abroad gave my the confidence to work in any environment and reassured me of my ability to persevere through difficult circumstances. My experience in applying for a working permit in the country, registering with the Irish immigration and tax department, and finding housing abroad gave me the confidence and courage I need for seeking employment with global companies."

 

 

What led you to study abroad? Why did you choose your country/program?

I was interested in interning abroad in Ireland since it provided an opportunity for me to experience a new culture and environment while learning how to work in a company on a global scale. Before applying to the program, I knew that I wanted to intern in Ireland since it was always a dream destination for me! I have been fascinated by the country’s culture, people, and environment since I first learned about European countries in elementary school. Its history, which can be seen through their awestrucking castles and its talented representatives in all realms of art and science, captured my admiration.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

Ireland's working culture was amazing! I had been accustomed to a work-centered mentality, where I'd work long hours and take minimal breaks; however, when working abroad, tea breaks were scattered throughout the day and working through lunch was scarcely seen. I learned to value a mentality of "working to live" as opposed to "living to work."

What was the biggest challenge/concern of your study abroad experience? How did you respond?

Prior to going to Ireland, I'd never travelled to Europe or alone, which made me nervous about my ability to make friends. Once I arrived, however, I learned that most of the students in my program had the same fear. We were all eager to gather after work and class explore the city together. I still meet with my friends from the program at Berkeley and keep in touch with the friends I've made abroad!

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

I'd wake up bright and early to make breakfast and catch the bus into town for work-- nearly everyone relies on public transportation for their commute in Dublin. I'd work with the staff on administrative duties and help the students with their personal and professional questions until the breaks and lunchtime. Once work ended at 5pm, I'd go back home to prepare my dinner and work on the online class assignment. Afterwards, my roommates and I would regularly watch movies in our common room or head back into town to explore Dublin's live music and food!

What coursework did you take while abroad? How did courses abroad compare with Berkeley classes?

My program consisted of an online course which focused on how to be a global citizen and a weekly lecture on Irish literature and history. The professor for the Irish literature and history course also prepared mandatory field trips after our classes, which strengthened the lessons we learned in class.The material and professor were as inspiring as Berkeley classes and the workload was both manageable and enjoyable.

What was the most memorable/meaningful aspect of your time abroad?

I was driven to continue working in Ireland for the following 4 months after the Berkeley program ended due to the inspiring people I met. My friends were enthusiastic to help me learn about Irish culture and traditions and the country's rich history through personal stories. They helped make my transition less stressful and frightening.The students and my coworkers were always eager to learn about my culture and to share their own, in the process, opening my eyes to the beauty behind globalization and the value in personal interactions with international citizens.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Working abroad gave my the confidence to work in any environment and reassured me of my ability to persevere through difficult circumstances. My experience in applying for a working permit in the country, registering with the Irish immigration and tax department, and finding housing abroad gave me the confidence and courage I need for seeking employment with global companies.

What would you recommend to students considering studying abroad, especially to your country or program?

I urge all students to study abroad since it helps create a holistic and unique education. In particular, learning to work with global partners is valauble since advancements in each field of study affect communities worldwide. Ireland was a great introduction to working abroad since the Irish were incredibly welcoming and open-- they love to lend a helping hand and never fail to ask "What's the story" (What's new in your life)! However, I'm aware of the financial implications that arise with studying abroad, so I highly recommend utilizing the resources available to you at the Study Abroad Office-- they helped me tremendously!