The big wrap up

This blog post is a bit different than all of my other posts so far. This post contains more than a set “story” of my time here, but rather a collection of thoughts that I have had. Interning abroad has its own challenges. Being a person with a disability (specifically a visual impairment) also has its own challenges. When the two are put together craziness ensues. This often deters many students in my situation from studying abroad, which just breaks my heart. Study abroad is such a valuable experience and everyone should feel empowered to try. I have compiled a list of my top ten tips, tricks, and things I wish I knew/ general advice that I have. First of all, I will sum up the rest of my time in Ireland and discuss my transition back home, and then I will write the list of the top five tips for studying and interning abroad with a visual impairment.
My last week in Ireland was a blast. Audrey and I hiked Croagh Patrick; a mountain in the west of Ireland with a church on the top where St. Patrick pray during his life. The hike was long, steep, and scary, but with the help of amazing friends and a sturdy tick, I lived to tell about it. The rest of my time was fairly uneventful. I complotted my internship by working in finance while I loved the work, my original post college plans are now being questioned as I truly loved working for a smaller company with a family atmosphere. My journey home was quite uneventful and I got home to my family very quickly after my flight. My time home has been spent relaxing, recuperating, and preparing to go back to school. Being back home isn’t super easy- as I now have to depend on someone who drives, but hopefully I will return to city life soon enough. I will now move on to my list.
1. Forget fear- fear is healthy in some circumstances, but when you are abroad with a disability, it must be forgotten. Fear keeps us in our comfort zones, and comfort zones keep us from learning. Had I followed my fear, I would have never taken an afternoon trip alone to see the cathedrals.
2. Take time for yourself- you will have a lot going on all the time, although you will feel like you must live every moment to the fullest, it is important to take time for yourself to reflect and recover. This keeps your mind fresh to enjoy your adventures more fully.
3. Use your tools- tools are made to help you- especially if you have a disability. Whether it be a cane, a magnifier, or other tools made for other disabilities, it is important to use them. People will be more understanding and helpful and this will make you feel better about being in a foreign environment.
4. Talk, talk, talk- talk to other people in your program, talk to locals, talk as much as possible. You never know who you can meet and what connections you can make if you let go of shyness.
5. Enjoy every moment- being abroad is special and an experience you will have forever. Enjoy it to the fullest and make memories you will never forget.
To conclude, I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given by the Gilman Scholarship and Wofford College. I am grateful to everyone who supported me throughout my time abroad, and although I am sad to have my time abroad be over, I will never forget it and will continue to tell my story as I hope to inspire others to study abroad as well.

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I’m having an Amster(dam) good summer

 

It has been an incredibly busy and eventful few weeks, and I have done a great deal. This blog is long overdue, but will be broken into four sections; Work, my weekend in Dublin, Amsterdam, and Longitude/ my adventures today.

  1. Work has been absolutely fantastic. I really feel like I am part of the team, and feel that I have been able to help out within the company. So far, I have done a great deal of communications work. Some of it has been quite tedious, but that is what an internship is and the witty banter between my boss Kevin and my coworker Helen is quite entertaining- especially when Gaelic football is involved. (This is a major sport in Ireland). I have also progressed in my work as I researched less expensive technology options. This did hurt my eyes as I was working in Excel, but I really enjoyed the experience and believe my research can save the Asthma Society a significant amount of money.
  2. Three weekends ago, I spent the weekend in Dublin. The time I spent was quite lovely. On Friday, I was a typical tourist and went to tour the Guinness storehouse at St. James’ Gate Brewery. This was very interesting as a business related student because the Guinness brewery employed many people in Dublin and the family has contributed a good bit towards the restoration of the city. The next day we visited Causey Farm where we learned the arts of bread making and Irish dancing. There was the opportunity to jump in a bog- a freezing swamp, and I politely declined, but feel that I got the full experience from the “plop” sound coming from the people that did jump.
  3. The following weekend, I visited the city of Amsterdam with Audrey. This made the 13th country I have visited during my time abroad. While the city was a bit rough and it was difficult to navigate due to the many bikes, cars, buses, people, and trams. I did enjoy my time there. Two of the highlights of my trip were biking in Vondelpark and getting to see the Anne Frank House. I do not have depth perception and I have vision in only one corner of one eye. This makes balance difficult and therefore makes it nearly impossible to ride a normal bike. Thankfully I have a brave friend in Audrey and we rented a tandem bike and rode around the park for several hours. At first the experience was terrifying and we got off to a rocky start, but thanks to her determination and bravery- and my decision to play some Mumford & Sons, we eventually got going and were able to ride around the park. That afternoon, we decided to stand in line for two hours to enter the Anne Frank house. I had read the diary as a kid and always found it interesting, but when I saw how dark and scary the room was where Anne spent nearly two years, I was truly shocked and inspired by her. There were times where she felt hopeless, and even though she was killed, she kept searching for her dream to be a famous writer- which did come true after the end of her life. The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the sunshine, flowers, and canals.
  4. This past weekend was fairly calm until Sunday. On Friday I was finally able to sleep in, and then went to the movies. Saturday was quite sunny and I spent the day walking around the city, going to brunch, and getting appetizers at a cute little bistro with garden seating. Sunday, some friends and I went to the music festival Longitude and saw the band Mumford & Sons. I really enjoyed this because I was close enough to be able to see the screen, but seeing wasn’t the goal. The music was just so incredible and I absolutely loved singing at the top of my lungs.
  5. Yesterday, the weather was just glorious. As I have a kind boss I was “send home” early to enjoy the weather. I took the time to visit Christchurch cathedral- as I have a great deal to be thankful for. After getting off the bus one stop too late, I ended up at St. Patrick’s cathedral-, which turned out to only be a seven-minute walk from Christchurch. My afternoon by myself was spent reflecting, sitting in the park, and thinking about what a lovely summer it has been. I was amazed and proud of myself that I was able to find a new place and navigate through the tourists on my own. After treating myself to an iced coffee, I headed home and enjoyed the rest of what very well could be my last sunny day here.

This next weekend will be my last in Ireland, and I will be hiking the Pilgrimage site of Croagh Patrick in the west coast of Ireland, I have been spending a good deal of time in the city, and I am so incredibly excited to spend my last weekend in the beautiful rolling hills of Ireland. I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of this summer program and as always appreciate the Gilman Scholarship for allowing this opportunity that I will remember for the rest of my life. While I am sad my time is ending, I will look back with nothing but fond memories and hope that my blog and story inspires other people to study abroad.

Audrey and I sitting in a giant lower case "d" in the Amsterdam sign

Audrey and I sitting in a giant lower case “d” in the Amsterdam sign

A picture of the canal and buildings of Amsterdam where the buildings are reflected on the canal

A picture of the canal and buildings of Amsterdam where the buildings are reflected on the canal

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a picture of a tandem bike with my bag and jacket strapped to the back. No Audrey did not take a picture on the bike. We were out definitely not that brave, nor did we have the ability to be still for that long

a picture of a tandem bike with my bag and jacket strapped to the back. No Audrey did not take a picture on the bike. We were out definitely not that brave, nor did we have the ability to be still for that long

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Some hump days smell like poo

First of all, I truly apologize for my delay in posting. It has been a crazy week and a half. I started work, took a trip to Northern Ireland, and revisited the Cliffs of Moher all thanks to the Gilman Scholarship. I will tell my adventures in three sections; work, travel, and random events.

  1. Work has been absolutely incredible. The first day, I was absolutely terrified, but I got up, got ready, perfectly applied my makeup and got to work early. Because it is Ireland, I got buckets of rain dumped on me and took shelter in Starbucks. My day did quickly improve. My boss, Kevin is absolutely incredible. He is totally blind, plays football (soccer) for the national blind team of Ireland, and is the second in command of the entire charity. He is also hilarious and made sure he knew my opinions on the current American political situation. My other coworkers are incredible as well. The first week was hard as everyone was so close and I was the outsider, but soon I started to get invited for tea in the break room where little random conversations happen. I have also taken part in truly fascinating lunch conversations about the Irish education system, disability rights in Europe, and career culture in Europe. Today, I actually got to start a finance project and I love it so much. I never knew putting values into Excel could be so much fun!.
  2. Travel has played a huge role in my past two weekends. This past weekend, I went to Northern Ireland. Here I stayed in the incredible town or Portrush and with the help of my amazing friends and my cane named Isabella, I climbed some mildly intimidating rocks at Giant’s Causeway and the city by the hotel and took some pretty amazing pictures (see attached). The previous weekend, I visited the Cliffs of Moher with Audrey and Domi (they will be recurring characters in this story). While I was able to visit this location in January 2016, it was so cold and windy that I wasn’t able to enjoy it. This time, I went in nearly 70 degree weather and perfect sun. The views were spectacular, and I was finally able to take those amazing pictures. (see attached). In the coming weeks, I have a trip planned to Amsterdam, am going to a music festival in Dublin to see Mumford and Sons, and am hopefully finding a hike.
  3. Its random event time! This is probably my worst story so far in Dublin, but this story taught me to just keep smiling and things will turn out just grand. The first Wedensday of my job, I went to the grocery store after work to pick up apples. I had my bus card in my pocket and felt someone brush against me. Thinking nothing of it, I went about my business. When I left the grocery store, it turned out that my bus card and my student card were missing. To this day, im not sure if they were lost or stolen. After frantically running around in search (to no avail), calling my mom freaking out (as we all must do sometimes), and cancelling my card, I finally got on the bus. Although I can’t see, I can feel when eyes were on me. Yes, I was tearing up but not terribly loud. When I get back to campus and get my cards replaced, I am comfortably in the company of Audrey and Domi when I suddenly get asked, what is that white stuff on your bag? Thinking it was paint, I went about my business until I notice that there is more of the substance on my jacket… and in my hair! I suddenly remember standing under a building getting my bearings and feeling a drip of what I thought was leftover rain. I guess Wednesdays are for the birds?

 

All in all despite my crappy (hehe) first wedensday, I am truly loving it in Ireland. The people are so nice, and I feel that I am learning so much. I have never felt so much that I truly belong. I promise to write more as the weeks go on. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity, and al always appreciate a share, like, or comment!

 

 

Me sitting overlooking a cliff with my feet over the edge and my back to the camera

Me sitting overlooking a cliff with my feet over the edge and my back to the camera

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Me sitting on a rock trying to do a looking over the shoulder model pose.

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Left to right; Me, Audrey, and Domi sitting on a rock with beautiful blue skies, cliffs, and ocean in the background.

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An action shot of me in port rush standing on rocks with the ocean behind me. i am looking down and watching my step.

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me actually posing in Portrush. Still the same waves, rocks, gloomy sky, and ocean, but I am actually smiling and looking at the camera!

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My first week in the land of green

19074014_1607518605925997_640105694_nI have only been in Ireland for just over a week, but I know for a fact that I am incredibly blessed to be here. My time so far has been quite overwhelming yet fun. After having a successful flight alone with wonderful airline workers who trul7 understood how to treat someone with a visual impairment (I was never once asked if I need a wheelchair) I arrived at the University College Dublin (UCD) campus. The campus was much larger than Wofford or my area in Salamanca, and I was quite intimidated. I began to think that navigating Dublin wouldn’t be possible due to the size of the campus! Things quickly got better. After a much needed nap, a pizza social, and an introduction to some wonderful roommates and new friends, We got through the long day of orientation, had yummy pub food in Dublin, and found the most beautiful park when we missed our bus stop (see attached picture) This picture is of a wispy tree with branches, a blue cloudy sky and cute little red brick buildings.

My weekend continued to go wonderfully! I spent the weekend relaxing and exploring the city. I ended my fun weekend with a ghost tour that was quite silly, but enjoyable. Due to the fact that I need a bit more time to get comfortable in a new place, the Asthma Society agreed to let me start a week late so that I could get comfortable with th4e city. Early Tuesday morning, I set off on my first journey with Chris, my IES internship coordinator. At first, I began to feel overwhelmed, but as I saw th4e bus route I gradually got more comfortable. Practically every bus driver, restaurant worker and random person who saw my cane was willing to help. I have never felt so comfortable and happy around crowded places. My training continued on for three days, and today I made a huge leap. I used my final practice run to get to my job and home completely by myself. I actually used public transit, memorized my stop, and didn’t get lost! I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to explain the details of my first week of work. Please continue to follow my adventures this summer! I am so grateful for these opportunities that the Gilman Scholarship gave to me, and hope that my experience can inspire other people to get past their fears and try new things. Please share the blog!!

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Did the dust really settle?

Wow what a ride! It seems like yesterday that I boarded my plane to head to Salamanca this past August to study abroad for what was supposedly one semester. That one semester turned into two and now I get ready to head to Dublin Ireland for the summer. I am still in complete shock that I am actually interning in Europe, but I can’t wait for this adventure. During my two weeks home, I haven’t really had much tine to think, butI  am ready to see what the summer holds. My professional clothes are organized, my paperwork is in one document to be printed, and have my guide and vegan meal confirmed!

My main purpose of writing this post is to introduce the blog. This blog will serve two purposes;

1. I was incredibly blessed to receive a Gilman Scholarship for my internship, and I will be documenting my experience for future applicants.

2. This blog will serve as a “how to” or “what I see” as a visually impaired intern abroad.

Well, it is my bedtime as I fly tomorrow night! Please follow my journey! I would love feedback!

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