Friday, June 14, 2013

How have you changed personally?

I feel that the world has been opened to me. I feel a sense of wanting to travel more and getting to know other cultures. Before this trip I’ve dreamed of studying abroad and traveling outside the country, but did not act on those feelings. If it had not been for Carlow University offering this program I would probably still only be dreaming about traveling outside the country. I am no longer afraid to step out and try new things and/or expose myself to the unfamiliar. I also feel wiser since being abroad. My perspective has been changed in many ways when it comes to humanity in this country and the way we care for people. Also the meaning we place on work and family.

How has your professional/academic goals changed?

Since studying abroad my professional goals have changed in terms of the population of clients that I would like to work with. Prior to studying abroad I had a very strong preference to work with children and adolescents. After being in Ireland and working with the special needs population, which at my site was adult women in a day program. I have gained an interest in possibly working with the special needs population here in the states and also working with adults. As far as academics are concerned I am wishing for another opportunity to study abroad. I wish there was another class that I could substitute, so that I can go again. What I learned during my exploration in Ireland, contact with the locals, and placement cannot be taught in a classroom.

What self-discovery surprised you?

I have always been referred to as strong and independent, but I did not recognize it until I studied abroad. I realized that I have a sense of determination that will not allow anyone or anything to get in my way of accomplishing my dreams/ goals.

How did you navigate through your fears and apprehensions that you had prior to studying abroad?

I really did not have any fears or apprehensions about studying abroad. My biggest concern was being informed in a timely manner about what was planned for the trip, having the itinerary, and knowing what I needed to pack.

How has studying abroad impacted your view of the world?

Studying abroad has impacted my view of the world by showing me that there are different ways to live and enjoy life. I learned that it is important to stop and take the time to listen to others. I also learned that you should slow down in life and learn to enjoy and appreciate every moment. As Americans we rush too much and spend too much time working. Not enough time enjoying life.

Single greatest benefit of studying abroad?

The single greatest benefit to studying abroad is learning about another country, the customs, and the people. There are many nationalities in the world we live in along with many languages and customs. It is important to take the time to learn from each other. If more people worked together we might be able to find ways to resolve some of the world problems and be able to make this world a better place.

What was your favorite experience and why?

My favorite experience was working at my placement site. It was difficult for me to switch my way of thinking. I was focused on the productivity and justification of what was being done and why.  This is what I am trained to do at work daily. I have a hard time accepting the way that things were run at my site. I found it difficult to just sit and talk with the “service users” initially. Once I figured out how to accept what was in front of me and accepting the difference in how they value worth I was able to enjoy myself and embrace the “service users” I was working with. At that point I felt valuable.

What advice would you give to future participants?

For future participants I would suggest letting go of what you know and what you feel is right and being open to learning a new way of living. See the world in a different light. Embrace a new culture.

Would you study abroad again? Where? Why?

I would definitely study abroad again. I am not sure where I would want to go. I would do it to continue to discover things about myself and also to get a chance to continue learning about another culture and their ways. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

As the saying goes all good things must come to an end. We are now 2 days from returning home. Today was my last day at placement. It was sad to say good-bye. I feel that within this last week the relationships I had been working on developing finally formed. I'm truly going to miss the ladies (service users) there and the bonds that were made.


As I look back over the trip I would say that first and foremost May 26th in Dublin was my favorite day. Naturally that is  because I celebrated my 32nd birthday there. I never would have imagined celebrating my birthday in another country. My highlights would be the beautiful train ride there. I also enjoyed walking down Grafton Street shopping and watching the street performers. Then later that evening hanging out in Temple Bar and ringing in my actual birthday at midnight dancing and having fun at Thunder Road.


My next favorite trip/ experience was climbing Mt. Croagh Patrick. This was no easy feat and I was able to safely accomplish it. Initially I was not even sure if I wanted to climb it to the top. I had the attitude of “we’ll see what happens.” And as it turned out I went all the way. During this hike there was a strong sense of comradery among the group. We were supportive of each other and worked together to make sure we made it up the mountain. There came a point in which I became tired and wanted to give up (we had about another 20 minutes to go), but was given encouragement by the group and strangers to keep going. On the day we climbed it was a thick fog/ mist on the mountain closer to the top. At one point it started to rain or else we walked into the thick mist, which made me cold and wet, but I kept going. With each corner we turned I hoped we were at the top, but sadly realized we had ways to go. When it was clear enough to see up the road ahead of you the people looked so tiny because of how far away they were from where we were. All the perseverance paid off in the end. I now have an even stronger sense of being able to accomplish whatever I put my mind to.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

I don't know why my last post looks like jibberish on the menu page, but it's there once you click on it. I don't know how to fix it so oh well.

One more week and I will be on my way back home. This journey has been bitter sweet. I have been enjoying my time here, but at the same time I am missing home. I am actually surprised by how much I miss the ones I love and my daily routine back there.

Here a typical day for me has consisted of me waking up around 7:15am and getting dressed and having a quick breakfast before I go to my placement in town. Around 8:45am myself and another girl walk down the street to catch the bus.

 I only ride the bus into town and then I get off at the first stop. Initally this was done at the suggestion of the bus driver, since he would have been getting to my placement a little later. Once I get off the bus I have a short walk through town, which I enjoy. I tend to walk different ways to my placement in the mornings, so that I can explore the city. Occassionaly I will stop for coffee and a snack.

 Upon arriving to my placement site I will sit down and talk with the service users while they are having their morning tea, coffee, and biscuits. Once that is finished the service users all go to their assigned work area to being working on either contract work or an art activity/ craft of their choice. During this time I make my way around to the different service users and sit down and talk with them. I may even assist with the activity depending on what it is. There have also been days that I have ran activities. There was one day in which I initiated boardgames with the service users. On another occassion we made jewelery out of beads. Sometimes I need to help the service users work through conflicts they are having with some of the service users at the site.

At lunch time occassionally I will stay inside and eat, however most days I go out for lunch so that I can continue to explore the city. During that time I have been stopping in the different shops around town. I have also been eating in different cafes. I will usually stop in the ones with wifi, so that I can check my email and facebook.

After lunch I return to the placement and continue to talk with the service users and work with them. There have been days in which we have gone to fun fitness class in the afternoon. However usually the afternoon is conducted much like the morning. I tend to leave my site at 4:00pm. Sometimes I will ride the bus back home. If it is nice outside I tend to walk. On days when we have plans to go site seeing in the evenings I will leave at 3:00pm, so I have time to change and get ready. If there is nothing planned then I will take my time walking back home. I may stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things.

Once back home in the evenings when no outings are planned I will hangout with the other students on the trip. If I am tired that may consist of eating dinner and sitting around watching tv and talking. If I feel up to it I will accompany them into town for a night out.
That pretty much sums up a typical day for me. It really just depends on what is on the schedule. I like to make sure that I am getting a proper nights rest, so that I am able to function the next day. It is easy to lose track of time here because it doesn't get dark until after 10:00pm.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Well I have now been in Ireland for almost one week. This has been an amazing experience thus far. It has been better than I could have ever imagined or asked for. We have been so busy seeing different attractions and landmarks. This week we also began at our placements.

Ireland is very different from the states. They drive on the opposite side of the road and the controls and steering wheel is on the right side (which would be the passenger side of the car back home). I get confused everytime we get into a vehicle. The people have been very friendly. They have been offering suggestions of places to go and things to do. Not to mention that they have been interested in having conversations with us and learning about our American ways.

Another observation would be that they take tea breaks frequently throughout the day. If one prefers they can have coffee, but tea is very popular. I have also observed that the work days are shorter, stores and restaurants close down earlier, and they are environmentally conscience (examples: there appears to not be hot water available in the afternoons due to it being conserved and in stores they have paper bags or reusable bags for sale).

My placement site is a day program, which has 23 adult women currently. The clients are referred to as service users. They are more independent than I expected, however they do have some form of an intellectual disability.  Most of the service users at my placement live in an independent living community setting. Others live at home with their parents. Some of the service users are able to walk to the center daily while a few others ride the bus. Some of the ladies are able to come and go as they please.

Their day usually consists of working on a craft activity such as knitting, latch hook, making collages, needle point, jewelry making, sewing, etc...  The crafts that they make are sold at different craft shows/ markets to raise money for the center. The women also participate in activities weekly such as cookery and fitness classes. I did learn that the service users are offered other classes, but many have come to an end. At the center the year is slowly winding down and the women will be breaking for '' holidays'', which is vacation.

I spent my first few days at my placement getting to know the ladies. I sat and talked with them about where they are from and the kinds of hobbies they enjoy.  I also assisted with a few art activities. I had some problems understanding some of their accents and some service users language capabilities. When I had troubled comprehending the staff were there to help intrepret or other service users assisted me. It's strange not have to demonstrate productivity by proving what I did for the day. Particulary at my job site back at home every minute of the day must be productive and what I did must be documented. I do not feel that same pressure here. The environment is more laid back and stress free. Thus far I have felt supported and I am enjoying my site.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Here it is the night before my big life altering experience. Tomorrow at this time I will be flying high in the sky and on my way to Ireland. I cannot believe that this day has arrived. The idea of me traveling to Ireland is still surreal.

 The moment I learned about the opportunity to travel abroad to study in Ireland I knew I wanted to go. The reason I want to study abroad is because I believe that while working in the counseling field I should be culturally diverse.

 I believe that my time in Ireland will allow me the opportunity to get to know another culture. I will get to learn another way of life outside of our western lifestyles. Another reason I want to study abroad is because I am looking for personal growth inside myself. By taking advantage of this opportunity I am stepping completely outside of my comfort zone and taking risks, which will reap great reward in due time.

My last reason I chose to study abroad is because the course includes 90 hours hands on experience. I believe these hands on experiences are very fundamental in learning, and will enhance the material presented in class and through textbook readings.

While abroad my main goal is professional enrichment and gaining cultural competency. I would like to learn about healthcare in Ireland. I am interested in how their healthcare system works in comparison to the healthcare system in the United States. I am also interested in learning about the health concerns and how they addressing those problems, more specifically I am interested in mental health issues.

 Outside of that I am interested in seeing the beauty that the country known as the Emerald Isle has to offer. I have heard so much about the beautiful landscape, the rolling green hills and fields that seem to go on forever. Then there are the ancient castles that sit along the coastlines.  I’d like to look beyond the stereotypical leprechauns and shamrocks and see what Ireland really has to offer including the heritage, people, and rich culture.

I expect to achieve my goals by spending time learning about the culture and taking part in the customs. I plan to travel and sightsee as much as possible and take in different aspects of living in Ireland. I also plan to fully commit myself to learning while at the work sites through my experiences and by talking with the locals.

While I am excited about traveling to Ireland I also have some fears. I am apprehensive about the long plane ride. This will be the longest flight I’ve been on to date. I hope that I don’t get too restless. I can also say that I am a little worried about being home sick. I think it will be hardest for me on May 26th, which is my birthday. I am use to being surrounded by friends and family at that time, who celebrate with me.

When thinking about what I am looking to most; I honesty cannot say. I do not think that I am more excited about one experience over another. I think the entire trip will yield something memorable. That is including the good and bad. It all will lead to some type of change and growth.

Well goodnight I’m tired big day tomorrow.

Oh and may I say that I am Blessed and Highly Favored!!!!!!!