Elena Kalodner-Martin is an English major with a Health Sciences minor here at Towson University and will be graduating in Spring 2017. She is originally from Columbia, Maryland. She studied abroad through the Global Experiences Internship Program in Dublin, Ireland during Summer 2016.
Q: What (or who) got you started and how did you choose your program? What would you consider to be the benefits of interning abroad?
This is a funny story: I was dead-set on going to London and the Global Experiences staff told me that they thought Dublin would be a better fit. I had no idea what that meant and had never considered going to Ireland, but I accepted! Through the support of the Study Abroad Office at Towson and GE, I was able to find an internship that combined both my interests in editing and health and ended up in what is now my favorite city in the world. Interning abroad gives you all the experience of having an internship, but adds on the professional development of working in another country. Being immersed in a foreign place’s work culture is a challenging experience that helped me to grow, both personally and in terms of my career experience.
Q: Have your experiences abroad met your expectations? Exceeded them?
FAR exceeded. I’ve always liked to travel and considered myself adventurous, but this experience showed me just how much I really love seeing new places and getting out of my comfort zone. My internship taught me so much and I believe that having a global mindset is one of the most important things to have (especially in our increasingly globalized society). It was a scary, fun, and wonderful summer – I’d do it all over again if I could.
Q: Have your experiences affected your academic and/or career path?
Absolutely. Being able to say that I interned abroad helped me to get accepted into my doctoral program for English. The experiences that I had while abroad, both professionally and personally, have helped me to mature and given me a stronger sense of what it is that I want to study in graduate school and pursue as my career. It’s also helped me decide what I don’t want to study, and that’s okay, too! It’s all part of the learning.
Q: Many study abroad alumni speak about an “ah ha” moment or a particularly powerful memory. What’s yours?
I was lost, jet-lagged, homesick, and wandering around a new city with no phone and no sense of direction. My friend and I were trying to find a grocery story and nearly in tears from frustration. We asked a random person on the street if he could point us towards one, and not only was he happy to show us the way, he walked us there and then took us out to a pub for dinner! The Irish are known for their friendliness and their love of a good conversation over a Guinness, and this was one of the first times that I felt comfortable in my new city. By the end, I was navigating like a pro – my biggest accomplishment was when a tourist asked me for directions and was shocked by my American accent!
Q: What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying/interning abroad?
I would say that it’s okay to be worried or scared! I was, too. It’s a big change and it can be stressful, but the payoff is so great. I would encourage people to take the leap, challenge themselves, and get out of their comfort zones. Having the opportunity to see the world and study or intern in a new city is not one to be missed and it will provide so much growth. The world is a wild and beautiful place – go see what it has to offer (and earn some college credit on your way!)