Ashley Emanuel ‘23

Ashley Emanuel '23

Lessons Learned From a Summer in Dublin

Spending this past summer interning abroad in Dublin, Ireland was an incredibly enriching experience, both personally and professionally. When I found out I was accepted into BC’s Dublin internship program, I was determined to immerse myself in the full Irish experience. This ranged from buying various Sally Rooney books and wearing my Claddagh ring everywhere to asking my grandparents about my Irish heritage and exploring my Irish roots even further. While I was excited and felt ready for this experience, I was also aware that this was my first time flying by myself without my family, I did not know anybody else on the program, as well as had never had an in person internship before due to coronavirus restrictions.

Instead of letting these nerves dominate my trip, I chose instead to let them motivate me to take advantage of every experience and opportunity. Because of this, I chose to push myself out of my comfort zone and changed my mindset to focus on living in the moment instead of all the worries or mixed emotions I was feeling. Something that helped with this was writing in a journal my mother had given me before I left. She had told me to write down everything I felt or experienced and that I would be grateful to read these over when I got older, as well as how this would help me to reflect upon my experience. I could not be happier that I did this, as now I am able to look back on these words with a smile and remember every funny story from traveling or life lessons and wisdom passed down while at work.

With this mindset, I was able to have the best summer of my life yet. Living with other Boston College students on UCD’s campus, I was able to make incredible friendships and have a lot of fun. Interacting with other students from all over the world, as well as seeing Ukrainian refugees staying in the building next to our dorm, my eyes were also opened to many different perspectives and real life scenarios that I had only previously discussed in some of my International Studies classes, yet was now seeing unfold in person. This added a more personal level to my education and challenged my way of thinking a bit.

Further, interning at the Adoption Authority of Ireland gave me an incredible insight into adoption and the legal implications of Irish adoption laws both domestically as well as internationally. I was able to see how topics such as religion and gender could impact a society even decades after different laws had been passed, and it allowed me to connect how these topics were considered back home in America, as well around the world. I also made many connections and met various mentors that I was grateful to learn from and carry these lessons with me as I seek to pursue a career in law.

Having the opportunity to travel on the weekends allowed me to explore almost every corner of Ireland, learning a lot about the history and culture that makes the country so unique and special, as well as seeing the natural beauty the island has to offer. The most memorable part of Ireland, however, was the people and the Irish hospitality that inspired many meaningful, thought provoking conversations. Whether these conversations were with the taxi driver on the way to work, a BC alum who had moved to Ireland after graduation, or the Starbucks barista who I would see every day on my lunch break, I was overwhelmed with the genuine nature of people’s questions, and felt as if they really wanted to get to know me and my experiences. At the same time, I wished to learn from them as well and hear their life stories and wisdom to gain a new perspective as well as challenge my viewpoint both as an American as well as a university student.

Overall, this experience served as the perfect culmination of my time so far at Boston College. Getting to have an immersive international experience and a professional internship, while still living on a college campus gave me various different perspectives and many practical implications of my major and studies. The conversations and connections I made throughout this summer will stick with me for a lifetime, and I cannot wait to see where my future endeavors take me. Getting out of my comfort zone and taking these risks proved to have immense rewards, and I would encourage everybody, especially International Studies students, to pursue similar opportunities in the future.

Ashley Emanuel '23
September 2022