Discovering Me: My Intern Abroad Experience
by Hanna Sise. Photo courtesy of Avenley Horner.
On June 19, 2010, my life changed forever. As I boarded the Iberia airbus from Chicago O’Hare to Madrid Barajas, I took a deep breath knowing adventure awaited. Sevilla was my final destination. After arriving in the breathtaking Spanish city, I knocked on the door of a stranger. This woman, Esperanza, was to be my host mother for the next two weeks.
As I navigated my way through the foreign streets, jet lag, and much different food than I was used to, my eyes opened to the wonder of this amazing country. For the first time in my seventeen years, I was seeing something other than myself. Being used to living in this bubble that others created for me, I was finally able to see that there was life outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. And that was it: I was officially hooked.
My two weeks in Spain came and went much faster than I could have ever imagined. As I boarded my flight back to the States, I remember making a promise to myself, that I would return, and that my adventures abroad were not finished yet. For the next four years I explored every possible way to get back to Europe. After endless failed attempts, my time finally came. I took my college finals two weeks early, then embarked on what I thought was my next European adventure. But it was so much more than that.
I landed in Dublin, Ireland, to realize that I was once again completely alone in a foreign country, but this time I was here for three months. I spent my first few days too nervous to really leave the house. Even as my nerves continued to build, I realized that this was not the European adventure that I had been dreaming of. I came to Ireland to experience the new, not to be content with what I already did know.
Two weeks after arriving, I moved out of my host mother’s house and into the city centre with six other Stint Ireland girls. These girls not only changed my summer, but made an impact so deep on my heart and mind that it is hard to put it into words. I thought that I was interning in Dublin to build my resume and experience Irish culture, but that was far from what I found.
What awaited me in Dublin was a new version of myself (one who faced loneliness, the unexpected, the strange, and the cultural differences head on). I found joy, love, and strength not only within myself, but also within the world. Studying/interning abroad is so much more than a European vacation. It is a life change. It is seeing the world through clearer eyes. It is discovering the goodness in people. It is a celebration of culture. It is independence.
My time in Ireland only deepened my love for the unknown. I was able to find a confidence within myself that I never knew existed. My newfound confidence led me to success in my internships, friendship through couchsurfing, and independent exploration. I can say without a doubt that Ireland changed my life in a big way. This experience has prepped me for my next chapter, and hopefully for one day living abroad.
Through Stint, I found the best version of Hanna.
Hanna Sise is a recent graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University where she majored in Hospitality Administration with a focus in events. For as long as she can remember, Hanna has been intrigued with language, culture, and far away places. Currently completing an internship in social media marketing, she continues to fight for her dream of a career abroad.