In the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland to participate in an internship as a part of the STEP Program at The Ohio State University. This internship was genuinely an experience of a lifetime, that included many trials and high points.
While completing my project, I learned multiple lessons and had a change in worldview. This project marked the first time that I ever flew in an airplane, but also traveled outside the United States. Since I completed this project alone, throughout this I learned to advocate for myself when things went awry, while also being responsible for myself and making my plans come to fruition. This experience also made me realize my own determination and perseverance. In addition, I was very surprised and grateful for kindness and generosity that I was shown by multiple people from various backgrounds.
As a result of the multiple trials and interactions that I experienced, I have developed the most personally. At the beginning of my project, I also experienced the mishaps of flying, including missed flights and lost luggage. I planned to travel from Cincinnati, Ohio to Newark Liberty, New Jersey to Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately, due to unfamiliarity and miscommunication, I missed my flight from New Jersey to Ireland. To make matters worse, my luggage was already transferred onto my flight to Dublin. These events resulted in an enormous amount of stress, discouragement, and the need to rely on others. Thankfully I have a cousin who lives in New Jersey and was able to let me stay with her the night and drive me to the Stewart International Airport in New York the next day. I was informed that when I arrived in Dublin my luggage would be waiting for me, when I arrived I discovered this wasn’t the case. Through my frustration and worry, my host family and coworkers generously cared for me as I waited five days for my suitcase.
Another major issue that I faced was the severity and unpredictability of my asthma. Due to the several factors, including the environment and emotional stress from the previous days, my asthma started to flare up the day I started my internship. I believed once I became accommodated after a few days, my condition would be under control. Sadly, as the days went by, my asthma got even worse in which I experienced multiple asthma attacks and developing a horrible cough. The day I arrived in Ireland until the day I left, my asthma hindered me from fully enjoying my experience and completing my duties. Despite consistently taking medication and going to a doctor, my asthma continued to be life threatening forcing me to leave Ireland after 4 weeks. It was one of the hardest decisions that I’ve had to make, especially after all of the energy, money, and time, that I put into the project.
Even through these trials, I was able to learn from and interact with people from several places around the world with multiple backgrounds. Most of the people I interacted with, whether it was coworkers or a stranger, I was met with an act of kindness or nice word. I met people from all around Ireland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, France, Iceland, and throughout the United Sates, along with their cultures, languages, and perspectives. When I was coming back to the United States, my flight had a 2-hour layover in Reykjavík, Iceland. Due to a delayed flight from Dublin, Ireland, this became a 22-hour layover and in the most spontaneous series of events, I found myself exploring Iceland with four other strangers and it was amazing. Throughout this project, I realized that during times of stress and trial, one of the things that I was most grateful for was the acts of kindness that I was shown, whether it was sharing a cup of tea or being taken along on a mini road trip across Iceland.
Through the literal blood, sweat, and tears that I endured on this project, I gained a realization of my own perseverance, an appreciation for small gestures of compassion, and a better understanding of what the best career options are for me after college. Despite the discouragement and stress, I felt during and after the project, I know that I’ve become more determined because of it and that in the future I will be more prepared to cope with similar situations. Reflecting on how multiple deeds of kindness affected me, I realize how much of an impact they can make on others and plan on doing them more often. This project has given me a better understanding of what career path would be best for my health and has pushed me into exploring other careers within in my major.