Luck of the Irish: Senior immersed in culture through internship

Senior public relations major Modjina Ovil stands in front of O’Brien’s Tower in County Clare, Ireland. She is spending her fall semester studying abroad and interning at Alice PR & Events.
Senior public relations major Modjina Ovil stands in front of O’Brien’s Tower in County Clare, Ireland. She is spending her fall semester studying abroad and interning at Alice PR & Events.

By Rosalie Mandracchia 

Rolling green hills and bright blue skies are senior public relations major Modjina Ovil’s classroom this semester.

Ovil is currently studying abroad and interning in Dublin at Alice PR & Events, a start-up company that connects with its clients through online campaigns and events.

In her years leading up to 2016, Ovil knew she wanted to study abroad in Europe at some point in her life. That point came when she wanted to gain more public relations (PR) experience before graduating.

Ovil chose to study abroad in Ireland because it met all her essential preferences; it is one of the friendliest and safest countries in the world and one of the only English-speaking countries in Europe.

When she first began applying for the study abroad program last spring, she soon decided interning would also help her gain more knowledge of the field.

“The idea of gaining PR experience and learning how PR works globally appealed to me,” Ovil said. Interning was a requirement for her study-abroad program; however, she found that out after already being accepted for her internship.

She was originally inspired to study abroad by Associate Director for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Ida Tyson, who encouraged her to take full advantage of her remaining time in college. Assistant professor of languages, literatures and cultures and French professor Dr. Stéphane Natan’s enthusiasm for the idea of Ovil studying abroad also gave her more motivation and excitement to expand her horizons.

“[Ovil] is a very pleasant student, participating, open-minded and always very much willing to learn about other cultures,” Natan said. “I think that studying about the French culture gave her the desire to travel in another country and to know Europe.”

Since her arrival in Dublin, Ovil has experienced the friendly nature of the Irish people first-hand.

“The Irish are not in a constant rush to get things done, nor do they often get upset if you show up late sometimes,” she said. “It is part of their culture to be more personable, as in one should expect to have a conversation with a fellow Irish rather than a quick ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ as we do here in America.”

For Ovil, some of the cultural differences she experienced in Ireland were simple. Shops and grocery stores display their breads and pastries unwrapped for the public, the bus only stops if it sees someone holding out his or her hand, and the water is seemingly clearer, fresher and more drinkable. Spar and Tesco are two convenience stores found on every corner and there are different colored doors in almost every home you walk by.

A normal day for Ovil is attending classes in the morning, then either working in the office or exploring the city of Dublin with her class.

She has gained a great deal of knowledge from her internship; so far she has drafted a press release, attended product launches for clients and managed social media accounts.  There is a lot of hands-on work experience that helps her network and stay in touch with others.

Exploring Dublin has been one of the greatest experiences Ovil has had while abroad.  Her adventures vary from sightseeing to exploring new cafés and restaurants with live music on most evenings. For Ovil, there is never a dull moment.

For some students, traveling alone to a foreign country can be nerve-wracking. Ovil urged those who may be wary of studying abroad to take the leap, regardless of any worries they may have.

“Do not allow fear and doubt to overwhelm you and stop you from going after what you want in life regardless of where you are coming from,” she said. “The least you can do before making a final decision to anything is to do your research and find out your options.”

Additonal reporting by Samantha Brandbergh


Printed in the 10/19/16 edition. 

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