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Introduction to Studying Abroad in Dublin

Greetings, my name is Amanda Van Houten, and I am from a small village in Western New York. I am currently entering my fourth and hopefully final year as a Hospitality Management student at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Although I grew up in a small community in a single-parent household, I never let any of this hold me back. I am very grateful for my upbringing because I would not be the resourceful, hard-working, and resilient person I am today without it. I find inspiration and courage from the strong women in my family, who have supported me through every academic and personal pursuit. I am a first-generation college student who never imagined being able to study abroad was possible for me. It still does not feel real yet, even now that I am here at this stage. But here I am, heading to Ireland!

Throughout my time at Pitt-Bradford, I have always tackled my educational career with thoughts of expanding my academic limits. I entered as an undeclared student and explored several introductory courses in psychology, sociology, literature, and even environmental science. Ultimately, I found a home in the Hospitality Management department. Similar to the phrase “choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life,” I found this major was something I loved, and due to this passion, I do not dread exams or assignments as much as I would have with an accounting major or something along those lines. I am hopeful this passion for hospitality will never burn out, as the hospitality industry is vast and ever-changing. I am the first person in my major to apply for an international internship, and I hope I can inspire my peers to seize an amazing opportunity like this in the future.
As a full-time student living on campus, I am very active in student life. Since my first year of college, I have been invested in organizations like Habitat for Humanity, general volunteering opportunities, and other popular interest clubs. Walking into the upcoming fall semester, I will be the President of the Hospitality Club and Habitat for Humanity. I also sit on the executive board for the Art Club and regularly attend Pride Alliance meetings. Although Pitt-Bradford is a smaller branch campus, we have tons of active organizations and other student-led groups. Being involved in these organizations from my first year has really set me up for success in my future. Not only have I been able to create a tight-knit group of friends, but I have also been able to grow my soft skills, develop basic management abilities, and learn how to balance an academic workload amongst all of this. In my free time, I enjoy relaxing, mostly in solitude, with a good book, a favorite movie, a long playlist, or a new tv show.

I chose the International Internship Program because I wanted to gain working experience in the hospitality industry and develop a global mindset regarding my future occupation. Not only will this program broaden my overall outlook on the hospitality industry on an international scale, but it will also check off a requirement for graduation, and studying abroad will also foster several opportunities for personal development. As this will be my first time flying, traveling outside of the country, and living on my own for the most part. Beyond that, I am entering this program knowing no one else. I also have little to no professional experience in the hospitality industry, and I will treat this learning experience as a way to explore possible career routes. Plus, interning in another country will help me get to know a new business culture and show how I can adapt as well as thrive under different conditions. Adding references from this experience will also set my resume apart from other applicants and hopefully enable me to achieve future career goals. Beyond what I have previously mentioned, I will be able to improve my time management skills, start networking within my industry, and develop other hard skills to increase meaningful contributions in the workplace. I will also have the time to work on my confidence and individuality. While traveling and working somewhere new, I will have to evaluate my interpersonal skills and overcome new challenges.

Although I will be staying on a much larger campus than Pitt-Bradford, navigating public transportation and a city area. I am absolutely thrilled to experience it all, and my internship placement could not fit me better. I will be working with the elite staff of the Stephen’s Green Club, Ireland’s premier membership club. This upscale private club is more on the smaller and more premium side, but it will offer me the perfect environment to gain exposure to multiple areas of operations and achieve all my personal and professional goals.