Last week Trinity students returning from a year on international exchange were welcomed back with a wine reception. It was a great chance to chat about our time away from Dublin and compare experiences; there were also speakers from the Careers Advisory Service, and a storytelling workshop from writer and performer Catherine Brophy.
Having recently returned from Canada, after a year at the University of Toronto, I found it incredible the amount I had in common with people who had spent their year in countries across the globe. From those who had travelled as far as Australia, to those who participated in the Erasmus program, we all shared a common understanding of what it means to go somewhere new.
On arrival we were given a list of potential exchange experiences (including ‘having a holiday romance’ and ‘climbing a mountain’) and were invited to find as many people as we could who could claim to have done them. This was a great ice-breaker, and sparked some amazing stories of trips and adventures. Around the room were boards where we could write advice to future students and treasured memories, some which made you smile and some which made you laugh. The Global Room was abuzz with stories and anecdotes, and everyone had experiences they were eager to share.
Later in the evening, once everyone had sampled the refreshments and met one-another, a speaker from the Careers Advisory Service spoke to us about how to capitalise upon our experiences when applying for jobs. The independence and global awareness which going abroad to study gives you can really set you apart when looking for a job, so discovering the best way to present this on LinkedIn and at interview was invaluable.
As the evening wound down there was just enough time for a storytelling workshop led by writer and performer Catherine Brophy. She spoke to us about the best ways to shape a story for the listener, something we could all use capitalise on our international anecdotes. When I came back from my year on exchange I was brimming with stories and memories to share, however after a week or so the excitement of my return had waned and no one was interested in hearing about the ice and snow anymore. Hopefully the pointers Catherine has given me on retelling my experiences will help me communicate my memories in a way which as exciting as I remember them.
It can be strange returning after a year away, although everything is the same you’ve changed and it’s not always easy to fit straight back in. It was great to meet fellow students who felt the same way, and who were as passionate about their year as I was. I hope that next year’s exchange students will get the same opportunity to meet up and discuss their experiences, as it was the perfect way to round off a year abroad.
Jess is a Student Ambassador in the Global Room in her final year of a degree in English.