By Roisin O’Donoghue, BA New Media & English
My Co-op experience is one I don’t think I could ever forget. I can still remember going to the seminars and signing up for an international placement. This was very unlike me. I had never been abroad by myself before and knew nothing about booking flights or searching for accommodation. I don’t think I gave it a lot of serious thought just the idea of living and working in another part of the world seemed so sophisticated and amazing and I wanted it to be something I could do.
The whole process of Co-op was quite stressful but also exciting. Being interviewed by international companies felt like an introduction to the real world for me. I was kind of worried that it would take forever to get a placement or that I wouldn’t get accepted for one at all. However, that was not the case as I was accepted after my second interview for a magazine located in the south of France. I was delighted with this as it was the kind of job I was interested in and in the south of France no less!
As my placement drew nearer and nearer I began to feel the panic. I kept asking myself “what have I done?” I had little French and knew nothing about living alone without my parents being close enough to rescue me if something went wrong. Part of me felt that the whole thing was going to be a complete disaster and that I was going to hate it there. All my friends and family kept asking me what exactly was I going to be doing and all I could say was I’d know when I got there and the more they enquired about it the more stressed I got.
On my first day, I explored the city of Nice where I was going to be living for the next few months. At first, I was incredibly lonely which I thought was strange as normally I really enjoy time on my own. There was just nothing and no one familiar around me and this really knocked me for six. I can remember one night in my second week of Co-op and my mam sent me a snap of my two dogs. It only hit me then how alone and homesick I was. However, once I settled into my accommodation and into my placement I felt so much more comfortable and the loneliness passed. I also enjoyed my work with the magazine, Riviera Insider, too. It had content I was unfamiliar with as it was quite high-end like Michelin star restaurants, operas and luxury vacations. It was a broad range of topics so I really learned a lot about different ways of writing certain articles. It was stressful sometimes but it was still an amazing feeling to see my name printed under an article I had written.
I’m really proud of my time in France and although it had never been a place I was particularly keen to visit before Co-op it now holds a lot of significance for me. It was where I learned to live with people I wasn’t related to, where I learned to grocery shop for myself and where I did work that I enjoy and want to pursue a career in. Basically, it was where I learned about what I could achieve in life and that is an experience I’m grateful for.