Hello! I’m Jacob Owens, and I’m a senior at the University of Montana, who’s been studying journalism for the last four years. My GLI theme is politics and culture, which I got my share of last fall, while I interned in Dublin, Ireland. I interned at Babylon Radio, where I wrote articles and hosted a weekly radio show. I learned a bit more about Ireland and its people each time I interviewed someone. I wrote primarily about marginalized people like those without homes, Ukrainian refugees and people who have secondary breast cancer. These types of stories have obvious cultural and more subtle political implications. One story with a direct political connection involved a website Dublin set up to assist newly arriving Ukrainians. This is when I talked with the Lord Mayor of Dublin. My GLI theme also applied to what I gave to the people of Dublin. My radio show provided listeners with American music every Wednesday night, so while my work informed me about Ireland’s culture and politics, I also shared a bit of my own culture.
Ireland is not vastly different from the United States, but I did not need a completely different place to learn a lot about myself. How do you start over again and make friends in a different country? How do you respond to getting off on the wrong foot with your boss? And how do you conduct yourself when you’re an ocean away from home, in a place where no one has preset ideas about who you are? None of the questions above have a single solution but navigating those situations taught me about the person I am and would like to be both professionally and socially.
I did not see myself as the traditional leader while abroad. My roles were that of student, intern, flatmate and friend, but I did have smaller scale moments of leadership. For one, I learned how to stick to my guns when repeatedly challenged by a superior. I also found that being a leader involves knowing when you are not the right person to take charge. Lastly, leading can be a quiet act, like being kind, friendly and accepting people for who they are. People with those leadership skills are who society needs for the 21st century. I thoroughly enjoyed my time abroad, but I am left with some lingering questions like how would Ireland have been different had English not been the primary language? Did I go to enough pubs? And should I have tried harder to befriend Dubliners?
My time abroad is like a collage of memories. I can picture the lush landscape of Ireland with towns like Wicklow, the Cliffs of Moher to go along with Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. Then there’s the memories I made alone during weekend trips around the United Kingdom and greater Europe. I visited Scotland, Wales, London, Paris and Italy! Perhaps the most memorable trip was going to Rome over Halloween, which I decided to do less than a week before. Roma, which seems more like a museum than a metropolis, gave me a memory that sums up my time overseas. My first night there, I was a bit confused and looking for a bus stop to get to my hotel with no knowledge of Italian. Luckily an Italian woman nearby took pity on me, took my hand and guided me to the correct bus stop. People in the world are good if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, get embarrassed a bit and go see what is out there.