An Irish adventure: Apprentice Viktoria Koppel discovers career and culture abroad

30 January 2024

Wörnitz, 30.01.2024 - Our vPOOL apprentice Viktoria Koppel took the opportunity to complete a three-week stay in Ireland in November 2023, during her second year of her apprenticeship as an office management assistant, thanks to an initiative by her vocational school. The goal was not only to experience a foreign country and company, but also to improve her English skills. There were also several opportunities to explore the area around Dublin and get to know Irish culture better.

The first few days: Arrival in Dublin and a warm welcome

When she arrived in Dublin, Viktoria had hit the jackpot with her host family. Not only was the Irish family very friendly and helpful, but they also provided her with her own living area, and she immediately felt at home. The following three weeks turned out to be a complete success with great hospitality and a warm traditional welcome from the Irish community as a whole.

First impressions and final preparations

The group of 15 apprentices, including Viktoria, started their journey with a two-day language course. However, the first day of school was dominated by a new experience: Viktoria had to take the bus and learnt that a clear hand signal is required in Ireland to let the bus driver know that you want to catch a ride. A small but instructive cultural nuance!

During the English lessons, the group was prepared for their working life in Ireland. Here, Viktoria learnt not only language and grammar, but also a lot about Irish culture, from well-known authors, to hearing folk tales and being given an insight into current events. This helped her to adjust and prepare well for the work ahead.

The biggest challenge during her stay was to understand the Irish dialect and certain specific expressions used in business. After some initial difficulties, however, she managed to overcome the communication barriers and establish an effective working relationship with her colleagues.

Starting work: Internship at an auditing company

The Erasmus+ agency found her an internship at the auditing firm Donal Rayn & Associates. "I spent most of my time working in Excel and was allowed to draw up a profit and loss account and check loans," says Viktoria. Compared to Germany, she found working life in Ireland to be more relaxed and laid-back. Small irregularities such as missing invoices were not seen as major problems!

Free time activities: cultural experiences and natural wonders

In addition to her professional activities, Ireland offered Viktoria and her travel group a wealth of cultural experiences. The breathtaking natural surroundings, the hospitality of the locals and the country's rich history helped to make her time away from the office just as unforgettable as her professional experiences and using her free time she was able to discover the beauty of the land. She reports that the group visited numerous places, including the island town of Howth and the famous city of Galway with its cobbled streets, traditional pubs, and lively arts scene. Together they also enjoyed taking a trip to the Cliffs of Moher - these spectacular cliffs on the west coast being one of Ireland's most famous natural sights. The view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands is definitely impressive. Of course, they also explored Ireland's capital city Dublin, which has a wealth of historical and cultural attractions, including; Trinity College; the Guinness Storehouse; Dublin Castle and the lively Temple Bar district.

Viktoria's conclusion: A formative experience abroad

Viktoria is of the opinion that her internship abroad in Ireland was a hugely formative experience that she would recommend to anyone. The opportunity to work in an international environment that went far beyond her established professional skill set not only increased her knowledge of the subject, but also gave her valuable insights into a different culture and way of working.

Viktoria's conclusion of her exchange visit: "I believe that such opportunities should be used to gain new experiences, see the world and grow both professionally and personally. My internship abroad in Ireland also strengthened my intercultural awareness and thereby helped me to become more flexible and adaptable."