Lee Duddy – Colaiste Lurgan
Colaiste Lurgan was an experience I could never forget. From the moment I sat on the bus to Connemara, I could feel the pumped up energy to start learning and connecting with peers on the same social scale heading into sixth year, all preparing to sit an exam that determines what we do for the rest of our lives. The first few days went slow and I found it hard personally to fit in and do well in classes because of the lack of Irish that I had. I felt like I was alone even the though people were talking to me. Hundreds of people around but feeling like I was lost.
On the fourth or fifth day, we went cycling and I fell off, badly hurting my knee. This didn’t give me a good impression of Lurgan at first. However, talking about my injury to people helped me to make friends and then I looked at Lurgan in a different manner.
Going back to the house and learning Irish from my friends and teachers, I started to gain a fair bit of confidence. The second week took a turn for the good and interacting got a whole lot easier. I made new friends who I could consistently talk to and made a connection with, the type of friends that I know I’ll talk to and meet up with in years to come. The festivals, dances, singing, sports and interactions couldn’t have been better, as the second week was an experience that I held close to me as the time I spent there couldn’t have been better in the end. Weeks later and all I want is to go back. Lee Duddy
Wiktoria Ferdzyn – Valencia
I would like to thank you all for funding the trip to Valencia it was the best experience of my life so far, not only that I learned a lot of new things, but I also met a lot of positive people.
When I arrived at the airport in Dublin, I met the girl who would accompany us to Valencia. She was very nice and told us a lot about her experience while she did the CSS program. After we got off the plane, I was bit nervous, but also very curious about what my family would be like.
My host family made me feel very welcome from the start. After a quick introduction, our families took us home. My host sister drove us the apartment where I had my own room.
The next morning my host mom made me breakfast and lunch, then she walked me to school so I wouldn’t get lost. The classes were fun, and I could learn a lot of new things from them. I can tell that my Spanish got much better after the week in Valencia, it was easier for me to understand people because I got used to the accent. We had many activities in the afternoon. On the first day we went to the Cathedral that was in the middle of town. We went to the top of it where we could see the whole city, the view was breath-taking. When I got home the dinner was ready, it was a delicious Spanish dish and after dinner I helped my host mom clean and we went to watch her favourite tv show. She told me what happened before so I wouldn’t be confused about it.
The next day we visited the beach where we played volleyball, which is very popular in Valencia. On one of the days we also went paddle surfing, which was a whole new experience for me, and I had so much fun. During the evening, I went out with my host family to get dinner and they told me many things about Valencia and their experience with other exchange students.
On Saturday we all went on a bicycle trip around town and to the beach. The weather was amazing throughout the whole week, so it made every trip even better. We also visited the City of Art and Science which was unbelievably beautiful.
While in Valencia I had the opportunity to make a lot of new friends that I’m still in contact with. Many of them are from Ireland but a good bunch are from Hong Kong, America and Spain. This was one of the best experiences in my life, so thank you for this amazing opportunity. Thank you. Wiktoria Ferdzyn
Shannon Hoey – Delphi
My experience at Delphi was amazing. There was so much to do and learn while I was there. It started the day we went. I got to know different people on the bus journey on the way. We thought it would take up to 3 hours to get there, but it took us 9 hours to get there, which was great as we could get to know people.
When we got there we were shown our rooms and told to get some rest because we would be tired in the morning for the activities. We were also told there would be a bodyguard on duty all night, he came around and made sure we were all there and told us the rules and that breakfast was at 8 so he would call us at 7 and activities would start around half 9.
So on the first morning, I kinda woke everybody up at half 6 and they were mostly crying, which was funny then we all got dressed and went out for breakfast and were introduced to the leader of the camp. We got to know everybody and were separated into our groups. I was in group 4 and I loved my group. The people in it were so nice and friendly.
This adventure camp really helped me a lot to get out of my comfort zone we did lots of activities and each activity helped with something different in different ways.
1.Zip lining – I found zip lining one of the difficult challenges as I was afraid of heights, but I got up and did it and it helped me by facing one of my fears by knowing you can do things if you put your brain to it.
2.Surfing – I really thought surfing was amazing. It helped me learn how to balance and how to surf and be confident in the water and it taught me that you shouldn’t be afraid of falling.
3.Pier Jumping – This was one of the things I had never done before but a skill I developed quickly. I learnt how to swim and it was amazing. I was afraid to jump off the pier, but they said I’d be ok and it taught me how to swim.
4.Camping – For one of the nights we had a camping activity which was where we stayed on a beach for a whole night and we sang some songs. I learnt survival skills, such as how to cook and put up a tent and also how to survive in the wild and build a fire.
5.Birthday surprise -The camp had all set up a birthday surprise for me with a cake and card.
6.Goodbyes – On the last day we had to say our goodbyes, but Delphi has taught me so much and many skills and this will help me now and with future times. I hope to return to Delphi again.
Gloria Nankya – Valencia
A once in a lifetime experience, that is how I would describe my week in Valencia. During the programme, every day in the evening we went to visit attractions.
During my stay in Valencia, I was in put with my family. I had a sister about 10 years old and a mom and dad. They came to pick me up at the airport the night I arrived. The family were very welcoming and took me in with warm arms.
On my first day my host mom and I took the metro from Almàssera to Valencia which was about 5 minutes. The next following days, I took myself to school and came back home alone. I couldn’t have got lost because I had the address on the folder I took to school and on my phone. I am so grateful for the relationships that I built with people I met in that one week. I still talk with my host family and I did cry leaving them. It was great being able to learn about their different lifestyles as well as culture. This experience was overall phenomenal, and I am forever thankful for it. Gloria Nankya