My Experience in Ireland: Estela Albendea López

My name is Estela and I am 15 years old, I am from Seville in Spain. I came to Tullamore, Ireland at the end of August. I was a little worried because I had never done anything like this before. On arrival, my first impression was that the family were very nice and kind and the house was lovely.

The first day we arrived early so we had some food and they showed me around the town. If I’m honest I found the town to be a lot bigger than I had thought it was. That day I met my ‘sister’ Holly who is the same age as me and my ‘mother’. My other ‘sister’ and ‘dad’ were not at home. In the first few days we did a lot of activities: we went for a lovely walk and I went out with Holly and her friends.

I am attending Sacred Heart in Tullamore it is a girl’s school. On 31st of August I started school. I remember feeling very nervous. The first couple of hours I felt lonely however by lunch time I had already made two friends.

I am in Transition Year; the first two days were spent introducing us all. We did various activities, we were shown how to put on makeup for an interview, we learnt a dance and we also did some meditation. I really enjoyed it and I was happy because I made new friends. Normal classes began the following week. I also met another Spanish girl who is in transition year with me. I’m very happy in school. I received good news that Amalia (one of my friends from Seville) was coming to Tullamore.

School in Ireland is very different to what I expected, some of my subjects include Choir, music, Irish dancing, business studies, career guidance, community care and public access to law. Then we have different activities like setting up our own ‘mini company’ and a competition ‘junk kouture’ where we must design a wearable costume out of everyday junk or recyclable materials. Then I have Maths, English, French, and Science like in Spain. This year in school is certainly very different but I do think it is beneficial to prepare you for your future.

After school I do my homework and sometimes I go to the gym, play tennis, watch television or hang out with my host family. Around 7-8pm we have dinner, I find the food is very different to Spanish food, but it is nice.

We had a German student stay with us, he was nice I keep in touch with him and his friends that came here too. On their last day in Ireland we had a party at my house and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the time with the German students.
During the past few months I have been busy I have visited Galway and Dublin. I’ve taken trips to Athlone many times and I have made new Spanish friends there. While visiting Galway I met my ‘mothers’ family. I attended my ‘sisters’ graduation. I enjoy going to the cinema with my Irish friends and Spanish girls from my school. My host family are always inviting me places with them. I am really enjoying my time here.

I am excited for the rest of this experience and to continue improving my English. I feel I have already improved so much in the short time I have been here. I love my host family; they made me feel part of their family from the very first day and I am going to miss them so much! They are so kind, and Holly is like friend to me. I am loving this experience.

Packing for your trip to Ireland

packing travelPacking for Irish weather can be very tricky, one minute the sun is shining and the next minute it’s raining. There is a widely known expression ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’ Alfred Wainwright.

The best thing I can advise is to come prepared and pack for all seasons. The country is well known for being on the rainy side, however the sun does tend to make an appearance, often when it is least expected. So, I would advise that you pack for the sun and the rain that will follow or alternatively pack for the rain and the sun that will follow. When the rain stops (which it usually does) and the sun comes out, you will be completely overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery. The Irish sky after a little rain is rather striking.

The key to doing this is to pack layers, ideally the thinner the better. Include items such as vests, t-shirts, light jumpers, and of course a raincoat. Don’t forget your sunglasses too for the bursts of sunshine that do occur.

Cliffs-of-Moher-IrelandI would also recommend that you bring a sturdy pair of boots for exploring across the many farmlands and country lanes. They will be very much required once you leave the City streets and cobbled pathways of Galway and Dublin.

Other Items to include are a hat, an umbrella and a small bag to carry all your essential items around.

Finally, there is one thing visitors do expect when they come to Ireland and that is the spectacular scenery and believe me you will not be disappointed. You will most certainly want to pack a camera for your trip to the Emerald Isle to capture the beautiful landscapes and all that Ireland has to offer.

Student Experience- Gracia Calvo

GraciaI arrived in Ireland on the 26th of August. My host mum Kay picked me up. I thought the house was big and comfortable. The family were very nice to me and I liked the dog a lot. The first week I went to a football match, it was very cold, but I really enjoyed it.

I started school a week after I got here. The teachers and the students were very welcoming, and I made friends the first day.
My favourite subject is English. The teacher helps me a lot and so do my classmates.
I started going swimming after school some evenings, other evenings I would go to the gym. On Thursdays, I go to Pilates with my host mother and sister (Katy).
I am doing well in school. I have a lot of study to do for the exams coming up.

At the weekends I meet with my friends and we go to town, have a hot chocolate or to a house to watch a movie. I video chat with my mum in Spain often and with some friends too. I am getting used to the cold and rainy weather in Ireland, but I do at times miss the sunny days in Spain.

On midterm break my family (mum, dad, sister, aunt, and cousin) came to Ireland to visit me for a couple of days. We stayed at a hotel in Dublin. My Irish host parents met my family. During the week, we visited the Cliffs of Moher, it was amazing! In Dublin City we did a lot of different tours. My family left on Wednesday and I was quite sad saying goodbye but I soon felt better again. The rest of the break, I met my friends at Eddie Rockets and I did my homework.

I went back to school and soon got used to getting up early again. In December, there is going to be a talent show in the school and I am going to participate in it playing the ukulele and singing, it will be fun! Last week I went to an aqua fitness class in the swimming pool, it was good, but very tiring! My experience in Ireland so far has been very interesting and enjoyable! I am learning a lot and I would recommend it!

Student Diary:Olga Ordines Lloret

OlgaMy experience in Ireland has been enjoyable so far. I have been very lucky with my family and I already love them. The first day I found everything a little bit strange. We were all very tired from the journey and I just wanted to go to bed.

After one week settling in I started school. I can’t say it was a good experience the first day, because it wasn’t. I was completely lost and there were times when I felt lonely, I didn’t know anybody, and I found it a little difficult to explain what I wanted to say. Although it was good because my first day at school was on a Friday so that meant I had the weekend to rest and prepare for the week ahead.

The first week of school as you can imagine, again I was a little lost. I had to ask everyone where my classes were because I found it confusing but I did make two Spanish friends who helped me out a lot.

Over here in Ireland I am attending an all-girls school. This is new to me because back home I attend a mixed school. I must wear a uniform whereas in Spain I don’t. The level of subjects I would say is much easier. I am in 5th year and I am doing what I was doing in 3rd of ESO in Spain. After the first week I began to settle in and feel more comfortable.

At first, I didn’t mind the weather but when November came there was a drop in the temperature and I found it very cold. Then there are days it rains a lot and that makes me miss the sun. I do miss the Spanish weather. I really enjoy the views of the countryside, there is so much greenery and farms everywhere it is very beautiful.

I would recommend that anybody going abroad to study, not to be shy, to say what you think and not to keep your problems to yourself. People are so willing to help. It is also important to speak as much English as possible, even if you don’t think you can, you must try to improve your English. Finally, I think reading a lot of English is beneficial and being in class will help you improve your writing and listening skills. I feel I have become more independent and this experience has helped me to become more confident.

Marcos Carballo Reyes -Weekend trip with host family


marcos ReyesI spent a great weekend with my host family. On Friday 14thOctober we all went to stay in a hotel for the weekend. This was to celebrate their Grandmother’s Birthday all together.

On the first night we went to the restaurant in the hotel where we enjoyed some delicious food. The next morning, when we got up we had a lovely breakfast in the hotel. For my breakfast I had eggs, sausages, and some orange juice.

After breakfast I went with the boys to play a few games of pool. When we finished we went see their Uncle. The boys decided to go swimming, but I did not want to go so I stayed and read my book. The next day we enjoyed playing lots of different games. We had a lot of fun hanging out together.

We had to leave early in the afternoon as Ireland were expecting a Hurricane on the Monday morning.

A trip to Causey Farm by Adriana Torres

causeyfarm 1 blogAdriana Torres is from Spain and she recently attended Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School for 8 weeks as a first-year student. Here Adriana tells us a little about her favourite trip during her stay in Ireland. Causey Farm is located 10kms from the town of Kells in County Meath. They offer an authentic Irish family farm experience.

A few weeks ago, our group went to Causey Farm and we had a lot of fun. We all had such a good time together. The first activity of the day was baking brown bread. This was very enjoyable, we had to make it all by ourselves and when it was ready we all tasted some and it was so delicious.

blogcauseyfarm2We then went to see the farm animals. We saw a lot of animals such as pigs, cows, ducks and hens. My favourite animal would have to be the cow, we all took turns to milk it and it was funny because  the milk came out very quickly.

After that we had an Irish dancing lesson and they also showed us how to play the Irish drum- the Bodhran and it was very funny because we didn’t know how to do it at all.causeyfarm4

And the last thing we did and the part I liked most was bog jumping it was very enjoyable and really cool. We all got covered in mud and dirt and we were all looking silly by the end.

It was an excitingcausey farm5 experience but when we got out of the bog it was very cold and we were all freezing, so we got changed and we went to have some food and a cup of tea to warm us up.

We then got back onto the bus and we left the farm, it was an unforgettable experience and we had a lot of fun, for me it was the best excursion ever.

Matilda Héndez: A typical day attending Our Lady’s Bower Secondary school

Matilda Héndez is from Spain and she recently attended Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School for 8 weeks as a first year student. Here Matilda tells us a little bit about a typical day attending the school.

Matilda Héndéz photoWe are in a beautiful school called Our Lady’s Bower. It is a catholic school and it is an all girl’s school. We do different subjects such as Home Economics, Art, History, Irish, Science, Religion, English, P.E, Maths, Geography, French, C.S.P.E and S.P.H.E.

My favourite subject is art, we do a lot of creative things in this amazing room filled with art work that has been designed by students from various classes.

At lunch time we eat at the canteen, I can either bring my own lunch or alternatively have food from the cafeteria. Once we are finished eating, one group of girls must clean and tidy the area. A group of girls are chosen weekly and take it in turns to clean up after lunch/ before the next class begins.

In the afternoon we finish school at 3.50 on Monday and Tuesday. We finish school at 3.10 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

When school finishes I get back to my host family on a local bus that collects lots of other children from different schools as well.

I really hope I can come back again for another year.

Laura Delgado: Day trip to Galway

Laura Delgado photoLaura Delgado is from Spain and she recently attended Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School for 8 weeks as a first year student. Here Laura gives us an account of one of her favourite trips while in Ireland.

Our trip to Galway was one of the best ones so far. Before going into Galway city, we first went to Athenry Heritage Centre. There a woman told us all about Ireland’s past. She then gave us some costumes to try on and we dressed up as Kings, Queens, warriors, princesses, and knights. She guided us through the castle. One place she brought us to which I particularly enjoying was the dungeon. There she showed us the different weapons they used to torture the thief’s, criminals, liars, and she also showed us how they used them.

I found a lot of the weapons were very cruel and savage. So, people who lived in the middle age kingdom, really needed to listen, and do what they had been told to avoid getting locked up and tortured.

After that, we went outside to practice some archery. We split ourselves into two different teams; The dragons and the knights, this battle ended with the dragon’s victory. We then got back onto the bus and continued on to Galway

After approximately an hour we arrived, we had lunch near a wild cold river. Laura showed us which street we were going to be on and allowed us some time to have a look around. The street was crowded and music invaded every corner. Watching people dancing, playing their instrument, or showing different talents made me feel happy. It really made me want to spend more time there on that joyful street. When it was time to leave we were all exhausted after walking up and down and having a look in EVERY shop. The trip to Galway was short but great and we all looked forward to next Saturday to arrive and to discover where that would take us.


Laura Enjuto’s experience of working with Shannon Academy

Laura glMy name is Laura Enjuto I am a group leader from Spain. I have been coming to Athlone for 9 years now and I have been working with Shannon Academy for 7 years. I like Athlone I find it’s very good for the programme we are trying to run. This is a small town for us but at the same time it has everything we need, there are shopping centres, a cinema, a bowling alley, and there are schools of course. Basically, this is what we want. We want our students to go to school and for them to have places to go afterwards to enjoy their free time.

The people here are very friendly I have never had a problem with anybody and in fact I will say that I feel very secure, very protected and everyone is taking care of me especially those in Shannon Academy. Any problem I have is solved right away. I like coming here and working with the Shannon Academy staff, they are the best I must tell you the BEST. Athlone is great, it is a very handy town. The location is great, it’s very central which is convenient for us because every Saturday we go on trips to different places such as Dublin, Galway or Kilkenny and we never have to travel far. My favourite aspect would have to be going out and enjoying the social scene. It has history as well and it’s an interesting town. Without any doubt I would recommend Shannon Academy particularly because of the staff working here they are very friendly and provide anything you need at any time.

My experience of learning English at Shannon Academy

22790688_10210942382137339_391838059_oMy name is Natalia Regueiro Leis. When I first arrived at Shannon Academy I was in a panic. Let me tell you why. I am a Spanish teacher from Galicia and came to study here for three months. The idea was to attend a course on Scientific English and to experience life in Ireland. I had everything arranged from Spain. I had gotten in contact with an English Language Centre, enrolled my two children into a local school and rented a house. However, two days before the classes were supposed to start, at this stage myself and my whole family were already settled in Ireland, a problem with the language centre arose which meant that I had to find a new language centre in a day.

Finding such specific tuition in so little time was more than stressful and as the hours passed the stress turned into panic. In a worried state I met Caoimhe, the director of Shannon Academy in Athlone. Not only did she immediately start to work on finding me a solution, but she was also sympathetic to me and trust me I needed it. In a matter of a few days, I was in class!

Re_Spanish teacher_NataliaThis centre does not specialise in Scientific English, but they have an advantage that no other centre has in the area. They are located on a secondary school premises and they co-operate with the school and its teachers on a regular basis. This has provided me, thanks to Shannon Academy, with the opportunity to meet the junior science teacher who has invited me to attend some of his lessons. This will be especially interesting and beneficial to me, as I will be able to observe the use of Scientific English language used in real context. I’m looking forward to experiencing this.

On the other hand, as there is no such thing as a scientific English course available, Shannon Academy have organised private tuition which consists of individual lessons. This way, the teacher, a very nice lady called Patricia-  can totally adapt her teaching to suit my needs. I must say that so far this is working very well, or should I say “grand”. I am not only learning but I am also enjoying the lessons and it makes me feel happy that I still have ten more weeks of this.

Host family and student experiences

Our experience of being a host family to students

In 2001 we became a host family. We had a lovely girl named Anna stay with us for 2 weeks.
We loved the company and still do today 16 years later and of course the lovely gifts we received. We have grown to understand a lot more about other countries through the different children and leaders we meet each year.
My Children, over the years learned French and a little Spanish. This helped them with their exams.

We have friends made for life and keep in contact with them through Facebook or on what’s app. We were even invited on holiday to Spain for 2 weeks to stay in their Summer house. I also love when they come to stay with us, as it gives me an excuse to spring clean everything. I enjoy cooking Irish dishes for them too.

I have been to many places with them, taken part in various activities and lots of sightseeing too. From Dublin to Trinity College, sight seeing in Kerry, Achill Island and Cliffs of Moher to mention a few. We, as a family, went to Killarney and had a lovely holiday together thanks to hosting students this Summer.

I really enjoy having the company on shopping trips and generally love learning about their culture and hearing about their cultural experiences with us in Ireland. Over many years I have been blessed with many good people staying in our home and I hope this will continue for many years to come. Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them but you know they are there!

22497508_10210889992427629_1124964576_n (1)My experience in Ireland so far 10/10/17

This is Ainhoa Lopez-Larrainzar Salazar. Ainhoa is 15 years old, she is a Spanish student who is currently studying in Athlone, Ireland for the school year. She is a fifth year student in Colaiste Chiarain. This is a little piece on her experience in Ireland so far.

My experience in Ireland began on the 27th August when I arrived for my first night in Athlone. I liked my room on the second floor of the house. My suitcase was very heavy and Marguarita’s son Daniel took it up to my room for me.

I arrived in Ireland earlier than I was due to start school. Marguarita was very kind and took me to lots of places so I didn’t get bored. We went to the shopping centre and another day I met a Spanish girl whom I travelled over with on the aeroplane and we went out for the day.

When I started at the school everything was a little strange and different but I soon adapted and began to feel comfortable.

I love Ireland, I love the weather, I like the rain because in Spain it doesn’t rain much. I really like my host family, they’re very nice. Marguarita takes me anywhere I would like to go. I really like my new life here in Ireland. My host family are so lovely although sometimes I do miss my family and I would like to speak face to face with them back home in Spain.

Snow in Athlone

Mikel (Spain) Alanna (Ireland) Nubia (Brazil) Agnes (Poland)

enjoying the snow in Athlone this morning!