Juliana and Danilo, two of our long term students on life as a student in Donegal…
Having English on the tip of your tongue is essential nowadays. To achieve this goal, my girlfriend and I ended up opting for the famous Exchange.
Many have the opportunity to enjoy this experience with the help of parents, but most need to work hard, save money, research, plan, research a bit more, and finally, embark on the Exchange.
One of the most discussed topics among us was the choice of the country where we were going. We eventually arrived at the same destination decision that many other exchange students who have a tight budget and need to work during the Exchange: we opted for Ireland!
And then it began all over again … Where to go? Which school to choose? Housing, food, blah blah blah …
Some things became clear to us after our research on Dublin as a destination. The first was that Dublin suffers big city problems, the second, the growing number of Brazilians and, last but not least, the possibility of not getting a job and having to return to Brazil without having reached a good level of language. Based on these concerns, we decided that our destiny would not Dublin.
If the goal is to learn English, why not take a short break in the capital and explore other destinations in Ireland?
On one of our days of searching the Internet, we found some specialised sites for Work Exchange:- the Worldpackers, Workaway, HelpX and Wwoof . In short, these are communities where families of various nationalities offer work in exchange for accommodation, and the process is quite simple. Just register on the site, choose the location where you want to go, make sure you can meet family expectations and what they are offering interests you.
This is a great option for those who want to plunge into the local culture, not to mention the advantage of escaping the costs of room and board, which was included in the final package.
We had a very specific profile so it wasn’t so simple was finding the right family. We were looking for a place away from the big cities, with a good accredited English school, which allowed us to study during the morning. On top of that, there were two of us i.e. the host would have to take in a couple for at least six months.
Within a few weeks of looking we settle on County Donegal, we found the perfect family near the town of Bundoran. After a few emails and Skype conversations, we had everything settled. We were about to go to the Emerald Isle, with guaranteed room and board in exchange for a few hours’ work.
The next step was to close the contract with the school, Donegal English Language School, located in the town of Bundoran and have all the necessary certifications for immigration.
Although everything was going well, we were a bit wary when we discovered that we would be the first Brazilians to spend a year studying at the school, which was founded in 1989. As much as we would prefer a place with few Brazilians, we did not imagine a place with none.
With everything very well planned, we landed in Donegal unsure of what lay ahead. We had a few doubts and fears mixed with feelings of excitement, it was difficult to explain. After all, we were dropping our great jobs, family and friends to live in a new culture.
We were very lucky to get a great welcomed by our Irish family. It really was as if we part of the family. Our work, 4 hours per day, was basically dedicated to bringing and picking up the kids at school, cooking, plus some household chores. Nothing too heavy. Sometimes we even helped with the animals.
We had direct contact with nature, which was quite relaxing, something we never had time to observe in Brazil, due to the rush of the big city. In exchange for the work we did, we received accommodation, transportation and all our food was free. That’s right, zero, free, not a penny. We had a mobile home that we had to ourselves, it was super cosy. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention the fact we had a car at our disposal and we could also use it on our days off. That’s how we got to see so many places, it was thanks to our car.
With regards to the school, it was a fantastic experience. With the warm atmosphere of a country town, the Donegal English Language School became our second family here. Not being a very large school, everyone ended up as friends. From time to time we will have dinner we our teacher and even go to the pub with our coordinators for an activity.
The school also offers various activities and sponsored excursions. We know castles, caves, parks and we even had surf lessons. Incidentally, Donegal English Language School is located in a seaside town well known for outdoor sports and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, which makes it easy to find work in hotels, restaurants and pubs.
Bundoran has a population of about 3,000 inhabitants, with most of them Irish, not many Portuguese here.
Or Exchange was so successful that we are almost a year here, working for the same family, but it was time to say goodbye and explore new horizons. Today we live in Bundoran, we have our own apartment and the school has helped us gain employment. We’re in the process of renewing our visa for over eight months in the same school. We hope to reach the highest levels we wanted in our English.
After so many changes, we have learnt: change and risk are worth it!
Danilo Rodrigues & Juliana Molnar