My Irish Life by Amelie Robrecht
Amelie Robrecht participated in EIL's Secondary School Programme in Ireland in 2009/10 academic year for 26 weeks. She lived in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry with her host family, The Ferriter Family, and attended St. Joseph's (Mercy) Secondary School. Here is an essay she wrote about her experiences here in Ireland.
"I was just 16, when I started the biggest adventure in my life. I was born in Germany and I lived in a big city with 400,000 people surrounding me every day.
I loved my life, my friends and my family, but since I was 14 I felt a bit bored. I wanted an adventure.
That was the reason why I came to Ballybunion.
I didn’t pick the town myself and when I heard, that there were only 1400 people living there, I became afraid. I knew it would be a smaller town, but 1400 people wouldn’t even be called a village in Germany.
But even if I had tried to stay home, it was too late to quit. I couldn’t go back.
So I left my family, my friends and my life behind me and started a new one in my new home: Ireland.
When I landed in Ireland, I soon discovered why they call it “the Green Island”.
I couldn’t see any houses around me, nothing was grey, like at home, everything was just green.
I went through the arrivals and that was the moment when I first saw my new family. I can not describe how happy I was when I saw their friendly, smiling faces and when they told me that they are very happy to have me. We drove to their house and all the time I was surrounded by green fields. That was all I was able to see, sometimes I saw a house in the distance and even when they looked beautiful, I wouldn’t like to live there. It was as if I could feel the loneliness of the place.
Now after five months I know that the people are not as lonely as I first thought, but on my first day here it felt like the end of the world. Maybe because I am a big city girl at heart.
There are a lot differences between Ballybunion and Bochum, and I had to find that out myself.
I will start with the food.
I still can’t believe, that irish people are able to wake up and start their day by eating sausages, baked beans, French toast and all that warm stuff.
I mean it is very nice, I like it myself, but not for breakfast. I couldn’t believe it the first morning. I was used to black coffee and an apple for breakfast, but this was different.
Another unexpected thing was how disgusting salt and vinegar crisps are. It is really amazing that you are able to eat them without getting sick. Really I can’t.
And there is one last question about food, Irish food, I can’t stop asking myself. “Do you ever get sick of potatoes?” And it doesn’t change the vegetable if you call it potato on one day and spud on the next day. It remains to be a potato.
But there are more interesting things about Ireland. Sometimes it feels like Ireland and Germany are universes apart from each other. For example: time management.
I know that German people are known for being on time, all the time, but I never realized, how bad it could be. It seems like the whole Irish nation is always late.
If someone tells you, that he will be there at 12 and he is German he will be there at 12 or maybe a bit earlier. We have this proverb in Germany translated it is something like “five minutes before the time is the emperor’s punctuality”.
But when Irish people say 12 they decide to have a quick shower at ten past 12.
On the other hand, there are a lot of good things about the Irish people. I don’t want you to think, that I don’t like you, I do.
I don’t think that German people would make you feel as welcome as Irish people do. The moment you enter the room, you get a cup of tea and a nice conversation. I visited a lot of countries, but I never met such cordial and obliging people as I did in Ireland.
I am also very impressed by the Irish culture. I love the music and I really enjoy reading and hearing Irish fairytales and that kind of thing. Ireland is a country full of history and tales and when you drive through the foggy countryside and you can’t see further than two meters, you start believing in all these stories.
Ireland is different from my home in nearly every way. I was shocked by all the cultural differences at first, but after five months I got used to them. I even started to enjoy the differences.
I will miss a lot of things, when I go home in 4 days: beginning with my school uniform, the lovely teachers and of course the family I have here.
Over all I can say that coming to Ireland has been a very good experience. It maybe wasn’t the best experience in my life, but it was the best experience for my life.
I am very thankful that I found a second family here in Ireland, but I am also thankful for having such a great homelife in Germany. And now after all the time here I can’t wait to go home and tell everyone about my experience here"
Amelie returned home to Germany at the end of February 2010. More than likely, she will be back to visit us in the future.