A student exchange program during a global pandemic. It sounds so surreal and yet it is the reality I find myself living in at the moment. You may ask yourself how and why a fifteen-year-old German girl finds herself attending an Irish school and living on the Green Isle during such troublesome times, so let me elaborate on how I got here:
I cannot name one definitive moment that made me decide on this. It is rather a list of many little things: books about adventure, about daring to do what you have never done before and a feeling of confinement that is all too common these days. I wanted to go out and explore the world. Only now that my movement had become restricted, I realised how much of the world outside I had never seen before and how many experiences I was still missing. Never before had I traveled alone, never before had I been away from home for more than a few weeks at a time. Combine that with a relatively quiet school year and I just knew. Despite all these challenges I would surely face, even more so in the current times, the time had come to expand my horizon.
The days leading up to my departure were full of dread and hesitant hope. Ireland and Germany had both just experienced spikes in cases like they never had before and I was already expecting news that my flight had been canceled every day. Yet, by some miracle, this email never came. Suddenly the day was there and I was sitting in a plane headed to Dublin. This was my first of many new experiences. I had never been on a plane before and my nerves were going haywire. And then we broke through the clouds and I saw the world as I had never seen it before. With the sun chasing the plane, the moon watching above and a single star twinkling in the gorgeous gradient of the early morning sunrise, all my fear just disappeared. It was in that moment that I knew: This was right. I was ready for this adventure.
My welcome family just continued to reinforce that amazing first impression. They welcomed me with open arms and even though I would only stay with them for a week, they never made me feel like it. I also have a French and an Argentine host sister which guarantees a very excessive cultural exchange and a wild mix of languages. Even though Ireland is at the moment experiencing a Level 5 lockdown, I have already tasted Irish chocolate, learned multiple different card games, baked brownies and so much more.
This exchange may be only beginning, but I am already loving Ireland and its amazing and very kind people. Even though COVID-19 is still as present as ever, I know through all these little moments, all these cups of tea, all these board games, that coming here was the right decision, no matter what challenges may lay ahead of me.
For info on the high level of care, caution, rigour, and consideration we take regarding our students and the ongoing Covid-19 situation click here.