The Grafton Experience

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Volunteering – by Daniele — March 9, 2017

Volunteering – by Daniele

Hi everyone,

My name is Daniele Faria and I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. When  I was invited to write for this blog I felt really honoured, so I would like to take this opportunity and share with you something that’s been really changing my life since I arrived here in Dublin.

It’s been almost 10 months that I’m here. I came with a few dreams: to improve my English, to meet new people, to know more about the Irish culture, to travel around Europe, etc. I can say I’ve already accomplished many of those things; however, none of them could be compared to the opportunity that I’ve been given to be a part of a volunteer group that helps people around the world and brings hope to hopeless people.

How did it all start?

I was doing my best to make all my dreams come true when I met a Christian group of young people who spent their holidays, every single year, helping people around the world. That really impressed me. In that moment, I started to feel something changing in my heart and, suddenly, my greatest desire was to be able to do the same thing. So I began to pray and prepare myself for the next trip (or what we like to call, “missionary work”).

Finally, in August 2016, they invited me to go to Portugal with them. I could barely believe it was true. I was so excited. Then I asked for holidays from my job. I thought I would have a problem with my boss, but everything went perfectly well. So, at the end of the month, we were travelling to Portugal.

Once there, I was able to get to know a little bit more about the project and it didn’t take me much longer to realize I had made one of the best decisions of my life. We did a lot of social work with children and teenagers, but the most significant one was, for me, to see what they did with homeless people. They rented a big place, like a restaurant, with a kitchen, tables and chairs. During the morning, we would serve a delicious breakfast for them and they could stay there until lunch time. In the meanwhile, they were able to share their life experiences with all of us. I heard so many sad stories, but on the other hand, we always had a word of hope to give them. It was not a fake message, but a true message about God’s love for us. We believe that Jesus is the son of God and he was sent to die for us on the cross of calvary. That’s what the gospel is about. That’s what the bible calls “good news”. So it didn’t matter what they had gone through or how horrible their stories were, we had “good news” to encourage them.

It was amazing to see how they were able to feel God’s love in their lives. We could see that, after that moment, their faces were different. Something had changed. For those who wanted, we had a place where they could sleep at night and they could also be there during the day working as a volunteer, serving other homeless and hopeless people. After only 10 days, more than 30 people weren’t sleeping on the streets anymore. Can you imagine what we could do if we were willing to spend a little more time helping others?

This was the first time that I’ve been a part of something like this and it’s just the beginning. Now I am happy to spend my free time getting involved with these projects, because I have no words to express what and how i felt when i realized we were bringing hope to people who were suffering.

You feel like your life is worthwhile!

Debbie’s story — January 25, 2017

Debbie’s story

The struggle of a Mexican student in Ireland.

My name is Debanhi, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Monterey, Mexico. I’m a bachelor in International Relations and I used to work in a Canadian aerospace company before moving to Ireland.

It’s been almost 8 months since I arrived to this beautiful green Island, and to be honest I still can’t believe that I’m actually here, why am I saying this? It’s way too long to explain, but I’m gonna try to say it anyway.

I grew up in a traditional Mexican family. My Dad (basically my hero) is a successful engineer and he has been working his entire life to provide every single thing to my family and me, my Mom (she’s a fighter) is a housewife and she has been dedicating her life to us (I have 3 siblings btw, I’m the oldest), so imagine her face when I said to her “Mom, guess what? I’m leaving, I’m going to Ireland,” I broke her heart into million pieces.

“When I was your age I was married, you were 3 years old and I was pregnant,” she said to me, she wasn’t mad at me, I think she was just worried about me, she didn’t understand my journey at all, and I can’t blame her, I know it sucks leaving home.

On the other hand, my Dad said to me “I wish I’d done the same thing when I was your age, do it and if you can don’t come back.”

My little sister, who said to me once “I hope you get marry soon, so now I’ll have the whole room for myself,” she said that in a sarcastic way, but I said to her “you know what? It’s happening jaja, I’m not getting married, but I’m leaving. So, yeah, my whole family was in shock.

I finally arrived to Ireland in June, I was so excited about everything, but guess what? It wasn’t that easy, at least it wasn’t for me. I remember leaving school after classes every single day with lots of CV’s, I used to walk for hours, talking to strangers to get a chance to get an  interview, but for some reason it didn’t happen to me.

I started getting the feeling that coming here was a mistake in the first place, but I was so wrong, I think everything happens for a reason and we’re exactly where we’re meant to be. “How is your life in Ireland, sweetie? we miss you so much, but if you’re happy, we’re happy too,” this is what my Mom used to say to me every week, “I’m fine, don’t you worry about me,” I lied.

After almost 2 months of hard work trying, I got it, I got a job. I can’t describe the feeling I got when I received the call of my actual boss, I’ve been working with this family for almost 6 months, and you know what? I thought, “thank you, God, I’m exactly where I need to be,” I’m a lucky girl, cause my family is amazing, I have no words to express my gratitude, and now that I have one month left with them it feels so weird, cause they actually made me feel like a family member.

My life has changed so much since I moved here and despite feeling lost at the beginning, I think that moving here wasn’t a mistake after all. I’ve met amazing people, I’ve visited beautiful places and I’ve improved my English, so what else can I ask?

So, thank you God for all the challenges that you’ve given to me, thank you to my lovely family for supporting my crazy ideas and my friends for worrying about me.

Once you come to Dublin, you don’t really want to leave.

Thank you, Ireland, you’re amazing and I’m gonna miss you so bad.

With love,

Debbie ❤

“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.”

My favourite photo – by Lizania — January 16, 2017

My favourite photo – by Lizania

The photo was taken in the house of my cousins because there was the birthday of Regina, their little daughter.

I took the photo when Regina (2 years old) was opening her birthday gifts and when she opened the gift that I gave her, I caught the moment of the expression of the little girl because she had only a few dolls or she shared the dolls with her big sister.

The photo makes me feel very happy for how special the moment was, all the girls were waiting to know what the boxes had inside. In the photo there are my three nieces, two of them are sisters, and they are in one of the best stages of their lives, where all they want is to have fun, and enjoy playing with their toys.

Lizania Barcena, Upper Intermediate

My favourite photo – by Mariana — January 10, 2017

My favourite photo – by Mariana

My father took the photo when we were in Muxia, Spain. That day I was thinking about everything that was going on in my life, how my exchange was going … The photo is special for me not because I’m in the picture, but because it was completely spontaneous and my parents just showed it to me when we were eating dinner.

That day was such a good day and I could make some decisions that I needed, I was able to calm my mind, stop thinking about everything and enjoy the beauty of the view. The photo makes me feel happy, makes me smile and gives me peace because at the moment of that photo I was at peace.

I like to print some special photos to put on my wall and admire every time, but also I keep copies in my computer and some in my phone. I like to remember the good things and good moments.

Mariana Bon, Upper Intermediate

A teacher’s perspective — October 24, 2016

A teacher’s perspective



I’ve been teaching in Grafton College for almost 2 years now and I’ve decided to write this blog post for two reasons. The first reason is to encourage anyone who is thinking of studying abroad to actually get the ball rolling and just do it. The second one is to inspire our “little Graftoners” (a pet name I have for Grafton College students) to write about their own exchange experience and share their points of view and what better way to inspire than by example!

In my opinion there are three main “types” of education which shape any of us. There is our upbringing, our “home schooling” if you will, what we learn at home from the day we are born. Then we have our school education which begins in a kindergarten and ends, if we are lucky, at a university. Last but not least is the big school known as Life. Looking at these three categories we can agree that those who influence our lives most are our family members, our teachers and our experience! The question I’d like to ask you is… which do YOU think is the most important kind of education? Although the reply to this question is clearly debatable, I’d like to concentrate on what I believe to be top of the list – EXPERIENCE!

Living abroad, be it for work or study reasons, is the best kind of education you can give yourself. The reason is simple and it consists of the fact that once you board that plane you leave your comfort zone. You leave the security of your family home, your habits, your friends, your favourite food, your pet, your job even and what you find on the other end is often a complete mystery no matter how much you have studied and planned your trip. There will be many surprises both good and bad, there will be disappointments and fulfilments, there will be lots of laughter and some tears, there will be sunshine and of course a bit of rain. I do promise one thing though, and this comes from a person who has lived in many different countries for the past 20 years, that you will NEVER regret your experience and what it teaches you.  It will make you stronger, better, smarter, and wiser to live outside your comfort zone, it will make you discover you real abilities and guide you on your way to the next adventure wherever and whatever it may be. You will always cherish the friends you make and you will hopefully have learned a new language.

I guess what I’m saying is… you can read just about anything on this planet by simply having access to a good library or the internet, you can watch hundreds of documentaries and look at a million pictures and hear others tell you what visiting a place was like, but through none of these will you ever EXPERIENCE a place the way you would in person. “Experience” is both a noun and a verb for a reason J . We are all individuals and how we perceive and experience things, places, and people varies greatly from one person to the next.

So if you have the opportunity to experience Ireland and study and live here, if only for 8 months, TAKE IT! You’ll learn a lot and you’ll be better for it!

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