It is very strange that on one hand we feel like we arrived yesterday; and on the other hand we feel at home here in Letterkenny, as if we had lived here for months or even years. We have been so warmly welcomed by everybody. Marty and Louise have been very good helping us settle in and throughout the moving process, which helped us a lot in feeling comfortable very quickly.
We now are familiar with the different venues of Letterkenny and have got our own “routines”. Drinking Guinness has become a habit, we don’t think about the weather any more when we go out as we always are prepared to experience different seasons in one day, speaking English isn’t abnormal any more and our understanding of Donegal English is improving every day.
From personal perspectives, we have experienced different feelings as we work on different projects inside DYS and our roles are in separate areas.
Although I was very nervous, my travel from Burgos to Letterkenny started with good luck. First of all, a friend drove me to Madrid and we had lunch. It was my last Spanish meal. I said good bye Madrid and we went to the airport where I had my second stroke of luck: I could check-in my hand luggage for free and I did not have to pay for excess baggage. I crossed every security control, the plane took off and before I could close and open my eyes I noticed that I was landing in Ireland. I only had to get a bus and I would be in Letterkenny! And that is was what happened…
European Voluntary Service was waiting for me in Letterkenny Youth Information Centre, Louise, was waiting for me to go to my new home. She was very attentive and she made me feel very fortunate for being there.
The sun woke up me on my first morning here. It surprised me because I was scared about the weather here. At work Louise introduced me toeverybody and showed me the place; people were very nice and I like the environment, so I thought that the nine next months would be amazing. I work surrounded by young people in a little office where I make designs promoting the work of DYS, such as Day Break or Wellness Week; I also take pictures, make videos and participate in the Media Group. I am very interested in the topics in which Youth Information Centre is working on like Bulling and Cyberbulling or Domestic Violence. I am meeting a lot of people, volunteers, staff and placements.
But not all that was happening was work: during this month we have done lot of things in Letterkenny and the outskirts in our free time. We have discovered magic places in the mountains and in the beach, we have tried different Irish dishes and beers and we have been introduced to the local life, pubs and life music.
From my side I’m working with Marty on the co-ordination of Youth Council. It is a very exciting mission for me and related with my previous experiences and background. Youth Councillors are very motivated and this helps bring about the realisation of great projects with them. We had regional meetings in the different zones Donegal and one county meeting in Letterkenny, in order to organise events coming, among which a Stand up event to raise awareness on LGBT rights https://www.facebook.com/events/1392358331034503/?notif_t=plan_user_invited, a radio show to promote Irish language (in which I’m participating as well, what a challenge for me to learn Irish phrases!), the creation of a Sexual Health website and furtherprojects… DYC is active and involved in different areas as Mental Health and Wellbeing, Education, Bullying, Youth Facilities. It reflects the high involment of these young people. I feel very lucky to take part of the adventure with them!
Another great thing in my position is that thanks to all these meetings I had a chance to discover beautiful landscapes and enjoy the wildness of Donegal County. I’m so looking forward to hiking in National Park in summer time!
The 6th of February was very emotional, I spent the day saying goodbye to friends, family and colleagues. It was 1 am in the morning and I got home after a day full of emotions. I did not sleep at all, I woke up at 6am and finished the last preparations. At 8am I was on his way to Madrid. Saying goodbye to my mother and my grandmother was very emotional. I will always remember this. I arrived at Madrid at 12 and I was waiting for a friend to eat, check-in luggage and we chatted about many things. Without realizing it I was already inspected and was in line to get on the plane. I made one last call to my family …. and then I was in Ireland. Come the time, the ride was very comfortable. I caught a bus bound for Dunfanaghy. The trip was exhausting, because I didn’t understand what people were saying to me, and after 4 hours I got to my destination.
Paul my coordinator was waiting for me, he laughed at me when he saw so many bags. In their lovely home dinner and wine exquisite were waiting for me . He showed me a magazine that appeared in my photo and at midnight we strolled through the village, had a beer at an Irish Pub and returned home. The next morning we traveled to the village, we made purchases for the weekend, I discovered the supermarket, Siopa Pobal [a solidarity shop] and met a lot of people. After eating I was alone in my house with 3 suitcases. I felt a little lonely but I made that house my home. When I finished I went to the village to take a beer, talk to a couple of young people and on my return home I called to my neighbor‘s door. She received me with open arms, I was introduced to her son Peter and daughter Rossa. She invited me for a coffee and we chatted for several hours. When I was about to go to my house she gave me a gift – a televison with DVD and a couple of movies so that I did not feel alone.
This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. From that day Emma and her children are my new family here.
Sunday I explored the sites to meet people in my village. The day passed by before I realised it was Sunday. Monday was my first day of work, I couldn’t wait, I met Sally, Linda, Maire and Eamon. I tried very hard, despite my verbal communication was very little. I was shown my office downtown, and a brief visit to other people’s studios. I ended the day by the fireplace in my home reading a book and drinking tea, like in the movies.
Ana the third EVS in DYS arrives this week and we are happy to become the new “welcomers” for her and share our tips with her.
I took the flight on the 6th of March to Dublin. My mother and my cousin accompanied me to Alicante airport. As usual my mother tried to make a drama of my departure “Again you leave me alone…” while my cousin and I were having a beer in the airport bar. It was quite funny to see the contrast between my mother crying and my cousin a little bit dizzy because of the beer. I couldn’t sleep at all during the flight, On Ryanair flights,who can!. I was lucky that I could take the first bus to Letterkenny and arrived at a normal time 11 p.m to meet my new flatmate, Alba Saiz, and my supervisor, Louise Lynch. After a lift around the city we got home and I have to say that it’s the best home I had since I started sharing apartments. Although I do not have the bigger room the house is big enough so… no worries! Alba prepared sausages from her hometown which I gently rejected because I’m a vegetarian. I was so embarrassed because she seemed so happy to offer me! Anne-C, my other flatmate, is obsessed with cheese, baguettes and wine. Nobody could guess she is from France.
About the language, I have to confess I was expecting a stronger accent in Donegal and I could manage it better than expected although there are some co-workers I have difficulties understanding. Referring to Irish people, they are lovely, really hospitable and good jokers. I love their humour! (When I get it ).
The project is as expected. Letterkenny Youth Information Centre is a place where any teenager can drop-in and get help in everything related with accommodation, employment, grants. In general, youth concerns. Our role in the office, has been defined by graphic and video design. My EVS partner and me are responsible for the design of some information leaflets, booklets and posters. It’s fun! Some of the teens even dare to approach you. A group of girls have named me banana, but this is a long story.