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Testimonials

Enya: Let me start off  by saying that my exchange was easily the best thing I did in Transition Year. In late April, I travelled to Lyon, France to spend a month there. I’ve always loved France and have visited many parts, but this experience was completely dissimilar to any family holiday or ski trip I’d been on before. I’ll admit that I was quite apprehensive prior to my journey, and I’d had absolutely no expectations or assumptions. I had a good level of French and had done well in my Junior Cert exam, but I ultimately was worried that I’d be rubbish upon arrival. I’ll take this opportunity to tell anyone considering doing an exchange that revising and studying some conversational French and phrases made a world of difference for me, personally.  I must confess, the first few days were a little overwhelming, but after that I got settled into the new routine fairly quickly. The first day of school wasn’t quite as bad as I had expected! I’d been told to just listen as best I could and try to understand as much as I was able to, and that’s exactly what I did. Some subjects were definitely harder than others but again, I settled in no problem. All of the teachers were very accommodating as well as my peers there. My host family were extremely kind and I had no trouble whatsoever. In fact, I’d consider myself very lucky to have had a family quite as lovely as them. Every weekend, the parents had something engaging and fun organized for the family to do. From going out to the countryside, or to the beach, or to Marseilles, the weekends were fantastic!
My exchange partner and I quickly became close friends and I had the best time with her. She made sure I was included at all times, always bringing me to parties or to hang out with her friends. Speaking of, all of her friends were so lovely and I know now that I had made friends for life. I really improved my conversational French with them. They were very supportive and encouraging even when I felt like I was making a right fool of myself in French! In terms of social experience, I had the best month imaginable. I shouldn’t have had a single worry, the entire four weeks was extremely enjoyable. I really fell in love with Lyon, it’s such a beautiful, sunny city that’s full of action, and hustle and bustle. I can’t express how much At the end of the month I was crying my eyes out that I had to leave and come home to Ireland. I made wonderful memories that I know I’ll fondly look back on for years to come. I would’ve easily stayed another month or two, and I was admittedly very sad to be home in the following days. As for my French, I was blown away by how much it had improved without me noticing! At the beginning of the month I could barely hold a conversation and found myself asking ‘Quoi?’ an awful lot more than I would’ve liked. At the end of the month, I could confidently hold a decent conversation without difficulty. Everyone seemed to comment on how big an improvement I’d made, from my host family, to friends, to teachers. I came home extremely happy with my new level of French and I feel more than prepared for Fifth and Sixth Year French for Leaving Cert. I can’t tell you how much I hope everyone reading this decides to go on an exchange. It was seriously the best month of my life. I became more cultured and independent, and learned so much. In fact, I loved it so much that I’ve just booked flights back to Lyon for a week this October. I’m currently missing the friends I made and smiling earnestly as I write this. Trust me, you won’t regret it…

      

      


Hi my name is Roisin and I am 16 years old. I have recently returned from a 3 week French exchange in Rouen, France. I flew in to Paris on the 16th May, 2018. I was really excited to go, but I was also nervous, because I had never been through an airport on my own before. However, I couldn’t wait to get there because I wanted to see my exchange student again! I think that having my student stay at my house first really helped, as we got on really well and became great friends. The family were so nice to me, and they really made me feel welcome. I got on very well with the four younger siblings - I took them to the local swimming pool, played football with them in the garden and tried my best to read the youngest one a bedtime story! The food was absolutely amazing. I was slightly worried about this as I’m a vegetarian, but there was no need - my host mother made lovely vegetarian dishes!  Living in a city was a huge change for me, coming from the country. We walked everywhere or took the metro.  School was very different over there. It was a very large school, there was 6 classes for each year! The day was also very long, but it wasn’t too bad as we went back to the house for 2 hours at lunchtime every day. My student’s friends were nice enough, but didn’t make too much of an effort to talk to me, probably because they thought I wouldn’t be able to understand them. The other people in the class were nice to me though, as were the teachers. I found that I got on better with my student’s friends that weren’t from school, as they made more of an effort to talk to me.  I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to communicate over there, as I hadn’t done any proper French since the Junior Cert. For the first week, I just said ‘oui’ to everything! However, as Jane said, I began to pick up bits and pieces just from listening to so much French all day, and by the end of the three weeks I really saw an improvement.  While I was in France, I  did lots of new things. My first weekend, I went on a camping trip with the scouts! I went on a day trip to Paris, where we saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame cathedral and the Champs Elysees. I went all around Rouen, shopping and sightseeing. The family have also invited me back to France next year so I can go to their house in the south of France with them. They even offered to take me skiing next February!  I think that doing a French exchange was one of the best things I did in TY. I had so much fun over there. It was also really helpful to have Jane’s number, as I could just text her if i had any problems. I got on really well with my student and her family and we will both be visiting each other again this year.          


I completed a 3 month exchange in France from January to March 2018.  I remember how excited I was to travel and do this experience on my own. When I first arrived I quickly realised how hard it was going to be. My comprehension and speaking was very poor and could be so frustrating constantly not knowing what people were saying. But my host family were warm and welcoming towards me. They tried to explain things to me as best they could and were very interested in Ireland and my culture. There were three older brothers in the family but they were rarely at home.  Any problems I had during my exchange Jane was very helpful and guided me on what to do.  We walked to school and then also walked home to have lunch every day. It was about a 10 minute walk but the weather was very cold!!  School was quite difficult and found people talked to my exchange student, Amelie about me rather than to me which could be quite isolating and especially when I was put beside her in every class and found not many people tried to talk to me. Personally I would have much preferred to put into a different class to my exchange student. But understanding in school got easier and easier and people were often very nice towards me. The school days were longer and I was really really tired at the start. I would definitely recommend a full night’s sleep!! Mostly teachers were very nice to me. I was particularly lost in French class the teacher gave me a piece to work on that I had to present in front of the class. I actually enjoyed doing this although the students couldn’t really understand my pronunciation of a lot of words especially with my Irish accent.
The food was just delicious, my host mothers cooking never failed. Most days I would help her prepare and cook the food which I didn’t mind doing. We would go for walks or cycles together sometimes. It was a nice difference living in town, I could walk into town, I took the train to basketball and swimming which the family had organised for me to do. Everyone at these were so welcoming and friendly to me.  In my last month we had a 2 week holiday and we travelled to visit their friends in Brussels. We went shopping and visited some of the local attractions. On the way up we stopped in Paris where we visited the Louvre and went to see a show. We also stopped at Lille for 2 nights. I really enjoyed that trip. For the second week I took the train to Paris to visit my Cousins. Overall I really enjoyed the immersion into the different culture and language although the first month was definitely the hardest after that everything gets easier and by the end of my 11 weeks I found every aspect of my French had improved hugely but my accent only started to improve at the very end. 3 months was a very long time to be away from my friends and family and be with the same people all of the time but if you want to perfect your French I would definitely recommend going for as long as possible.

      


German Exchange:  Recently I availed of an opportunity to participate in a German exchange. I spent six weeks in Frankfurt, Germany and attended Weingarten School. It was a phenomenal opportunity and as the weeks to my departure drew closer, my anticipation began to build up. Fortunately, I was able to sit down and have a nice chat with Jane, the exchange company agent and she filled me in on the ins and outs of the program and was open to all queries, questions and concerns. Flying independently was new to me and quite exhilarating really and I was glad to know that my host family awaited me at the airport. I spent the first day settling in and getting to know my host partner, Katharina. She is a lovely, well-grounded individual and the weeks we spent together truly did fly. She introduced me to her friends at school, who although were not quite as friendly as the Irish were polite and kind in their own manner. I perceived them to be quite serious. However, over time I came to the realisation that it was just their way and they genuinely were caring people. At first school was difficult. The hours seemed long even though they were only from 7:45- 13: 30. I think it was my brain adjusting to drastic change in dialect. I napped every evening for an hour or so to recharge. This all stopped after a few weeks and after some time I had an epiphany. I could understand what was going on!  I studied a wide variety of subjects including Ethics, Art, Politics etc. I found Maths to be quite difficult. The Germans had gone into much more depth within each chapter but surprisingly I found myself having a better understanding of the subject itself! Personally, I liked attending school, became used to the early 6:30 rise and reluctantly came to ok terms with the waiting outdoors in cold temperatures during lunchbreaks. Although I was living abroad for academic purposes, that’s not to say I didn’t get to have any fun. In fact, it was very much the opposite. My host family who were very kind were as good as professional tour guides as we toured around the city, stood atop the famous Frankfurt tower, went rock climbing, swimming in a fabulous resort, ice skating, horse riding, to a restaurant and a sushi bar, shopping, and even flying to a whole new city called Dresden! I really loved Frankfurt and best of all trying its famous foods e.g. “Die Beste Wurste im Frankfurt” which translates to “The best sausages in Frankfurt”. I found this hard to believe but didn’t argue once I had tasted them for myself. Yum!  I enjoyed most of my meals with my host family and with Katharina’s talented cooking abilities it was rarely a problem. However, if I ever felt like I did not like something, I would simply politely mention it and the family would kindly provide me with something else. I was also always in contact with Jane in Ireland and Claudia in Germany who were able to help me with any problems or concerns.  I had a good relationship with my host family. Katharina and I came to know each other as we cycled to school some days and got the bus on others. Fortunately I was in Germany at the time of ‘Der Karnival’ which is a huge event celebrating the coming of spring and there were various parties, celebrations and a parade in honour of this. I loved dressing up and it was entertaining to see all the different costumes worn at these events.  Overall I really did enjoy my stay. After the six weeks my German had really improved. I was ready to come home and meet up with my family and friends again. I am grateful to have been gifted such a lovely host partner and family. They made me feel welcome through it all and I look forward to our plans of further stays in the near future. I hope Katharina will enjoy her exchange in Ireland.  

    

    

    


Hi my name is Rory and I've recently returned from a 5 week homestay in Germany. I flew to Zurich on the 17th of February 2018 and was greeted by Ute and Immanuel, the mother and second eldest of the family. For a few weeks before my trip I was in contact with Immanuel, which made the first meeting a lot easier.  We travelled to Konstanz where they live and got ready for the Tanzball that night. Immanuel had the dance showcase for the lessons he had gone to for a few months beforehand to learn the formal dances. It was a great ice breaker as I met his friends and saw some culture straight away. They even taught me two dances so I could join in. The family had an Irish exchange student last year while the eldest son, Simeon, was in Limerick for a year to improve his English. This meant the family were used to Irish phrases and way of living which made everything a lot easier. Simeon was in school with a good friend of mine when he was in Ireland so we automatically had something in common.  I was in school for the full 5 weeks. I split it into 2 weeks with Simeon, 1 week with Immanuel and then the last 2 weeks back with Simeon. They both go to Gymnasium schools but Immanuel's school is a little different because it has a focus on languages(Latin is compulsory and you can do Ancient Greek) while Simeon's school is a general Gymnasium apart from the fact you do an extra year of school before their Leaving Cert. This meant I got a nice insight into how different schools in Germany work.  The school work wasn't too difficult because the teachers were realistic about my ability to do the difficult topics and my classmates were also really helpful with everything. The classes were really interesting and a lot more relaxed than my classes in Ireland.  I did a lot while I was there. I went walking on a frozen lake and then on to Stuttgart on the autobahn with a family friend and the two lads. I went to an old palace on a beautiful island (Insel Mainau) on Lake Constance and the Rheinfall in Switzerland. I played tennis every week with Simeon and Immanuel. Ute has worked teaching refugees German so we had dinner with one of her students, Erfan. He then brought me to his football team's training in the last week.  Immanuel did lessons with me on my German grammar and other rules. As a result, combined with the homestay, my German has come on leaps and bounds in that short time.  In truth, this trip was one of the best experiences of my life and I loved every minute of it. The family were brilliant, Jane and my German coordinator were really helpful and I would whole-heartedly recommend an exchange to anyone considering doing one.

     


My name is Sarah and I am 16 years old. I have recently come back from my exchange in Germany where I was for 6 weeks. One of my good friends suggested that we do an exchange but we didn’t end up going together which I think is better because I would have mostly been talking English when I’m trying to learn German. I thought doing an exchange would be great especially in TY and my parents were thinking that too. Traveling alone was weird for me but I actually felt like it was better because I didn’t have my mom repeatably saying “do you have your passport”. I suggest if you are flying, to take out the things you have to take out for security beforehand. It will be a lot less stressful. Greeting the family that I was going to be staying with was very weird. My German speaking wasn’t the best so it was hard to properly introduce myself. The family were very kind and understanding which made it easier. For the first 2/3 weeks, understanding what the family were saying was very hard and it only improved slightly throughout the weeks. I didn’t go to school for the first 2 weeks which I thought was easier to settle in and to get to know the family better. In those 2 weeks we went to Dusseldorf and saw the churches there and we went to the Eifel which I really liked especially because it snowed there. I found going to a family with siblings to be away better and more fun because there wasn’t a lot of awkward moments because at least one of the sibling were speaking. The days were going by quickly but then school came around and the days turned very long. I had to wake up at 5:40am which was horrible for me because I usually wake up at 7:45am for school. We took public transport too which once again was new and weird to me. School was the biggest difference for me because I had to take subjects that I’ve never had, like Italian and Latin. The teachers weren’t that interested in me and only 1 or 2 teachers asked me how my experience has been so far. Along with the teachers, the students they were nice but they also not very interested in why I was there at their school. They weren’t as friendly as the people in my own school. Some days were better then others regarding school. I did enjoy school at the end of it all. It showed me the different types of people and personalities from an outside perspective. I'm very happy that I got on with my exchange partner and her family. I’m very lucky to be given this experience and I really enjoyed it too and I would recommend it to everyone who wants to improve their language and their independence. My German has improved so much even though I thought it didn't. Speaking to my own German teacher is way easier and I understand a lot more now. This experience is something I will never forget.

      



Eoin: This year I went to the Desaintmartin Family on an exchange for two months and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To be honest, initially I was quite worried about going be cause it was a long period of time and the PDF file Jane sent me breaking down my emotions throughout the exchange scared me. This file said I might feel scared and alone but I didn’t feel like that at all and was happy throughout the exchange!   On the first Sunday Vanessa and Steph collected me from the airport and were friendly from the get go .When we arrived home I was introduced to Mathis, Theo and Axel all of whom were accommodating for my lack of understanding for the French language. The next day I went to school with Mathis.  I loved going to school in France all the students and teachers were extremely friendly and I made friends in my class who I now talk to on Snapchat. I found the school day long at the start because it was an early start (6:30) and I didn’t return home until 17:00. I was in Mathis’ class and he introduced me to his friends. I would often do activities with them such as going to a cafe or going to McDonald’s for food. They also helped me find my classes and ate with me at lunch. They really accepted me into their class and treated me as one of their own. Going to school in France was a highlight for me because I really got to sample French culture and I think this will make it easier for me to learn French instead of just out of a book.  I did many activities throughout the exchange such as joining a gym to keep fit. I also went around the locality to viewpoints and walks. Often I would eat with friends of the family for dinner, this really made me feel accepted and like one of the family. I also went to a concert in France. This concert was amazing and was one of the best I’ve ever gone to .Orlesian was performing who’s one of the biggest artists in France. Afterwards we ate desert in a restaurant. I also went to Belgium for a week .This mini holiday was amazing. I stayed with Mathis, Theo, Vanessa and her parents. I thought this was an amazing experience as I got to go to a new country I saw lots of things in Belgium such as army thanks and visited a lot of towns such as La Roche. I also got to sample the Belgium cuisine such as waffles and fries!  On the subject of food, I must say I was never hungry. Vanessa was an amazing cook and I ate everything from fish to steak to sushi. I really got to taste the classic French food such as the tarte titi and other delicacies. I also ate in a French restaurant before my departure it was amazing!  Overall I really enjoyed my exchange it was certainly beneficial and was a smart was to use my time during TY to improve my French which will make it easier during the Leaving Cert. Coming from a person who’s gone to the Gaeltacht three times I can tell you this long stent away from home was a lot easier than going to Gaeltacht and I feel I learned a lot more French. I feel my ability to speak and comprehend French has improved beyond any expectations and for that I am thankful to the Desaintmartin family who would teach me French on a daily basis and would translate and speak slowly if needs be. In conclusion I would highly recommend the Desaintmartin family to anyone thinking of going to France.

    


Hi my name is Aisling and I have just come home from a 1 month exchange in France. Before I left I didn’t quite believe it was actually happening until I found myself in my new family’s car driving to their house. At first I understood little or nothing and found myself saying “Oui” to everything as I was always so confused. This frustrated me a lot as I really wanted to get to know my student and take part in conversations but a simply couldn’t. However Jane’s advice was right, be patient and things will eventually click. I quickly settled in to their families daily routine and although I felt left out at times because their family was so different to mine I soon realised I just had to get on with it. I was staying in a townhouse and going to a school with 2,000 students. This was a huge change for me coming from the country. I found the school days very long and tiring from 8-6 but after a good night’s sleep it wasn’t so bad. I did find school really tough at first because I understood very little and as a result couldn’t interact as much as I wanted to but after the first 2 weeks I could see myself starting to understand more, and this gave me a bit of a confidence boost. Her friends weren’t as friendly as I would’ve liked and tended to exclude me sometimes because I think they thought I spoke no French when really they didn’t give me the opportunity too, So instead I made my own friends. My family were very nice and made sure I had everything I needed. My relationship with the other 6 siblings was good and they enjoyed asking me questions about Ireland. The food, which I was very worried about before I left, was actually quite nice, and I surprised myself with the amount of new food I was willing to try. During my stay I had 2 weeks of school and 2 weeks of holidays. During the 2 weeks of holidays we went on a 4 day trip to Paris and visited things like Galeries lafayette, the Palace of Versaille, Domaine de Chantilly and Palais Garnier. We also went to Anvers and Bruges. Bruges was so pretty and definitely my favourite part of my stay. Since I’ve came home I can definitely say I have absolutely no regrets. Although it was so tough especially during the first week the support from my family, friends and Jane made such a huge difference. It is a huge achievement and I am so proud to have done it, not only did I go on a journey to improve my French (which has improved greatly and my Leaving cert French oral will be nowhere near as hard) I also went on an emotional one, which helped me grow as a person. I am so grateful for my time in France and would strongly recommend it to any student considering to do it, the only mistake I made was not talking enough, although it might seem scary and even embarrassing to try at first, it didn’t take me long to realise it was the best way to improve.

    


My name's Joshua and on the 1st of January I flew to Niedersachsen, Germany. My exchange lasted 10 weeks and I can honestly say it flew. Luckily I was matched with a student with similar sport interests as me. These included swimming and water sports in general. I tried out skiing for the first time but originally I guessed my weight (badly) and couldn't ski at all because the skis were far too heavy! The second time I tried it everything went a lot smoother and I realised I was actually quite okay at skiing. I found it similar to surfing and naturally coming from west Sligo I have surfed a good bit before. Watching my exchange student surfing will be interesting...  Throughout my exchange my family catered for all my needs, from getting food I wanted to try out to bringing me all the way to a famous racetrack called the Nürburgring. Although the track itself was closed there was still loads to do over there. We went to lots of different touristic locations including, 
-Goslar (An old German town)
-Autostadt (Lots of cars)
-Braunschweig 
-Harz hanging bridge 
-Shopping (Where I realised I can't control spending).   As for German cuisine it wasn't too different to the food I had in Ireland. But I'd like to say that there was a wider variety of food in Germany, for example more fruit and veg in our diets over there. I think generally speaking Ireland is quite behind in the healthy eating scene. I tried this meat called Leberkase which I've never tried in Ireland before and I loved it. My exchange student didn't like it at all. Lots of sausages and stuff of course too. We also had a Turkish Döner which seems very popular in Germany. It was one my personal favourites if not the best food I had. We only had it two or three times though because it was definitely not the healthiest. School was also pretty interesting. Seeing as I attended a class for high achievers called "Hochleisterklasse" sometimes I was a bit discombobulated but generally I was able to understand what was going on. I also found English class more difficult than expected, because I kept getting asked for my opinion which wasn't too bad but we got a vocabulary test every week and I found that difficult because I was doing German a lot less time than the other German students have been learning English. My parents came up with some diseased rule that implied that I only had a phone for an hour a week which I obviously wasn't too happy about but in the end I think it payed off and helped me better my language skills because if I was on the phone the whole time, I would only be snapping my friends at home which wouldn't help my integration and definitely wouldn't help my German. Exceptions were made for taking photos, videos, etc.   Over all my exchange worked out perfectly good and my German skills have without a doubt improved significantly.

    

    


My name is Ciara and I’ve recently came home from a French exchange of 4 weeks (February 11th till March 10th). Before I left I was quite nervous however 3 other girls in my school had already gone over to France for their exchange so this made me far more at ease because I’d gotten lots of tips from them. My experience was quite different to everyone else’s however because I wasn’t actually going to France, but instead Brussels. My student, Elisabeth had just moved there in January and so she as well as me was relatively new to her school. I was very lucky because I had 2 weeks of holidays for midterm and 2 weeks of school during my stay. I really enjoyed the first two weeks and felt as if I were on holidays rather than on an exchange. I wasn’t homesick at all. We went to all the famous tourist attractions in Brussels as well as visiting Paris, Versailles and Anvers. Despite all this I did find it very overwhelming when I met my family at the airport and was completely thrown into the world of French however they were very patient, kind and thoughtful and soon I got used to it all and started to improve and understand. My last two weeks were definitely not as exciting as my first two but I had expected this. Elisabeth’s school had 3000 people in the Lycée part alone, ranged from ages 4-18 and was so big had army men patrolling it every morning and evening. School was boring and nobody talked to me so I felt quite alone. Instead of asking questions about myself to me they’d ask them to Elisabeth but I soon realized that was just the way French people were and that maybe her friends were shy. School did however help my understanding of the language hugely and I can safely say that by my last day I could understand so much more and talk away to the family. I honestly would’ve stayed in Brussels for another 2 weeks if I could have. My exchange as made me open to new things and a lot more independent.  It is an experience I will never forget!

   


My two months stay in France: I decided during my TY year I would go to France to help my French for the leaving cert. I have only been away from home for 2 weeks on my own, so it was a big jump. On 5th March, I left Dublin airport to start my two-month exchange. I was very nervous going over when I didn’t really know the family, but I soon realised there was nothing to worry about. The family were very friendly and welcoming into their culture and lives. I arrived on the Friday and started school on the Monday, so I had a few days to adapt to the house and family before which was easier. I was a bit nervous at first as I haven’t done French properly since in the Junior Cert, but I felt I remembered more than I thought. The first few days of school was very hard, and I didn’t like it much. I felt a bit alone and left out as my exchange student didn’t try to include me very much. The days were very long starting at 8 a.m until 6 p.m some days although we had a lot of breaks in-between. The classes were very frustrating for me as I couldn’t understand much at the beginning but over the few weeks I began to understand some subjects a lot better. I was so tired the first two weeks because speaking French, adapting to the lifestyle and doing extra activities after school were draining. I didn’t take part in some classes like French as it was too advanced for me so during that class I would work on my French. During the two months I wrote down all the words I didn’t know and translated them. During the second week I could really start noticing the difference in my understanding and my tenses were getting better. The girls in school were friendlier to me also as I could keep a conversation up. I was so determined to become more involved with the people in my class. My exchange student and I, went to self-defence training and Zumba after school and I also went to swimming lessons on my own. The family did loads of activities with me including canoeing, walks and ice skating and we visited my cities including Toulouse and Biarritz. We had two weeks of school holidays during my stay, the first week Camille and I went to stay with her granny for the week in Toulouse and for the second week the family and I went to Spain for a skiing trip for a week. I have never been, so I did lessons and then met up with the family later. This was the highlight of my exchange. I got to try out a new sport and experience different foods. I loved trying new food in France as they did eat very different things to what I would eat at home. We’d eat lunch at 12 o’clock and then have dinner at 8 o’clock which is normal for them. I ate things that I normally wouldn’t like to eat at home and realised that I enjoyed it more. I was lucky that I didn’t get too homesick while I was away. I am very happy that I decided to do two months instead of one month as I feel like I learned so much more the second month. It was an amazing experience and as well as being more fluent In French, I feel more independent and mature. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! I feel like I could’ve went for another month but I was happy to come home and see all my friends and family

       


My name is Ella and I spent 5 weeks in France from the 13th January to 17th of February. My experience in France is one I will never forget. As everyone told me the first week was going to be the hardest, but I didn’t really believe it until I was there. The new surroundings and lack of confidence in my French made things extremely difficult, however Jane was a constant source of encouragement and she rang me as often as I needed. I myself had never been away from home for longer than 3 days so going on an exchange was a big learning experience for me. The first day of school was the really hard, joining a different class with a new schedule and new people is of course going to be difficult but after a few days things start to become more normal and you settle in. It gets easier, slowly but surely. Getting a lot of sleep helps. During my first week I was going to bed at 8.30/9pm!. The second week was a lot better. I started to bond more with my friends and my host family. School was beginning to get easier and my constant want to go home was starting to lift. I started to set myself little goals to work towards like having a full conversation with my friends or asking a teacher a question. It was the little accomplishments that gave me confidence and pushed me to speak more French even though I was quite shy about it. Definitely by the 3rd week things were a lot better. I found I wasn't as tired and I could understand people’s conversations more easily. In my family there were two boys and two girls. I played with the younger boys as much as I could because I wasn't as afraid to try my French with them. I found this helped very much. My last two weeks were fantastic, I had made amazing friends and we were constantly laughing, singing and joking with each other. They made sure I always understood what was happening in the class or what they were talking about. Making these friends made my whole exchange worthwhile and was probably one of the best things I got from the whole experience .I was sad to leave and wish I had longer with them. I had completely forgotten about any worries I had in the first two weeks and just enjoyed myself. I went to some amazing places with my family. We visited Mont St Michael and the Louvre in Paris. I got to try different foods and experience all different cultures which I never would have got to experience at home. I feel my French improved greatly and by the time I was leaving I was able to have and understand conversations quite well. My only regret was not staying longer. I would highly recommend not booking your flight home until you're there! My exchange was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I met some amazing people, learned so many new things and I would go again in a heartbeat.

          


My exchange trip to Germany
On the 8th of January 2018 I left my home in Ireland for a month away in Germnay. I’ve always wanted to do something like this but I am quite a “home-bird”  so one month was perfect for me as I wasn’t away for too long. It was an amazing experience and I would most certinly recommend it to anyone who wants to do. The first week was definitely the hardest for me as it was my first time away from home without a member of my family but my exchange family made me feel completly at home straight away. The weekends were my favourite as my host family took me to places such a Neuschwanstein, Munich etc and they also brought me on a lot of hiking trips as they lived relatively close to the alps. School was hard in terms of understanding but it was really good to feel my German improving over the four weeks even just slightly. The first weekend they brought me to a Bundesleague match as they knew about my interest in soccor. It was definitely one of my highlights to see how much the Germans love their soccor and I loved how much it made my Dad and my brothers jealous with all the videos and pictures I sent them. The second week was so much easier then the first and I felt more comfortable with Julia and her family. I started to really like the food and culture over there, I love bread so I was in the right place  as they have bread for breakfast and lunch most days. The family did their best to show me  a lot of their culture and foods for example the first week I tasted goulash (which i loved). At the weekend, we went to Schloss Neuschwanstein where I’ve always wanted to go, it was absolutely amazing. We got a tour of the giant castle and it looks just like something out of a fairytale. By the third week, I realised how fast the month was going and how I was halfway there already. Julia and I got on extremely well at this stage and her sister and friends were all really friendly to me and tried to include me in everything.  Throughout the whole four week period the family took me on series of walks and hikes to show me the best of southern Germany. Some were quite tough especially through the snow but they were always worth it at the top. The views were spectacular and for someone who has never seen proper mountains before I was absolutely amazed by how gigantic they are and how small you seem standing next to them. Also on the weekend of the thrird week, they took me on a trip to Munich. We got two city bus tours and walked around the city for a few hours. We visited Nymphenburg Palace and walked through Marian’s Platz. It is such a beautiful city and it was a pleasure to be able to visit it. In the fourth week, though I was looking forward to going home, I was also quite sad to leave the Huber family and southren Bavaria. On my last day of school, some of my german classmates threw a little going away party for me with cake and sweets. It was really nice of them and they even gave me a picture of them for me to remember them. For the last weekend I asked my exchange family if we could visit Dachau as I have learned about such concentration camps in school and I wanted to visit it. It was quite tough but it was such a good experience and I was really thankful my exchange family brought me as they found it quite hard themselves. At the end of the four weeks, I felt my understanding of German definitley improved, altough my speaking German did not improve as much as the majority of people talked in English to me.  Part of me wished I had more time in Germany but I think a month was enough time for me. It was an unforgetable month and i was unbelievably glad I did it.  Leah


My name is Michelle and I have just completed a 9 week homestay with the Cavard Family in the South-East of France.  I can honestly say it was both one of the most incredible and most challenging experiences of my life.  As soon as I arrived, I felt very comfortable with my family which immediately put me at ease.  If this is something you're worried about (which I completely understand because I was too), just know that if you're doing this because you want to, you're open to new experiences and you're prepared to do your best, your host family will appreciate this and they too will feel at ease.  If they ask you a question, try to say as much as you possibly can and do not feel embarrassed. My biggest piece of advice is keep smiling - it goes a long way! However, what I didn't expect was how frustrated I felt in the beginning.  I wanted to communicate with my family and I desperately wanted to understand everything that was being said but I just couldn't.  I thought I wasn't learning fast enough and that I wasn't doing enough which led me to feel a little down on myself.  I was worrying unnecessarily for the first 3 weeks but in hindsight, I was way too hard on myself and wasn't at all patient.  You have to trust the process - being fully immersed in a language is without a shadow of a doubt going to make you improve but it just takes time. I attended school for a little over 3 weeks with the boy in my family before we got Summer Holidays. The day is long and tiring but completely manageable.  It's not that uncommon to have exchange students in the class so the boys and girls were really welcoming.  What I found toughest about school was lunchtime and asking the others if I could eat with them.  I hated feeling like I was imposing myself but looking back, it was all in my head.  They didn't mind me sitting with them so don't be afraid to ask.  Make the most of your time there.  If I were to do it all again, I think I would plan it so that I could spend longer in school because although it wasn't easy, it drastically improved my French as I was guaranteed to constantly be surrounded by people speaking the language, as well as it being hugely character building!
I also found that French people were inclined to start speaking English to me in what I presume was an attempt to improve their skills.  If you find yourself in the same situation, make it very clear that you don't want to - reply to them in French or stress how much you want to practise your French and they will have to get the hint! I went to France with the intention of just improving my French but I've come away with so much more than that.  I visited Cannes, Marrakech, Chamonix, Geneva, completed two weeks of work experience with the mother in a playschool, tried things I never thought I would, managed to push myself further outside of my comfort zone than I ever thought I could and have made lifelong friends with my host family.  I can now think in French which is more amazing than I could've imagined and I could not be happier that I did it.   To those of you doing it, all I can say is have a smile on your face, try your best, don't worry or feel afraid to ask for help and most of all - enjoy it!


My name is Olive, I am a mother of four and a second level teacher, my husband is a farmer. We have two girls now in their early twenties and are third level students. We have two younger boys in second level education. My oldest daughter had just completed second year in secondary school and we were organising her school books for the following year.  As we came across her French book and papers, the words “common cava?” came out of my mouth, with a smile on my face that instantly turned to hurt, as she lifted her head and stared me blankly. I then arranged French grinds for her for the duration of her junior cert. Despite the best efforts of the grinds teacher , her ability and confidence in French did not improve, my feelings turned to frustration and anger as my best efforts and money, was as I seen been wasted. As the grinds seemed to be of no benefit, Dominique the grinds teacher suggested to me the TY Europe programme. I did my research and contacted Jane Regan. I am happy to say, the results have been nothing short of wonderful. It has not been easy for us as parents or the children, but, good things do not come easy and the child must commit 100% otherwise he/she will not gain the rewards, which are lifelong! That summer I was in constant contact with Jane Regan, who secured an exchange for my eldest daughter with a Parisian family whose son was of similar age. The Parisian boy lived with us and went to school with our children. He was enrolled in the TY programme which he attended from September to Christmas. After the Christmas holidays my daughter went to live with the boys family and attend a local school that specialised in music as she was interested in studying the subject in third level college. She stayed there and completed the school year which finished in early June. She found the experience quite challenging and was home sick from time to time. She made friends in school who are in contact with her to this day.  My daughter was exhausted for the first two weeks as she was physically adapting to the new way of life. She went to the local library and took out children’s books, the father of the family was the home maker while the mother worked long hours outside the home. The dad would help her by giving her poems to learn off. She was included in all of the families experiences, nights at the theatre, cinema, out to dinner, dinner parties, family trips away, museums and many cultural events. She experienced all aspects of Parisian family life, from going to the market for fruit and vegetables to getting the dally bread from the local bakery. When she returned home, she expressed her disgust with the Irish public in general at how unhelpful and inhospitable they were. As on the streets of Paris were so helpful and friendly towards her. As a student in Paris she had a card that gave her free access to all museums and educational events. She knew her way through the streets of Paris and how to navigate the underground. When she returned to school her oral French was very good and her written was well above the average. She received an A in the leaving certificate in the higher level paper.  My eldest daughter is currently studying in University of Limerick and last year she completed the study abroad programme as part of her third year on the course. The University is twined up with Cape Briton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She studied there for the first semester, from September to Christmas. While there she travelled to many places in Canada that would have been impossible to do without the French language as certain parts of Canada exclusively speak French. Our second daughter is now is studying Art in college. She is planning to do an Erasmus programme, where she will attend an Art college in France. My next daughter also did the TY Europe programme and was placed with a family in Geneva. There she went to a science based school. The family were so caring and the school was very accommodating. The children of the school were multicultural as they spoke many languages as their parents were figures in international cooperation’s. She learned a great of French focusing on the written aspect more than the vocal contrary to her sister. She spent three months in Geneva and then moved to Dijon for the following three months. It was with a farming family within a rural community, where her skills in oral French developed dramatically. On returning home she had gained a great sense of achievement which has given her motivation to accomplish many things in her life to date. Our third child just completed his TY Europe experience. He stayed with a family in Lyons. He was enrolled in a Catering Lycee, where he studied cookery. It was hands on course where he learned to prepare and cook meals as part of a team for the Lycees’ restaurant. The reason we chose this type of Lycee was because the girls complained about how boring it was sitting in class for science and mathematics as each class is 1 hour long in France. The terminology of the subjects was too difficult for them to learn as the girls did not have a great interest in Science and Mathematics. He enjoyed the whole experience immensely as he was always interested in cooking and would regularly cook and bake at home before he went to France. He completed five months in the Lycee but found that it would be more beneficial to him if he had been there from the beginning of the Lycee year. The mother of the family that he stayed with was a primary school teacher and he asked her to spend time with him teaching him French so she spent one hour every evening teaching him grammar and the written the language and as a result of this his written French is of leaving certificate standard. The families’ son returned home to us with my won. I organised work experience for him and taught him the written part of the English language for one hour every evening. It was a big commitment but now I can say well worth it! This summer my son has gained part time summer employment in a local restaurant preparing starters and desserts in the kitchen alongside the chef. This September our youngest son will attend an Agricultural Lycee in Dijon, where he will be involved in a practical course from the beginning of the school year. He hopes to complete the full school year there. The Lycee has a boarding facility which he will be availing of during the week and at weekends he will travel to a family home where he will stay weekends and holidays. That’s our plan to date for. I believe the knowledge of Language not only involves the spoken and written word but also the whole cultural experience. Language is the roadmap of culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going. Just learning to think in another language allows you to see your own culture in a better view point.


From the 24th of May till the 17th of June I lived in France. The DeSaintMartin family accepted me into theirs for the stay. It was undoubtedly the best period in my life thus far. I wasn’t worried about the stay really or missing out back home, as I left nearing the end of Transition Year and not much was happening in school. My grades in French were great but I went to improve my spoken French which was negligible.   I wanted to go and stay in France to improve, I was never told to. We got in contact with Jane who told us about the family who lived in Toul, outside Nancy.The family couldn’t’ve been nicer or more welcoming. There were 2 boys in the family; Théo (18) and Mathis (13) so I wasn’t ever alone or without someone my age. There was plenty of food at the house and I was never left hungry.  I attended Lycée Saint Louis Majorelle. The class were very welcoming and I felt at home there. I took English, French Literature, History/Geography, Physics and Economics. The teachers were on the whole very welcoming. The History teacher gave me a project to do so I wasn’t just sitting there. I helped the others out in English, and the French teacher gave me exercises to do. The other students were studying for the Bac. The food in the canteen was amazing, Théo immediately introduced me into his friend group and I got to know them like siblings. I went to a party in the woods with the friends about 3 weeks in and it was fantastic. There was a barbecue and it was very good fun. We had to leave early because the family and I were going on holiday the following day to Pas de Calais. They wanted to show me a different region in France. We went to see all the villages and attractions surrounding it and they showed me around. I swam though they thought the water was too cold!  The family had people over very often, family friends so there were always people around. Théo and Mathis were so nice and we did a lot together. Very soon I could hang out with others apart from Théo’s group and the school felt like my own. We went to see the Grandparents as well whenever Mathis was doing a rowing competition. They treated me as their own and were very welcoming. I couldn’t’ve asked for more. Whenever we went to the competitions I saw a different area in France. Both Théo and the father of the family, Stephane had birthdays during my stay. I bought them both presents and we celebrated it together. I went out to dinner with the family Théo and I both also went to Jardin Du Mars (music festival) when the family offered me a ticket. It was easily the best two nights of my life. Théo’s friends were there as well.  I did a lot with the friends there, from mountain biking to beach volleyball.  I made friends very quickly and it was very hard to leave them at the end. I had a party with the class on the last day of school before the Baccloreate started. The parents drove me to the airport on the 17th.  I highly recommend doing this sort of exchange and TY Europe did it very effectively in my opinion.


From the 12th of May to the 8th of June 2017 I lived in Dachau, Germany, with the brilliant Knüppel family. It was without doubt the best 4 weeks of my life! I had wanted to go to Germany, Munich in particular, since I'd began learning German in secondary school. Unfortunately, before TY, it hadn't worked out. That was until my teacher suggested an exchange to Germany. At first I gave no thought to it at all. I was completely pessimistic and just couldn't picture myself doing it. I'd never been away from my home for more than 10 days, so spending a month alone in Germany sounded completely out of the question. But the more I thought about it the more it seemed a possibility. We got in contact with Jane, and received information on a family living in Dachau, just outside Munich. There was no pressure on me to do it, we said we'd think about it and get back to her. I just couldn't not take up the opportunity to go, and I decided to do it. We had Julian in our house for the month of April, and right away we got on really well. You'd be surprised how quickly you get to know someone when you live with them, and after a week or two it was as if we'd been friends for years! Julian left, and it was only a week and a half after that when it was my turn to go to Germany. I remember, on the morning of the flight, being extremely nervous, but I also remember being hugely excited. From my point of view, leaving my parents at the airport was the toughest part of the exchange, but once I got on the plane, I just knew it was going to be the best time of my life. The family met me at the airport and were extremely welcoming, friendly and overall just genuine people. It was relatively late, so we didn't do much that night other than a small tour around their beautiful town. The next day the exchange really began for me, I got to meet some of Julian's friends and on the Sunday we went to the Allianz Arena to see a match, which has always been one of my dreams, and we ended up behind the goal with the extreme fans chanting and shouting for the whole match! It was definitely one of the best experiences of the exchange. After only a few days I felt settled in and was comfortable around the family and in the house. I was also quite nervous before the first day of school, but I'd already met a few of his friends that were extremely sound so I could only expect the same from the rest of the class, and they were too. The school was very different from my school, but after only a few days I began to enjoy it more and more. Some classes were really hard to understand, but I found that after a few days of really trying to listen to what the teachers were saying, it became easier to understand and also easier to engage in conversations with his friends. For the second and third week of school, I was actually going to bed excited for the next day of school, something which I definitely didn't think would happen! For the last few weeks, it began to feel as if it was my normal school. I didn't even have to hang around constantly with Julian, I was able to go around with his friends on my own at the breaks, in between classes etc. And there was also plenty of sport in the school, with lots of soccer which was really important for me!  On Wednesdays and Thursdays the school finished early so on those days we'd go and visit places around Munich and Dachau. Munich was an incredible city, with so much to see and do. We were in the Olympia Park, Nymphenburg Schloss, Marienplatz, Englischer Garten and so much more. The family knew Munich really well, so they were able to bring me to all the proper Bavarian spots in the city and I got a real feel of the city from this. The days that we spent in Munich were just amazing, it was surreal that one of the biggest and thriving cities in the world was only 15 minutes away on a train. We also took many trips to places around Munich. We hiked up a 1700m mountain one day in the Bavarian Alps, and at the top were definitely the best views I’ve seen in my life! We were in tourist destinations such as Andechs, Garmisch, Schloss Lindehof, and so much more! The mountains were just incredible, as I'd never seen anything like them before. As well as all of that, we went to places such as the Concentration Camp in Dachau, Ingolstadt, Freising, the list goes on and on and that was just with the family! We'd often meet up with friends and go to places such as the nearby lake, the cinema, the swimming pool, Volksfest in Dachau, Parties (x3!) and sometimes just relax, chat and play Fifa or watch soccer matches. One of my worries before the exchange was the food, as I'd heard the Germans eat a lot of cheese, which I don't like very much! But it was absolutely brilliant, each day I got to try more and more of the typical German cuisine and I loved it. There was plenty of meat, vegetables and variation. My German has also improved so much over the month that it's unbelievable. I didn't even notice until it was pointed out that I was fully taking part in conversations and fully understanding what everyone was saying. It was a very cool feeling to be able to understand and speak an entirely different language! The worst day of the exchange was probably the last day, because I didn't want to leave! It had already been difficult on the last day of school, a week before I had to go, because I had to say goodbye to a few of my new friends that were going on holidays. It was very difficult to say goodbye to everyone, but once I got home to my family and friends it was really nice to see them. I was really sad to leave, and I miss everything about the exchange, the food, the language, the country, but most of all the people I met and got to know on the exchange. I've made so many new friends that I know I will have for a long time. Thankfully, we have lots of contact with each other and have organised for my exchange partner and a friend to come back to Ireland, and also for me to go back to Germany. I can't wait to go back.

      

      


On the 1st of April 2017 I travelled to Spain. My goal was to speak Spanish fluently by the end of my six-week stay. Having now completed it, I may not be fluent, but I have definitely progressed significantly from my Junior Certificate level of Spanish and not only in Spanish, other aspects too. Living with a family in another country was for sure a very challenging experience for me. The family were very different to my own, not only the family, but Spanish people in general. They are very chatty, active and social able. I was always welcomed with open arms wherever I went.  Although these are positive characteristics, as an independent, self-contained person, I sometimes felt I needed some alone time.  It’s good to immerse oneself in the family for maximum exposure to the language and culture but I found having my own space important to coping with the challenges of the experience.  All the family want is for the student to be happy and comfortable, so if you are like me, and need that personal space, make sure you make it clear your alone time is very important to you and then they won’t tend to worry. This is better clarified as early as possible, as indeed are any concerns or issues or preferences you have, such that the family understands clearly, thereby minimising confusion.  You should never be afraid to express how you are feeling to the family or your liaison person, as this is exactly what they want and is ultimately in everyone’s best interest. I attended a secondary school there Alba, one of the girls from my host family.  This was an exhausting yet interesting experience.  I was thrilled to meet people my own age and witness their everyday interactions. This was where I was most exposed to the language.  I heard everyday conversation consistently throughout the whole day.  Alba’s friends were very nice and talked to me.  I found the young people most difficult to understand as the pace at which they spoke was extremely fast.  During the classes I did a mixture of studying my own Spanish through grammar and conversational books as well as listening to the teacher.  I know that although school was sometimes socially boring and emotionally draining, it had a very positive impact on my Spanish.  In the hours after school I had the best opportunity to understand and speak Spanish.  I would recommend going to Spain during Easter like me, or partially in summer, as school was very demanding and a break was vital.
The lifestyle was another thing to get used to, but I ended up almost preferring it to my own.  The meals were very spread out; hence I was starving every time I sat at the table, which was good.  I really liked the food as almost everything I ate was Spanish and so different to what I’m used to.  I tried plenty of new foods and thanks to the family, I don’t believe there is any traditional Spanish food I didn’t get to try.  After a late dinner (around 9:30pm) the family gathered together to watch a film and chill together.  I was exhausted by that time so I usually just went to bed, which the family didn’t mind. I loved getting the opportunity to travel with my family; I went to the tips of the North West and the south of Spain.  I was also brought to Madrid on several occasions. The family was very active so I took part in hiking, Zumba, swimming and lots more.

I am very happy with my trip to Spain, I understand so much more than I did before and I’m a lot more confident speaking Spanish now.  It was definitely an experience I will always remember!


My name is Eva and I am 15 Years old. I am in transition year and as I had a lot more free time this year I decided to go to Spain to improve my Spanish. I went to Madrid on the 4th of January and I stayed for 5 and a half weeks. My friend Grace came with me and we stayed with two different families in a village near Madrid called Galapagar. I really enjoyed my experience in Madrid and I am so glad that I went. I remember being really nervous going out as I had very poor Spanish. The girl I was staying with was 16, her name was Marta, and she had a younger sister who was 10. They were such a lovely family and I enjoyed staying in their house. I had my own bedroom with a treadmill and T.V (which I never had any time to use because I was so busy!) I really enjoyed bringing the dog for a walk as the scenery was beautiful in Galapagar. I woke up on the week days at 7.45 as school started at 8.30. There were six classes a day with a thirty minute break in between. Each class was 55 minutes long which I found long compared to Ireland. I found some subjects hard like Spanish and Maths because I didn’t understand, although the teachers were very patient with us. Grace and I joined the gym and we went every day in the evening. In the gym we used the swimming pool and went to classes such as Aqua box which was boxing in the water we also went to Aerobics and stretching classes. On the weekends we went to lots of places such as the Prado museum, the cinema, Madrid City, the parade of the 3 Kings, the temple of Debod and we also went to many other villages in Madrid such as Segovia where we ate out for dinner and visited many attraction sites. The weeks flew bye and I was very sad leaving. On the last week it was Marta’s birthday and she had a party with her friends. Grace and I became really friendly with some of Marta’s friends so we enjoyed that day. I got to taste some of the lovely Spanish food such as paella, calamari and churros and on the last night my family brought me out for dinner to a lovely restaurant. I am very grateful for the opportunity I got to go to Spain and I feel like my Spanish has greatly approved. It was definitely an experience of a life time and I am so lucky that I met Marta and made an amazing friend who I hope to keep in touch with and meet up with over the summer. I would love to go back and do it all over again if I could but I will cherish the memories and friends I made over those 5 and a half weeks


My name is Erin and I am 16 years old. Recently I've returned home from a 3 month exchange in Spain. I did my exchange with a girl my age, Cristina, who was a triplet. Cristina came to stay in my house at the same time as I stayed in hers. I was very lucky to have her other two sisters, Silvia and Patricia, for help and company but it was also a disadvantage because it prevented me from making my own friends and doing my own thing as I had to stay with them all the time. During the first month I did a lot of listening and I didn't speak much. I had only been learning Spanish in school for 3 years and my level of Spanish wasn't very high at all. I was excluded quite a lot from conversations because I didn't really know what was going on. During the second and third months I did speak a lot more. When I was leaving Spain I didn't think that my Spanish had improved a lot and I was disappointed but then I realised how much it really improved in my Spanish class. I am quite shy and I do rely on my friends a lot to be there for me but in Spain I was on my own and it was very hard at times. Having my friends and family to talk to on the phone wasn't the same as having them with me and at times I did feel quite lonely. I did use my phone a lot to talk to people like Jane O'Regan, my family and friends about what was going on and what I was doing. It did make me feel better if I was having a bad day. School was sometimes fun but mostly boring as I had barely anything to do. I attended Cristina's school with her two sisters. As I didn't understand enough Spanish to do the same work as the class, I couldn't do a lot of work so I just had to sit and listen or read. The area I was staying in was Torrelodones in Madrid which was a 30/40min drive from the city. The city was great. I got to go shopping there and to see a lot of the city. I got to go out and socialise with Silvia, Patricia and their friends a lot which I enjoyed. Overall I had good times and bad times. If I was to do it again I'd definitely shorten the amount of time I'd spend there and make it 2 months as I did think 3 months was a bit too long but I'm glad I experienced it and I didn't go home early!

 


I arrived in Madrid airport on Saturday April 2nd to do a Spanish exchange with Laura Lopez. I already knew Laura from when she stayed in my house and we got on really well. From the moment I met Laura and Ana in the airport I knew it was going to be a great four weeks. We went from the airport to Laura’s brother’s football match where we met her dad, Javier, and her brother, also Javier. The family made me feel very welcome and Laura always helped me when I didn’t understand things. She made my time in Spain very pleasant and enjoyable. My Spanish improved hugely because when didn’t understand something, instead of telling me the word in English she would explain it in Spanish. Within the first two days I found myself even thinking in Spanish when I was by myself or going to bed.  Monday April 4th I went to Laura’s school, colegio Gondomar. When I arrived all the teachers introduced themselves. I went to class and Laura’s friends were all so nice to me. They made me feel welcome and included me in everything they did. They talked about what they would like to bring me to such as Madrid centre, a theme park, ice skating. I felt so lucky to meet all these girls. The classes were challenging because the teacher talked very fast and I understood very little but by the end I found I understood a lot more. Some teachers gave me work and tests which I didn’t mind because my Spanish was improving. I also liked it because in history they asked me to write about an important person in Irish history and I got to write about Patrick Pearse.
      
On the weekends Laura and her family and friends brought me on outings which I loved. The first Saturday her friends brought me to Madrid. I didn’t do much shopping but I saw loads of famous places in Madrid and got a lot of photos to remember it. We saw the opera, the king’s palace, the plaza mayor, the temple of Debod and more. We had dinner together in Madrid and took the metro to the bus stop. I had such a good time in Madrid centre, it is a beautiful place and I will never forget it. I also went to places outside Madrid with Laura and her family such as Segovia and Avila; in Segovia I saw historic monuments that were so beautiful such as the aqueduct and the monastery. We also went to Escorial which was very nice. My time in Madrid went to fast and before I knew it I was in the last week. In school on the last day they threw me a little surprise party. They filled the board with writing and gave me a present of a t-shirt, which they all signed, and a photo of the whole class. I was so sad that I had to say goodbye to all of them then. Hopefully it wasn’t my last time seeing them but I will really miss them all.  On the last night we went to dinner with the whole family, including her cousin and her Irish exchange student. It didn’t feel like the next day I would be home in Ireland. I enjoyed every moment of my trip and I was so sad to leave.  I got on so well with everyone. Her family were very nice to me while I was there and made me feel at home. All of Laura’s friends made sure I was having the best time I could I am so grateful for that. Laura is a lovely girl and I am so lucky I got to do the exchange with her. I made an amazing friend that I hope to stay in touch with for a very long time.

      

                         


MY SPANISH EXCHANGE
I have been asked to talk to you about my foreign exchange experience. One of the great advantages of TY is that it enabled me to travel to Spain for a month and improve my Spanish. I was really lucky to get a very nice and welcoming family. Even more importantly I got on extremely well with my exchange student Guillermo, who is coming to Ireland in July. As much as I was nervous before going to Spain I was also very excited. After arriving at the house at 10:30pm I was immediately told we were going into the village to attend a barbeque with Guillermo’s friends. So I was thrown right into the deep end straight away. Looking back I am delighted this happened because it helped break the ice and after this we were comfortable around each other. I attended school for three weeks while in Madrid, which was challenging but very helpful. I found it quite frustrating that I couldn’t participate in lessons. I excelled in one subject alone. ENGLISH. I was very happy with my classmates especially at break time and during PE classes. The lads were great craic and I felt as if I fitted in well. The highlight of the trip was going to an Atletico Madrid match. I was extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity, I couldn’t believe my luck. For those who are interested the fixture was a home match against Granada and Atletico won 3-0. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful for the family’s generosity. Language wise I learned a lot. I feel a lot more confident in understanding Spanish and am able to converse with people a lot better now. I would recommend going on an exchange to anyone who has the chance. Experiencing a new culture is great with the added bonus that your language skills can be improved. Muchas Gracias por escuchar y buenas noches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyXBf0LF2iE


My name is Orla and I’m 16 years old and I did my exchange in Germany for 4 weeks. TY Europe was recommended to me by a friend of mine in school who had had a fantastic experience and so I quickly got in contact with Jane. She gave us all of the relevant information and details, and paired me with a lovely family in Tubingen, just outside Stuttgart. Their daughter Nora came to Ireland for the first part of the exchange in April. She had amazing English, which made me nervous about my German, but she was so friendly, and really fitted in well with our family. Then the time came when it was my turn to go to Germany, and as it happened a girl from my school also happened to be staying in the same town as me. When I arrived there, I was so glad to see Nora, a familiar face, and meet her family. The first day was really hard and I understood hardly anything, but I told myself that this was to be expected. It found it was really useful to have a German-English dictionary, and I carried it everywhere. My first day in school went better than I expected, the class were so welcoming and excited to have a new student. The teachers were very helpful, and did their best to explain to me when I didn’t understand what was going on. My first week in school flew, and that weekend we took in the local sights, such as a beautiful nearby castle. Other weekend trips included a visit to Bodensee, a southern holiday resort, visits to friends and extended family, shopping trips and cycling trips. Everyone made a conscious effort to speak a little slower and clearer to help me understand. I went on numerous shopping trips, where we got to travel by train to other nearby cities. I really enjoyed getting to see so much of Germany. I noticed that my German was improving every day. The food was different to home and my family cooked me a traditional German dinner to give me the full cultural experience. I repaid the favour by cooking them a traditional Irish dinner in return.  On weekdays, I did simple things like doing the groceries with my exchange mother, so as to improve my German vocabulary for foods. I also went to the local ice cream shop a lot, and now know the German for every ice cream flavour! Towards the end of my stay, the weather got quite hot, so Nora brought me to the local outdoor swimming pool. Some evenings, I would sit with the family on the terrace, where we would spend the night eating, chatting and laughing. I really felt so at home, I could not have been paired with a better family. The Euro’s soccer competition was in full flight while I was over there and family friends would join us at the house to support Germany and Ireland whenever they played. At the beginning of my time in Germany, I thought that four weeks was going to be a long time, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The time went so fast, especially as I was enjoying myself and having so much fun. My German improved to the point where I went from understanding nothing on the first day to feeling comfortable conversing with everyone on my last day. I got on really well with Nora and all of her friends, and we are hoping to do another exchange again next year. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their language skills. I would really like to thank Jane and all the staff at TY Europe for all their help and for having everything run so smoothly.

 


My name is Niall: I remember booking my flight to Germany and thinking that 5 weeks was too long and I would never last that long, but I was so wrong! I should have listened to Jane and should have only booked a one way ticket only for my return ticket being booked I’d still be out there! I had so many mixed feelings about my trip; would I get on with the family/ will I understand them etc. I was very excited but also very nervous. I remember bringing all my Junior Cert notes on the plane over with me trying to remember my German so Id actually be able to speak it! When I met the family at the airport I was really shy and I started speaking Irish to them ... So embarrassing!! They welcomed me and I didn’t understand anything they were saying, I could only try and pick out a few words here and there and I remember thinking that I would never be able to cope with this for 5 weeks. I was paired with such a fantastic, loving, caring family and I really felt like the 4th child! The boys were both my age and there was a younger girl too. The parents were so kind and brought me to so many things at the weekends like to the local castle, shopping and also a weekend away to their house in the snow! I never had a dull moment. The tennis club was less than a 10 minute walk up the road which was perfect for me, I could walk to training every Monday and Friday which the parents organised for me. I was so so anxious about school and hadn’t a clue what to expect! 
It was such an early start compared to Ireland and I didn’t think I’d understand anything. Although some classes were really difficult like Maths and German the teachers never gave out to me because I couldn’t answer a question or never told me to do something I didn’t want to do. The students were so helpful and really helped me improve my German. I have to say my time in Germany was definitely the best experience of my life. I enjoyed every moment. My German has improved so much and I could understand everything people were saying after a week. I am still in contact with the family and I would go back in the morning if I could! My best advice is to not book your return ticket and please don’t think that 5 weeks is a long time because it flies around, also bring a notebook or something to write down all the new phrases / vocabulary you learn and finally just enjoy this opportunity because it is so beneficial and its such great fun!! 


Hey, My name is Sarah, and I went to Spain on an exchange for the month of April in the year of my Transition year. I went to a town just outside Madrid called Galapagar. A town I quickly began to love. As soon as I arrived into Spain, any worries disappeared as my excitement was booming.

I was so lucky to have gotten such a generous and caring family that was so perfectly fit for me. I got on so well with them, I was more than delighted. I couldn't have been luckier. The Cordova family made my experience so much more enjoyable. I can't stress enough how kind and welcoming they were to me. They didn't feel like strangers to me at all. 
I was expecting to be home sick and was so shocked at myself to say the least as not a day went by that I didn't love being away from home. I was a typical Irish person who packed a load of shorts, completely oblivious that Spanish don't wear shorts in April in an around that area of Spain for its not short worthy yet. I learned it the hard way but now know to be more prepared and inquire. This experience defiantly improved my Spanish and understanding of it, as the most difficult thing to grasp, was understanding what they were saying. It's completely different to learning it in school. Which is why I would highly recommend an exchange as you'll learn more in a month then you would learning it in a year at school. (Possibly all the three years I've been learning it.) School was different over there but once you start talking to others and put yourself out there by making the effort, everything becomes much more beneficial for yourself and better for those around you. You Make friends and have a great time.
While over there, I was still brought to the gym three times a week and given the freedom to train. My parents over there were so good to me! I also attended Zumba classes with the girl I was staying with, once a week. It was a great bonding session and a tough workout.  I not only improved my Spanish, but I gained a new friend that I plan to keep for life and a new love for the Spanish people, cuisine, language and the country. I'm dying to return. I will now be hosting Mariana as she will be coming over to Ireland in August. I'm so excited and I hope she will enjoy the experience as much as I did which I'm sure she will. I will forever remember this experience, and only a single month. For me I found too short, I Would have loved to stay longer but before I left I didn't want to take the risk. I never thought I would have loved it so much. It was hard leaving for I become so close to those I lived with, and felt like a member of their family.  I will be forever grateful to my Spanish family. I had an unbelievable time over there thanks to them. We visited many towns and landmarks. Even one of the Seven Wonders Of the World (the Monastery in El Escorial) Its amazing, what a perfectly fit family, enthusiasm and an open mind can make you achieve and have the time of your life. I also made an Irish friend over there and we rarely crossed paths but when we did we had great chats comparing our experiences, and like me she was extremely lucky with her family and was loving the experience just as much as myself. It was good to know I wasn't the only person struggling at the beginning but slowly noticed my own improvement. BEST EXPERIENCE I could have hoped for and I learned many life lessons along the way about traveling alone etc. 
Not a single bad thing I could say. I was so lucky to have experienced it the way I did. No regrets.

 


I arrived in Madrid airport on Saturday April 2nd to do a Spanish exchange with Laura Lopez. I already knew Laura from when she stayed in my house and we got on really well. From the moment I met Laura and Ana in the airport I knew it was going to be a great four weeks. We went from the airport to Laura’s brother’s football match where we met her dad, Javier, and her brother, also Javier. The family made me feel very welcome and Laura always helped me when I didn’t understand things. She made my time in Spain very pleasant and enjoyable. My Spanish improved hugely because when didn’t understand something, instead of telling me the word in English she would explain it in Spanish. Within the first two days I found myself even thinking in Spanish when I was by myself or going to bed.  Monday April 4th I went to Laura’s school, colegio Gondomar. When I arrived all the teachers introduced themselves. I went to class and Laura’s friends were all so nice to me. They made me feel welcome and included me in everything they did. They talked about what they would like to bring me to such as Madrid centre, a theme park, ice skating. I felt so lucky to meet all these girls. The classes were challenging because the teacher talked very fast and I understood very little but by the end I found I understood a lot more. Some teachers gave me work and tests which I didn’t mind because my Spanish was improving. I also liked it because in history they asked me to write about an important person in Irish history and I got to write about Patrick Pearse.


On the weekends Laura and her family and friends brought me on outings which I loved. The first Saturday her friends brought me to Madrid. I didn’t do much shopping but I saw loads of famous places in Madrid and got a lot of photos to remember it. We saw the opera, the king’s palace, the plaza mayor, the temple of Debod and more. We had dinner together in Madrid and took the metro to the bus stop. I had such a good time in Madrid centre, it is a beautiful place and I will never forget it. I also went to places outside Madrid with Laura and her family such as Segovia and Avila; in Segovia I saw historic monuments that were so beautiful such as the aqueduct and the monastery. We also went to Escorial which was very nice. My time in Madrid went to fast and before I knew it I was in the last week. In school on the last day they threw me a little surprise party. They filled the board with writing and gave me a present of a t-shirt, which they all signed, and a photo of the whole class. I was so sad that I had to say goodbye to all of them then. Hopefully it wasn’t my last time seeing them but I will really miss them all.  On the last night we went to dinner with the whole family, including her cousin and her Irish exchange student. It didn’t feel like the next day I would be home in Ireland. I enjoyed every moment of my trip and I was so sad to leave.  I got on so well with everyone. Her family were very nice to me while I was there and made me feel at home. All of Laura’s friends made sure I was having the best time I could I am so grateful for that. Laura is a lovely girl and I am so lucky I got to do the exchange with her. I made an amazing friend that I hope to stay in touch with for a very long time.

 


My name is Sara.  I’m 15 from Wexford. I wanted to do an exchange because I thought it would be interesting to learn about a new culture and improve my Spanish. The girl came over here first, I was really nervous in case we didn’t get along but we were really lucky and got along really well. She came over at the end of August for two months. She came to my school and got along really well with everyone and made loads of new friends. I was really sad when she left and I was looking forward to seeing her again in January. Because we got along so well I wasn’t that nervous about going over I was just really excited. When I arrived I was instantly made feel at home. In Spain they were still on their Christmas holidays because they celebrate Christmas differently. They celebrate the day the three king came to see Jesus in the manger. So on the 5th of January they have a parade. We went into a town called Escorial to see the parade. We met up with people from school in there. In the parade the three kings throw sweets out it was really fun and a good way to get to know the people. The next day the three kings came to the house and gave presents like how Santa does in Ireland. School started that Friday I was kind of nervous but excited. Everyone was really nice to me and really friendly. It was a lot different to my school in Ireland. The biggest difference was that it was mixed, my school in Ireland is an all-girls catholic school.  School started at nine same as in Ireland but on Fridays it finished at half two. The others days it finished at different times usually around five and classes were an hour long. Lunch was longer and we got food there. At the start it was really hard because when lots of people were talking I would get lost in the conversation but after about two weeks I began to understand what they were talking about. Everyone was really helpful and if I was trying to say something they would help me. We visited Madrid a couple of times. We went to El Prado, Soralla’s house, we went to  a café where they sell these Spanish doughnuts called churros. You dip them into hot chocolate and they were delicious.  We also went to a town called Avila it was an old medieval town. For any Irish people that go over I think it’s important that they know when you greet people you have to give them kisses on each cheek. All in all I really enjoyed my time in Spain and I would definitely recommend any one to do an exchange especially in ty you will not regret it. I never felt home sick and the time I felt most sad was when I was going home. I will definitely never  forget my time in Spain and will stay in touch with Lorena.

 


Germany
3rd October 19th
December
My name is Laura
and I am 15 years old. I travelled to Germany for almost 3
months and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
I left Dublin airport on the 3rd of October filled with mixed emotions. I was sad to
be leaving my family and friends behind, nervous for the flight and meeting the
family but I was mostly excited for the journey ahead.
When I arrived it was a major shock having to speak another language all of a
sudden. However I had nothing to fear as the family were so kind to me and
immediately did everything in their power to make me feel welcome. I knew right
from the start we were going to get on brilliant and we did!
The first 2 weeks was midterm break in Germany so I had no school. This gave
me a great opportunity to get to know the family and my exchange partner,
Lavinia, a bit better. It also allowed me to get used to my surroundings, do a little
bit of exploring and meet some of Lavinia's closest friends outside the school
environment. I thoroughly enjoyed having this opportunity before beginning
school.
The first day of school was very worrying. I was so nervous about what all my
new classmates would think of me. The fact that I might not have been able to
understand everyone all of the time and how I might not have been able to say
what was on my mind at times worried me a lot. Little did I know I had nothing to
worry about. I quickly realised that everyone was so kind and friendly towards me
and I adapted really well into German school life.
School was very different in Germany. The first major difference was that we
wore our own clothes to school rather than a school uniform. I liked having the
comfort of my own clothes but it was a little annoying having to pick out a new
outfit everyday. Another major difference was being in a mixed school.
Here in Ireland I attend an all girls catholic school and being in a mixed school
was totally new to me. However, I really enjoyed being in school with boys. The
days in Germany began very early, 6am. This was difficult to get used to at the
beginning but the reward was getting to finish school at 1:30pm every day!
At the beginning I found it difficult to speak German. I had only been learning the
language for 3 years in school but I knew the basics of the language. It was very
strange for the first few days listening to everyone speaking in German but after
a week or two I began to get used to it.
During the first month I did a lot of listening rather than talking. I found it
frustrating at times not being able to say what was on my mind but if I was having
any difficulties, many people around me, in school and at home, could use their
English language skills to help me. By the time of the second month, I began to
talk more and my bubbly, positive personality finally began to show. I started to
be able to be myself a lot more and people began to see the real me. When the
third and final month came, I was able to have a fluent conversation with
someone, understanding most words and saying what I thought without having to
put too much effort in. It all began to come naturally to me.
Throughout my trip I did so many amazing things and visited so many wonderful
places. I travelled to cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Oberhausen and Hamm
and undertook activities such as bowling, shopping, eating in restaurants, baking
and doing art. I visited some brilliant places such as the zoo, the cinema on a few
occasions, restaurants, a theme park by the name of ‘Movie Park’, Christmas
markets and shopping centres. One of my favourite trips was when my family
and I travelled to Cologne for the day and visited the Lindt chocolate museum,
the Cathedral and even did a bit of shopping. Another great day I had was a trip
to the zoo with my school friends. We spent a brilliant day in the zoo looking at all
the animals and having great fun together and afterwards we headed into the city
for a beautiful meal in a lovely restaurant and did some shopping in the local
Christmas markets.
Overall, I loved this experience so much. Words cannot describe the fun I had
and the memories I made will never be forgotten. I learned so much not only
around the German language but around their culture and customs too. I would
hope that this knowledge will help me go through life with more of an
understanding of others. If I got the opportunity to do this again, I would go in a
heartbeat. I would suggest to anyone who has the opportunity to go on an
exchange to do it! Take the chance and mark my words, you will not be sorry!


Experience of Germany: Philip Conroy

I left Ireland at on 19th September 2015, having booked an exchange with German student Konstantin “Konsti” König through TY Europe months earlier. I arrived at 11:25 with Aer Lingus in Flughaffe München, collected my check-in-bag, and met the König family for the first time. I was driven home alongside Konsti in the back of Katrin’s (the mother) BMW. We arrived home at Am Blumengarten 8, in the suburbs of München, having passed a few buildings on the way home such as a Fujitsu building, an impressive sculpture and the Allianz Arena, home to the pride of the freestate of Bayern, FC Bayern München, the German football champions. I was shown around the house by Konsti and then unpacked. That night I saw München for the first time, when we took the U-bahn (underground train) to the city centre. The next day we saw a movie with Konsti’s friends, and I hardly understood any of the fast-speaking German voice actors! The day I arrived was the first day of the world-renowned beer festival, the ‘Oktoberfest’. I saw lot through this festival. People came from all over the world to celebrate in the festival. The traditional dress, ‘Liederhosen’ for men and ‘Dirndl’ for women. Mainly because of this festival, there are six separate beer brands from München.
Monday came and I got up earlier than I do in Ireland, at 7 o clock and had muesli. We cycled in early so we could go to the school office and get a form to say that I was an exchange student. The school was called Albert Einstein Gymnasium (secondary school in German), named after Albert Einstein obviously, the world famous scientist who lived in the 50s, who actually attended the school! The teachers signed the form every new class. We cycled to school every day, except one where we were going into town with the class.The first day passed slowly. I got home at 3:30, as Mondays were the longest days of the week. I attended Konsti’s Karate class on Monday evening, which was interesting and similar to the Taekwondo class I do in Ireland. On Tuesday, we had dinner with some friends. After that we went to the Allianz Arena, to witness Bayern München destroy Wolfsburg 5-1, with all goals coming from from Robert Lewandowski, in the space of nine minutes!! Wednesday came and Konsti had a bad headache and stomach pain, so I stayed out of school, for that day and then Thursday too. Alex, Konsti’s sister plays football, and so that Wednesday evening I went to the ladies’ football training! Katrin brought me to a German supermarket and on Thursday showed me around München some more, around Mariensplatz and the Viktualiensmarkt, where I tried a typical Bavarian food: Bratwurst (type of sausage). Fridays we had P.E. where we played football and was very fun. On Saturday we went into the city centre (Katrin, Konsti, Alex and I). There we took three hop-on bus tours of München. I saw the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace, the BMW (Bayerischen Motor Werken) headquarters and museum, the famous area of Müchen, Schwabing and the amazing Olympic Park that hosted the 1982 München/Munich summer Olympic games. The next day we went to the local church, which was almost impossible to understand, espiecially with an Indian priest taking the Mass! Monday I went to school, where I attended a ‘Muttersprache’ or fluent speakers English class, where I felt at home speaking English there. The week passed relatively quickly, I went to Karate as normal on Monday, Football on Wednesday and Friday, and I walked with Katrin and Gina, their dog while Konsti did golf. That weekend we met up with Konsti’s friends and went into München and saw different parts. On Sunday we met with Konsti’s school friends and went into the ‘wiesen’ or the Oktoberfest to Sendlingor Tor. We went on many rollercoaster rides and got bratwurst and gebrannte mandeln, which are sweetened almonds and enjoyed widely in Bavaria, it was a good day out. The next week was eventful. On Tuesday we went into München with the class and did a sort of ‘Treasure hunt’, where we had to find out several pieces of information from buildings surrounding the centre, which was very fun. I learned more about München, and that it had been the capital of Bavaria (which had existed before the unification of Germany) and an important city for politics, arts and protection. Alex left for college on Wenesday, so me an Konsti got the tram to Karate and I finished with the football training.  I didn’t go to Konsti’s golf on Thursday, as I worked on a project for back in Ireland, but I wrote it in German! On Friday we had a half class of P.E. as we helped out with moving papers down to the storeroom in the basement of the school. Saturday was the the beginning of my last weekend, and we got up at 6am to drive to Neuschwanstein, a very famous castle in Bayern, which the Disney castle is based off of, and where ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was set. We also saw the Wienkirche, which was amzing with many statues and paintings. The next day we played football and went for a long cycle in the Perlacher Forst, an absolutely massive forested area just outside München. The air was very fresh and there was a  lot of people going running, cycling, walking and rollerblading even there! It came to my last week there. I went to Karate as per usual on Monday and Wednesday and on Thursday I stayed out of school to go to the Englisch Gartens (English Gardens) with Katrin and I got a few presents for friends an family. Friday was my last day, and I said goodbye to people I’d met and we had a football match in P.E. Later that day I went on a cycle around the area to reflect on everything that had happened over the last 4 weeks. I had had a great time and could think of no bad memory or awkward moment, apart from the time we were doing reading in class and I had forgot my sheet but that was fine! I’m so glad that the exchange worked out so well and I will certainly keep in touch with Konsti and his family!

 


My name is sue I am 16 and I went to Tuebingen in Germany in February/March 2015. I was late I deciding to do an exchange but still managed to organize one with the help of Jane to go a few weeks later.  I was matched with Anke who I then emailed to get to know her. I was really excited to go to Germany but nervous to go by myself for 5 weeks. When I got to Germany I met Anke and her family and knew that I was going to be ok and that i would have fun over there. I got to experience lots of aspects of German culture when I was over there. The first weekend we celebrated her granddads birthday with a meal out in a restaurant, and my last weekend there we celebrated her other grandmother’s birthday.  I was really nervous about school in Germany but everyone there was really nice and welcoming and I made friends easily. Anke did other languages as well so I was lucky enough to be able to do extra German classes while she had these. Some classes were very difficult like chemistry and maths but I took in what I could and asked Anke questions after class. It’s safe to say English was my favourite class because I was able to understand everything and everyone loved to hear my Irish accent! School was very different to Irish school but I liked not to have a uniform and that the school days were much shorter.  I was also lucky enough to get to go skiing with Anke, her family and a few other German families in Switzerland while I was there. It was difficult at first to understand everyone there as they had very strong  accents, but nevertheless I enjoyed skiing very much and it really improved my German and understanding of dialect!  I had a great time in Germany and did a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally do here in Ireland. I went to big basketball matches, I went shopping in outlets (with stores such as Calvin Klein and Michael Kors), I went ice skating and I went to different theatre plays. When I was in Tuebingen, Trinity College Dublin happened to come to perform ‘the playboy of the western world’ in German in the town university! This was funny to hear Irish accents after 4 weeks of only hearing German being spoken.  I also got to play tennis, my favourite sport while I was in Germany. Anke’s father played in the local tennis club and arranged for me to join some training sessions which I was delighted about. It was great to improve my sport and the language at the same time. I also made more friends through playing tennis and got to play with lots of different people. All in all I couldn’t recommend an exchange to Germany enough! I learned so much German there and more colloquial language that we wouldn’t learn in school. As well as this I learned a lot about the culture and really enjoyed my stay and am hoping to go back again this year to visit!
                              


My name is Taylor, I'm 16 and I only recently returned from a 2 week home stay during the summer in a town outside of Barcelona, Spain. It was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had. I study Spanish at home by myself and so many times I have considered an exchange, but the idea of being with a different family in a different country worried me a little. I thought of all the usual things, would I be shy or uncomfortable? Would I be homesick and change my mind half way through my stay? Once I showed my interest to Jane, she helped me and advised me and matched me up with an amazing family with 3 daughters, who I got on really well with. I was very fortunate with the family I stayed with, they made me so comfortable and helped me loads and I can say that there wasn't one moment throughout my time there when I felt sad or lonely. There were days spent on the beach, shopping, going to concerts and festivals, visiting cities and of course hanging out with so many nice people who helped me a lot with the language and understood the situation I was in. I had no time to miss home because I was so busy each day doing fun and interesting things. I had to accept that there was going to be moments where I didn't understand what I was being told, but the main thing was to laugh it off and learn from the mistakes I made. I'll greatly miss the food I had too, for breakfast, lunch and especially the main meal. The mother of the house was a brilliant cook and I was always excited for meal times. The one thing I'd have to mention about Barcelona and the area of Cataluña, is that its main language is Catalan, and it is spoken by all natives there. The language is seen on signposts on roads, it is spoken on some TV channels and radio stations and it is the preferred spoken language of people in the area. I heard a lot of Catalan spoken during my stay, however the family and people I was with made a great effort to speak only Spanish with me, but for some people, they might prefer to be in an area where they are immersed only in Spanish. The important part was that I improved greatly in the language, both speaking and listening, and it's an experience that you can't gain from studying at home. It's the friendships and people who you meet that make the trip special, and without a doubt, I would love to go on another home stay or exchange next summer, but for longer. I think the longer you're there, the more beneficial it is. I'm very appreciative of Jane's help, this couldn't have been done without her, and of course the brilliant family that I stayed with. I would recommend this to anyone who has a strong drive for improving a language that they're learning.


My name is Mae, I am 14 years old and I went on a one month exchange to Germany. My brothers had gone on an exchange the year before so I wasn’t too nervous about going. My exchange student came to Ireland in April and I returned to Germany in June. I was looking forward to meeting my exchange student again as we got on really well. On my first day I quickly realised how little German I understood and I found that it was even harder to talk. My first week in Germany we had holidays, I thought this was good as it gave me a chance to get to know the family before going to school. During the holidays I travelled to the local cities/towns with my exchange student, her sister and some friends. I enjoyed this and felt that it made it easier when I went to school. During the holidays I went to Austria with my exchange family where we went hiking, bobsleighing and we went on gondolas. I found this really enjoyable and felt that I got to know the family better over this two night stay. During my first week in Germany I quickly learned that not knowing the past tense was a big problem. As I am only in second year we hadn’t learned the past tense in school. My exchange student and her sister, who was one year younger than me, gave me a crash course on how to use the past tense. This helped a lot as in school many people asked about what I had done during the holidays or at the weekend. School was enjoyable although I couldn’t understand most of what the teachers said. I made some good friends in school. We had to get up at half past six every morning for school and I found this hard as I am used to getting up at half past seven for school. The weather was really warm for a few days and I was delighted to get a chance to go to a Freibad (outdoor pool). My exchange student and her sister did kickboxing and I got to train with them. I really enjoyed this as I got to try out a new sport that I wouldn’t have gotten to try otherwise. I was surprised to find it quite challenging but still thoroughly enjoying. I thought that the food was really nice, especially breakfast, however they ate a lot more pasta and fewer potatoes. I got to try Wiener Schnitzel and a Doner Kebab which I really liked. I got on really well with my exchange family and it made it really easy to stay there for a month without getting homesick. My exchange went really quickly and I can't believe it is already over. I would recommend it to anyone learning a language as I think my German really improved during my stay. Thank you to Jane, Claudia and my exchange family for making my stay in Germany both possible and enjoyable.        


My Name is Marie and I am 16 years old from Waterford. I have just returned from a one month exchange in Beauvais, France for the month of May. I stayed with the Chatelard family. The girl I was doing the exchange with was the same age as me she also had an older sister that is 19. This was the perfect time for me to go because not much was happening in this month and transition year was coming to an end. I had been to France before on holidays twice but this turned out to be completely different to actually living like a French person. The longest I had been away from home was two weeks so as you could guess I was quite nervous about going away by myself for four weeks. Without a doubt it was the best experience I had encountered. As it was a totally different way of living. I was the one who wanted to go on the exchange so my parents weren’t forcing me. We found out about this exchange from the internet. Thanks to Jane for finding such a suitable family and student who had so much in common and got on with so well. It only hit me that I was actually doing this when I arrived at the airport in France I began to feel a bit nervous. When I met them they were so kind and understanding but it was a bit of a shock when they suddenly started speaking French and I couldn’t understand. The day after I got there they brought me to a theme park which was fun and this helped me to get to know my exchange student. I had two weeks holidays and two weeks of school which was a nice mix of both. During my first week I went to the familys holiday house in Brittany were we did lots of activities outside like swimming at the beach, walking and running. The weather was not as hot as I was expecting but it was still quite good. I realised how difficult it was to form sentences from the words I understood and so I found it hard to speak at the start of my trip. I went to school by myself because my exchange student Aglae went to a boarding school which I was unable to go to. I was nervous the first day but I made great friends in my class, everyone was so friendly. The other students and teachers were very welcoming but it was very hard to follow the teacher because my French wasn’t good enough. Lunch was a proper dinner unlike what we eat in Ireland for lunch. I loved being able to try lots of new foods. I felt tired as I wasn’t use to the long days of school and the classes which lasted an hour. I went to Paris twice. This was my favourite day as I got to go shopping and see all the tourist attractions. The family put a lot of effort into keeping me entertained during my stay. On my third week I started to miss people at home but I thought that I just need to make the most of my time here. I think two months would have been a better length of time  to go for as I think I would have learned a lot more in this amount of time. I have become more independent and confident after this. I would definitely recommend doing an exchange with Ty Europe because I had a once in a lifetime experience that I won’t forget.



Sinead’s exchange in France
I decided that I would like to go to France for an exchange to improve my French and to experience French culture. I choose to do transition year so I was able to go on an exchange for two months to the north of France. Let me tell how scared I was when it finally hit me that I would be leaving my family and friends for two whole months! I was going to be gone for the months of March and April. My parents flew out with for the weekend and met my exchange’s family, which I think work out very well.  When I first came to France I really didn’t know what to expect but I found my first week really enjoyable. My exchange Sophie was on her winter holidays so we had a week together before school started and that suited me perfectly. I was very apprehensive to start school so I was glad of the week’s holidays. When school started I became very homesick and wanted to go home desperately.  In the beginning I found school extremely difficult and I also found the days very long, as we had to get up every morning at six am. In France school starts at eight o’clock and ends at half five, so this was another big adjustment for me. Most of the schools in France are mixed and the students wear their own clothes. The classes are an hour long compared to our forty minutes here in Ireland.  One thing that I loved about my experience in France was the French food! Every day at around four o’clock we would have a gôuter- which is an afternoon snack and literally translates to taste. This would consist of a hot drink- hot hocolate/tea/coffee , bread or biscuits. Bread is very important to the French so it is eaten at every meal. Although my exchange and I are very different, I think that my exchange to France was very successful and by the end of it I was sad to leave as I had made so many new friends and my French was progressing well. I would love to go back to France next year.


My Experience in France
I went to stay with a family in Suresnes, Paris for a month. I was really nervous leaving my family and going to a completely strange one! I was also nervous because my exchange partner was two years younger than me and I didn’t know if we would get along well. The first two weeks I was there Armance (my partner) was on her Easter holidays from school and the second two weeks I attended school with her. On my first full day she brought me into Paris city. We saw the Arc de Triomphe and went shopping on the Champs-Elysees. She told me about the architecture of the Arc and the meaning of everything. She brought me along the Champs-Elysees and showed me all the cool shops that were there. She introduced me to some of her friends, we had lunch with Marc Alexandre, we played cards with Fleur and we went to the Olympic pool with Victoire and Marc Alexandre. The first week was the hardest to understand the family speak to me in French and ask me things, I wasn’t used to the accent. At this stage I was thinking “I am never going to be able to talk back to them”! But I thought wrong! By the second week I started to catch a few more words than before and I could understand what the family were asking me sometimes! On the second week they brought me to Cap-Ferret in Bordeaux. It was the hardest week for me because I became a bit homesick and we were staying in a house with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins also. I felt like I was intruding on something. However, I ended up having a good time, her relatives were very kind and included me in everything and her little cousins were adorable! The third week was great! I got to go to her school with her. Their schooling system is very different to ours so I thought it was really interesting to see it! There were 300 students in her year alone! Which is the same amount in two years in my school so it was a bit over-whelming. I met all her friends and they were so lovely and kind to me. I’ll never forget their kindness towards me and their willingness to include me. That weekend was the marking of the end of World War 2. Her and her mother took me to the Eiffel Tower and on a bike ride from the tower to Notre Dame. They also brought me to Chateaux de Versailles, which was so beautiful. At this stage I could understand the family most of the time and it was easier to talk back to them in French. The fourth week came and I realized that it was almost time to go home and that I was really going to miss her family and friends. Her friends all came over for a crepes and waffles party to say goodbye. I also got to go to La defense shopping centre and to scouts with Armance. In the end I had nothing to worry about. I got on really well with my partner, her family and her friends. I would recommend an experience like this to everyone it was a great opportunity and I definitely improved my French!


Back in September my parents suggested I go on an exchange to France, I said “why not” because I wouldn’t be doing anything else during the year. My Mam found TY Europe and we arranged an exchange with Augustin and his family, to this day I am very grateful to my parents for suggesting it.
Prior to my one month exchange I had pre conceived ideas of what my family would be like, what France would be like, and the one question I kept asking myself was: “Will I survive?”
When I arrived at the airport I was met by Augustin and his mother, they were both very kind from the very beginning. We drove to their lovely house in the Parisian suburbs and after that I had no worries, although I couldn’t speak much French to begin with I strangely felt at ease amongst the family. On the first day, a Saturday, myself and Augustin went into Paris to see his friends and to go to a rugby match in Stade Francais. Augustin and his friends spoke some English so we were able to communicate through bits of French and bits of English, but, they were adamant to help me improve my French which was great because I love the French language. I had been to Paris before with my family but being there with people who knew the city, not just for its touristy regions was an enlightening experience.
On the Monday we had to get up at around 6.30 to catch multiple trains to boarding school in Reims, which was around an hour and a half journey. When we got there I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and kind each and every friend of Augustin’s was. The weeks at school flew by because I was so busy, the school days are longer but on some days we had long breaks so we could go into town for food or just to chill out, those few hours were my favourite hours during the week. At night, we slept in what’s called a pension, basically just a dormitory with shared bedrooms. There were ten of us to a room and we shared a big bathroom. I always looked forward to the night time, partly because I was so tired and also because of how fun it was. Throughout the school there was a great community spirit. I could go on forever but I don’t want to be a bore.
All in all it was a great month, if I could change anything it would be the fact that I only went for a month and not two. Towards the end of my stay my French was starting to get a lot better and I feel an extra few weeks would had been even better. If you’re reading this , not sure if you want to go on an exchange or not I will say you should, it is daunting , it is a journey into the unknown, but I guarantee it is a worthwhile experience and one I will never forget.
I did Survive, it was easy.
Thank you Jane for organising the exchange, I will never forget my month in France.


Since I've started learning German I've always wanted the chance to go to Germany, speak the language and experience what life is like in Germany. Thanks to Jane and the team at Ty Europe I was able to do exactly this. TY was the perfect opportunity for me to go and this was one of the main reasons I chose to do it.  After finding TY Europe and after eventually convincing my parents to let me take part on an exchange to Germany ( the idea of me going away from home to Germany for a few months at 16 was daunting to them) the rest was organised fairly quickly. I had certain allergies that needed to be taken into account but nevertheless an exchange family was found for me and I was to spend 2 months in Dusseldorf. My exchange partner came over first but as he had exams he could only stay for one month. Unfortunately we didn't get to talk to each-other before his arrival, which for the first day, made things a bit awkward. But the rest of his time here flew.  Then after Christmas I finally flew to Dusseldorf. The first week I was there things felt really strange, I was in a new country with only one person I knew and I had to adjust to a new lifestyle, daily routine and hangout with new people. By the second week I began to feel at home and speaking with my parents after the first week really put me at ease. I met Claudia during the second week and knowing she was always there at the end of the phone if I ever needed anything really helped also. The rest of my time in Dusseldorf just flew by, I couldn't believe it. While I was there I saw and experienced some amazing things like Karneval, the Ruhr valley , the TV tower and I got to see some really nice parts of Dusseldorf. I loved Germany so much that near the end of the second month I begged my parents to let me stay for another while. As my first family were going on holiday I needed another family if I was going to stay longer so they contacted Jane and within a couple of days Claudia had found me a really nice family in Köln. I got the train from Dusseldorf to Köln and met Claudia at the station. After a trip to a panorama point of Köln City she brought me to the new family. This time there was a lad my age which made things easier to settle in. Again the first week was a bit strange, staying with a new family with different routines but it felt easier. The only complaint I could have was that I had to get up at 06:30 for school each morning which for me was near impossible at the beginning.  This time I got to see more and a different part of Germany. I got to see the Kölner Dom, Aachen and the Aachener Dom, celebrate Easter (which was really cool), Drei land punkt and loads more. It also happened that it was my birthday while I was there. It was really nice, the table was decorated with my name in gummy bears and my age in smarties when I woke up and beside this was presents and a really really nice chocolate cake. I also got cards from home and then Claudia came around later that day for a get together with me and the family where we had the cake and coffee and talked a lot. Unfortunately I could only stay 5 weeks in Köln as I had to be back for the last month of school in Ireland. I couldn't believe how the time flew and how fast the whole experience was over and I really wanted to stay longer but unfortunately I couldn't.  My whole German experience was just amazing, there was nothing I didn't like: the food (probably liked it a bit too much) , the people were so friendly, the cities , the sights , the language and the families. Settling back in in Ireland after 13 weeks being away felt weird and I'm still missing Germany, but glad to be home and so so so happy that I did this exchange. It is truly an amazing and once in a lifetime experience to have and I'll definitely be going back in the future. I can't believe how much it improved my German and I feel really confident already for the LC but the exchange didn't only improve my German, I've become a better person since going, before I went I was a bit reserved but since spending time in Germany with Germans (they're mad) I've become more outgoing, open and confident . I would definitely recommend everyone to take part on this programme for as long as you can, I would of stayed a year if I could and TY is the perfect opportunity for people to do this. Thanks to Jane,  Claudia and the two families for giving me this amazing experience.


My name is Cliodhna, I did a home stay in Spain for 5 weeks. I stayed with a loving and caring family that made me feel more than welcome in their home. I would highly recommend this for anyone looking to improve their Spanish. I found it a very good but also at times difficult experience as I have never been away from my family for 5 weeks before. There were days that I got a little  upset but  I would always try to think positive as I would and I would say to myself ' tomorrow is a new day '. While I was there, the family took me shopping, skiing, touring and they also took me to their  gatherings as they were Jehovah witness's ,At these meetings I got to meet new people from the community, they made me feel more than welcome. I found it a quite strange religion as they don't celebrate special occasions like Christmas , Easter and  birthdays. I learnt about their religion too while I was their. I found the school was quite different from at home , because their class hours were longer, they have one lunch break, and I didn't find it as strict as I would here. Also what I found different was the siesta time and the fact that they eat late at night with several courses of food. I was so lucky to get a lovely family like the Monroy family, the mum bought me lots of small gifts to bring home and I made lots of new friends in Spain. I would also recommend for people to bring a dictionary or have a translation app on your phone as I did find that helped. 


Since Odhran started learning the German language it was his wish that he would spend some time in Germany. He loves the language and is very interested in its culture and people. He got the opportunity, through TY Europe, to go on an exchange to Dusseldorf in January. Odhran's original exchange was for two months but because he was enjoying the experience so much he asked to stay longer. His original exchange family were going abroad so that was not an option but his German TY co-ordinator Claudia worked tirelessly and found him another lovely family in Cologne, who welcomed him and us if we wish to visit! He will be staying another six weeks. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and welcome given to Odhran by everyone during this amazing experience.
  TY Europe offers a professional, safe and very reasonably priced exchange programme. We liked the fact that each family fills in a comprehensive form so we knew a lot about the family before we agreed to an exchange.  We had specific needs as Odhran has a nut allergy and asthma and were concerned that this might hinder his chances. However it was not a problem and we were assured by both of the families that he was in safe hands. We had our exchange student, Nick, with us for a month and it was a very interesting and enriching experience for us and hope to have him come back in the future. The most difficult part of the exchange for Odhran will be when he has to leave Germany. He has immersed himself in this German experience and  the proof of this has been seen already. He told me that he had seen a Leaving Cert Mock paper and he could do it all no problem. I am certain that Odhran will want another exchange before his Leaving Cert and we will certainly encourage it. We would like to thank Jane and Claudia for all their help, support and kindness to Odhran and ourselves.


I heard about TY Europe from a friend, and I won’t lie, I was dubious of an internet company at the beginning! However, all my worries were quickly washed away when I met the team behind this extraordinary organisation. I quickly realised that I was in safe, experienced and kind hands.    My trip to France was simply a fairytale! I was staying in the Alps with a very kind and helpful French family, whom I really enjoyed. Since I was there in February, the amount of snow was out of this world and a huge novelty to me! I was super lucky as my French family were huge fans of the outdoors and I went skiing most days!    The culture differences were immense! Their food and eating habits varied considerably to my own in Ireland. I was never hungry and I really enjoyed the strange, but delicious, food.    I attended school for 3 weeks, which was an eye opening experience for me! Coming from a small school, with a uniform and mountains of books, the French school system was a huge change. I sincerely enjoyed my weeks at school and saying goodbye to my new friends was a sad occasion.    During my first week, I wasn’t home sick at all, however during my second week, I was. The euphoria of arriving had vanished and I missed my family and friends. I found that Barry’s tea and only ringing home every 3 or 4 days kept the home sickness away and by the start of the third week I was back to my usual self. I realised that this was a once in a life time opportunity and it shouldn’t be wasted pining for the rain.    I was extremely lucky that I was placed with an outstanding French family, who were simply excellent to me. They gently corrected my French as I spoke, lent me French books and participated in endless riveting conversations. I was sad to say goodbye to them at the airport as they were truly a wonderful family.    I would recommend TY Europe to anybody! I really feel that my French has improved massively and even now I find myself speaking in French when I don’t mean to! This organisation is outstanding and I had constant contact with the French correspondent in France, who contacted me regularly to ensure I was ok. It was definitely the best experience I have ever had and I am so so so so happy I did it!


 


 

     

 

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