Rossella Lapegna - Irland

What is an exchange year? An exchange year is happiness and sadness, challenge and  boredom, difficulty and satisfaction, uncertainty and discovery... the truth is that you will never understand what an exchange year is until you live it. My exchange year is a unique, stunning and special experience that even though it’s really different to how I was expecting it to be, it’s giving me so much that I can’t help loving every moment of it.

I decided to come to Dublin a little bit by chance and didn’t know anything about it until I came here. To be honest, at the beginning it was not all about “meeting new people and having fun” as it was really tough for me to settle in, in this different culture, but as the time passed by, I learned to understand the “Irish people”, who seemed to be incomprehensible. In Ireland the people are “lovely”, as they use to say, and really, really helpful. Although, probably because of their history, their different landscapes and the rainy weather that characterises Ireland, the Irish people dress differently, think differently and live in a completely different way than we South-Tyroleans do. Personally, I don’t really feel myself completely at ease in this culture, but that is maybe one of the interesting things of an exchange year: getting to know new and very interesting people, living new experiences and taking the time to do all the things you have never had the chance to do, that is all an exchange year is about. To become friends with people that are so different from you enriches you so much - as you learn to accept and love them even though you cannot understand them. The satisfaction to have been able to create your own life starting from nothing and to notice that you suddenly have friends, are able to understand the teacher talking in school and know all the streets of the city is priceless. In my opinion, that is the best thing of an exchange year - and you will never forget this.

Ireland as a country is absolutely amazing. The landscape is melancholic, but at the same time colorful and spectacular. Just 45 minutes away from the city centre of Dublin you can find beautiful beaches with a deep-blue sea, but also deserted mountains, lakes or vast prairies. Dublin itself is a very green city full of life where you can always hear the music of some guitar playing at any time of the day. The atmosphere is really amazing and you can always be sure to find someone to have a laugh with... all you need to do is to ask for a pint ;)

In conclusion, Ireland is a great country to visit, but in the end it doesn’t matter which destination you chose for your exchange year. What is important is that you choose one because you have one chance in your life to live this experience and you cannot waste it.