The idea to move to Ireland came to me in 2014, when I started to get curious about the culture, researching about the country and processing my visa. My motivation was to study abroad and learn from different cultures; therefore, I was ready to write a new chapter in my life.
When I got my visa notification, I immediately told my mom who was in shock but also happy because my dreams could come true. So, my last day in Colombia was in the airport, saying goodbye to my mom and my friends, and I have missed them a lot since I left them behind.
Then, arriving in Ireland, a lovely old taxi driver, wearing a traditional Paddy hat, dropped me to my host family’s home. They were waiting for me in the kitchen with another Japanese student who was also staying with them. My new chapter abroad had begun, meeting new friends, exploring Dublin and learning not just from Irish culture, but also from many other cultures.
Once I had settled in, I got a job in a small café in Liffey Valley, where a Hungarian supervisor gave me the opportunity to work part-time and learn everything about coffees. My work was a little bit far from my house, but I decided to cycle every day after college to commute to work, 1-hour cycling every day, I was getting fit at the same time. We were a small team, from different nationalities, which made me feel at home. We became more than just co-workers, we became a family. For example, my Irish colleague even helped with my homework for my English college. It has been two years since I left the café and I still keep in touch with them.
My next step was to investigate how to expand my skills. Firstly, I researched different topics, trying to figure out what was “the one.” I had my degree in Advertising, and my last job was as a planner in a digital advertising agency, so I was looking for something that fits in my field. I came on the MSc in Design Innovation programme, here at Maynooth University. By my subsequent research, digging into the programme, I fell in love with each module. It was exactly what I was looking for my professional profile.
I went to the open day, walking around each stand. I bumped into a guy who was explaining everything about college and who informed me about the postgraduate programme. I was also able to talk with the right person who would tell me through any doubts or concerns I might have.
At one of the stands for international students, I asked about scholarships. One of the representatives mentioned something about the Fellowship of the Government of Ireland, which I researched back home. Once I read through the requirements, I prepared all the documents and contacted my former employers in Colombia for references for my application. Even though some doubts about the programme remained in my mind, I went to Maynooth one more time, and I spoke with the Programme Director who had inspired me with his enthusiasm and made me feel motivated to start. So, I decided to go ahead and apply for the scholarship.
Whether I was successful or not took a few months to find out. During that time of uncertainty, I have to confess that I felt a little desperate and pessimistic. I was also studying for my IELTS exams and needed to be very focused on them as well. I hired a teacher who was very helpful. The IELTS exam is quite tricky, and every international student will tell you how nervous they feel at the prospect. They have the added pressure of having an impact on whether you can enrol in college.
One day I was at home, feeling pretty hopeless and even considering returning home to Colombia. The deadline for the decision about the scholarship had passed. I thought my chances were over. Then one day, out of the blue, the unthinkable happens! I got a Government email telling me that I had been successful! I had nailed it! To say I was overjoyed is an understatement. Added to this success, I also passed my IELTS exam. I was on my way!
Maynooth International Office helped me with my paperwork to help me process my student visa. I was getting closer and closer to starting a new adventure and challenge.
Days later, I received my registration email, together with my student number and my appointment for processing my student card. On the day of registration, I could feel butterflies in my stomach. Even the smell of the library was amazing. My new life had begun.