Hello, my name is Evelin. I created this website for multiple reasons, but mainly to write about my year I spent abroad in Ireland as part of the AIFS High School Programme, but more on that later on.
I am sixteen and I am from Austria. In my free time I like to read, write, and travel. I love finswimming and recently discovered diving for me as well. One of my favourite animals are cats and from June on, my family will get a small feline addition. I am multilingual and I grew up speaking Hungarian and German. Over the years I became fluent in English as well.
Now to the important part, my year abroad.
In September 2016, I decided that I want to spend the next school year in another country. My original choices were either Canada or Ireland. A friend of mine, who ended up going to the US for the year, gave me the links to the websites of various organisations that do exchange programmes. Looking at the different pages I settled for AIFS (www.aifs.de). They offer a range of programmes, from studying abroad to work and travel. As I wanted to do an academic year my choice fell to the High School Programme. On their website they advertise for six destinations, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the US. I decided to go for Ireland since I love the Irish landscape and always wanted to visit the country. For the Ireland programme you could choose between to be placed in one of three counties, Dublin, Cork, or Kerry. Coming from a big city I couldn't picture me living in one of the rural areas so I went with Dublin. In my case, I was also able to choose my school here.
In November 2016, I had an interview at the AIFS headquarters in Vienna where we went over the details and if I am suitable for the programme.
In May 2017, I went to the information seminar in Bonn, Germany where I met most of the other students who went to Ireland and England. It was a two-day long event and we got a lot of information and could ask questions.
In July 2017, I finally got an email that they found a host family for me in Portmarnock. I was extremely excited and looked forward to my stay.
In August 2017, I flew over to Dublin, together with every other student that signed up for the Orientation Days, a three-day programme where we had activities together in Ireland's capital before we parted to get to our host families. On the 26th of August, I finally got to meet my host family in person and familiarized myself with the environment before school started.
In June 2018, my exchange programme officially ended and I flew back to Vienna.
My personal reasons to go abroad were primarily because I wanted to challenge myself, step out of my comfort zone, and experience a totally different lifestyle and environment. In my case, I was fluent in English before coming to Ireland, but you are in no way obliged to be if you want to do this exchange programme. Most people do this to improve their English.
Looking back, going abroad is one of the best decisions I have made in my life and I have grown so much as a person thanks to my time spent in Ireland. I gained confidence, learned more about myself, got more independent and braver. I feel invincible now, like I could handle any challenge life presents me with and I am more open to changes and new experiences. Honestly, if you have the chance to do an exchange programme, do it. You won't regret it.