A Spanish Girl In Ireland by María Arregui

I never wanted to go abroad but my mother told me that it was a great opportunity to improve my English. So, knowing that I couldn´t argue with my mum about that, I told myself that I was leaving my own country.

I stayed in Ireland for four weeks in a little town called Brandon, with a host family. The family was composed of a widow who had two daughters and three grandchildren and I was to live at the widow’s house.

When I got to Ireland I met my “mother”. She was not very excited about having an international student but I went along with it.

We got to the house and she showed it to me. I had my own bedroom, something I appreciated because I was not in the mood for sharing a room with someone I didn´t know.

I arrived on a Sunday, so the next day I was expected to go to school. I was terrified. The next morning, I went to school. I was nervous because I was going to go to a higher level than at home in Spain but when I saw how the mathematics class was, I was able to breathe again. They were learning things that I already knew. If anything, it was going to be a little bit boring!

The headmistress came and welcomed us to the school. She showed us the rules, the timetables and more. Then we were put in pairs and they divided us into different classes. The school was not much different from home. They had classes, breaks, time to have lunch and in the afternoon, they played sports.

My afternoons were all the same.  As I didn´t have to do any homework, my host mother allowed me to watch TV.  I could only watch TV or go to my room. We normally had dinner at seven. The dinner was sometimes yummy, sometimes not, but my mother put such enormous amounts of food on my plate that I couldn´t finish. Then she got angry with me because I didn´t finish my food. I couldn´t tell her that it was too much. I was scared. So, as you can imagine, my first days did not go very well.

For my first two weeks, my routine was the same: I got up, then woke up my host mother (if not she didn´t have time to prepare my food for school), I had breakfast and then I walked to the school. I lived nearby. Then I had classes. At lunch-time all the Spanish girls sat together because the Irish did not want to have lunch with us. Some people are very rude!

After the afternoon classes, I went back home. And the rest of the day you already know.I was getting tired of this routine. I had talked about this with my parents but they told me that this was usual. They suggested being more active in family life but, trust me, this did not work. But what happened on Friday in the second week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My host mother told me that she was going to Dublin because of work and I asked when I could go to Mass. She started to reprimand me, saying that I was only thinking about myself and that I didn´t worry about other people. The only thing I could say was “sorry”. In the end, one of her daughters that was staying at her mother’s house for the weekend took me to mass and I will always be grateful to her.

The weekend passed and my Irish mother came on Sunday. She did not look at me or even said “hello”. I was really surprised. But the worst thing happened after that. She was watching TV in her room when the other daughter arrived. I will never know why, but they started shouting at each other and fighting for the remote control.I couldn´t stand it anymore so I decided to call the person in charge of me in Ireland. I told her everything and she asked me if I wanted to change to another house. I said yes without thinking it twice.

So at the end of that day, one of the worst days of my life, I was out of that house. The last two weeks were much better. My new mother was very kind. She was also a widow but she had a boyfriend who was really funny. She also had two daughters and one son. The son was living abroad with his family in Australia. I do not know why, but the mother had a cardboard cut-out of him in the living room. She actually talked to it!

One of her daughters was married and had a son. I did not get to know them. The other female child was only 17 and still lived with her mother. She was like a sister to me. She was very polite and was always checking if I needed anything. She had a boyfriend too. He was strange because he was a flashy type but he was so romantic. I loved him!

My host mother confessed something to me the first day I met her. She said liked TV so much that she declared herself addicted to it. While she was watching TV, she lent me her Nintendo so we could  spend time together. When the TV was on, she was in her own world, but she was still able to put her eyes down to talk with me, not like my first “mother”.

I almost forgot: I was still going to the school and trying to have a normal life and a great experience in Ireland while all this happened.In the end, I came back to Spain and you can´t imagine how happy and relieved I was to see my normal family again.

To finish, I would say that the key message of this entire, weird story is that you should never underestimate the power of female intuition.

Even though my first trip abroad was not good, I later went to Germany for a week on exchange and I still want to travel to other places too!

María Arregui is a student at Orvalle School in Madrid, Spain.