Gabriela – Work placement in Derry
A story by: Gabriela Kawalec
Country of origin: Poland
Destination: Derry, Northern Ireland (UK)
Type of mobility: Professional
After my experience of studying abroad I decided to take advantage of another mobility programme. It did not take me much time to make a decision to participate in the work placement exchange. To be honest, I did not even want to stay in my home country as I felt a strong need to continue my exploration of new environments in the European Union. Since my first longer stay in a foreign country I want to travel more and more as it gives me great satisfaction and personal development. My previous stay in Sweden was excellent, so it only induced me to go to another place.
I decided to come to Derry/Londonderry as the place seemed to be perfect for me to gain practical work experience in my profession. I think that as a teacher of English such an exchange was necessary. The possibility to work with well-experienced Irish teachers was unforgettable. My three-month stay in the Northern Ireland gave me not only opportunity to enrich my English vocabulary with everyday, useful expressions (including Irish slang), but it also gave me a taste of Irish culture and accent (that is really unique). And even though at the beginning it was difficult to understand the accent, especially when someone spoke fast, after a while I got used to it and my understanding was good. Culture should be a vital part of English language teaching as it makes lessons more varied and interesting. It is why it is so important for English teachers to experience the culture of English speaking countries on their own. From my personal point of view, apart from broadening my teaching skills, it was a great occasion to discover new places and meet wonderful people, both from Ireland and other countries. Derry/Londonderry is definitely an international city where you can get to know people very easily because they are very sociable and friendly. So whenever you feel like going out, a pint of Guinness with good company might be a good idea. Moreover, when I had free time I tried to travel as much as possible around Northern Ireland or even further. Ireland is full of breathtaking sceneries that are worth seeing. With sunny weather Ireland looks really amazing. There are many green places with rocky cliffs and beaches with Atlantic cold water around. The views themselves are wonderful.
I think that I had already considered myself as a European citizen because I was living abroad before. Nevertheless, the three-month stay in the Northern Ireland only made me sure that there are no obstacles to move to another place from your own country. Irish exemplify it well as they are very talkative and open with foreigners. Moreover, it was here where I was shown warm hospitality. I would surely recommend any kind of mobility programmes to everyone regardless of someone’s age. Such a change might be advantageous not only in terms of profession as it can also broaden one’s horizons.
All in all, I gained much more than just professional skills, because I feel I grew up personally one more time. I am more aware of cultural differences as well as similarities between them, but most importantly I am a more open and respectful person. For now, I decided to come back because I want to finish my university degree, however I have already started considering my next journeys. I am sure it was not my last time to go abroad within mobility programme. Every time, I gain more perspectives and personal fulfilment.