Maynooth College South Campus (Courtesy of Google Images)
The day had finally arrived. A day of mixed feelings. A day of feeling like a small burden was now gone. A day of feeling like I had achieved something. A day of subconsciously thinking ‘that’s great, but what do I do now?’
My final day as a Maynooth University student passed much like any other, quickly. I arrived early that morning to the campus so I could do some more light reading before my last exam. It was a warm day, by Irish standards, so I took the time to walk the path behind the on campus cathedral (one of the University’s best kept secrets, a haven of tranquility!) before going for breakfast. The giant trees that stand every few meters along the path provided a roof of branches and leaves which served to block out the sky and thoughts of an outside world and I briefly felt solace. As much as I was happy to be finished, I did not know what I would do next. I liked Maynooth too and even to this day I enjoy to visit it to walk and think, in peace behind the college chapel. So, as the Spanish literally say, it ‘gave me pity’ to leave.
As it turned out, Spain was to be my next port of call, after a summer of saving up some money and volunteering in a summer camp. In my last days at Maynooth, I had made friends with students on Erasmus (a university programme which allows students to study for a semester or a year in foreign countries as part of their degree) from Germany and France. Apart from the fact that they were very nice people, I thought what they were doing was great. I was envious, too, of their ability to speak more than one language. Because of this, an idea had begun to form in my mind that I wanted to be able to do the same, at least with one other language, but maybe more in time.
I was immature at the time too. Full of bad manners and a bad attitude toward being at home. I’d like to think I have discarded those traits. But back then, there was no way I was going to stay at home and work on our farm. The idea appalled me. So it was that while browsing the Internet shortly after graduating that I came upon an ad for a position in a Spanish Secondary School as a ‘Conversational Assistant,’ no experience required. I jumped at it. Very few questions asked, that was what I wanted to do as soon as I read it. In my mind, it was my chance to begin fulfilling the ambition of learning a new language. I attended an interview soon after in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Done Lee Ree) in Dublin and was offered the position. And three months later I was on a flight to Barcelona in Spain.
Shot of Plaza Espanya (centre, with golden light, behind two pillars). Mt. Tibidabo in the background (Courtesy of Google Images)