Our time in Glenstal Abbey School
(By Simon Baltes and Torben Buschmann - German Exchange Students)
When we first arrived at Glenstal, we thought that we would be in the “Harry Potter” Movies due to the similar look to Hogwarts. Nevertheless the school itself is quite small in comparison to ours, as there are only around 200 to 250 students. But besides that, the school grounds themselves are much bigger than the ones at home. The school and the monastery together are also bigger than our school. Due to that it took us some time to discover most of the school and we are not done yet. Another difference between our schools is their location. Our school is located at the top of a small hill in a relatively small town, whereas Glenstal is located in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, an advantage of that is the beautiful environment around Glenstal Abbey.
I (Torben) lived in the boarding school, whereas Simon lived in the host family, that means that he was only a day border. This situation is quite handy for this report because we experienced two totally different living situations that we can tell people about.
Waking up at 7:30 in the morning is something you wish to have in Germany, too. It’s really comfortable that breakfast is being made for you or already prepared whereas you just have to go downstairs. The daily school life is quite similar to the German one when you look at the timetable. But when you’re in class you realise that you are in Transition Year because the classes are all really relaxed. After the classes, you are most likely to go to Murroe or to the gym. It is really helpful to have this free time to relax and maybe buy something in the shop. After that, there is the study time, where you get the opportunity to, for example, create this report.
The only difference between the day borders and the borders is the timing. Other than that, the day borders are fully integrated in the daily school life. I (Simon) always arrived at 8:30am and went home at 7:00pm, whereas Torben just stayed at school and only went home at the weekends.
We suppose that school isn’t really different from Germany except for the presence of TY.
The Irish family
The experiences with the families are really good and we will only have good memories when we think of our time in our host family.
There weren’t so many differences in the family life, nevertheless, a German family may not be so open and also so unbelievable friendly.
The families were all very caring and nice to us, we didn’t have any problems with living at their houses.
The host families always had a warm dinner, which isn’t that common in Germany. They would also have the typical Irish breakfast at the weekends, which was always really delicious.
At the weekends, the families took us around and showed us Ireland. We went on walks, went fishing, went kayaking, went to the cinema, visited the cliffs of Moher and much more. These activities were all very nice and it was really cool to see more of Ireland.
Our families had normal houses as you would find them in Germany, but they are located at beautiful places, for example at the River Shannon. The houses are big and really nice to live in.
All in all, we want to thank our families for all they did for us and their extraordinary caretaking. Thank you!
Trips and outings
Even though that sightseeing wasn’t one of the major activities we did here, there were still some places we visited. With our families we walked along the Cliffs of Moher as mentioned before, but besides that I (Torben) climbed Croagh Patrick and drove around Westport. Simon went kayaking in the River Shannon and fished in the Atlantic. With the boys from Glenstal we went on a two day tour to the coast where we drove about 50 kilometers by bike and hiked 25 kilometers around Mount Melleray. By doing all this we again experienced the stunning nature of Ireland. Ireland is just very green and has a different nature and environment from place to place.
So all trips were really enjoyable and were an unforgettable experience. I (Simon) never went fishing before. Here in Ireland I went several times, including spear-fishing. That was quite spectacular, whereas the normal fishing was very relaxing.
All in all, the trips were simply something different and very interesting. We had many good experiences and we will never forget the beautiful nature of Ireland.
Leisure time and activities
Study Time was not always used for studying and every TY-student knows that. You could either go to the Computer room or do sports. As a consequence of that I (Torben) often went to the gym during second study time. Besides the gym the other sports offers as swimming, soccer and so on were a new experience for us because we don’t go swimming with our school in Germany and we quite liked it.
I (Simon) also went to the cinema and visited Limerick. At the weekends, we did the already mentioned amazing trips. There was always something to do.
The food during our exchange was way better than we, honestly, expected.
Glenstal seems to have an excellent kitchen, nearly every meal tasted really good.
We have to say the same from our host families. Every meal was really good and we also had some nice experiences with food that is not very common in Germany.
Especially the typical Irish breakfast will stay in our minds, it was really tasty and we would like to have it in Germany.
As a conclusion from this, we can say that the food was amazing.
The answer to the question “Would you do it again?” is very easy. Definitely.
Our time in Ireland was fantastic and we really enjoyed it. It was a really unforgettable experience. We got to see beautiful nature, went on amazing trips, made new friends and felt as a member of the community. We did not expect the time here would be so amazing and we would go back immediately. We want to thank people for making our stay possible and so enjoyable. Of course, there were some challenges. But none of them was really concerning or limited our fascination.
Get going, come here and just enjoy your stay!
Thank you for this unforgettable exchange!