How much can you live in a year? How much difference does a year make? Brazilian Student Ambassador Caroline Pereira discusses how the last few months changed her

I ask myself these questions, and I know that to get an exact answer, I will only find it in the future. I already know that I am a completely different person from the one who arrived in Limerick in August 2019. And I knew that could happen. I would change a lot after this experience, but I didn’t think it would be so much.

Changing mindsets
An exchange should be an accessible opportunity for everyone, as it is a unique way to learn about other cultures, about other nationalities, about life. It’s a way to expand our borders, break down prejudices, change mindsets and get to know the world.

I am Brazilian, and in many ways, Ireland is very different from my country and from my people. Still, even amid so many differences, I was able to find many similarities. As in Brazil, the people are hospitable, always willing to help, make conversation, express their passion for sports, and love for their land and traditions.

Broadening horizons

Expanding our borders can be quite challenging. To find new experiences we go in search of the unknown; it was no different for me, I had a lot of uncertainties. I often say that the only certainty I really had was that it would rain, that at some point in the day it would rain; after all, I was in Ireland.

Life brought uncertainty, but the Mary Immaculate College in Limerick brought me all the possible certainties. The certainty of choosing the right profession, the confidence that Brazil’s education system can change, following in Ireland’s footsteps, and the assurance that I had never studied in a place with professionals as dedicated to education as at Mary Immaculate College.

Homesick blues

Of course, homesickness was heightened. I will not lie and say this was not a challenge, especially when the whole world was suffering the consequences of a pandemic never imagined in our lifetime: more homesickness, more uncertainty, insecurity, and more doubts about tomorrow. But I know that feeling wasn’t mine alone, as millions worldwide felt the same way.

Second home

I experienced so much that first year I spent in Ireland, more I’m sure than some people experience in a lifetime. That’s why I say I haven’t lived a year of my life in Ireland, but a lifetime in a year. I learned a language, fell in love with a different culture, adapted myself to the climate, learned a lot about education.

I experienced a pandemic, faced loneliness, anguish, began to value small things, wrote a book and will carry the green, white and orange forever inside my heart. I consider Ireland my second home and I will never be able, however hard I try, to describe in words everything Ireland means in my life.

Ireland created a new Carol. This year I’ve completely changed, and I’m sure that change has made me stronger and more prepared to overcome the challenges that the world offers us every day.

Caroline is pursuing a Master’s in Mentoring and Leadership (International) at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick