“My perspective totally changed and all my feelings about Brazil are still here, in my heart. And so is Ireland. Now I know that I have two houses, two cities, and two homes.”

Student Ambassador Ellen Roccha from Brazil has found a home here in Ireland!

During my first year in Law School, in Brazil, I decided I would do an exchange. I wanted to learn a different language and experience a new culture. My family did not have the financial resources to support my decision to study abroad, so I worked every minute I could to make it possible. At the time, my plan was to do a two-month English course in America or Canada. I did not have much knowledge about where to go or how to do it. Then one of my best friends in college asked me “What about Ireland?”. Amanda, my angel, had just returned from her exchange in Dublin and was delighted with Ireland. Amanda had even done a tattoo of a shamrock and I could not understand why she was so into Ireland. So, I decided to give it a chance and I booked my 8 months English course (not only 2 anymore) in Griffith College, Cork City. 

I had never left Brazil before, and I was terrified. On the 28th October 2018, I arrived in Ireland and it was the coldest day of my life. I am from Rio, so you can imagine how I was not used to anything close to the Irish weather. After the first days of excitement, I used to cry every single day. I wanted to go home so badly. I lost my godfather after a week. My first nephew was born after two weeks. It was only November and I felt as if I had lived so many things already.  And I was alone, I was feeling alone. I just wanted someone to bring me home.  

 The year was gone and 2019 gave me a new start. I realised that I could not be crying forever and that my family would be there when I went back. I just needed to hold for another 6 months. I started to socialise more. I made really good friends that I will bring with me forever. I booked a 5-week euro trip for June, because I wanted to explore everything. It was only in March that I started to realise that maybe I should stay a little bit more in Cork. I felt as if I was missing something and that I should stay and live this experience deeper. My bonds got tighter. My friends were real. I feel in love. My love was also real. I decided to stay.

I said 2019 gave me a new start. Actually, it ended up being the best year of my life. If I was brave enough, I would make a tattoo as Amanda did and I would make this year forever in my skin. But, I am not, and it is my heart anyway. I renewed my English course twice and started to think about my possible future in Ireland. During the Pandemic COVID 19, I realised how much I loved Ireland and I panicked. My visa was due in November 2020 and I did not want to leave. I was isolated and thinking that I would not see my friends, my love, or anything again before leaving Ireland. A lit bit dramatic, but I realised that I did not want to say goodbye at all.  

In September 2020, I started my second degree, Business Studies, in Griffith College. I was not sure what I was doing but I knew it was the right decision. I laugh when I think that the Ellen from 2018 would be horrified by my decision in 2020. But I am so glad for not having given up that time. I can not explain, but I do not see my home anywhere else but Cork. I learned how to love Ireland and everything it has to offer me. I don’t even feel the cold that bad anymore – just the rain. My perspective totally changed and all my feelings about Brazil are still here, in my heart. And so is Ireland. Now I know that I have two houses, two cities, and two homes.  

Ellen Rocha is studying Business at Griffith College