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Grateful Beyond Words

Enjoying New Experiences

By Hyein "Anna" Noh

After a 14-hour flight from Korea, with a fierce wind and torrential rain waiting to greet me in Dublin, I realized that I had finally landed in Ireland. It was the first opportunity to experience the unique weather of Ireland.

Grateful beyond wordsDublin is well-known for being one of the most popular cities for those who want to study English. Lots of students come to Dublin to study English for a variety of reasons. There have been quite a mix of nationalities in my class from around the world. The nationalities and the number of students vary from time to time depending on my choice of courses, whether general English or exam preparation. The classes are full of discussions, presentations, sharing about cultural differences (in my case, Korean and Filipino), games and debates. The debate class was the most challenging, but it was interesting to listen to the different ideas and points of view of the younger generation coming from different cultures. There were times when it was hard to understand what they were thinking by the way they would express themselves because of cultural differences and the generation gap. Often, I was the eldest and also the only Asian in the class. However, by and large, it is pretty fun and exciting to be back as a full-time student, and it is quite an enjoyable time to meet multicultural friends and communicate together in English which is the lingua franca for all of us.

There are many benefits of studying English in Ireland. One that I have encountered is that I continue to use the language outside of the classroom setting through various events and activities on a daily basis. There are activities provided by the school, like free extra classes, and social programs such as visiting museums, galleries and cultural and historical sites around Ireland. It not only gives me more exposure to those environments but also allows me to get to know where I am staying, so I would make myself available to join those activities as often as possible. Staying with a homestay family is another good example and one of the best decisions that I’ve made in Ireland. Due to an exponential rise in rent in Dublin recently, it’s very hard for the locals, much less the foreign students, to find even a simple room to rent. Fortunately, I was quite free from those worries because I have been living with a homestay family from the very beginning! The family is comprised of a resilient and witty mother and her three lovely kids, a girl and two boys of 13, 11, and 8 years of age respectively. It is such a wonderful experience to stay with this Irish family who has accepted a total stranger like me as one of their own and to play Rummy Cube from time to time, which is a board game with numbers that is the favorite of the family’s and now one of mine.

I think I was really blessed to have had this opportunity to perfect my English language in Ireland, the country of St. Columban where our Society was founded. I would like to especially express my sincerest gratitude for the generosity of the Philippine Region and the Society for allowing me to study English here and also to the Region of Ireland for accommodating me with such enormous support and assistance, both emotionally and spiritually. Also, to all of my fellow lay missionaries, especially in the Philippines and Ireland, for their support in making this a reality for me and helping me to get through it, eventually. I will cherish all the memories I have made and the lessons I have learned from the people I have met and from my experiences in Ireland. Surely, these will be the driving forces behind the rest of my journey as a long-term lay missionary. As we all know, God always has a plan for each of us. I am looking forward to returning to my previous country of assignment, but no one really knows what is going to happen in the next chapter of our lives. I strongly believe there is always a reason for things happening the way they do and only God knows why. What I have to do is to open my heart and, with wisdom and patience, try to figure what He really wants me to do. I know God never ceases to amaze me with His love and His plan throughout my whole life journey.

Columban lay missionary Hyein Noh is studying English in Ireland.