In the latest in our series of articles looking at life from other people’s perspectives, a Polish teenager talks about moving to Ireland, making friends, dealing with schoolyard bullying and finally feeling at home here
I was nine years old when I made my first journey from Poland to Ireland. I often get asked, “What did you feel when you were moving?” I never know what to tell them. I remember that I was very excited. But I think the reason behind the exhilaration was the fact that I would finally get to see my mommy again.
When I was moving I was with dad and my little brother, while mom was already in Ireland for the past four months. I only got to see her on Skype once in a while. I remember constantly pulling my father’s sleeve, asking when will we get to see mom. Therefore, I never really understood where we were going or why. I wasn’t even interested. I just wanted to see my mom.
We first saw my mom in the waiting room in Shannon Airport. Me and my six year old brother spotted her immediately and ran to her. She had tears in her eyes and hugged us tightly. No one wanted to let go.
Eventually, we arrived home – our new home, a small apartment in Galway. I loved it! Even though I had to share a tiny room with my brother and, for the first week or two until we got our bunk bed, we had to share just a mattress to sleep on. Honestly, I still remember the journey and arrival as pleasant. I would probably see it differently if I was a teenager but I was still at the age when it was easy for me to adjust to a new environment.
On the first day, I saw kids about my age playing outside on the parking lot. I ran out to them and somehow we started playing. I was not able to speak English at all! They were Hungarian, a bit younger than me and didn’t know English either. However, we quickly became best friends who started hanging out, going to school and learning English together.
Unfortunately, soon after I was enrolled to school, unpleasant events started. I was standing out a lot and could not fit into the class. Three girls kept annoying me at break time. They would come up to me, say nasty things and then laugh at the fact that I could not understand what they were saying. I don’t recall the teacher doing anything about it. I wasn’t able to report it anyway.
Then, what felt much worse was some Polish girls, who have been in Ireland much longer, joined them.The whole group had a lot of fun making a fool out of me. I have no idea how, but soon I became a part of their group. Except I was always the one picked on. Until one day there was a dispute between the two Polish girls. As a result they were both trying to make me their ally. Eventually I became friends with one of them and she protected me from the other girls who picked on me beforehand. I finally made my way into the class.
A few years later my mom got a job in a town near Galway. This job was better than the one she had in Galway, as she had the weekends off and she could spend time with us. Eventually my parents bought a house in that town and we have settled down. At the moment, I am in secondary school and I’ll be sitting my Leaving Certificate next year. I made new friends who I get along with very well, even though we do have our little fights. I feel at home. I think I’m staying here.