“My school years consisted of being in a different country where you don’t speak the language. My father got a job in construction, so we moved here from Poland when I was 12-years-old. I had to leave all my friends behind and start a new life without speaking any English. I was mortified going to school with a dictionary in my hand every day, and I hated it from the very first minute.
I was very shy as I had no idea what was going on around me, and I still remember asking the teacher to go to the toilet in Polish. The students started picking on me, and it went on and off for five years. So I completely locked myself into my own little world. I went to special classes where I studied English, and I never spoke a word in school. All my exams were A’s and B’s, usually better than the Irish students, so the teachers didn’t care much.
Right after the Leaving Cert, I fell in love with a Polish guy, and we wanted to move in together, so instead of continuing education, I got a job as a cleaner in a nursing home. Two years later we broke up and I ended up moving back in with my parents. I still work in the nursing home, it’s been five years now, and I have no friends and no plans. I know I should continue my studies but I’m terrified of the idea of going back.”