Transition Year is a different year for everyone. For me, it was a year full of exciting opportunities, fresh and fun learning opportunities and maturing as a person and student. I had so many unique experiences in Transition Year.
There was always something do, we began our barista course and weekly community service almost immediately when we began Transition Year back in September. We embarked on our yearly trip to Birr where we all bonded and got to know each other that little bit better. We had so many other opportunities which were ours for the taking – work experience, incredible language exchanges and fun learning opportunities like debating, quizzes and diplomas for Spanish, French and Chinese. Many of this year’s experiences were mandatory for all to part take in, but with others it was up to you to take the opportunities for yourself, and this for me, is where most of my growth and maturity came from this year.
There was so much on offer academically this year which helped bridge the gap between junior cycle and senior cycle and really boosted my confidence going into fifth year next year. Another key aspect of Transition Year which greatly interested me and helped me was the focus on thinking and researching future college courses and careers. Taking the EirQuest exams and aptitude tests also aided me in this regard. I also found the opportunity to talk to our Guidance Counsellor really valuable. It allowed me to narrow down my options and set targets and focuses for myself entering Senior Cycle. It also was advantageous when choosing my Leaving Certificate subjects as I was more familiar with university entry requirements. The aptitude tests also showed me where my strengths and weaknesses were academically, and helped confirm my decisions.
We were given generous time off for work experience throughout the year, and this was of great benefit to me. I was able to try things I never thought I would like and get a look into what sort of jobs I would like to do in the future. It also helped me to see how the real world worked and how things work in a real work or office environment.
I was also fortunate enough to take part in the Spanish Exchange Programme to Valencia. This was an amazing experience for me and one of the highlights of my fourth year. It was amazing to be surrounded and immersed in a different language and culture, and I again learned so much during my time abroad. After the exchange I was even more determined to look into college courses that involved Spanish and a year abroad!
While many of these experiences were instrumental in my academic growth and development, I also noticed how much they allowed me to mature and develop as a person. I began to see myself turning into a more responsible, pro-active and enthusiastic person, who is able to make their own decisions, based on their own intuition and knowledge. Transition Year has allowed me to see myself starting to transition into adulthood, taking on new responsibilities and learning all along the way.
Many factors helped me mature as a person, one of them being the fact that a lot of responsibility was on us as students and individuals to make the year the best possible for ourselves – which indeed was no difficult task given the amazing opportunities at our feet. It was up to us to organise work experience for ourselves – emailing individuals and organisations asking for possibilities to join them for a few days. It was also up to us to decide if we wanted to take part in the Spanish DELE exams, exchange programme, and other smaller but significant co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
We also took part in lots of charity events and campaigns and learned about issues and social injustices in our society, and did our bit to help out. It was a great feeling to go home from a day of collecting for a charity and know that you made some sort of a significant difference to those less fortunate or less privileged than you.
We also had more time outside of school this year due to the fact that there was no need for studying for the usual end of year exams that we have had every other year. Because of this we had the chance to shift our focus towards subjects we were particularly interested in. I took the chance this year to really develop my Irish language skills, as I am captivated by the Irish language and culture. I even decided to sign up and go down to Achill Island over Easter to take part in a Cinnire (leadership) course in Coláiste Acla. There, I was immersed in the Irish language and did an interview to secure a job working in the college this summer. I feel this will be of great benefit to me with my fluency of the language as well as learning important leadership skills moving forward. I don’t think I would have secured this opportunity without the TY experience.
The school musical was also an amazing experience for me. I learned so much throughout the process. I learned the commitment it requires when you promise to be a part of a team, and how it is the responsibility of everyone in the team to do their bit. The musical also really pushed me out of my comfort zone in an extremely positive way. It was a huge achievement for me to be able to stand up and perform in front of a large crowd, and I felt some of my childhood confidence returning, and for the first time in a while felt relief from much of the angst and fear of judgement that most teenagers carry around with them. This was largely thanks to the supportive attitude of all the musical’s cast and all of the TYs. There was a great sense of comradery on the stage and I was truly sad when the curtain closed on the last night. The musical was an absolutely incredible part of my TY and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.
Throughout Transition Year I also noticed us as a year group getting closer, and letting go of more immature and childish cliques which existed when we were not much younger. Reading back on the essay detailing the person I wanted to become during Transition Year, I smiled, as I have achieved many of those goals and look back on how much I have changed for the better this year.
Transition Year finished on a high when a large group of us embarked on the Camino de Santiago, a long yet enjoyable journey with friends. Joy and laughter, as well as a sense of teamwork and group effort pushed each one of us to the finish line.
To conclude, Transition Year for me was ultimately a year of rapid and necessary growth and development, both academically and socially. I had some of the best and most fun times of my life in Transition Year, while at the same time, the real world came into sharp focus for us all! Sometimes it is hard to step back and reflect on ourselves and our interests and this year really allowed me to do just that. In order to get the most out of the year, in my opinion, you need to be open to trying new things you may never even think that you’ll enjoy, and make opportunities for yourself based on your own personal interests. I tried to use this year to set me up for moving forward academically and personally. I have absolutely loved Transition Year and have seen it as an absolutely key step in school life, just as important as exam years, because without it I don’t feel I would have become the more responsible, organised and more mature person that I have always strived to be. TY is what you make of it – and I would advise any upcoming Transition Years to grab every single opportunity with both hands and hit the ground running from the first day of the year, because the amazing results you get from doing so are visible and clear to you as a person by the end.