St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rush
Europe's first CFES School of Distinction



Back in October, I was told about an opportunity to do a language course in Trinity college in association with the Goethe Institute. To apply we had to write a 500 word statement about our interest in languages and cultures and why we should be picked. After submitting my application I got picked to do the course with Nicole Duque, another student in TY.

Day 1- Goethe Institute

Goethe Institute.png

We’d arranged to meet outside the Book of Kells building in Trinity and then we’d be taken to the Goethe Institute. I was really excited that the first day was German based as I’d been studying German for the Junior Cert. When everyone had arrived we walked to the Institute, which was just around the corner from Trinity. When we got there we all got Freiraum T-shirts to wear for each of the days. They gave us an introduction talk about what to expect from the programme, and then we went up to the library. We did some icebreakers and got to know everyone’s names. Then we went up to one of the classrooms to do a quiz on Germany in the groups they’d put us into. We also did some beginner’s German, like how to say our name.

We had a break afterwards and we got to try traditional German pretzels. We went back up to the library to do a scavenger hunt, and then broke up into smaller groups to do a small project on different books in the library. Our group got a book about dance and we did a presentation on what we learned about dance in Germany. Since the programme is called Freiraum, which means freedom, we did posters on what freedom means to us in our groups, and then we presented it to the group.

Day 2- Alliance Française


The workshop was once a month, the second Thursday of every month, so the next time we met was in November. We were doing French, and the theme was the environment. We watched some short videos on YouTube about the damaging effects humans have on the environment. Afterwards we did a walking debate on how to save the environment. We then got into groups and did a scavenger hunt around the library, and we got to learn some French in the process. The last activity before lunch was a Kahoot! Quiz on France’s ecological footprint.

For lunch we ate in La Cocotte, the restaurant in the Alliance, where we had croque monsieur. Later, we split up depending on whether or not we studied French in school. Since Nicole and I had studied other languages, we went with Véronique and we learned about popular French music. We also learned how to count to ten, and learned what the different accents over letters mean.

Our last activity of the day was making our own organic soap as part of the environmentally friendly theme of the day. It was a really simple recipe, and I made orange and lemon scented soap.

AF 2.jpg

Day 3- Istituto Italiano di Cultura


Our next day in December was in the Italian institute. We met all the volunteers there and they taught us how to introduce ourselves - Mi chiamo Niamh! Giuseppe taught us how to make fresh pasta. He taught us how to make all the different types, like farfalle, gnocchi, tagliatelle, and ravioli. He showed us how they dye the pasta different colours by using vegetables like beetroot or spinach.

Afterwards, an Irish musician Nathan came in to teach us one of his songs. He has a lot of Italian friends so he decided to translate his original songs into Italian. We sang one while he played the guitar, and it really made me want to learn Italian, the song just sounded so beautiful.

For lunch they had a variety of different Italian foods for us to try, like bruschetta, polpette di melanzane (aubergine meatballs), and of course pizza! After lunch we learned a traditional Italian dance from the south of Italy, which had a lot of Spanish influence. We used tambourines and castanets, and it was a lot of fun. On our schedule we had a talk about college, and two students Lily and Seán came in to tell us about their Erasmus in Italy. We got the chance to ask them questions about it, and it sounded like a great experience. It was really helpful for me as I’d love to do an Erasmus in Germany.

Day 4- Instituto Cervantes


Our second last day of Freiraum was in the Spanish institute just outside Trinity. We watched a presentation on the importance of languages in the world, and learned that Spanish is known as the language of the future because more and more people are speaking it everyday. Then we got split into different groups, and my group went to the library. We researched about Spain’s plans to become more environmentally friendly in the next 30 years.

Next we went to the exhibition downstairs about Spanish literature. It was really interesting as they had old books and typewriters in the glass cases. Afterwards, we watched different films submitted by Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Ireland, and the UK to a European film festival. We had to work in groups when they were finished to describe the plot in Spanish. It was easy because it was very similar to Italian, and there was also a Spanish professor there to help us.

After that, we had lunch. We had traditional chorizo and cheese, and a Spanish omelette. When our lunch break was finished, we made posters advertising one of the films we had watched earlier, and we all voted on our favourite one.

Day 5- European Commission

EU Comm.png

The last day of Freiraum was held in the European Commission. The main theme for that day was the EU, and we learned about the importance of culture and languages. We had a talk on studying languages in college and how they can be extremely beneficial when it comes to applying for a job. They gave us some brochures about the EU before we left, and then we headed to the dining hall in Trinity for lunch.

After lunch we were brought to the science gallery, and we got to look around the exhibits there, some of which were interactive. We went to the lecture hall where we had another talk about college, given by two actual college students. They talked to us about all aspects of college life, like filling out your CAO form, joining societies, and much more. It was really helpful because a lot of us didn’t know much about college.

Finally, we had our closing ceremony. This was bittersweet because I didn’t want Freiraum to end; I’d made so many great friends and learned so much. After we received our certificates for the programme, we all went back to the lounge area for one final goodbye. I would really recommend applying for Freiraum if given the chance, because it’s been such a great experience for me. It really gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and become more independent. You learn so much about all the different cultures in Europe and make so many friends along the way.


Oct 26
Mid Term Break
Dec 07
Dec 23
Christmas Holidays
Feb 15
Mid Term Break
Convent Lane, Rush, Co. Dublin
01 843 7534
© 2020 St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rush