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My Griffith Story: How I chased a dream.

Marketing intern Ana Gil-Villanueva

Hi there! My name is Ana, and I grew up in a little coastal town called Cumaná in sunny Venezuela.

Coming to Ireland

After finishing high school, I was a bit lost. Sadly, I couldn’t get into my first-choice university (I wanted to be a dentist and help people, as I was very inclined towards the health sector back then!), and I ended up taking a sabbatical year after high school to figure things out. Having that much free time made me very close to my friends and my own family; it really helped me form long-lasting relationships, which I’m so glad to have now that I live away from home.

I always dreamed of going away for a year to study a language. Many of my friends were away in that time doing cultural exchanges in Italy, Germany and the USA. “I want to do that too,” seventeen-year-old Ana thought to herself!

While looking at places I could go, my mum and I encountered the idea of coming to Ireland. The flyer I got featured a picture of Ha'penny Bridge with Dublin’s colourful City Centre in the background. I remember reading it about 100 times that night and the next day I said to my mother, “I want to go to Dublin.”

After months of paperwork, preparation, another birthday party, some farewell parties and a sad good-bye at Caracas airport, I landed in Dublin on a sunny day (it was 19 degrees, hot for Ireland but very cold for me!) on the 18th of July 2013.

Chasing a dream

I made the most of my first eight months in Dublin: I learned English (after arriving here knowing almost nothing), I made new friends and I moved from my host family’s home into a student residence in the city, which helped me feel more independent. However, by spring 2014, political problems and instability arose in Venezuela. I was scared to go back and to deal with “real life.” Even though I missed my family, I didn’t want to leave Dublin.

Also in the spring of 2014, I met my now-husband, Patrick. The excitement of getting to know a person I shared so much with and enjoyed spending time with made me so happy, but the constant idea of leaving everything here was heart-breaking. After much thought, I decided to stay in Dublin, give life in this country a shot and go with the flow of whatever life had in store for me.

My plan consisted of starting an English course, getting a visa for another year and paying for an extra month of rent. My idea was that if I could find a job I would stay, if I couldn’t I would go back home – but at least I would know I had tried. It was a big risk, but I was and still am a dreamer.

Seventeen days in, I got a job as an Event Assistant at Google HQ and finally, after so many days of uncertainty, felt like life was working on my side and not against me.

Those years were busy – I was working and saving money to study. But finally, there was another decision to make. After so long waiting to study a third level degree, it was time to go to college.

Getting to Griffith

While researching, I encountered Griffith College. I had already visited, as one of my friends used to study English on campus, and I really liked the surroundings. I decided on Griffith because of their small classes and the one-to-one approach from lecturers. I also really liked the college feeling the Griffith campus gave me. I started gathering the information needed to study my bachelor’s degree, finally deciding to do a BA in Marketing. From the experience I’d gained working on events at Google and the booming of social media I thought studying Marketing would give me the opportunity for growth, and if I wanted to move to a new country again I could always find a job in the sector.

Life at Griffith is full of energy! There is always something to do, which is great as it gave me plenty of opportunities to make new friends and try different activities.

After three years, I’m graduating this November with a Bachelor’s in Marketing. After graduating I will come back to finish my Level 8 cycle on Business Studies, which I am very excited about.

Moving to Dublin from such a young age has taught me a lot over the years, but the most important thing I have learned is that you have to work hard to make your dreams come true!

Feeling inspired by Ana's story?

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