Being an English language teacher here at the UCC Language Centre means you get to meet people from all over the world and the learning opportunities for a teacher are so great. A recent student of ours, María Teresa Linares, was a wonderful example of this. Let’s find out more about her here.
María Teresa Linares
Brendan: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you studying?
I am a German translator working on a freelance basis. I am from Argentina and live in a town near Córdoba, a city in the middle of the country.
Brendan: Why did you choose to come to take an English language course at UCC Language Centre? How did you hear about our Language Centre?
There were many reasons for having chosen Cork and UCC Language Centre:
First of all, it had to be a university, that was the only condition I set to myself. Bearing this in mind, I began my research on Internet, I read information about different Irish universities on their websites and comments written by former students as well. I compared offers and prices, talked to Irish friends here in Córdoba and listened to their advice and opinions. Everybody agreed that UCC was the best option.
Furthermore, what was relevant for my decision for Cork and UCC was the fact that I am of Irish descent. My maternal family was originally from Bere Island, Co. Cork. So when I decided to take a year off and to apply for an English course, I couldn’t imagine another place than Ireland.
On the other hand and after gathering information about educational institutions, I realized that it would be easier to find an accommodation in Cork than in Dublin, for instance. That was a very important plus point.
An additional criteria I considered too was the weather: an Irish friend living in Córdoba recommended Cork because in his opinion the weather is milder in Cork than in the Atlantic coast or in Dublin. And he was right.
Our beautiful campus
Brendan: Before coming to Ireland, what did you know about our country?
I had been in Ireland many times in the past, but for short holidays and not longer than 2-3 weeks each time. Regarding to Irish History and Irish topical issues, I could say that I was –to some extent– familiar with because I listened to the radio and read the newspapers when I was on holidays in Ireland. Besides, there is a programme I love and I have been listening perhaps 7 years now, named “The History Show”. It is, as its name suggests, it is a programme about Irish History. However, I must admit that I learned much more about Ireland and its people during the time I was living in Cork.
Brendan: When you arrived what was the biggest surprise for you?
Actually, there were many pleasant surprises, but the biggest one were the sessions, what was something totally new for me, although I knew the importance Irish people attach to music. I had heard about the sessions from musicians in Córdoba, but I thought they were only for musicians, not for everyone interesting in listening to music.
Other big surprise was the wide range of cultural events. International Film festivals, famous Irish actors performing great plays at the different theatres in Cork, interesting exhibitions at the Crawford Gallery, etc.
Brendan: Is Irish weather as bad as people say it is?
Not at all. In general, the weather is really mild, it rains but not in a way that stops you from your daily life.
What I found very nice were the long days in summer and the short days in winter.
Brendan: Did you stay with an Irish family or in student accommodation?
During the Summer School I was living in a student accommodation. However, I had to move because it was only for the summer and I could rent a room in a house where the other tenants were Russians.
Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for students?
Cork is, in my opinion, a very safe city. I lived 35 minutes walk from UCC, I had to cross a park and a bridge to reach to the other side of the river where I was living. I went to the cinema or to the theatre and came back home by bus and it was usually the last bus of the day. I have never ever had any problem or felt in danger.
Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?
Cork people are exceptionally friendly. I have many stories involving people helping me in different situations, but this one is unforgettable: the first time I was in Cork, I got lost on my way to the airport where I wanted to return the car I had rented. I was on a road and stopped a car driven by a lady and asked her for help: she guided me to the airport, which was in the opposite direction she was going, and when we arrived at the airport 20 minutes later, she got off her car and asked me if I needed something else.
Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?
The classes were very dynamic, covering different skills: discussion on different topics, use of English, reading and listening exercises. The books used in class were, in my opinion, very topical. During the time I was at UCC we used different books in each term, so that I never had the same book from previous terms.
The teachers I had were competent and each of them emphasized different aspects of the language, depending on their interests. I learned not only the English language, but also about cultural and social aspects.
Brendan: Tell us about your daily routine for you?
From Monday to Friday, classes started at 9.00 am and finished at 1 o’clock. During the summer, there were social programmes tuesdays and thursdays organised by the Language Centre, while in winter there was an extra class on different topics on Wednesday. The last two months in Cork I took Irish classes in the afternoon.
After classes, I went to the library to study and to work on my translations. The library was my favorite place because it is comfortable, roomy, bright and quiet. At 6 or 7 pm, depending on the day, I attended yoga classes in Mardyke Arena.
On the weekends I went to the cinema, to the theatre to watch a play or to a concert, to a session in a pub or to an exhibition.
Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?
My classmates were from all over the world. I met students from Korea, Japan, China, Mauritius, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Kuwait, Marocco, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Argentina. In my Irish course I met people from United States and from Thailand, among other countries.
María Teresa with her classmates
Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?
Yes, I did. I keep in touch with many of them and when I was living in Cork, we organised some activities together.
Brendan: You took an exam while you were here. Tell us about that.
Yes, I took the CAE and although I passed the exam, I regret not having taken a specific preparation course. Now I know that such a course focuses on practicing CAE tests and on its strategy. I would recommend taking this course because it is a complement to the English course.
Brendan: Do you feel more confident in using English now?
Yes, I do. I am now in Argentina and I attend a conversation course because I don’t want to lose the acquired skills. The language level of the other classmates is very high and I don’t feel in disadvantage compared with them. When reading a book, I don’t need to look up every second word.
Brendan: While you were in Ireland, did you get to visit different parts of Ireland?
Yes, in July 2016 I went to Dundalk to walk from there to Faughart on St. Brigid’s Way. I was ill-prepared in terms of clothes. It rained, it was cold, and I wore “summer” clothes! I went to Bere Island, where I took part in a weaving workshop during the Heritage Week in August 2016. In October 2016 I went to Co. Leitrim to visit a friend and together we went to Sligo. It was a wonderful trip, because I wanted to know more about Yeats and she knows a lot about him. In December 2016, I went to Galway and Connemara. In Galway I had the opportunity to go to a session in The Crane. It was at 2 pm on a Sunday. There were 14 people playing different instruments and singing and dancing. It was a great atmosphere. And on my way back to Cork I went to Drombeg, because I wanted to see the winter solstice there. In February 2017 I went to Dingle where I spent a weekend at a friend’s house and in March before leaving Ireland, I went to Foxford, Co. Mayo, because there was a commemoration of the founder of our Navy, Admiral William Brown from Foxford. In Sligo I met my friend who lives in Co. Leitrim and together we went to Westport and travelled around. And on my last weekend before leaving to Argentina, I went to Drombeg again, this time to say goodbye and a big thank you to Ireland for the great time I had. When I arrived in Drombeg, it was sunny, after a while there was a big rainbow over the sea and when I left, it was heavily raining, what I interpreted as Ireland crying for my departure! Next time I want to go to Donegal and to Northern Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher
Brendan: What was the best place for you?
In Cork, Sunday’s Well from where you have the most beautiful view of Cork. In County Cork, Bere Island, where my maternal family came from, and Drombeg with its mystical stone circle.
Brendan: If one of your friends was coming to UCC Language Centre, what advice would you give them?
It depends on the age and goals of the people: if they are in their twenties or thirties and they want to learn English on their holidays, I would recommend joining the Summer School. If their goal is to learn English.
Brendan: What did you miss about Argentina when you were in Cork?
Nothing. During the nine months I was living in Ireland, I enjoyed eating meals or things I don’t find here in Argentina, for example, parsnip, liquorice, stew, seafood chowder. And I didn’t miss anybody either, because nowadays mobiles keep you connected to your family and friends.
Brendan: Oh, that is cool. I love liquorice too.
Brendan: What do you miss about Cork, now that you are back in Argentina?
The first days I couldn’t help comparing everything in Argentina with everything in Ireland: in Ireland you can pay what you buy using your debit card, whereas in Argentina you cannot. In Ireland you can do this or that, while in Argentina you cannot, and so on and so forth.
At the beginning I missed the peaceful view from Sundays’ Well to the city, the mystical shaky bridge from Shanakiel to UCC and the fog over the river at night or in the early morning. But now I am delighted with the yellowish, warm und sunny autumn in the southern hemisphere.
Brendan: What about the cost of the course? Was it reasonable?
Well, the fees are a little expensive, but they include many benefits:
– the reputation of UCC
– the sport facility Mardyke Arena where you can practice every kind of sport, for instance, fencing, what I don’t practice, but I met a french guy who did.
– The UCC Health centre
– The Boole library
– The social programmes
Brendan: I hope you will come back to Cork. Will you?
Definetely yes, I will!
Brendan: Finish this sentence: The best thing about UCC Language Centre is…
The people, the atmosphere, the place!
Brendan: Is there anything I have not asked you that you would like to tell us?
I want to add that I enjoyed every moment in class, in UCC, in Cork and in Ireland.
Brendan: Thank you, Tere!!!
María receiving her certificate
If you wish to come and study English at our Language Centre, you can find all details here.
Our Summer School starts of June 26th. Details here.