Learning English at University College Cork, Ireland

Life inside and outside the language classroom

An educational holiday in Ireland

Sonny Kennedy is the Social Programme Coordinator for our Summer School. I caught up with him to learn about what students can do outside the classroom while here with us in the summer.

Hi Sonny, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Hi Brendan, no problem it’s great to get the chance to talk to you about Summer School 2018!

Well, the Summer School is the Language Centres annual 10-week EFL programme for non-native speakers looking to improve their English and of course have a great time in Ireland while doing so! As the name suggests it takes place in the summer, so students have the chance to learn while on holiday & hopefully enjoy some Irish sunshine!

  • Is it only English classes the students take or is there more?

No there are lots of options available to take! We have courses for Cambridge & IELTS exam preparation, English for Academic Purposes, Business English, Focus on Speaking, and much much more!

New for this year is our Family Package option as well as Focus on Writing, and a specific Pronunciation course. There really is a course option for everyone no matter what your level or needs.

  • I see, there is also a social programme. What kind of things do you do?

For the social programme we do a wide variety of things. On Wednesdays for example we go on excursions to the “must see” attractions in Cork like Blarney Castle & Gardens the Jameson Experience Midleton and Fota Wildlife Park .

On Thursday evenings we also hold cultural activities/events like an Irish Music & Dance Class Irish Music & Dance Class , a special photography walk & also a local brewery tour.

Cork is where the Wild Atlantic Way meets Ireland’s Ancient East, so theres plenty to see, learn and do!

  • What about the students? Where do they come from? Are they all about the same age?

One of the best things about the Summer School is that we have a fantastic mix of nationalities from across the world, from Spain to Saudi Arabia , Japan to Germany, even Kazakhstan to Korea! Ages can vary from 18 to over 60 but of the things I’ve learned in 3 years of working on the Summer School is that age doesn’t matter everyone makes friends and most importantly everyone has a great time!

Sonny with Giulia, Matteo, Ahmed & Fabio at the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.

  • What is your role in all of this?

My role is as social programme coordinator is to organise and lead the excursions and activities we have but more importantly to make sure everyone is having a good time, learning about Cork & Ireland and speaking English during the social programme of course!

  • What if your level of English is low; can you still enjoy the social programme?

Definitely! All the tours and activities we take part in are aimed towards students with different levels of English and both I and the teachers are always available to help or explain something on every social programme event.

  • What is your favourite place to visit?

My own favourite place to visit is probably the historic Charles Fort & the nearby town of Kinsale. There are amazing views of the harbour and town at Charles Fort, while Kinsale is a lovely place with great food and people.

  • Have you any funny stories to tell about the people or places you visit?

Well the most common funny thing that happens to me at least once or twice a year is that the tour guides might confuse me for someone trying to sneak onto the tour because I’m young and speak English fluently!!

Sonny in a spot of bother on Spike Island

  • In your opinion, why should someone come to UCC Language Centre to improve their English this summer?

For me the key reason why someone should come to UCC Language Centre for a summer is because it is an investment for their future and fantastic way to really experience great teaching & learning both inside and outside the classroom.

  • What would you say to someone unsure or nervous about coming to Ireland to study English?

Firstly I would say that the Irish are the most friendly and welcoming people in the world! Also here in the Language Centre we have a great team of staff who always do their best to look after and help every student. In over 4 years of working in the Language Centre I have never come across a student or problem we were not able to help. A big thing for us is making sure students whose first language isn’t English feel comfortable and happy.

  • What about Cork? Is it a nice city?

Cork is the best place in Ireland, and much better than Dublin! It is a small but very friendly city with great people and characters. During the summer especially there are always lots of things to do like, concerts, festivals, Gaelic matches and much much more.

  • Are there new places to visit and things to do planned for Summer School 2018?

Well last year for the first time we visited the beautiful Killarney National Park in Co Kerry and it went down a storm with the students. So definitely Killarney is on the cards, and we may possibly hold a few Thursday evening activities/events in a cool new venue in the city centre!

 

Sonny with Ahmed, Chris, Norine, Mohammed, and Sanaa in Doneraile Park 

Thanks, Sonny. I am sure the students who have been here with us have loved the social programme. How about you tell us in the comments which place was your favourite to visit. Share your photos if you have some.

And for you guys who are coming to us this summer, tell us where you would like to visit on our excursions, or what activity you would like to do while in Cork.

Summer is getting close. All details about our courses in the Summer School are available here. 

 

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I am way more confident in English now

Hamza Benhamed was a very popular French student who spent a year with us here in the University Language Centre. We recently caught up with him and learned about what life was like for him in UCC and what life is like for him now in his new job working for Facebook in Dublin.

Hamza Benhamed

Hamza, how are you? It’s great to speak with you again today!

Hi there! I am doing well, thank you. No worries, the pleasure is all mine.

So to start, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was a French student looking for a good university that will help me to improve my level in English and communication, but also have new adventures in a foreign country. I strongly like learning from my interaction with new people and different cultures.

You come from Mulhouse in the East of France, what made you decide to come to Ireland and in particular UCC to learn English?

I absolutely love the Celtic atmosphere, folklores, Irish music and Irish culture that you can feel and find in Ireland, and particularly in Cork. I was looking at different places around Ireland, and with some photos and comments on internet, Cork was the best option. When I saw the picture of UCC and references about it, I knew that UCC was the best option.

It’s been a while since you studied with us what have you been doing with yourself?

Well, after my adventure in Cork, I came back in my hometown for professional opportunities. For a year, I did work for a company that I used to work with, and I helped my parents to buy a house in that city near to the border of Germany and Switzerland. A year after, I felt that my English skills, was not used the way that I wanted. So, I tried to look at some opportunities in Ireland and within few days, the big agency CPL asked me to work in Dublin on Facebook website. Now I do work as a contingent worker for Facebook via CPL, and really proud to be part of CPL workers and Facebook workers.

Language Centre

What were your first impressions UCC & the Language Centre?

My first impression? Do not laugh though… I literally said that: ”Is this Hogwarts?” and the funniest part is that UCC also have a club that realize the famous ceremony of houses in Hogwarts. How cool is that.

What did you think of studying in the Language Centre, were you happy with the teachers, classrooms, facilities etc.?

UCC have plenty of rooms, really good facilities and it is a comfortable environment to study. UCC have resourceful teachers that will help you to learn English even if you have different cultures or coming from another country. I am lucky enough to keep in touch with some of them like Brendan, Séamas, Nadine..

In class with classmates Vicent, Adriana, Ilona, Christian and teacher Brendan

Did you find your level improved while you studied here?

Absolutely, I am way more confident in English now than the knowledge I had before coming in UCC. It is way better to learn English when the entire environment around you is all in English, right?

Did you find it easy to settle in and make friends here?

When you are a UCC student, making friends in Cork is so easy because you have a lot of different kind of activities in Cork or around Ireland that UCC plans for students. Also, you have different kind of clubs and most of the time you have student parties everywhere in Cork city centre. You do not have time to get bored.

Do you feel more confident in your English level now?

I am more confident but as every human being, I am still doing some mistakes but I learn from them. I am not afraid to do mistakes because this is how we learn, right? UCC gave me the courage that I need to talk when I have meetings at work or talking with native speakers, friends and even with American Facebook workers.

You studied with us for over 8 months, what advice would you give to students who are thinking of coming to Cork to study English in UCC?

Do you like adventures? Having fun in a really good environment that gives you great opportunities? Share beautiful moments with different kind of people? Not being afraid to enjoy life with friends or making new friends? UCC is your place. But make sure to program your trip to Cork in advance because it might be difficult to find an accommodation near to UCC.

Do you think the time you spent studying with us helped you in your career?

UCC surely helped me to be a Community Operation Analyst for Facebook as a contingent worker. I am able to work in high responsibility environment using English everyday because I got good lectures in UCC, and for fact you need a good level in English to understand, learn, and exchange in a big company in Ireland.

Cork

What’s Cork like as a city to live in?

I do not know where to start to be honest with you.. Cork is a wonderful place, really colourful, with sociable people and lot of activities and places to visit.

What did you do in your spare time, do you think there is a lot to do in Cork for students?

Most of the time, I was going out with my classmates and other friends I meet in Cork city centre. We did organize some traditional dinners from different countries like Spain, Korea, Japan, China, Irish, French.. I cannot remember all parties we had in Cork city centre but by Jesus.. it was a good time.

Party time

Having the craic with this friends in Cork

I did visit a lot of places around Ireland with UCC clubs and had the most beautiful moment I never had in my life with some people I meet during those days. I also visited some places with the bus “Paddywagon tours” with some friends, and it was really good as well.

Enjoy the PaddyWagon tour of Ireland.

Enjoying some of the beautiful Irish scenery

Don’t wake the giant

As a student I will say Cork city centre, but as a French tourist I will say every beautiful landscapes you could have around Cork city centre.

Did you learn any Cork slang while you lived here?

Jeez… a lot: “What’s the Craic? That is savage brah! Come back here will ya! No worries, You grand!” and saying the word “like” every sentences you could say to someone else (Cork citizens only).

Is there anything that you miss about Cork?

Oh god… I definitely miss my student life with my friends, my teachers, and all that beautiful moments I had out there.

You’re living in Dublin now, what are the main differences between Cork & Dublin?

On one hand, I will say that Dublin is bigger, darker and a stressful city. On the other hand, it is a good place for professional opportunities and I am living in a beautiful place front of the sea. When I went back to Cork (just one day though), I had that beautiful feeling of a cosy place and really colourful with good people around you.

Which do you prefer?!

… Cork! “And yes.. I agree with you on that one Brendan”. But let’s keep it secret will ya?

Have you any plans to come back in the future?

Of course, I already took my week off this year on March 12th until 18th, so be prepared, I am coming back!

Finish this sentence; “The best thing about UCC Language Centre is….

the student life that you need to experience at least once.

Thanks a million Hamza for taking the time to do this interview. It was great to speak with you again. Continued success for the future and please make sure to call in to day hello!

Hamza relaxing looking out on the skyline of Cork city

If you want to find our information about our courses, please click here. 

New friends, new experiences…

So here we are, already in week 8! At the moment, we are busy making preparations for the final week in UCC Language Centre Summer School and hope to make it the best one yet, with lots of fun, activities and one huge party planned!

For those students who have just arrived, we welcome you to our beautiful city of Cork, but apologise for the rain. Perhaps, it may be sunny again tomorrow…

Ireland: The only country with four seasons in one day and rain featuring in all seasons!
Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.15.14

Today, we are setting off on our second day trip of the summer, visiting beautiful Spike Island. This year, it was nominated for Europe’s Leading Tourist Attractions  2017, which is a massive achievement for the fort. We hope you all enjoy it as much as our past students and please don’t forget to vote for it after you visit and tune in to the World Travel Awards taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia this September. We would love this stunning tourist attraction to get the global recognition it deserves and to put it on the list of places to visit when you come to Cork.

Last Wednesday, we visited the scenic, coastal town of Cobh. Amy and all the staff at the Titanic experience looked after us very well and ensured that everyone had a great time. Students enjoyed learning about the history, while also enjoying the beautiful surroundings that it offers.

Students have enjoyed the Thursday night activities over the past couple of weeks. We all had such fun learning how to do traditional Irish dancing. It was amazing to see how fast  many students picked it up- many of you have such great rhythm. I, on the other hand have two left feet! It was such an enjoyable night and I think everyone agreed that it really is the best music to tap your feet to and really get in the mood for a great time! Check out our Facebook page for the videos, they are fantastic!

We went along to Curraheen Greyhound Track last Thursday and had a great night of betting and fun. Many of our students had never experienced anything like it before, but were delighted to try something new. It is fantastic to see so many students on these social activities, making new friends and having a good time out of the classroom! We have some amazing photos up on our Facebook page, so be sure to take a look!

Have a great week and enjoy the rest of Summer school 2017!!

New faces, new places…

We have been really busy over the last few weeks. Welcoming new students, bidding farewell to others and trying to make everyone’s time at the Language Centre as memorable and fun as possible.

We are delighted to be working with a large group of Chinese scholars and PhD students, who are studying EAP, while undertaking modules in Teaching and Learning at UCC. We hope they enjoy their four weeks with us.

We were lucky enough to launch podcasting in the classroom for some of our morning classes over the past few weeks. We have been busy introducing new strands to the syllabus and making presentations as relevant as possible to third level education and the workplace. It has been a really interesting project to work on and a great opportunity for the students.

The social activities have been hugely successful, with Fota being a real treat last week. The students had great fun visiting the famous wildlife park, taking lots of photos and walking around the beautiful grounds. It is always such a pleasure to take students here because everyone seems to love the laid back, friendly atmosphere.

Cork is buzzing at the moment and there is so much going on. The students have been enjoying wandering around the streets in their free time and enjoying all that our little city has to offer!

Students went to Breandán de Gallaí’s production Aon at the Firkin Crane theatre, which was a first for the Language Centre. It was a very interesting production, which fused traditional Irish music with contemporary elements. It was a little wacky, telling the deeply personal story of individuals being who they want to be instead of what society wants to mould them in to. Sitting very near the front, it was easy to see the hard work and endurance needed for such a performance, with buckets of sweat pouring off each of the talented individuals. They all earned their place on that stage. It was an intensely deep performance. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening and the students were happy to be out and about mingling with each other.

The students went on a tour of Kinsale yesterday. This pretty little fishing town is always a big hit with students, with its quaint shops and various little cafe’s and eateries. It was a big success and the students really enjoyed their time, walking around the cobbled streets and taking in the blissful atmosphere that is so apparent down there. Many of them tucked in to the Fish and Chips in Dino’s and were very impressed!

Everyone is looking forward to the long weekend and taking a well deserved break on Monday. Everyone has been working so hard over the past few weeks, so enjoy the lie-in and see you all on Tuesday!

Summer School Welcome!

We are now well and truly into the swing of things and it’s hard to believe we are approaching week 4 in the summer school. So many students from all over the world have come to join our English language family here at UCC and with every week that passes, the numbers are increasing!

This year, we launched our “word of the day” campaign on Facebook. Every day a new word is posted up, with the aim of teaching students new vocabulary to use in class and as a talking point in lessons.  There is a word for lower levels and higher levels, so choose your level and try and see how much extra vocabulary you can learn through this campaign. We want students to post sentences using the word in a way that gives meaning without defining the actual word. This is a great way of checking that you understand meaning and is also an opportunity for you to share your knowledge with other students!

The social activities have so far proved to be a huge hit! Doneraile, Cork City Gaol, the photographic walking tour of Cork and bowling were great fun. They are a great opportunity for students to meet up and get to know others studying in the summer school. We have got some really exciting tours coming up over the next few weeks, so sty tuned!!

We launched our very first day trip last week. Students crossed the border to Cork’s neighbours, Kerry and enjoyed a wonderful time at Mucross House and Gardens. A photo tells a thousand words and they really showed that you all had a lot of fun. It was great that the sun was shining and you got to see such a picturesque part of the country.

Well now that Wimbledon is finally over, we no longer have any excuse to be sitting outside drinking strawberry frappucinos but I won’t tell if you don’t! Have a great week and enjoy the trip to Youghal on Wednesday!

 

 

 

Teachers are enthusiastic to teach their students and enjoy spending their time with them

What is life like for a South Korean in Cork?

Time to meet one of our students from South Korea. Younni!

Younni on the far right with Hamza, Adriana and Vincent

 

Brendan: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you studying?

Sure~ I’m Yoonsik-Kim from South Korea and studying International studies especially in International trade and Chinese studies.

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?

I was supposed to study in Dublin at first because I didn’t know many things of Ireland at that moment. However I changed my mind, as soon as I saw several fabulous pictures of the UCC campus. I Felt like UCC campus would make me keep studying hard even if I didn’t like it.

Brendan: Before coming to Ireland, what did you know about our country?

As you know, country of the Guinness, Jameson and St.Patrick’s day! yaaas!

Brendan: When you arrived what was the biggest surprise for you?

Blue sky and tons of stars, the sun sets over 10 in Summer

Also everything closes at 6. 

Brendan: Well, the main stores in the city centre close at 6 most days, but you will find a lot of convenience stores open late.

Brendan: Is Irish weather as bad as people say it is?

Actually, I liked Irish weather ,since it doesn’t have extreme changes. I know You might think I’m a bit crazy while reading this.

Brendan: Did you stay with an Irish family or in student accommodation?

I got my own single room just beside the Lough. My landlord was an American and he used to teach at UCC. He was such a well educated person. I always admired his deep knowledge. There were 6 more International people  besides two of us in our house. All of them were so kind, easy going and talkative. I never got any troubles with my house mates while I lived there. I miss all of them. They are the best flat-mates ever of my life.

Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for Korean students?

Yes it is.. But one shouldn’t expect it is as safe as Korea. Ireland is a safe country, however if one comes here with having a Korean safety standards, perhaps one may get into trouble. I Wouldn’t suggest going out too late since you are a foreigner in this country.

Brendan: It is not all about study. How did you enjoy the nightlife in Cork?

Haha as I was a diligent student of  the UCC. I rarely know many things about nightlife in Cork. Brendan, I guess you’ve got a wrong person lololol But as long as I know, there are a few great night-clubs and bars in Cork to enjoy night out. I’ve been to Secret garden and Voodooroom a few times. These two are the biggest clubs in Cork. Bar and club are the best place to make Irish friends definitely but Ed Sheeran prefers a bar.

Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?

Of course, they are super friendly particularly when they were drunk.

Brendan: People say Irish people and Koreans are alike; would you agree?

I think they are absolutely different. The only thing we are similar is drinking a lot and having a similar colonial history. However, if you lads think these two things are fair enough to define we are alike, then we are similar. But I don’t really think we are alike haha.

Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?

I’d studied at ucc for 10 months including 2 months holidays. I was in B2 class at first. After finishing the B2 course, I applied for 2 months holidays to travel around other European countries. When I came back to Cork, I was in IELTS preparation course to know what the IELTS is roughly. Next term, I got lifted to C1 class finally.

All teachers I met at UCC were so lovely!!! They are enthusiastic to teach their students and enjoy spending their time with them. They are always so professional and devoted.

Brendan: Tell us about your daily routine for you?

I can’t remember all of my life in Ireland as I left Ireland more than two months ago, but on Monday to Friday from 9 to 1, I was in class (no dodging), after that I went to the gym as much as I can idealistically more than 4 times a week. I also used to learn Salsa every Thursday. On every Tuesday I was in UCC Korean Society to introduce Korean culture to other students, but to be honest I rather learn my culture such as K-pop, or K-Drama from K-soc students. It was a bit embarrassing. Every Monday I was in UCC trad music Society to play Irish tune with my fiddle. Friday went night out for “studying purpose” Every Saturday I did some volunteering work to make our Cork better than before with Reimagine Cork. by the way They changed their name to “mad about Cork”. 

Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?

From France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, China and Japan. I never expected I could meet such various people having different nationality and cultural background at the same time. I’ve got not only language, but also culture.

Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?

Yes I did, I still remember everything clearly that I did with Hams, Vincent, Adriana in Ireland.  And I really appreciate to Hams for introducing Jesse to me. I can’t imagine my life in Ireland without these lads.  

Brendan: Ya, they are great people!

Brendan: Do you feel more confident in using English now?

Of course, I already have several Foreigner friends in Korea!! Most of them are exchange students or English teachers. I definitely have  much more confidence in speaking English than before. But I’m still bad at grammar or natural expression, hope they not to feel any awkwardness to my language.

 Brendan: While you were in Ireland, did you get to visit different parts of Ireland?

I’ve been to Dublin, Dingle, Killarney and Kilkenny. I haven’t been to cliffs of moher and Galway yet. I’ll be back to see them and meet a galway girl later.

Brendan: What was the best place for you?

The Alchemy, Lough park, UCC, Mardyke, Internet cafe

Brendan: You also travelled to different parts of Europe; what was the best place for you and why?

Barcelona! The weather was really nice when I was in there. And even if I spent 4 days just only in Barcelona, it wasn’t enough to feel the atmosphere of the city fully. Lovely weather, nice beach, fancy building, cheap drinks, tanned women.

Brendan: If one of your Korean friends was coming to UCC Language Centre, what advice would you give them?

Study grammar in use before studying in Ireland. it helps you a lot. And I didn’t watch NAVER, and Kakao haha.

Brendan: What did you miss about Korea when you were in Cork?

Nothing. Haha I’m missing Ireland now.

Brendan: What do you miss about Cork, now that you are back in Korea?

Friends , Easy going life in Ireland.

Brendan: What about the cost of the course? Was it reasonable?

Compared to other language school in Ireland, it’s slightly expensive but I think it deserves to pay more as it has amazing facilities, like the free leisure centre and all the things in the university. 

Brendan: I hope you will come back to Cork. Will you?

Ohhh I will definitely, it’s become a my second hometown.

Brendan: Finish this sentence: The best thing about UCC Language Centre is…

Atmosphere!!! As you know UCC Language Centre is in the UCC main campus. Concerning facility, socialising and scholar stuffs UCC Language Centre gives you more than just language skill. It’s up to you how you can take an advantages of being a UCC Language Centre student.

Brendan: Thank you, Yuonni. It was great having you in the Language Centre. We hope you come back. 

If you wish to come and study English at our Language Centre, you can find all details here.

And the winners are

Another great competition comes to a close as we announce the winning entries in this year’s Photo and Video Competition.

This year we ran it on Instagram and received hundreds of entries. The judges had a difficult job to narrow down the three winning shots. I do not envy them!

The photograph they chose in third place was from Francesco Borginhz who presented an alternative view of Cork city and the River Lee at night. They liked the good balance and blend between the river as buildings.

Francesco Broginhz

Coming in second place was this beautiful photograph from Valeri Ouberti. He created a very nice picture which captures a sunny day out at the seaside during the summer.

Valeri Ouberti

And on to our winner for this year: Stephane Mendes. The judges felt it best fit the brief of travel and learning. They liked the way she captured the signposts and the scenery, suggesting exploring and discovering. It’s also an alternative to any pics you see of the sea, cliffs, rivers and so on.

Stephane Mendes

A very big congratulations to all our winners, especially Stephane, the overall winner. Big thanks to all who entered our competition, and of course we cannot forget our two judges.

Here’s looking forward to Summer School, 2017 which starts on June 26th. All details are here. Follow us on Instagram.

I enjoyed every moment in class, in UCC, in Cork and in Ireland

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. 

 

Our 2017 Photography and Video Competition

We are delighted to announce our 2017 Photography and Video Competition today.

You could be flying to Cork this summer

You could be flying to Cork this summer (photo: Brendan Ó Sé)

The competition runs from today, February 20th, until Friday, April, 14th.

How can you enter? You need to follow us on Instagram, and post your entries on your own Instagram account with this hashtag – #ucclc17. You can enter as often as you want.

What kind of photos and videos are we looking for? The theme is travel and learning – just like our Summer School – an educational holiday.

What are the prizes? The winner will receive two free weeks (20 hours per week), and second place will receive one free week (20 hours per week) on our Summer School in the month of August. We will also have some great prizes for the photos or videos we select in other positions.

So what do you have to do? You need to follow us on Instagram (just click here), and start taking photographs and post your entries on your own Instagram account with this hashtag – #ucclc17.

Remember, you can enter as often as you want.

These were our winners from last year.

 

Bandar al Thobaiti

Bandar al Thobaiti

Garrettstown_Beach_Dmytro_Seleznov

Garrettstown Beach Dmytro Seleznov

A.Oldani_Cobh

A.Oldani Cobh

All information about our Summer School is here.

Summer fun outside the classroom

Sonny Kennedy is the Social Programme Coordinator for our Summer School. I caught up with him to learn about what students can do outside the classroom while here with us in the summer.

Sonny Kennedy our Summer School Social Programme Coordinator

Sonny Kennedy

Hi Sonny,

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Hi Brendan, no problem it’s great to get the chance to talk to you about Summer School!

  • OK, The UCC Summer School, tell us about that.
    • Well the Summer School is the Language Centres annual 10 week EFL programme  for non native speakers looking to improve their English and of course have a great time in Ireland while doing so!
  • Is it only English classes the students take or is there more?
    • No there are lots of options available to take! We have course for Cambridge & IELTS exam preparation, English for Academic Purposes, Business English, Focus on Speaking, and much much more! There really is a course option for everyone no matter what your level or needs.
  • I see, there is also a social programme. What kind of things do you do?
    • For the social programme we do a wide variety of things. On Wednesdays for example we go on excursions to attractions around Cork like Blarney Castle, the Jameson Experience Midleton and the Titanic Experience in Cobh. On Thursday evenings as well we also offered cultural activities/events like traditional Irish music & dance, a photo walk & even a special Ghost Tour of the city!
  • What about the students? Where do they come from? Are they all about the same age?
    • One of the best things about the Summer School is that we have a fantastic mix of nationalities from across the world, from Spain to Saudi Arabia , Japan to Germany, even Kazakhstan to Korea! Ages can vary from 18 to over 60 but of the things I’ve learned in 3 years of working on the Summer School is that age doesn’t matter everyone makes friends and most importantly everyone enjoys themselves!

  • What is your role in all of this?
    • My role is as social programme coordinator is to organise and lead the excursions and activities we have but more importantly to make sure everyone is having a good time, learning about Cork & Ireland and speaking English  during the social programme of course!
  • What if your level of English is low; can you still enjoy the social programme?
    • Definitely! All the tours and activities we take part in are aimed towards students with different levels of English and both myself and the teachers are always available to help or explain something on every social programme event.
  • What is your favourite place to visit?
    • My own favorite place to visit is probably the historic Charles Fort & the nearby town of Kinsale. There are amazing views of the harbour and town at Charles Fort, while Kinsale is a lovely place with great food and people.
  • Have you any funny stories to tell about the people or places you visit?
    • Well the most common funny thing that happens to me at least once or twice a year is that the tour guides might confuse me for someone trying to sneak onto the tour because I’m young and speak English fluently!!

  • In your opinion, why should someone come to UCC Language Centre to improve their English this summer?
    • For me the key reason why someone should come to UCC Language Centre for a summer is because it is an investment for their future and fantastic way to really experience great teaching & learning both inside and outside the classroom.
  • What would you say to someone unsure or nervous about coming to Ireland to study English?
    • Firstly I would say that the Irish are the most friendly and welcoming people in the world! Also here in the Language Centre we have a great team of staff who always do their best to look after and help every student. In over 3 years of working in the Language Centre I have never come across a student or problem we were not able to help. A big thing for us is making sure students whose first language isn’t English feel comfortable and happy.
  • What about Cork? Is it a nice city?
    • Cork is the best place in Ireland, and much better than Dublin! It is a small but very friendly city with great people and characters. During the summer especially there are always lots of things to do like, concerts, festivals, food markets and much much more.
  • Are there new places to visit and things to do planned for Summer School 2017?
    • At the moment nothing has been planned but possibly we could be visiting Spike Island in Cork Harbour and maybe even taking a trip down to West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way!
Sonny with Ahmed, Limin, Mohammed and Duhayman at Charles Fort in Kinsale.

Sonny with Ahmed, Limin, Mohammed and Duhayman at Charles Fort in Kinsale.

Thanks, Sonny. I am sure the students who have been here with us have loved the social programme. How about you tell us in the comments which place was your favourite to visit. Share your photos if you have some.

And for you guys who are coming to us this summer, tell us where you would like to visit on our excursions, or what activity you would like to do while in Cork.

Summer is getting close. All details about our courses in the Summer School are available here.