What is life like for a Japanese student learning English in Cork?
Azusa Sonoda, a student in Tokyo University for Foreign Studies came to improve her English at the University Language Centre in our Summer School 2012. Here is an interview about her experience.
Hi Azusa, Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. I really appreciate it.
Brendan: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you studying?
Azusa: I’m from Japan. I’m in the first year of university, and my major is Spanish.
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?
Azusa: I love English and want to speak English more fluently, so I decided to study it in an English-speaking country. My university’s supporting study-abroad section recommended UCC Language Centre, and I, too, thought it would be a good place, because there are few Japanese students in Ireland and I heard Irish people were very friendly.
Brendan: Before coming to Ireland, what did you know about our country?
Azusa: To be honest, I had no idea about Ireland. I only knew Irish people loved music.
Brendan: When you arrived what was the biggest surprise for you?
Azusa: I was really surprised the weather! When I arrived there in August, it was so cold… (In Japan, it is the hottest in August.)
Brendan: Did you stay with an Irish family or in student accommodation?
Azusa: I stayed with an Irish family. They were good family for me. They kindly often talked with me.
Brendan: Is Cork a safe place for Japanese students?
Azusa: Yes. I thought Cork’s public order was similar to Japanese. So I comfortably lived in Cork.
Brendan: Are Cork people friendly?
Azusa: Absolutely! I heard they Irish people were friendly, but they were friendlier than I had expected.
Brendan: What were your classes and teachers like?
Azusa: My classes were a little too easy for me, but I could have a lot of chances to speak English and become used to speaking and listening to English. I especially liked One to One lessons because could talk various things with a teacher for two hours. It was so useful for me to improve my English skill. I really liked teachers, they all were friendly and cheerful, and when I asked some questions, they kindly answered them.
Brendan: What was the daily routine for you?
Azusa: During Summer school program, I had some roommates, so I chatted with them at home in the evening. I often went to UCC’s library, whch was a nice place to study.
Brendan: Where did your classmates come from?
Azusa: During Summer school program, there were a lot of Spanish and German students in my class. And there were Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and so on. Many students came from European countries. From Bridging Course, many Arabic students came.
Brendan: Did you make friends with your classmates?
Azusa: Yes! I made a lot of friends with classmates coming from many different countries. This was a great experience when I was in Ireland. I’m shy, so at first, it was a little different to speak someone, but I got used to speaking to someone in English little by little.
Brendan: Do you feel more confident in using English now?
Azusa: Yes. Before I visited Ireland, I was ashamed to speak my bad English, but I am confident now. And furthermore I realised that it is important to speak English not shyly but confidently.
Brendan: While you were in Ireland, did you get to visit different parts of Ireland?
Azusa: Yes. I went to some famous places in Ireland, though they were not distant from Cork; for example, Cobh, the Blarney Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, and so on. In Summer school program we had social programs once a week, in which many students went to some places in Cork together. It was so good, because we could not only go there but also make friends with other classmates.
Brendan: What was the best place for you?
Azusa: I was so impressed with the Cliffs of Moher. How magnificent! I’ve never seen such wide, large and high cliffs.
Brendan: If one of your Japanese friends was coming to UCC Language Centre, what advice would you give them?
Azusa: Don’ be shy, and you should actively talk with many people in English with courage! Your courage enables you to improve your English.
Brendan: What did you miss about Japan when you were in Cork?
Azusa: I missed my family and Japanese food a little. But I had a full life in Cork, so I didn’t miss them so much.
Brendan: What do you miss about Cork, now that you are back in Japan?
Azusa: I miss all of Cork though… especially, all people I met in Cork. And, I also liked the lovely campus of UCC and Irish pubs. Irish pubs were always full of people and good music was played there and I could experience the Irish culture there. I wish I had stayed in Cork more…
Brendan: What about the cost of the course? Was it reasonable?
Azusa: Because my university is a partner university with UCC, it means that I can get a 20% discount off the course cost.
Brendan: I hope you will come back to Cork. Will you?
Azusa: Of course! Cork is a so great place to live and learn English. I could have so many experiences in Cork and improve my English. I really hope to go back to Cork.
I’m really satisfied to spend this summer in Cork. Thank you so much!
Brendan: Thank you, Azusa.