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, 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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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!
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