The Student Voice -Lourdes’ Story

My name is Lourdes and I am Mexican, from a town call Queretaro, at the centre of the country. I have been living in Cork since November 2016. Currently, I am a student at Cork English Academy and this is my story.

In 2015 I started looking for something meaningful in my life. I found an organization that sends people to different countries to do social work and it was suggested that I join a program in L’Arche, Belgium for a year. This organization provides support to people with intellectual disabilities at home, as well as in a workshop, where they do occupational therapy. Before my year ended, I applied to a similar community in Cork.

I arrived in Cork in November 2016, after a 40-hour journey, due to the low cost of my fare. I remember being in Merchant’s Quay, waiting for someone to pick me up and it felt like love at first sight with the city. The orange of the bricks in Merchants Quay shopping mall, the river, It was cold and rainy but I felt as if I had just arrived home from a long trip.

I found that people from Cork are used to being surrounded by foreign people. For that reason, people will always try to talk to you. Personally, I think Irish people are really friendly and reliable, with a good sense of humour. Proof of this was in my third week here when I met a lovely, kind and handsome Irish man. He became my boyfriend and next year will be my husband.
    
           Lourdes at Kylemore Abbey, Galway.                                Lourdes at Mizen Head, Cork.

My immersion into the English language was full since day 1 since the other volunteers that I used to work with came from different countries and the main reason for us to choose Ireland was the language, so even when we were able to speak the same language, we chose to speak in English. One of my challenges here was the different accents and different words from my American English education. In my house, there were 6 Assistants and 6 residents from different counties in Ireland. Sometimes breakfast was a big challenge, but I can see now that this experience was incredibly rewarding and provided me with confidence to speak in English in spite of all my grammar and conjugation mistakes.

Every day off that I had during my first year in Cork, I spent travelling around. I was very lucky to have friends that wanted to do so. Ireland is, in fact, “The Emerald Island”, so wherever you go you will see green, surrounded with buildings or castles full of history, cliffs that take your breath away and views that I could only dream of.

After my first year in Cork, I decided to stay longer because I wanted to keep improving my English and also for my boyfriend since we didn’t want to put distance between us. I applied to the English course at Cork English Academy. For me, the classes are the easy part of my day, where I don’t get embarrassed when I am corrected in class. It is my best opportunity to clear my doubts and improve my pronunciation. I see my class as a good opportunity to re-learn something. When I get home, my now Fiance always asks me “how is school?” and it’s a simple question that makes my day because I enjoy the time that I am spending with my classmates and my teacher that challenges me to be better at English.

My time in Cork English Academy has been enriched by teachers who are always willing to teach and learn about new cultures, as well as my classmates, who some of them I can now call friends. The staff at the school are also always helpful to me whenever I have any doubts.

Currently, I am working as a health care assistant in a nursing home with elderly people, practicing my English every day and learning new vocabulary. I remember my first day at school in the induction talk, the advice that they give you is “talk as much as you can with many as you can” because that is the key to learning any language. I feel like a kid that can’t wait to be at home and use my new word or expression with my fiance and hear him say “did you learn that today?” It is just priceless.

I like the city also I enjoy the cold and rainy weather. In addition, I love to see my progress when I compare my first writing task with this, as there is a huge difference, for the better, of course!