Lourdes’ Story

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

A few years back 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.

On arrival to Cork 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, practising 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!

Peter’s Story

I am Peter from Hungary. Before I came to Cork I’d studied law and worked at a law firm in Budapest.

In general, my profession requires good English. My English needed some improvement, and I thought studying in an English-speaking country would be a great help for me.

Besides English being necessary for my profession, I had a million other reasons to start studying the language. One of them is to realize my childhood dream to having friends from different countries all around the world. In Cork, my dream came true.

It is known for everyone that Ireland is a beautiful country and I have also heard many stories about how friendly Irish people are. However, I did not know too much about Cork, but positive feedback from old students convinced me to go here.

Cork is a lovely city. It is not too big, and people are open and friendly here indeed. Despite its size there are uncountable number of pubs that make the city lively, even during weekdays.

I have discovered many parts of Ireland. With my friends from the academy, we organised trips of the Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Kinsale etc and I will never forget our visit to the beautiful Killarney National Park.

Cork English Academy helped me mainly to improve my speaking skills, and that is why I came here. Generally, classes focus on reading exercises which is a good way of teaching in comparison to the book-centred education in my country.

Before I came to Cork I thought speaking was the weakest point of my English., but I think here I could turn it into my strength.

I spent 13 weeks at Cork English Academy. My studies were divided into 7 weeks General English and a 6-week IELTS exam preparation course. My teachers were Phil and Pat  I can only say good things about their work. At all times I found them to be professional and extremely kind. Pat even made the ‘dry’ exam preparation classes enjoyable. He was continuously looking for ways to help us.

While in Cork I did a four-week internship at a solicitor’s office. I was helping in general office administration. It was a good place to learn about the Irish legal system and, also, a perfect opportunity to use my English in practice.

I am sure that everything that I have learned at Cork English Academy will be a great help not only for my career, but also other parts of my life.

Mehmet’s Story

Hey! My name is Mehmet and I’m from Istanbul, Turkey.

I have a few reasons for choosing Ireland as my study abroad destination. I watched lots of documentaries about Ireland and I love the nature. I decided to come to Cork because it is small and I wanted to stay away from crowed cities. In addition, there is a historical background between Ireland and Turkey (Ottoman Empire) during the The Great Famine of 1845 as Turkey was one of the only countries to offer Ireland aid.

Cork is a really lovely city. You can find everything you need in Cork.  There are a lot of cozy pubs in the city. Irish people are very friendly. When I first arrived people were very open to helping me. Irish people are very polite. They don’t get off the bus without saying ”thanks”.

I have taken trips around Ireland. There are so many castles and old ruins. My favourite trip was the Wild Atlantic Way. The scenery is incredible . I will never forget the views in my mind.


I recently graduated from University (department of Engineering). I needed to develop my English skills because I would like to apply for a postgraduate programme. I need to have a specific IELTS score for this. Also, many multinational companies now demand an applied or proficient level of English language.

I studied General English in Cork followed by 6 weeks IELTS examination preparation which was very useful for my needs. I studied lots of strategies for the exam.

The most difficult thing for me is different accents and different pronunciations.  We covered different accents and pronunciations in our school course. I feel more confident when speaking English now.

After my course I started to work in a deli in a supermarket. It was very busy and I served a lot of customers. This really helped me learn about different accents.

My teachers were very good and encouraged students to speak and be active in class.  Learning IELTS exam strategies will really help me going forward.

Jose’s Story

Hi, I’m Jose from Chile.

I studied and worked in Agricultural Engineering in Chile before moving to Cork.  A few months ago I started looking at English speaking countries and an agency called Work Study Ireland helped me choose a language abroad programme.

English language is so important for university, work and travel. I knew I had to improve my English. I think learning a language helps with additional skills and getting a job. For me speaking another language is essential. It helps for work and future studies. In addition you have another way to communicate and meet new people wherever you are.

Jose visiting Blackrock Castle as part of the Cork English Academy Social Programme

I chose to come to Ireland because it could be a new experience in a different country with beautiful landscapes and an amazing culture to discover.

Cork is a lovely place with charismatic people.  It’s a small town so you can walk everywhere and discover the city, get to know the parks and pubs. You can get to know the native people too. They are very friendly.

There  is a good transport system for exploring outside of the city and other parts of the country by bus and train. In addition there are cycle paths and cycle green ways. This is the best way for me to discover new places and enjoy the views of the natural environment. I have taken trips to Kinsale, a colourful sea town village in Cork and also Cobh, a small town with a beautiful cathedral.

I think I am improving my speaking everyday but also my listening. I can understand better and communicate and connect my ideas.  I find writing the most difficult; choosing words that fit better than others according to the context is complicated to me.

The classes are structured but also dynamic. There are different activities in the classes to get you to use all the skills you are developing. The teachers press you to improve every day.

I’ve been working in Cork as a kitchen porter in a restaurant. It is difficult to find a  job at first because employers look for people with good English but once you get a job it gets easier to find other jobs!

Working allows me to save money to go on trips and just live in the city and enjoy the life here. I hope to travel more around Ireland. The problem is trying to choose where to go. There are so many nice places to visit!

Veronica’s Story

My name is Veronica and I am from Spain.

I was thinking about learning English for many years. I’m a Radiographer Technician. I lost my job in Spain so I decided to take this opportunity to learn English abroad.

A friend of mine who is a teacher recommended I come to Ireland. Also, a little detail… last summer I was in my parents’ house. We were watching a TV programme which showed Cork and I liked the city so much I decided to move here.

Cork is very safe and easy to get around. In my case I’m lucky Irish people love Spanish people. I meet lots of people everyday and they always help me.

In my opinion the most beautiful part of Ireland is South West Cork e.g Baltimore, Clonakilty, Kinsale. I have also been to Killarney, Kerry, Dublin & Belfast.  It is easy to travel around Ireland from Cork.

I have never spoken in English before. I know more than I can speak! My grammar is better than other parts of my learning. I find trying to have a conversation and making myself understood is most challenging but I am improving every day.

I started in A1 level in September and after 10 months I am now in a Cambridge First (FCE) preparation class.

I hope the exam results and experience of studying abroad for nearly a year help me develop a new career in Spain when I go back.