Well, I wasn’t expecting that!

 

green and gray scissors

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My first week of being a student again is done and dusted…. and here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  1. Students eat rubbish! I can’t remember what I ate when I was 18, but for lunch this week, everywhere I looked I saw students with crisps, chocolate bars, curry chips, fizzy drinks. And me there eating my carrots with humous! My classmates would pull out a big packet of crisps for our 11 o’clock break, and I would be thinking ‘Oh no I really couldn’t handle eating crisps so early. They wouldn’t even fill me up anyway!’ I was surprised at how much rubbish they actually eat. In China I didn’t see my students eating rubbish because they had a huge canteen that supplied them with noodles and everything, so they were well catered for. The canteen in my college is tiny and only sells crisps, popcorn, sausage rolls and sandwich rolls. These 18 year olds can get away with eating whatever they like, whereas now I know that if I eat crisps and chocolate everyday I’ll put on weight! So they may enjoy it while they can!
  2. They aren’t as tired as students in China. In China, classes started at 8am at the college I worked for, with classes ending at 5:40pm or even 8:30pm for students having night classes. Then of course they go home and play computer games until 2am, so then they are half asleep coming to class. In my college class starts at 9am and the last class finishes at 3:30pm, so the students aren’t nearly as tired as the ones in China!
  3. They don’t use their phones as much. In China, it was a battle telling my students to put their phones away. They would listen to music in class, play games or watch basketball matches. However the students that are in my class here don’t use their phones at all! I looked around once and all of the students were just sitting there listening to the teacher. So it’s good to see that that really bad habit hasn’t caught on here!
  4. They are more into comfy clothes. Here the girls wear more baggy clothes and they don’t flaunt their bodies as much as in China. They wear tracksuits more and really just dress for the weather. If it’s cold they wear big jumpers to keep themselves warm. In China they wear more stylish outfits and they sometimes wear extremely short skirts! Even if it’s freezing they will still have a dress on!
  5. They are immature. I can’t really compare in China because I wasn’t able to have more than a basic conversation with my students, but here I realise it more because I just can’t talk to them about more mature topics like Brexit or the daily antics of Trump! Because they don’t have much life experience, they are limited in what to talk about. I really miss being able to have an adult conversation at break time, especially when one of my classmates asks me if one of the boys in our class likes her?! Haha it’s very hard to get excited when they tell me what they ate for dinner yesterday! So for me that is a problem that I didn’t anticipate. I think this has to be the most annoying thing; they don’t seem to want to know about their classmates or anything like that, whereas for me, I’m interested in hearing about peoples lives and their opinions on this and that.
  6. Teachers are late. In China we would literally have to run to class if we were going to be 10 seconds late! And letting them finish early was a definite no no! (We let them go early if we could get away with it though!) But in my college now, our teachers sometimes stroll into class 5 minutes late. Maybe it’s different in different schools both in China and Ireland, but it feels weird having to wait for the teacher to come, meanwhile in China I was pretty much always the first to class.
  7. They also like sitting at the back of the class. In China I hated when the students would sit at the back and leave the first two rows empty. One because they are just too far away, and two I really didn’t like having to shout all the way to the back! At least when they sit closer to me then I didn’t have to raise my voice. In Ireland it’s the exact same! They all run for the back seats, whereas I sit at the front now. When I was 18 I was the exact same (Keep as far away from the teacher as possible!!) but now I really don’t care. I don’t plan on using my phone and I don’t plan on causing trouble, so there’s no reason for me to sit at the back. When I was 18 I thought ‘Hehe I’ll sit at the back so the teacher won’t see me and ask me something….she won’t even know I’m here hehe’ Now I think ‘Mmm they are lazy ones, I’ll make sure to ask them plenty of questions.’

So these are a few things that I’ve noticed on my first week back. Maybe I will venture into Brexit during break to see what my classmates think about it.

I won’t be surprised if I get “I don’t really know anything about it”

Aisling

 

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I Feel Like A Child!

boy in brown hoodie carrying red backpack while walking on dirt road near tall trees

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My last posts were about going for an interview for a tourism course! So anyway, I got a place and went for the first meeting with all the other students who were doing different courses. I got my timetable (it’ll most likely change they said) and I saw the other students that will be in my class.

And I was right. I am most definitely the oldest out of them all! So I don’t really know how to feel about this! I saw that there were other mature students there so I know I’m not the oldest out of the whole class year, but still… it’s a bit unnerving.

So today I had to go to the school and get my student email and my student card. And Oh My God I felt like I was 18 all over again and couldn’t do anything!

Firstly, when the teacher said “Good morning” there was a grumble back. She looked around and raised her voice “GOOD MORNING!”.

This is EXACTLY what I had to do when I was teaching my 18 year olds in the University in China. (At 8 o’clock, 10 o’clock….. and pretty much at the beginning of every class they were half asleep)

Except now I’m part of these 18 year olds!

AAGGHH!

It’s very unnerving! I was the most responsible person and the boss of an entire classroom in China, and now I’m a student having to listen and take orders from a teacher. It’s quite hard to adapt!

Next, we were brought into a computer room and we were told how to sign up for our emails and that. We were literally told step by step how to log in, how to click on the Google Chrome, how to put our details in. How to sign out. 

I know all this stuff, and if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll figure it out by their step by step leaflet they gave us all about how to log in.

I don’t need to be babied around.

Then to add to this babying, I didn’t have my page filling the whole screen (because it was fine the way it was), and a teacher came over and said “You know if you click that square button on the top you can make the screen bigger”.

I Know.

But, I politely said thanks and clicked it. But honestly, this whole morning I felt like I was 18 again and having to have teachers to help me.

I’m pretty sure the teachers were like this when I started studying my BA degree when I was 18, but now that I’m older I really can see how I’ve become more mature.

But anyway, I start classes on Monday so we’ll see how that day goes. But I suppose one good thing is that maybe the teacher thought I actually was 18! Because If I was the teacher and saw a near 30 year old I would expect them to know that the square button makes the page bigger.

Aisling

I got accepted, but….

man beside flat screen television with photos background

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My last blog talked about how I was going for an interview for a tourism course and thankfully I got accepted. I just paid the fee to secure my place, so I’m now a student once again! I’m happy in one sense but I’m also a bit nervous about it all.

You see this course is usually for younger students that are just out of school; they don’t know what they want to do yet so they do a course like this in order for them to see what they would be interested in, or maybe they didn’t get the points needed for their chosen course in University, so they do a course in the college I will attend in order to get the points necessary for the next year they apply. They usually wouldn’t even have done a University degree yet, unlike me!

And also unlike me, they wouldn’t be 29 doing a course. More like 18!

So I’m 100% sure that I will be the oldest in the whole class! I’m trying not to let this bother me; my sister also done beauty/massage course with this college and she was 30 doing it. She done two courses. The first one was makeup and beauty (because she was 100% certain she wanted to work in beauty). She told me she was the oldest in the class and that her classmates ‘were very immature’ and she put it!

She ended up not liking the beauty aspect of the course after all, so then she spent another year learning massage, reiki, reflexology, and she loved this! She had to do 2 weeks work experience which she found in a hotel, and I mean she literally just finished the course when the hotel rang her up and asked her to go in for an interview! They rang her!! She successfully got the job and now she is loving it and really enjoys working in a Spa. For my sister, doing the course in the college was definitely the right thing for her, so I’m hoping that something like that will happen to me.

I’m just afraid in case I put in the year doing the course and then I’m stuck once more not being able to get a job. I will be 30 when I finish, and yeah, if I was 23/24 even 25 and I decided to do a course that would be ok, but now I feel I kind of should have my life figured out by now!

Plus I’m going to be spending a year learning with 17/18 year olds. (I taught that age in China!)

But I know I also need to do the course even just for my mind. I’m going crazy here doing nothing. At least in Mexico I was busy studying Spanish, but in Ireland It’s more difficult to study it because I don’t actually need it, so doing the course is half about just keeping me busy and occupied!

So I suppose now this blog will now be about my course and what that entails for the next year!

So stay tuned if you want to see what happens with my no idea what I’m doing, sure I may as well do a course and see what happens life!

Aisling

 

I Have My Course Interview Tomorrow

two person sitting on sofa

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So tomorrow I have an interview for a course that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. It’s a 1 year tourism course where you learn about tourism, cabin crew, health and safety, work experience, reception skills and about the Amadeus system. Tour agents use this system to book flights and things for customers.

I’ve been thinking about doing it since I was in Mexico and I think at the moment it’s the best option for me. I was looking at other things such as digital marketing because at the moment there is a high demand for this type of job, and I really did try and get interested in doing a course like that, but I just couldn’t get excited about it. I know in the tourism sector you don’t make a lot of money, but I’m pretty sure I would enjoy working in that area!

Apparently it’s quite an informal interview so I shouldn’t be too nervous about it. I’m more nervous at the fact that apparently the courses are in high demand, so I’m more worried in case I don’t get it. I get all excited about the prospect of doing the course, and then I get the disappointing news that I didn’t get accepted. If I don’t get accepted I will have to think of my next plan, because I’m going crazy not doing anything here! At least with the course it would keep me busy and I would also gain important skills.

So we’ll see what happens tomorrow and if they will accept me onto the course. And if not, I’ll have to start thinking of plan B!

Aisling

I’m Going To Try Again

person doing thumbs up

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When I first arrived here in October, I wrote a blog about how I joined a Spanish class in a University; 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. I explained how I didn’t enjoy the class and I didn’t want to continue going to it. You can read about it here: No, It Didn’t Go Well

So anyway, I ended up not going to the classes and I just studied on my own for the past 5 months. I began to get frustrated with my lack of progress and got angry with myself because I just can’t learn the language, so there were days where I really did want to just quit!

I started realising that in order to improve my Spanish, I’d have to go back to having Spanish classes. I guess the first experience just kind of put me off going to classes. I really didn’t enjoy myself, I didn’t particularly like the teacher, and I was apprehensive about going to another one and it ended up the same. So that’s why I never tried again.

Plus they are just SO expensive! I wanted to come to Mexico to learn the language, I come, and then I realise I can’t even join any because they are too expensive. That annoyed me as well, I can’t even go to to classes because I can’t afford it.

So I started looking around online for private companies and of course there a loads. There’s one literally down the road from me, but of course I can’t afford to go.

While we were driving we saw a language school that we decided to look at. It’s about €11 for 1 hour (still expensive I might add) but I don’t have to pay for 20 hours a week like in the other schools.

We decided to go for a try class of 15 minutes to see what it was like. The house is nice with a good atmosphere, plus they have a cute puppy and a very fat cat sleeping in the porch. (We thought it was pregnant but it’s actually a male).

I met the teacher and she asked me a few things about myself and what she would be teaching me. She said that she plans on doing conversation exercises, which I definitely need. I really like the teacher and I was very happy with the short class.

And……

One thing that I do realise…….. I have improved since October and my first try class with the other teacher!

In my first experience, I could hardly speak; I didn’t know the conjugations of verbs whatsoever, I didn’t understand pretty much any of her questions, and I could hardly string a basic sentence together about myself.

This time round it was a totally different experience; I could understand pretty much all of what the teacher asked me, I was able to conjugate some verbs (I’m still quite terrible at them though), I could easily explain my life in China, what I did, where I lived, about my husband, and it was just shocking that I was actually able to talk to her in a conversation!

During it, I was thinking to myself “God I’m actually talking to her….. I can hold a conversation with her…. I definitely wasn’t able to do this with the first class I had in October…. I have improved!”

I know I would have improved faster if I went to classes, but with the wedding coming up, the lack of jobs for both of us, expenses that we didn’t count on having… I just didn’t want to spend over €400 a week for classes. I just can’t afford it.

So with this current teacher, I go for 2 hours a week. It’s definitely not as good as 20 hours, but it’s something at least. Maybe when I get a job I’ll be able to try one of those immersion classes.

But for now, 2 hours makes me more than happy!

Aisling

Learning Spanish Routine; Updated

So a few weeks ago I posted about how I study Spanish and what my routine was. Well, it has sort of changed since that time; I realised some methods just weren’t working, so I’ve adapted it and I feel it is helping me more. Click the link to find my old post: Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

In the morning I’d usually do 2 wheels from Duolingo. It’s not too taxing for me in the morning and I like seeing how my wheels change colour when I’ve studied them. I’m going down my tree turning every wheel one colour, so the whole tree will be green/blue….. Then I go back up to the top and start turning them another colour. It depends on the theme/ grammar point in each wheel, but usually 2 wheels will take me between 30-45 minutes to complete. (Especially the harder ones which are lower on the tree, also if I keep getting them wrong).

(UPDATED): I’m still doing my Duolingo, but I’m not doing 2 wheels anymore to make them change colour. On level 2, you have to do the same wheel 8 times, so instead, what I’m doing now is just 1/8 of the wheel, then moving to another wheel. So I do 5 wheels instead of just 1 or 2. I thought it got boring doing the same exercise 8 times in a row.

I also sometimes read some Duolingo Stories, but these are really when I’m in the mood. I don’t feel like they help me much for studying, but some stories are interesting to read.

Then we usually have lunch and I try and speak Spanish, but usually I just eat in silence because I’m not particularly talkative even in English! But this is a good time for some listening practice, as my fiancé and his parents LOVE to talk, so that’s good for my listening! I know I need to work on this though, so I’ll try and make an extra effort in speaking during this time.

I find that after lunch is the most difficult time to study. I’m tired (maybe due to lunch) and just want to take a nap really! So I end up usually just procrastinating during the hours of 2pm-4pm. So again, another thing I need to improve on.

Later on in the afternoon I sort of get my energy back up again and I start studying grammar. I have one book called ‘Collins, easy learning; Spanish Grammar & Practice’ and it teaches basic spanish grammar. What I like to do is read every thing that I’ve studied before in the book, and then start a new grammar point. I try and understand it and then do some written exercises which are in the book. I get my fiancé to go through them and explain to me if I got something wrong.

(UPDATED): I’ve sort of given up on the grammar book for the moment. There are still a lot of grammar points I can’t get my head around, so sometimes I’ll have a look at it when I want, but I don’t study from it as much now.

I have another easier book to use which I switch back and forth. This one is a classroom based book with dialogues and what not.

It’s starting to get dark outside now and I move onto something else. I’ve set each day of the week (bar 1) where I learn 10 new words . So maybe on Monday I look at my calendar and see I have to learn nouns, so I learn 10 nouns for that day. I have 5 things to learn; nouns, adjectives, verbs, tenses and tense conjugations. So first I will learn my nouns, then I will review everything that I’ve learned from these 5 categories. For example,  I’ve lots of nouns that I’ve already learned so I go back to the beginning and re-read them all. Sometimes It’s boring but I realised I remember pretty much all of them just by reading them everyday.

The same goes for adjectives and what not.  I think maybe I could push to 20 words per day, so I think I might slowly increase my new vocab. At the beginning I was learning 30 words everyday and by the end, having to learn so many made me dread that time of day! So now 10 is very easy for me.

So all that takes me a while to do, but It really does help me. I’m not stressing myself if I forget an adjective or tense, because I know I’ll review them tomorrow and the next day, so they will stick one day!

(UPDATED): I upped it again to 30 words but(once again) it got too much for me. For the moment I’m not learning new words.

After this, I might dabble a bit with some listening practice by watching YouTube videos. I usually do this sporadically during the day.

Then, I have a list of questions in Spanish on my computer and I have to write an answer and learn them off by heart. The latest one I learned was ‘Que hiciste ayer?’ …’What did you do yesterday?’. So I try and write it in spanish, and then my fiancé comes and corrects the mistakes. It’s great having him nearby to fix all of my errors! After that I try and learn every sentence off by heart, until I know the whole answer. Sometimes It’s difficult as I’m using tenses that I’ve haven’t studied yet, but I don’t want simple answers, I want answers that are complicated and so I learn new vocab and tenses.

(UPDATED) Although I enjoyed writing out the sentences to the questions, I felt like I just wasn’t remembering the phrases. I would need to read and re-read them over and over, and I just couldn’t remember them. So I’ve realised this wasn’t the most useful way for me to learn.

Sometime during the evening I try and spend an hour speaking with my fiancé about a topic in Spanish. I’m grateful he takes the time out to help me with my spanish, as he’s busy doing his own things.

I might also use another book which is an Irish exam paper. There are two levels, higher and ordinary,  with higher level being more difficult. In it there are exam papers that student’s do for their Leaving Cert to get into University. Every practice exam paper has stories to read and then questions to answer underneath. I enjoy doing this and I can notice they are getting easier to read, especially when I remember reading them while I was in China!

Finally, I like to read at night so I downloaded some free spanish kindle books to read. I really enjoy reading so this isn’t a chore for me at all, unless it’s super difficult! I’ve watched some tv shows in Spanish with the family but I lose interest after a while because I just don’t understand anything. Watching a film in Spanish that I’ve already seen before in English helps though, as I already know what it’s about so it’s not as bad. Plus sometimes a programme/film will be in English with Spanish subtitles, which I would rather not watch!

So I kept some of the methods from my previous and got rid of others. Below are 4 more methods that I’ve started using!

One of the things that surprised me a lot was how much I enjoy writing a diary in Spanish. I usually write one page and a half about what I did yesterday, what I plan to do, my feelings…. you know, stuff you’d put in a diary. It’s helped me a lot and it’s not a chore to do at all. It helps me to practice the conjugations and I have noticed my writing is improving. So that’s one thing I really like doing now.

Recently I’ve started writing 3 sentences with a verb/ adjective or noun I’ve chosen. I’ve just started this, but I think I may stick to writing sentences using just a verb instead of using adjectives and nouns. I can practice with the conjugations of the verbs and that will help me to remember them. I enjoy doing this also.

I’ve subscribed to lots of Spanish speakers YouTube accounts. Tonnes are about them being AuPairs and moving to a different country and telling their experiences. Some of them speak slow while others speak very fast, so I think it’s really good listening practice and it’s ‘everyday’ Spanish that I’m listening to.

Finally, I’ve forgotten that I used to use Memrise to study Chinese, so I’ve picked that back up again and I’ve started using it. I usually do this after I’ve done my Duolingo. I like that Memrise has full, and often very useful sentences that you practice.

So, that’s it, another spanish routine! A few weeks ago I was studying quite a lot, but now I usually don’t do all that I’ve mentioned in one day. I’ve stressed myself out too much so I just do what I feel like doing. Maybe I’ll only do 2 things from the list but I just need a break and not to push myself too hard.

Let me know if you use any of these methods while studying a language and if they are helpful!

Aisling

Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

coffee cup notebook pen

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I’ve been in Mexico since October and I’ve tried to keep studying my Spanish and talking in Spanish as much as I can. But it’s hard sometimes!

Usually my daily routine goes like this:

In the morning I’d usually do 2 wheels from Duolingo. It’s not too taxing for me in the morning and I like seeing how my wheels change colour when I’ve studied them. I’m going down my tree turning every wheel one colour, so the whole tree will be green/blue….. Then I go back up to the top and start turning them another colour. It depends on the theme/ grammar point in each wheel, but usually 2 wheels will take me between 30-45 minutes to complete. (Especially the harder ones which are lower on the tree, also if I keep getting them wrong).

I also sometimes read some Duolingo Stories, but these are really when I’m in the mood. I don’t feel like they help me much for studying, but some stories are interesting to read. 

Then we usually have lunch and I try and speak Spanish, but usually I just eat in silence because I’m not particularly talkative even in English! But this is a good time for some listening practice, as my fiancé and his parents LOVE to talk, so that’s good for my listening! I know I need to work on this though, so I’ll try and make an extra effort in speaking during this time. 

I find that after lunch is the most difficult time to study. I’m tired (maybe due to lunch) and just want to take a nap really! So I end up usually just procrastinating during the hours of 2pm-4pm. So again, another thing I need to improve on. 

Later on in the afternoon I sort of get my energy back up again and I start studying grammar. I have one book called ‘Collins, easy learning; Spanish Grammar & Practice’ and it teaches basic spanish grammar. What I like to do is read every thing that I’ve studied before in the book, and then start a new grammar point. I try and understand it and then do some written exercises which are in the book. I get my fiancé to go through them and explain to me if I got something wrong. 

I have another easier book to use which I switch back and forth. This one is a classroom based book with dialogues and what not. 

It’s starting to get dark outside now and I move onto something else. I’ve set each day of the week (bar 1) where I learn 10 new words . So maybe on Monday I look at my calendar and see I have to learn nouns, so I learn 10 nouns for that day. I have 5 things to learn; nouns, adjectives, verbs, tenses and tense conjugations. So first I will learn my nouns, then I will review everything that I’ve learned from these 5 categories. For example,  I’ve lots of nouns that I’ve already learned so I go back to the beginning and re-read them all. Sometimes It’s boring but I realised I remember pretty much all of them just by reading them everyday. 

The same goes for adjectives and what not.  I think maybe I could push to 20 words per day, so I think I might slowly increase my new vocab. At the beginning I was learning 30 words everyday and by the end, having to learn so many made me dread that time of day! So now 10 is very easy for me. 

So all that takes me a while to do, but It really does help me. I’m not stressing myself if I forget an adjective or tense, because I know I’ll review them tomorrow and the next day, so they will stick one day!

After this, I might dabble a bit with some listening practice by watching YouTube videos. I usually do this sporadically during the day. 

Then, I have a list of questions in Spanish on my computer and I have to write an answer and learn them off by heart. The latest one I learned was ‘Que hiciste ayer?’ …’What did you do yesterday?’. So I try and write it in spanish, and then my fiancé comes and corrects the mistakes. It’s great having him nearby to fix all of my errors! After that I try and learn every sentence off by heart, until I know the whole answer. Sometimes It’s difficult as I’m using tenses that I’ve haven’t studied yet, but I don’t want simple answers, I want answers that are complicated and so I learn new vocab and tenses. 

Sometime during the evening I try and spend an hour speaking with my fiancé about a topic in Spanish. I’m grateful he takes the time out to help me with my spanish, as he’s busy doing his own things. 

I might also use another book which is an Irish exam paper. There are two levels, higher and ordinary,  with higher level being more difficult. In it there are exam papers that student’s do for their Leaving Cert to get into University. Every practice exam paper has stories to read and then questions to answer underneath. I enjoy doing this and I can notice they are getting easier to read, especially when I remember reading them while I was in China! 

Finally, I like to read at night so I downloaded some free spanish kindle books to read. I really enjoy reading so this isn’t a chore for me at all, unless it’s super difficult! I’ve watched some tv shows in Spanish with the family but I lose interest after a while because I just don’t understand anything. Watching a film in Spanish that I’ve already seen before in English helps though, as I already know what it’s about so it’s not as bad. Plus sometimes a programme/film will be in English with Spanish subtitles, which I would rather not watch! 

So anyway, theres my day of learning Spanish. I try and speak Spanish throughout the day but I know I need to stick in extra speaking time, but it’s difficult as I’m not a lover of talking. I know I’d improve faster if I spoke more, so I’ll try and make an extra effort with that. 

Aisling