How did you improve your English?
Mio arrived in Galway with an Intermediate (B1) level of English. She made friends instantly and stayed with a very friendly host family. As her English improved, she felt confident enough to look for a job as a waitress in a restaurant.
“In the first few weeks, I stayed with a host family. I always talked to my host mother and she always cooked traditional Irish food for me, especially the Irish stew. She has four children, but they are older than me and they have left home. I loved living with my Irish host family,” she says.
“Sometimes the host mother would have to repeat herself or she would write things down for me. She was very patient with me and really helped me with my English. I love the experience of living with Irish people and experiencing Irish culture.”
In her first few weeks at GCI Mio concentrated on her homework and improving her English. She did not go out at night much but, as her English improved, she became a big fan of Galway’s thriving night scene.
“In the first month, I didn’t go to the pub a lot. I was tired after I arrived and I was studying English a lot. But as time went on, I started to enjoy going out socialising. I never missed the GCI Pub Night,” she says.
“My host mother said that going to the pub was like studying, because it was a great way to meet people. I went to the pub with other students. I don’t have any Japanese friends in Galway so far, so I had to make friends with students from other countries!”
Why did you choose Galway?
Mio is really glad she heeded her friend’s advice by choosing Galway over Dublin as her base for a year away from home. She is happy to be living in a smaller city, where the people are more relaxed than in the capital.
She finds the people in Galway friendly, they have more time for a conversation, and her Irish neighbours shout out “Hi Mio!” as she makes her way to and from school each day. She has become a little bit of a legend in her neighbourhood!
“Dublin and Galway are different. When I went to Dublin for weekends, I found that people were a little colder. It’s just a bigger city. They were in more of a hurry. But in Galway, around my house, people say “hi” to me all the time,” she says.
“Even my neighbours on the street where I live stop and asked me things and help me by teaching me things. It’s very friendly in Galway. Everybody seems to know my name!”
She shares a WhatsApp group with other international students, from Korea, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, France, and Belgium; and they use social media to arrange nights out in city centre pubs.