Because she was in her late 30s, and making a big change in her life, Alessandra felt that she may have been more focused than some younger students. It was a big decision to leave her job as a computer scientist in Brazil and she wanted to make the most of her time as an English language student.
Alessandra had not been a full-time student for 16 years, since she left university in Brazil, where she had studied Computer Science and People Management.
“I was really focused by the time I got here. I think that at my age, I knew what I wanted to do. I was very focused on improving my English over the six months and I think I have achieved that. I think I have proved a point to myself by moving abroad,” she says.
“When I came to Galway, I didn’t know anybody. It can be a bit scary, because it’s very different. Everything is different from my life in Brazil and you have new daily routines. I finished my university in 2003, so I hadn’t been in school for a long, long time!”
While she did not participate in GCI’s famous weekly Pub Night on Wednesdays, for example, she found plenty of things to do in Galway in the evenings.
In July, Alessandra had an amazing time for two weeks when she became a volunteer at the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF), getting involved in many shows over the two weeks of a festival which attracts visitors from all over the world.
“I had heard about the festival before, because I really love to volunteer. I used to volunteer in a lot of different organisations in Brazil and I was delighted when the festival asked students from the school to join them as volunteers,” she says.
“The arts festival was really different, but I was really surprised by how organised people were. The festival basically exists because of volunteers. I volunteered in many different places. I went to an African band in the Big Top and I worked at some of the art galleries.
“I helped out at an outdoor show in Eyre Square, which was amazing. Thousands of people helped to build gigantic cardboard constructions in the middle of the city and I got to meet so many people from all over the world. The installation was made by French people, so I got to practise my French as well!”