The school of English
The school of English is a great idea to fit in. Really, I totally advice you to do it. The school doesn’t matter. I think they all pretty much the same. Don’t look on the comments on Internet (Google, Yelp, etc.) because it’s falsified by the schools. This is a strong business in big cities. Ask to other expatriates on Facebook’s groups, etc., to get views and find the rhythm/course/environment that fits you. The school is expensive and not everyone can afford it. But it offers a lot of benefits to fit in:
• Lessons/courses according to your needs (evening only, during the day, half-day, weekend)
• Sometimes the school also offers accommodation (you know where to sleep from the 1st night without booking an Airbnb)
• These accommodations are often shared. You will meet other students. Ideal to build friendships.
• The school is full of people like you. Foreigners, excited by expatriation, who will never judge you on your linguistic skill as they are in the same situation as you. The atmosphere is relax. Everybody want to make friends and discover the city. Anyway, it’s perfect to meet people, discuss about the different cultures, make new friends, visit the city in good company, etc. Being surrounded by nice people is key to succeed in your expatriation… Trust me!
• The school is managed by administrators and teachers who want (and are use to) meet foreigners. They will be very attentive to all your questions and will give a lot of advices. Recommendations by local people, it’s priceless!
• School trips are also a good way to make friends if you are too shy to talk to other students between lessons.
I decided to follow my classes with the Arena School of English.
The Halloween party
Nice anecdote. I arrived in Ireland on a 30th of October. Not started the course yet. Nothing. And the 31st is a public holiday in Ireland. Nothing much to do on my first day actually… And I needed to get into the dynamic. Meet people. Now! To not give me time to think. To hesitate. To have the blues, thinking about the fact I am abroad, without family and friends, alone.
Halloween is a big celebration that lasts several days with parades, costumes, events, etc.
However, the school was super cool. They have booked a room in a club in town. And the club was huge and awesome. Entirely redecorate for the occasion. I haven’t started the course yet but the school administrator had offered me to come to the party and meet my future schoolmates. Awesome! I’ve spent a nice night!
I was totally stressed at the beginning. 2nd day in Ireland. I had to speak English all night long whereas I couldn’t say a word… And then, it was great. I took a few accessories with me in my luggage. It appears they made a great costume. The next day, a lot of people recognized me. That was perfect to start discussions (I was shy at this time).
I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone (it was also the goal of my trip to Dublin), and it worked! So do it!
The English lessons
At the beginning, the lessons in this school were average. After a phone assessment when I registered to the school, the administrator assigned me to the B2 level (if it doesn’t ring a bell to you, I invite you to check the Cambridge tests). After only one week, hardworking student and enjoying challenges, I had a chat with an administrator and accepted to go to C1 level. I was shocked! The new teacher was absolutely meticulous. The group as well. I had a lot of difficulties. It was so hard, I thought about asking to go back to the B2 level for a while so I can progress easily. But I hold up. I worked hard and I finally improved my skills really quickly.
Good schools, from my point of view, mix exercises (grammar, syntax, culture, etc.), and don’t fill up the groups more than 12 students.
There is a lot of schools of English in Dublin. I am not going to give you the entire list. Check each of them and contact the ones with a formula that suits you. I told you it was a real business in the city so be careful and ask for feedback from previous students, rather than only trust the prices (an expensive school is not necessary better than a cheaper one). Also, don’t trust the comments on Internet neither (many of them are false).
The relationship with the host family
My host family had a partnership with the school of English. The school managed everything. I couldn’t choose the family and didn’t have any chat with them before coming. I only rented the bedroom for 1 month because I wanted to find an accommodation quite quickly. Moreover, accommodations managed by the school were costing a fortune (a true business I told you!).
My experience has been very positive. I know I was lucky to have this family. All members of the family were very friendly and open-minded, and also very autonomous. I could be alone when I wanted to and have a chat with each of them when I wanted to see people. The house was at a 5 minutes walk from the school, in a very good state, big, and located in a nice neighbourhood (15 minutes from the city centre). I was very lucky. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same situation for everybody. Some of my friends had to pay public transports (and still pay the same rent as me for the bedroom) because they were far from the school, and others hadn’t a welcoming family…
Accommodations are different regarding schools and families. Please see below the most common ones:
• Rent a bedroom (the formula I had): you just rent the bedroom and you take care of your own meals. You buy your food, etc. Autonomous!
• Full board bedroom: you are a member of the family. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyday. So if you want to sleep a little bit in the morning, you can’t. It’s complicated if you want to go out with your friends, etc. You can of course miss a meal but warn the family first (it’s the least you can do). But don’t expect neither an “a la carte” service. You won’t be served at another time.
• Bedroom in a shared house: the entire accommodation is rented to school students. Complete autonomy. I tried this option with my school but availabilities were all taken. Normal, this is the greatest option.
• Bedroom in a student accommodation: some schools succeed to get some remaining bedrooms, but it’s quite rare.