European students often come to OISE for courses as short as a week, but what of the experience of long-term students? We asked 25 year old Daniel from Taiwan about his 4 month stay.
Daniel arrived on a Saturday evening in mid-November after a 17 hour flight from Taipei. He was apprehensive before coming - during his 10 minute phone conversation with the school Principal on Skype, he expressed a need to build his confidence speaking English. The first weeks in the school were very intense with a lot of work right from the start. The focus of his stay was to be around IELTS, together with one other participant from Spain. This small group meant that they had to work hard, but that the results could be seen very quickly.
Daniel very much enjoyed the social activities in Cambridge too. He has observed that the quality of life in Cambridge is very good. With numerous beautiful museums, world famous colleges and of course the river, Cambridge is an ideal study location in the UK. As the town itself is quite small, he has also enjoyed many weekend visits to bigger cities such as Nottingham and London to see Big Ben, the London Eye, the British Museum and not to mention well-known markets. Being in Europe, he also took the opportunity to go further afield and went on a long weekend to Barcelona in Spain.
Although he hasn't played his favourite sport - basketball – more than a couple of times since getting here he has tried new activities: Over the Christmas period, he tried ice-skating (the city has a small rink installed centrally for a couple of months over the Christmas period). He laughed when I asked him how he got on and shook his head - "I just couldn't get the hang of it." he says ruefully. I asked him what other new experiences have stood out. He talked about new foods he has enjoyed such as fish and chips (he's a fan) as well as Arabic food which is popular in the UK. He has also become keen on Italian risotto. He has lived with the same host family during the whole 4 months and gets on very well with them. What's more, the father in the host family is both a good cook and a vegetarian so Daniel says his diet has been healthy yet delicious - a welcome contradiction to the stereotype of British food!
Already used to living away from home before coming here (he is a graduate who has done a year's national service as part of the presidential national guard), his stay with OISE in Britain is the longest he has spent abroad.
Daniel is determined to achieve a Band 7 in IELTS. I asked him why he had set himself this mark and he explained that a) he wanted to stretch his ability and b) he plans to do a Master's course in Marine Policy at Cardiff University - the only place to offer a course which covers sea-trading, carriage law and harbour facilities. He says if he manages to get a work visa after completing his Master's course, he'd like to spend a couple of years working in the UK before going home to Taipei to join the family business, a cargo shipping company which Daniel would like to expand to become global. Given his linguistic success and the network of international social contacts he has made while at OISE Cambridge, this seems an entirely viable ambition. Students Daniel has met here include a former Iraqi Minister of Education as well as the manager of a major European football team but when I ask Daniel who, so far, has been the most memorable for him, he names former classmate Miss Ukraine 2014!
You can find all the information about OISE Cambridge, the available courses, accommodation and travel options on the school page here.
This post was written by Sally, English teacher at OISE Cambridge.