Learning English and exploring the UK as a mature student
1 June, 2018
Miroslav Sekela, from Slovakia, recently took time out from his career to study at Kings Bournemouth for four months. As a mature student, he tells us what it was like living and learning in Bournemouth, making friends with the locals, and making the most of his time in the UK.
What course are you studying at Kings?
I am studying a General English course at Kings Bournemouth, concentrating on listening and speaking for the Special Interest Groups.
Why are you improving your English?
For years in Slovakia, I worked in recruiting and logistics training. After leaving that role I noticed a pattern in my interviews, they all wanted me to have a good knowledge of the English language. I was shocked as I had worked in recruiting and training for twelve years without English experience but it seemed to get a new job I would need it. When I return to Slovakia I hope my education will help me access a great new job role.
I never had the opportunity to study abroad when I was young, so now, after years of working, I wanted to have that experience. In fact, this is my first big trip abroad.
What made you decide to come to Kings and choose the course you are doing?
I spent a lot of time looking at different agents and choosing where I wanted to go. I narrowed it down to Bournemouth as it was a good place for me to engage in my hobbies. As a fan of beer festivals and trains, Dorset has lots to offer.
As a 41-year-old I understood I would be older than many of the students so I researched, through my agent, which school had the highest average age and that is how I discovered Kings.
How is the course going?
To be honest, at the start I was very worried about my pronunciation and had very little confidence in my speaking. I was a little intimated by my much younger and energetic class. I realise I came with unrealistic expectations, I thought I would learn everything in the first week but of course I didn't!
After 2 weeks I realised that I need to worry less about every little thing and, whilst still taking my studies seriously, not worry so much. I have fantastic teachers who treat students like equals, something that surprised me when first arriving as I was used to the stricter Slovak education style. I now appreciate that learning is a step by step procedure and you can’t learn perfect English in a week.
Where are you staying here?
I am staying in the Town Centre residence. I chose the residence over a host family, which I feel is more suitable to younger students. Due to age and nationalities differences I did feel a little out of place at the residence, they were nice but we have very different interests outside school. Luckily this made me want to go out and do more excursions. The time I did spend in the residence I spent doing things like baking.
Have you taken part in any of the extracurricular activities? If so, what has been the highlights?
I have tried to take part in as many excursions and extracurricular activities as I can. This may be my only chance to be in the UK so I don’t want to waste a single weekend. I have travelled to Stonehenge, Old Harry Rocks and London, amongst others. I visit the weekly conversation club in the school as I feel like speaking is my weak link, I also try and speak to as many natives on these activities as I can.
I have also travelled a lot outside of the school activity calendar. I recently spent a bank holiday weekend in London where I visited Greenwich and travelled down the Thames on a boat, as well as indulging in my favourite thing, trains!
Have you made any friends?
I have found myself becoming very friendly with some native speakers, who I met at a local beer festival. I was drinking this interesting green coloured beer and asked a nearby man if he could take my photo, from there we became friends. Most weekends I meet up with a group of native English men, we like to try out local pubs and beer festivals. I love speaking with the English natives as we can talk about the differences in cultures, politics and the economy.
What do you think of the school's location in Bournemouth?
I like Bournemouth. I have visited Swanage a few times, especially the train and ferry there. From Bournemouth it is very easy to access London via train. I also like the beach here and have participated in school barbecues there. I do find myself traveling away from Bournemouth most weekends as there is so much I want to see before I return to Slovakia.
Have you experienced other language schools?
In Slovakia I studied English for two months. It was just three hours a week. I haven't been to a school in 20 years so it was a culture shock for me to be here, at first.
What would you say to anyone considering coming to Kings to study?
I'd recommend Kings to everyone. The staff and teachers are so friendly and nice, they made me feel very welcome and at ease. I think that everyone, especially in their youth, should have an experience like this.