Seven years ago the vibrant Rafael joined us at Edinburgh School of English. Since then his English has allowed him to make lifelong friendships as well as a vast career change. Now a professional Cheese Expert on the panel of the ‘World Cheese Awards’ he came by to visit his old school and do a cheese tasting session for all our current students. It was a fantastic evening and Rafael is definitely inspirational in is approach to language learning, “no time to waste being shy or ashamed.”
Below he kindly spoke to us about his experiences learning English in Edinburgh.
What inspired you to come to Edinburgh to study English?
I had always wanted to have a good level of English, so, when I finished my first engineering career, I knew it was my only chance to learn English before I started working. The fact that I decided to learn it in Edinburgh it was just to be a bit different from all my friends that went always to England to learn English. For that reason, I thought that Scotland would be the best place to go to. Also, my homeland Tenerife and Scotland share the same flag, so I guess, everything was settled even before the time I was already born ;).
What excited you the most about learning English?
Being capable to meet people from all around the world and to find a job as an engineer abroad in case I’d ever need it.
What were some of the greatest challenges you faced?
The first challenge was to be myself, to interact with others, to have a normal conversation… All of this, because I was barely capable to speak in English (I was A2).
The second one was to learn fast, because I was coming here only for 4 weeks (though I ended up staying 12 weeks).
The third one was to hold my tears every Friday when my friends were leaving the school to go back home for good.
The fourth was to understand the Scottish accent and try to sound Scottish.
The fifth was to get C1 (unfortunately I got 57 points and I needed 60 out of 100, but not bad ^_^ ) in my last 6 weeks when the course for C1 was, if I remember well, between 12-16 weeks.
The sixth was to say good bye to those friends that remained, to the amazing teachers I had and to come back to the reality after living such a hell of a dream experience.
At Edinburgh school of English we believe that confidence is one of the most important factors to being a good communicator- you have plenty of it- what helped you the most to gain confidence in English?
The respect that the teachers always showed and my own personality were key to be opened, to understand that you’ll always commit mistakes and that no one is perfect. Apart from that, I was in a rush to learning English, so I had no time to waste in being shy or ashamed. Therefore, I was always participating and talking so the teachers could see my weakest points and correct me in order to improve day by day.
How did your success at the School of English influence your personal and professional life?
I became more independent and secure. It gave me the opportunity to make friends from all around the world. It opend my mind and made me more tolerant. It made me understand that people from different countries and cultures can get along very well just sharing one thing in common, the aim to learn English. But, because getting along with people has never been enough for me and Edinburgh School of English is special, and it always brings amazing and wonderful people from all around the world together, I made friends for life that after 7 years, we still meet or skype every now and then.
Professionally speaking I can say that it allowed me to be part of the Super Jury of the World Cheese Awards and ever since that moment, my future in the cheese industry began.
Anything else you want to add?
Thank you so much for trusting me and giving me the chance to do the first cheese tasting at the School!