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Adviser: Good morning. So, what can I do for you?
Maria: Well, it’s about the accommodation where I’m staying at the moment.
Adviser: First, can you give me your name and address, please?
Maria: Yes, I’m Maria Dominguez and the address is 12, Pine Tree Terrace.  Its in Westcliff. I’m staying with two other students. There’s actually four of us in the house – us three students and the lady who rents the house to us. 
Adviser: So, is there a problem?
Maria: Well, there are a few, actually. You know, I’m a first-year student and, though I lived away from home for a while when I was studying over the summer in Mexico City, I’ve never lived abroad, and it’s a big change for me.  The course is tough, but that’s not the main difficulty. I’m coping with that up till now anyway.
Adviser: The accommodation was arranged for you by our office, wasn’t it? It’s a nice place by the sea.
Maria: OK, but it’s difficult. There are only a few buses and it takes about 50 minutes.  It’s just so far away and there’s no way I can get back if I want to stay on after seven. And also the other thing is there’s nothing to do there. It’s basically just a village. All my friends stay on campus. [5,6]
Adviser: What about the girls you live with? Do you get on with them?
Maria: Well, when I see them, but one of them is hardly ever there. Mostly she stays in a house with friends – they’ve got plenty of extra space, you see. The other girl is quiet as a mouse and hardly ever leaves her room. The landlady’s friendly enough, though a bit forgetful and she doesn’t keep the place very clean. I don’t have any real problem with her as a person, though.
Adviser: I understand it’s rather far away, so I suppose you’d like us to find you a place in the halls of residence or closer by in the town.
Maria: That would be good. You did say in your brochure that most first-year students arc offered a place in halls.
Adviser: I think it actually said final-year students have priority there. They need the library facilities more for studying for their finals. Anyway, let’s see what we can do. Just a moment, I’ll check what might be free. Sometimes students drop out or move from halls, though we were full at the beginning of term. By the way, have you checked the student noticeboards?  You know there’s one in each of the four colleges, don’t you? There are often requests for people to share houses and it can be quite cheap.
Maria: No, I hadn’t thought of that but it’s a bit of a risk living with complete strangers.
Adviser: Now, I see there’s a room free in Hillside College.
Maria: That’s the one with the tall tower, right?
Adviser: That’s it.  It’s the smallest college and has a reputation for being quite fun. Oh, but it’s a shared room. Would you consider that?
Maria: That’s going to be a problem for studying, isn’t it? What if she plays music all the time? And maybe we won’t have anything in common.
Adviser: Maria. I see you’re studying history. So is this girl, Francesca. She’s Italian.
Maria: Well, at the moment I’m doing the general humanities course, which includes history but actually I’m planning to change to literature quite soon.  That’s not the thing, though. I really want a room on my own.
Adviser: Right. I’m afraid I don’t see any other openings. There’s nothing showing up on the computer, at least on campus.
Maria: Well, if I have to stay where I am now, I’m going to find it more and more depressing.
Adviser: Here’s one more thing we can try. The university owns several places on the Thanet Road and also by the west train station. Both of these are about a twenty-minute walk down the hill. They’re not the newest of buildings, but I could check for you. Can you come back tomorrow? Oh, no. That’s Saturday. What about Monday?
Maria: Yes, sure.  I’d really appreciate it if you could do something for me.
Adviser: Let’s hope so.
Steve: Hi, I’m Steve Penfold and I’m here today to tell you about my gap year, which I took about 20 years ago. Unlike many students these days who go travelling or get some work experience between school and university, I decided to do something completely different after finishing my degree.  I applied to work for a charity organisation. What it does is it sends people with particular skills to countries where those skills are needed. Apart from having some experience teaching English to summer-school students, I didn’t have any particularly useful skills, I thought, but luckily I was still accepted. I had to find the money for the flight, but you get free accommodation – I stayed with a family of five – and you do get paid, but not much. It’s a bit like pocket money – enough to get by.  I worked in an orphanage and taught English at a local school.
Where was I? Well, originally I was going to be sent to a village in India , but at the last minute the organisation decided to send me to Trinidad. Now, this is a fascinating place. It’s an island in the Caribbean. Well, in fact the country is actually two islands – the smaller one is called Tobago, which is connected somehow to the word tobacco.
Anyway, there I was, a young white guy living and working on an island which is mostly a mixture of descendants from Africa and India.  The Africans were originally brought over as slaves and the Indians came later as indentured workers. That means they agreed to come for a specific time, but many of them stayed. There are also some Trinidadians of Chinese and British origin, though the native inhabitants were basically wiped out by colonialisation. I, myself, felt completely accepted and had the time of my life.
The language everyone speaks is English, so there was no problem for me there, but some concepts don’t quite translate. They’re pure Trinidadian.  There’s the term ‘liming’ for example, which means sitting around watching the world go by. Also, there’s the famous carnival when the whole island is taken up in ‘playing mass’. For a whole month around February or March – it depends when Easter is – everyone’s busy preparing costumes, practising calypsos, soca and steel pan music and most importantly, partying. When the actual official carnival starts, it’s days of 24-hour dancing in the streets. In Trinidad its called ‘wining’. You’ve probably seen the sort of thing in the more famous carnival in Rio or even at the Notting Hill Carnival in London. Many people join bands, each one of which has a theme, for example the sea or jungle fever, and they have costumes designed and made to go with the theme. These can cost a 1,000 dollars for the king and queen of each band. They’re incredible. The whole city is a non-stop party zone, full of colour and sound. It’s serious too! The bands are in competition and the winner gets a million dollars. 
Sorry, I got a bit carried away with those memories. Back to my real job there. The orphanage was called St Augustine’s and that’s also the name of the place where it was, St Augustine, a town just outside the capital city, Port of Spain. I didn’t have any particular job description; just to be with the children and tell stories, sing songs and play games. Oh, and we also went camping in the jungle once.  I could tell you a few stories about that particular escapade!
Every time I arrived at the gate, kids would come running towards me shouting, with big smiles on their faces. The younger children seemed fascinated by my blond hair and loved to touch it as if it was something miraculous.
The English teaching I did two days a week in a primary school for six- to eleven-year-olds. The kids may have been poor but they all wore neat and clean uniforms and were so respectful and enthusiastic.  I’ve now been teaching for many years in different countries and I still think those were the best students I’ve ever taught.
What else did I do while I was there? I swam a lot – can you imagine what it’s like swimming with dolphins, and with pelicans diving into the sea right next to you? More seriously, I trained to be a Samaritan – that’s someone who listens and supports people who have problems with their lives. 
Overall, what I took from the experience was a sense of being in another culture, or rather cultures. As humans, we all share many characteristics, but we express ourselves in various ways. In Trinidad, there are lots of different communities and religions, and so many different kinds of festival to see: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, as well as some rather mysterious African traditions.  There are quite a few Rastafarians too. Trinidad is, as Americans are fond of saying of their own country, a melting pot, where everybody is greeted warmly.
Go and see for yourself. I’m not sure how it’s changed since I was there, but I’d love to find out.
Sonia: Great party last night. You should have come. But anyway. So, what have we got to do here? We’re supposed to fill this form in by ourselves but I’m sure it’s okay if we chat about it first, don’t you think?
Mattheus: Yeah, sure. So – there are 10 questions and we’ve got to tick numbers 1 to 5 for each question.  Five means really good. One is bad. Question number one: ‘Was the course well organised?’ We’ll give that a five, agree?
Sonia: Yep! No question about that! What does question 2 mean, though: ‘Was the teacher flexible?’ Is it good to be flexible?
Mattheus: Well, that means ‘was the teacher very strict?’…Or maybe she gave you more time to complete your assignment. Things like that.
Sonia: So for that question we should give her a five. She always gave us an extra day, didn’t she? And she wanted to know our opinions on things. We had great discussions.
Mattheus: Fair enough.  What about this one: ‘Was the teacher friendly and encouraging?’ I’m not sure about that. She was friendly to some students, but I think she had a problem with Mike and Alex, who were usually late. She did get a bit irritated with them sometimes.
Sonia: Yeah, we weren’t too happy about them either, though. I know it was a bit early, with classes starting at 8.30, but you choose if you want to sign up to them or not, so that’s no excuse really.
Mattheus: Yeah, they could have taken the evening classes if they didn’t want to wake up early in the morning.  Now what about these questions on the course books?
Sonia: Look, the business studies book was interesting, but I thought the human behaviour one was boring. 
Mattheus: Really? That’s the one I liked the most, perhaps because I want to study psychology. You want to become master of the universe, managing a huge multi-national company, don’t you?
Sonia: There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, you know! 
Mattheus: The best laid plans of mice and men…
Sonia: What’s that? Some sort of quote? Stop being so literary.
Mattheus: Let’s get on with question five. ‘Did you find the campus library a useful resource?’
Sonia: Well, most of the books I wanted had already been taken out, but the internet access was definitely useful. Let’s give that a four. 
Mattheus: Okay. And the staff there were always friendly and helpful.
Sonia: Now what’s this? You know they keep going on at us about how we don’t use the off-campus library enough. I suppose this question is to test if we know where things arc there. So, here’s a plan of the library that they want us to fill in. You use it more than me. I’ve only been there once, actually. You tell me.
Mattheus: Right, so as you go in, the librarians’ desk is on your right. Directly opposite is the section for new publications – new books the college has acquired. [27, F] Some of them are actually written by our own teachers, interestingly enough. Then there’s lots of seating and the computers. Behind that we’ve got the periodicals – newspapers and magazines. And that’s before the reference section – you know, with the books you can’t take out. [28, A]
Sonia: Dictionaries and encyclopaedias?
Mattheus: That sort of stuff.
Sonia: Now, I do know where the management section is. Its right at the end on the left, isn’t it? Just before the stairs up to the lecture theatre.
Mattheus: Err… no. Sorry. Management and business studies, along with marketing, are all as you said, at the back, but on the right. [29, D]
Sonia: Oh. So what’s on the left then?
Mattheus: That’s the fiction section. Or literature. Now if you want to photocopy something, where do you go?
Sonia: I think I remember. Isn’t it one of the rooms after the entrance on the right?
Mattheus: Yeah. Il’s between the multimedia room and the seminar room. [30, B] They’re all behind the librarians’ desk.
Sonia: What about the toilets?
Mattheus: For those, you have to go downstairs. That’s where the computer studies section is too. for some reason. Let’s get on with the next question…
Lecturer: Now today were going to be finding out about some of the less well-known, but still popular sports in the Emerald Isle – that’s Ireland, of course. Can you guess what they are? Well, there are these two lesser-played games, a form of rounders and Gaelic handball, but we’ll start with one which is perhaps over 3,000 years old, arriving in Ireland with the Celts, some claim. That may be a slight exaggeration but I consider it to be the fastest field game in the world and it goes by the name of hurling.  Well, that’s what it’s known as in the English-speaking world, anyway.
So what do you have to do? You’ve got 15 players on a team; one of them is the goalkeeper. Each one has a stick called a hurley. Here you are: I’ve brought mine along – had it since I was at school – this is what it looks like and basically you have to get this ball  – called a sliotar that’s S-L-I-O-T-A-R – so it’s not spelt the way it’s pronounced – you hit it into the net for three points or you can hit it over the net for one point.  The goal looks like the letter H with the net under the crossbar. The goalie has a bigger stick than the others to help keep the ball out.
You can also catch the sliotar and run with it for four steps maximum or bounce it on your stick. Is that clear to you all? I’ll be showing you a video a bit later so you can sec what a game actually looks like. You might like to think of it as a mixture of lacrosse, hockey and baseball. Oh, and it’s played by women too, but it goes by the name of camogie in that case.
I’ll give you a bit of the history, shall I, now? Generally the golden age of the game is considered to be the 18th century , but systematic rules were first agreed and drawn up at that great shrine of learning – Trinity College, Dublin in 1879 , founding the Irish Hurling Union, closely followed just a few years later by the formation of the Gaelic Athletics Association . With greater organisation last century, the All Ireland Hurling championship got off to a flying start , and I’m proud to say that my own native city of Cork has won more than 20 titles over the years. But then so have Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Is it only played in Ireland? No. Well, it is the only country with a national team at the moment , but you may be surprised to discover there are hurling clubs in London, as well as in America and Argentina, to name just a few.
The other game I’d like to take a little time to introduce you to is Gaelic football, which is played on the same pitch as hurling with the same number of players, but you have to get the ball over your opponents’ goalposts. And you can do that by kicking or punching the ball – however, you’re not supposed to do that to the players, I might add. Imagine it as a combination of soccer and basketball, but in my opinion it’s a more exciting spectacle than either of those.  Excuse my bias, if you will.
It’s also very popular with women – in fact there are more women’s teams in Ireland than for any other sport. Whether despite or because of the physical contact involved, I wouldn’t like to say. They do play a shorter game: 60 minutes, rather than the men’s 70. 
So, let’s have a look. If we can have the lights down, I’ll see if I can gel this technology to work.