Izabela started studying at Lexis English in December last year and she brought with her a very special energy. She was such a pleasure to have in the school that, before she left, I asked her if we could do an interview to find out more about her and her time at Lexis Byron Bay. It turned out that her trip was the culmination of a dream that she’d nurtured for many years. Read what she told me below:
- Why did you decide to come to Byron Bay to study English?
I started dreaming about coming to Australia when I was 15. My vision of Australia was a place full of beaches, sunshine, friendly people and a relaxed way of life. I also knew that having a good level of English would be important for my life – for getting a good job and for travelling and meeting people.
So, from the age of 17, I worked to save up to make this dream come true. I worked in restaurants, hotels and offices, sometimes four jobs at a time until, eventually, I earned enough money to pay for my entire trip myself.
I went to an agency to book my trip and they advised that I went to Sydney or the Gold Coast as it was easy to find work there. I nearly booked my trip but first decided to look at Google Earth. When I saw all the skyscrapers and the cars I was disappointed. This wasn’t the vision I’d had of Australia all these years.
So I sent messages to five different contacts I had that had been to Australia and asked them to advise where I should go. One friend told me about Byron Bay and said that 100% it was the place for me, as soon as I Googled it I knew she was right.
- How has your English improved and who/what helped with that?
Before I came to Australia, I wanted to make sure that I had a reasonable level of English so that I could really jump straight into the lifestyle here and also have more chance of finding a job straight away. My mum was so proud of me saving up for my trip all by myself and so, as a reward, she paid for me to have English conversations classes.
This was really useful but I was still thinking in Portuguese and then translating into English when I first arrived. However, once in Byron Bay, the necessity of talking English all the time makes you improve crazy fast. Plus the teachers at Lexis Byron Bay are great. They gave us phrases and conversation practices that were so relevant and which we could use in our real lives, immediately. Plus they corrected me, which people in the street don’t do, so I soon improved my accuracy too and got better and better.
I did General English and Cambridge FCE and found them both really useful. The method of teaching is really good and Paul, my Cambridge teacher, was so funny.
- What was it like living/working in Byron Bay?
I’m probably not the best person to ask because I can’t be objective. I’m simply in LOVE with Byron Bay. I’ve found myself here!
I really believe that Byron chooses people. I feel like I can allow myself to be me here and be and do everything I that wanted to be. I find people here are different. Everyone wants to live in a simple way and enjoy life in tune with nature, love and the things that are really important. For example, getting up early to share a sunrise.
Work-wise, I’ve had the same job since early January. I work at Trattoria Basiloco, an Italian and pizza restaurant in town. It’s a great job. Everyone is really nice and helpful. I didn’t find it difficult to get a job at all but I do think you need to be proactive. Choose the places you want to work and then make yourself known there. It helped for me that I was studying Cambridge too. It gives employers confidence that you have a pretty good level of English and will be able to communicate easily with the customers.
As for friends, I’ve met some wonderful people. Lexis Byron Bay is a really friendly environment so it’s easy to meet people straight away. Then, over time, some people I met grew to be really good friends. Now there is a group that I have such great connection with; with no problems or dramas. And I met them all through Lexis Byron Bay.
- What was/were the best thing/things about your trip?
It’s not a single experience or even something I did; it’s that I’ve discovered myself. Through this experience (even the difficult times such as when I was fined $319 for not wearing a bike helmet) I’ve learned what makes me happy, who I am and who I can be. And I’ve gained the confidence that I can do whatever I want.
Now I’ve finished my English studies, I’m going to stay one more year doing a massage course. This takes me up to September next year. I’m not sure what I’ll do then, but, at the moment, every day I say to someone how lucky we are to be here. When I’m watching the sunrise or swimming or playing guitar on the beach I feel such gratitude: to myself for giving me this opportunity; to the people I’ve met in Byron; and to Lexis Byron Bay for being such a huge part of this experience.
Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing or Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.