Study abroad highs and lows
Danillo Frederico de Castro, our Brazilian Ambassador, is studying Chemical Engineering at University College Cork. He found his first few weeks as a student in Ireland a challenge but in no time he found his feet, and now is loving his study abroad experience!
The option of overseas study can be a scary prospect, especially, if like me, you have never travelled abroad alone before. Even for seasoned travellers, it can be a daunting choice, but trust me if you choose to study in Ireland you are in for a fantastic experience!
Study abroad worries…
I come from Brazil, and there are many Brazilian students like me studying here in Ireland; sharing in a similar study abroad experience. Not only was this my first time living away from Brazil, but when I first arrived in Ireland, my English was far from fluent. I can imagine some of you have many of the same questions and worries on your mind as I did when I decided to study abroad. I wondered if I would adapt quickly enough; if I would like the country, the city and the people; and if I would understand my classes and achieve good grades?! These were just a few of the things I was concerned about!
One of the first challenges I faced when researching my academic options was what country would I travel to. My needs included my destination being an English-speaking country, with receptive people, a reputation of excellence in education, and of course, a place that would offer the opportunity to travel around easily (studies first though!).
Ireland ticked all of my boxes, and University College Cork (UCC) was a perfect fit for me. Simply put, UCC is considered by most rankings as one of the best Irish universities. The university is one of the few that offer my course in Chemical Engineering, and it also has received some unique awards (more about that in my next blog!). I also wanted to live in a city as I come from São Paulo. My hometown holds more than twice the population of the whole of Ireland, so I wanted to make sure I kept my city lifestyle.
Tackling the first weeks abroad…
I have to confess I was terrified prior to my departure from Brazil, just one week before the start of my first semester at UCC. You might be wondering if the first few weeks are difficult? And, if so, does it get any easier?! Well, my answer would be yes and yes!
My first few days were really hard. Combine my difficulties with English, the Cork accent (they talk really fast and even admit it themselves), and getting to grips with a new city and culture, and you can imagine how hard it was! Grades, group and individual assignments, managing costs for the whole month, understanding the teachers and getting to grips with new technical terms were all concerns for me.
Luckily many, many people helped me over these first weeks, especially my teachers (they are incredibly helpful here, and this is one of my favourite things about studying in Ireland) and my fellow international students. Several welcome events were also organised by the university so that everyone could make friends and practice their English.
My life in Ireland now…
Did it get easier? YES! Now, I am really confident and happy. It took me about two months to get to this point but now things are great!
Now, I am studying modules of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Management as UCC offers total freedom in your academic choices and the option to choose modules from all areas. I’m enjoying good grades and able to manage my costs (in my opinion, excluding accommodation costs you can live well with €500 and have fun sometimes). I have the opportunity to travel in my free time, giving me the chance to visit the many beautiful attractions across the country. I play inline hockey, and UCC offer a range of sports that you can play for free – a great way to make new friends. And, I’m and saving money and keeping fit by cycling everywhere. The city is small so really easy to get around, and there is a great city bike rental option – just sign up a pay a small amount per year, pick up a bike in one of the many stations around Cork, and enjoy 30 minutes free! All in all, I’m having an amazing time!
So remember, study abroad can be difficult at the start but things do get so much better and you’ll find your confidence, maturity, and the ability to live by yourself! Enjoy it!