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Travelling within Europe with an Irish student visa

March 27, 2018 | By | 18 Comments

Interested in exploring Europe while you are an international student in Ireland? Chioma, our Nigerian and LIT Ambassador, visited Spain and in this blogs tells us all about her experience, from visas to hotels…

My first time to travel outside of my native Nigeria was to Ireland, one year before I decided to study for my Masters at the Limerick Institute of Technology. So, as far as international travels go, I am rather unaccomplished. That first trip to Dublin was brilliant, I touched on it briefly in a previous post, but what it also did was whet my appetite to see more of the world. So, as Christmas break 2017 drew near and I realised how long it was going to be, I knew it was the perfect time to travel somewhere new, and I chose Spain!

Malaga: yup, I had to sneak in a selfie with my fro just because, teehee!

Before I go on to share my Spanish experience, I should first tell you about travelling within Europe on an Irish student visa, that is after all the intent of this article…

Visas

If you require a visa to be in Ireland like I did, you very likely need a re-entry visa to return if you leave. You can find country specific information about re-entry visas, but whatever you do, make sure you can return before you leave. This cost me 100 euros because I applied for multiple entry and I got my passport back in two weeks.

Schengen countries require a separate visa. Yeah, you probably already know this and I kind of did too, but I did not quite realise how it would affect my visa needs until it was almost too late. Spain is part of Schengen and I needed to obtain a tourist visa from the Spanish Embassy in Dublin to visit. I initially thought being in Europe had me covered but it does not… This does not apply to every nationality, so make sure you check in good time and confirm every requirement before making any financial commitments to your trip.

The visa application process was easy enough, and cost about 100 euros, including a courier to have my passport delivered to me. Going up to Dublin for the submission was a hassle I was happy to avoid. I had my passport back exactly two weeks after.

Alhambra: view from atop one of the many Palaces. Not sure why my photographer decided to cut off my head…

Flights

Now, the interesting stuff. Ireland is home to Ryan Air; the airline that gives you the most Ah-mazing flying deals in the world. The key to unlocking the best deals is booking long before you fly, especially if you would be flying at peak periods like I did. You could get flights for as low as 20 euros! I did not book so early and I was flying during a really busy time, so my return flight came to a little over 200 Euros, still a good deal considering how much more it would have cost on other airlines. Moral of the story: book way ahead of time to pay less.

Be sure to buy travel insurance along with your flights if you would be needing a Schengen visa. I only got to know my student medical cover doesn’t qualify when I went to submit my documents, but the visa officer was kind enough to let me email an updated flight itinerary with insurance included to her.

Hotels

My travel companion has a long-standing relationship with hotels.com, so I left this part of the planning to her. She got us good deals on double-bed rooms at 4-star hotels that became even less when we split the bill. The most expensive of the three hotels we stayed at came to about 70 euros per night per person and the cheapest came to about 47 euros. Airbnb is an option if you have a tighter budget, my friend and I did splurge a little.

The first time I saw these (ham left to dry) was from the window of a store on our first day in Malaga and I thought they were handbags. I had said to my travel companion, “look, those are nice handbags!” and only when she looked at me like I had gone bonkers did I take a closer look. In my defense, I had sunglasses on and I was looking to buy a handbag!

Local transportation

I found transportation in Spain to be very convenient. I got a train from the airport to our hotel street for less than less 2 euros. Apart from when we moved from one city to another, my friend and I walked everywhere else; we were averaging 25 kilometres every single day! I had never walked that much, and it felt so good.

Now, the actual fun part; I loved Spain! The weather there was a much-needed escape from the cold in Ireland at that time of the year. I arrived in Malaga on the 28 of December, travelled to Granada on the 29 December, returned to Malaga on the 1 January and then back to Limerick on the 2 January!

One of the first things I noticed about these parts of Spain was the abundance of churches, they were beautiful and everywhere. Cities in Nigeria have been said to have too many churches, but I think Spain trumps us!

I also loved the decorations, of people’s homes and of restaurants and bars. It was not uncommon to see houses decorated from top to bottom with flower pots, it gave off very warm vibes.

However, my favourite things about Spain were the weather and the food. I could walk around the streets during the day with no coats on like I would do in Lagos, and I had never eaten as much olive oil in my entire life as I did in my few days in Spain, and I loved it. Then there was jamon (ham), so good on toast with fresh cheese, tomato puree, and drizzled with olive oil. And wine was so cheap, we were having bottles of red with dinner every night. It was fun times.

I could go on but this post is getting longer than intended so I will stop here. Comment below if you have any questions, and subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss my next post!

Till next post, love, peace and jamon slices!

Comments

  1. Afolabi

    Nice trip

  2. Viola

    Hello Chioma,

    Reading your blog has made up my mind to pick Ireland for my Masters.
    Now I will have to look up schools and would be needing your help for this if you don’t mind.
    The part where you mistook those hams for handbags got me cracking 😃😆

  3. Viola

    Hello Chioma,

    Reading your blog has made up my mind to pick Ireland for my Masters.

    I will have to look up schools and would be needing your help for this if you don’t mind.

    The part where you mistook those hams for handbags got me cracking 😃😆

    • Hello Viola,

      Thank you for your kind note, and I am happy to help!
      I am actually responding later because I was away on another trip, this time to the UK; covering Manchester, London and Doncaster 🙂

      Yes, those ‘ham-bags’ have become a running joke between my travelling companion and I :))

  4. Tomiwa

    Hello Chioma,
    I’m trying to make up my mind about where to pursue my masters and I’d like your thoughts about studying in Ireland.

    • Chioma Sylvia Okoye

      Hello Tomiwa, thank you for reading!
      I am enjoying my time in Ireland and happy I made the choice to come here. I am also doing a Master’s.

      Is there anything specific you would like to know?

      • Tomiwa

        I’ve done a bit of research and I kind of seem to like the prospects of studying in Ireland but I’m unconvinced about post-study opportunities

        • Hey hello Tomiwa,

          Ireland offers one year stay back option for undergrad students and two years for postgrad students.
          Students who decide to avail of this opportunity are expected to find a job in their field that pays them up to a certain threshold of yearly income.
          So yes, there are definitely post-study opportunities and many international students are availing of it.

          Cheers!

      • Chetta

        Hello Chioma
        Please I will be starting my masters in Ireland by September God willing i will love to know if i wish to visit Turkey or any European country do i need a visa for it please

  5. Jacqueline

    Hey girl, I just came across your blog this morning..very interesting! I’m looking to study in Ireland too. I have a question, what happens if you don’t get a job in your field within 2years? I want to take a course in finance. Any idea of the threshold of yearly income?

    • Chioma Sylvia Okoye

      Hi there Jacqueline,
      Apologies for the delay in responding to you.
      Students who don’t find a job in their field within the two years will unfortunately have to leave the country. You can find more information on this here: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Student%20Pathway.
      As for threshold of income for finance master’s holders you can find some useful information on Payscale.com. my initial search places it at between 37 and 43K per annum.

      Feel free to let me know if you need further input.

      Cheers!

  6. Ade

    Hello Chioma,

    Nice post and I must say, it was well written and made for a good read.

    I am actually in Dublin, pursuing my MBA – I arrived in February, 2018. I plan to travel to France and perhaps Belgium in the first half of 2019 for a week.

    Kindly give me insight on:

    1. How much I will need to present as Proof of Funds (in my bank account) as an international student?

    2. What other information do I need to ensure my Schengen tourist visa application is successful?

    Thanks a bunch!!! 🙂

  7. TOCHUKWU COLLINS

    Greetings to u Chioma,
    Reading through ur journey from choosing to study at Limerick to ur insightful trip experience to Spain have really made my day because i was just offered a conditional admission to study Quantity Survey in Civil Engineering (master’s degree) at same Limerick Institute of Technology . Sincerely, all u have shared with us about your trips are very very educative and insightful,
    However, as an Engineer and a tourist who would definitely like tour around Europe during my leisure time, i got confused where u did mention re-entry visa as a student and can i equally get more clearification of what u meant by “Be sure to buy travel insurance along with your flight if u will be needing a Schegen Visa…..please at what point do one need to buy the travel insurance? thanks in anticipation and remain blessed

  8. Janet

    Hello Chioma,
    It is nice reading your blog and it is really interesting and an eye-opener. I am presently in Galway, Ireland. I am about to start an MSc. course and I have a few personal questions to ask, it wouldn’t be bad connecting with you through any of your social media contacts. Please, how can I get to reach you?
    Thank you

  9. abiodun

    wow, that’s a lovely experience
    I am hoping to start my master soon in Ireland, but i will like to know if they are friendly people(Racism)
    How easy is it to get a job as an international student(part time job)
    Is it advisable to live in other state apart from dublin ?
    Thanks

  10. Anna Joe

    Hi Chioma,
    How long was your GNIB valid for when applying for a schengen visa to spain?

  11. annie

    so were you working when you got the visa for spain? because i am coming to dublin soon too by september and i want to be in france for my christmas holidays 2019 but i am not sure if i can get a visa as a fulltime student if i dont get a job by then.

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