Newcomers to any country can feel lost and confused. Don’t worry, we can help! Guneet Kaur, our University College Dublin Ambassador shares 10 tips to help you hit the ground running as an international student in Ireland…
Find a house
This is important, especially if you do not have pre-arranged a campus accommodation. Dublin is a beautiful city dotted with colourful house doors. But, finding one for yourself can be a challenge. I suggest you arrive in Dublin before the term starts to search for your accommodation. As it’ll be your first time to Dublin, try finding a house near to your college. Areas near UCD are Donnybrook, Clonskeagh, and Stillorgan. Try not searching for a house near Blackrock as the bus services are not reliable to UCD. Try www.daft.ie and www.myhome.ie for rental options for houses, apartments, studios or rooms.
Book your appointment with the GNIB
This is another one you’ll like. Living in the land of Irish, you got to love the GARDA (Police). Any student coming from a country who needs an Irish visa needs to get a permit and renewal of visa. The issuance office has serious queues, and it’s better to get in early in the morning. My suggestion from the previous experience would be, that as soon as you land in Dublin, rush to the international office in your college to book an appointment or look forward to stand in lines outside the GNIB office in Dublin.
Explore the country
While you are here to study, Ireland is a magnificent tourist destination…lots to explore, and the countryside is especially mesmerising. Considering many new students land in Ireland in August and September (some of the best weather months) you have to travel around. Ireland is a beautiful country with lots to offer, mountains, lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean. Wohooo! Some places in Ireland to visit are Connmerra, Galway, Killarney and Cork, Also, Dublin as a city has a lot to offer. On a sunny weekend you can take a day trip to Dublin Bay or even explore the Dublin Mountains. Just hope for good weather lads!
Commute on Dublin Bus
As a student, it is criminal to waste money on cabs. Dublin Bus is the way to go. However, Dublin Bus ONLY accepts coins and they do not tender change. On the first day the bus driver nicely said ‘ Sorry love, only coins accepted’ and, I did not have change. To avoid this and avail of cheaper fares make sure you get your student Leap Card which will facilitate seamless travel.
Hide from the rain
…and sample an Irish pub! Traditional Irish pubs offer a unique experience. “Few pints??!” BEWARE that’s how it normally starts! Be touristy for the first few initial days and experience the Irish culture. Don’t forget to try out a pint of Guinness (the black stuff) in the Quays or The Brazen Head and enjoy live Irish country music. The Irish love to party and are a great hosts so immerse yourself in the atmosphere.
Adjust to the weather
Want to mix in with the Irish people? Talk about weather ALL the time. And if you don’t like the weather, wait for five minutes and it’ll change.
Weather in Ireland tests your patience.Sunny days in summer are a big relief, you witness long days. Winters are harsh and days are very short. It can be windy and rainy, but after some months you just get used to it.
Are you a shopaholic? If so, there’s plenty to indulge in here. My favourite is Pennys – if you’re anything like me it’ll be your shopping hub for the duration of your stay. With economical clothing and great housing stuff, you’ll get anything and everything here.
The main shopping streets are Henry Street (on the northside) and Grafton Street (on the southside) where you’ll find outlets from a high to low price range.
Top tip: Don’t forget to get a rain jacket once you arrive, as you’ll need it the most!
Talk the talk
How do you fit yourself in local culture? The only way is to use local lingo. With the Irish, you should know, everything is ‘grand’ with them. You’ll be using this word more often than anything else. Other things you’ll hear quite often are; ‘What’s the craic?’ simply meaning ‘what’s happening?’. Some other words include gaff (house); sound (good); shite (shit)!
Immerse yourself in Irish culture. Try exploring the city on your own. Dublin has a lot to offer with book festivals, dance festivals, concerts and more. Last year I volunteered to be a part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Look out for what’s happening in your city or town online and don’t be afraid to step out of home. Have a look at the site, www.happenings.ie for more information about events around the city – a great way to learn more about the local culture.
When you arrive in this beautiful city of Dublin, be a friendly citizen as you do arrive in a city where kind strangers will smile and say ‘hello’ to you at a crossing. The Irish are kind, happy-go-lucky people and very helpful. Don’t forget to reciprocate the same while you enjoy your stay here.
Student life is very exciting, especially if you are coming out of home for first time. You are on your own, in this new city or country. Excitement is in being an explorer. All these new things might appear scary at first but trust me, it’s all worth it! I’ve had a kickass time with the Irish in the past year, and I promise so will you.
Keep exploring! Sláinte! (Cheers!)