Coming from Nigeria, Blaise Ben-Chika, or Beno to friends, has had to adjust to Ireland as well as adjusting to the situation the pandemic put students all around the world in. In his first blog post, he opens up about his experience in Ireland, as well as giving us a few helpful tips!

Hello to everyone reading and welcome to the very first post on this blog! Honestly, I have never done anything like this before in my entire existence but I guess there is a first time for everything ayyee? 

COVID-19 in general has been a bummer and particularly for one major reason: the reduced gathering of people, and this poses as the number one challenge I think, to student life especially to that of international students. Even though student life has gone on as normal as it could in these circumstances, I have personally found it to be quite challenging. When I first arrived in the country, about 30% of the excitement that coursed through my body was in getting to meet and interact with a host of new people from different parts of the country but, COVID-19 hindered those interactions drastically. To be fair, I did meet a good number of new people and friends but the number could have been a lot greater.

Due to the virus, about 60% of my student life was in the confines of my apartment room and being in a particular space for long periods of time at regular intervals can do damning things to the mind. That, coupled with homesickness from being in a new environment. But despite all the downs brought about by COVID-19, all was/is not doom and gloom at the end of the day concerning student life. In fact, I can pretty much say the virus has helped me appreciate my natural surroundings a lot more. It has encouraged me to take regular walks and go sightseeing which I regularly wouldn’t do and these have really helped me to adapt to Ireland.

Walk in the woods (photo: Andrei Turca from Pexels)

So, to any international student struggling a bit in Ireland or any country at all during these times, to you I say: 

TAKE A WALK! Explore, roam, wander and discover the beauties of the mighty beautiful green country of Ireland or the country you go to school in. It was in doing this that I discovered the beauty of Ireland and my oh my, what a beautiful country it is.  Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to people if you feel you need help. Contact your school’s student union, talk to a specialized person in that area; do anything but stay silent because the long-term effects are quite harmful.

EAT!! (but wisely I must add). This might sound silly but it’s a proven fact that eating helps reduce stress, so try out the different flavours, cuisines and dishes Ireland has to offer and enrich your taste buds. Well, that’s about it. It has been fun sharing my brief experience as a student in Ireland. Thanks and see you soon.

Blaise Ben-Chika is studying Manufacturing and Mechatronics Engineering at the Institute of Technology Tralee