What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ireland? Chilean Student Ambassador, Maria Girones, learned more about Ireland than she ever could have imagined! Read about all of it in her first blog.

Hi there! I’m Maria Jose from Chile. I’m currently doing business at CCT College and I invite you to read a bit of my experience in Ireland. My journey in Ireland started back in March 2019. I was supposed to come for eight months to do an English course, and then go back home! I went back home to Chile, just to feel homesick for Ireland, and three months later… I was back!

Something in me had changed, I wasn’t the same person anymore. I wasn’t scared to be far away from home because I had found my second home. Being outside of your comfort zone is not easy, but if you are patient enough, you will be amazed by the things you learn and the experiences that you gain!

Experiencing the Dublin nightlife with friends (photo: Maria)

Here are 5 things I learned when I moved here that I definitely wouldn’t have expected!

Documents: IRP(Irish Residence Permit) Card and PPS number. If you come from a non-European country you will need to get a visa to remain in Ireland. It is so hard to get an appointment when you are applying for the first time. I had my visa appointment after 2 months of living here, once approved they sent to your house your IRP card. Without a visa, you cannot have a PPS number and without a PPS number, you cannot work. So if you are planning to come, consider this time for your budget.

Jobs: Ireland has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe, being €10.20 per hour. After I had all my papers ready I printed my CV, put on some nice clothes and I went to find a job. That exact day I was called and I had my first job, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. My first job here was in Kennedy´s a small Irish pub where I learned to understand the Irish accent and how to be a waitress.

The people: If there´s something that surprised me was how warm Irish people can be, they are so nice! My job as a waiter allowed me to talk every day with Irish people making connections, and because the pub was so small, most of the customers came every day! I was never mistreated or insecure about my English, people were so helpful. They were always willing to help me to improve and to learn, never in a bad way, always in a very caring way.

Pubs, everywhere!: According to the Irish Pub Company there are more than 10,000 pubs in Ireland. You never have to walk too far to find a pub, wherever you are in Ireland. Every place has its own concept, some of them can be sports pubs with a lot of TVs where you can watch your favourite sport, others might have live music, karaoke, fancy cocktails or craft beers… there are even places with Latin music!

Just one of Ireland’s many pubs! (photo: Maria)

Live music in the streets: With COVID-19 and lockdown it was difficult to find people singing in the streets but now they are returning and every time that I see someone in the street I just give myself 5 minutes to appreciate the moment and to hear some nice music.  

Live music! (photo: Maria)

I don’t want to make my list too long, but there are definitely many more things that every day makes me so impressed and very grateful to be here! 

Rainy Temple Bar (photo: Maria)

Coming to Ireland has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life and I would do it one million times again.  Thanks so much for your time reading. I would really appreciate it if you followed me on Instagram (@cotegirones) so you can get to know me better and so I can convince you to take the risk and come live the experience!

Maria is studying Business at CCT College Dublin.