Striking a balance is important, especially as an international student. Student Ambassador Hong Anh understands how it can be difficult to settle into your new life. She offers her 5 top tips to help you adjust to life here in Ireland!Moving to a new country is like sipping a good cup of coffee for the first time. It is bitter, with some sweetness, and it is unlike any chocolate you had tried as a kid. That one taste just makes you want more and more, and slowly but surely, you realise that you are now an adult! You understand the balance that bitter and sweet have, and are compelled by the delicate partnership.
Like how coffee keeps you awake, the excitement of new travels makes the night before a big journey
feel like forever. Two months ago, you were fresh out of high school, enjoying your summer and not knowing what was ahead. And today, with your passport and ticket in hand, you are ready for a new
journey. Well, at least that’s what people presume. Only you know that you are worried, and anxious that you won’t settle into this new place. You don’t know if you’ve packed enough clothes for the winter. You are anxious about all the complicated travel documents and in your head, there are hundreds of questions about whether or not you make the right choice. But trust me, even if there are challenges along the way, you will look back and understand how far you have come.
For more reassurance, I will give you a sneak peek into life in Ireland, or more specifically, in Galway! I hopefully can ease some of your worries or at least provide a realistic picture of what to expect once you come to Ireland.
I bet I am not the only one who dislikes the embarrassment and awkwardness of travelling to a new country. You have no idea what people around you are saying and it is easy to get confused about the street directions. But I realised that I made the right decision coming to Ireland because English is the official language, with Irish as a secondary language. Everyone here speaks English, with a little accent, but you get used to it very quickly. Although it may sound obvious, it really helps when you can communicate with local people effectively in a language you are already familiar with. So do take this into consideration!
2. Local people
Irish people are friendly and welcoming. They are always willing to give you a hand when you need it. If you are someone like me who always gets lost on the street, asking for help from the locals is a brilliant idea!
3. Daily Life
Be prepared to do a lot more cooking as you are now on your own! Luckily, you do not need to worry about how to find groceries because there are plenty of options when it comes to supermarkets, like Tesco, Lidl, Dunnes, and Aldi. But if you do need some more exotic ingredients, there are Asian ingredient shops that have a variety of more familiar food for you to choose from.
It’s quite rainy and cold in Galway especially during the winter season, hence, more practical clothes are preferable! A big puffy jacket, warm trousers, and umbrellas are definitely needed to keep you dry on a rainy day!
Just like no coffee can make you feel more drowsy than normal, homesickness is a definite challenge when studying abroad. I found plenty of things to do to cure it though! Hanging out with your friends, grabbing a coffee, getting a sweet treat or making yourself a comforting dish from home are all great ideas and have really helped me.
Hopefully, this gives you an insight into life in Ireland, and gives you some ways around concerns! I believe that you too can make the best out of your youth by excelling academically but still having fun and new experiences in a foreign country while meeting new people, and as the Irish say, ‘having some craic’.
Hong Anh is studying Medicine at NUIG.