“Ireland is everything that I had imagined and expected it would be.” Ashish Sharma from India took the risk of leaving a well-paid job at home to take on post-graduate studies at Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. The experience has been life-changing.

Since my college days, I’d wanted to do an international degree but was never too sure where to start. After my undergraduate studies, I secured an amazing job with one of the best MNCs in the hotel industry. My career kicked off well when I secured two promotions in three years. Despite faring so well initially, however, I’d always felt there was a gap to fill. Very soon, I found myself leaning towards a master’s degree of international repute.

The stakes were high as I would be leaving a comfortable job and setting out on a new endeavour, so the thought of studying again gave me cold feet. But a quote I’d read a few years previously had left an indelible mark: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney. I decided that I can get where I want to go only if I dare to try.

And so my journey to Higher Studies started in earnest with research last year, around November. I was looking for a fast-track degree with a one-year course, and Europe was the obvious choice because of the shorter-term master’s programmes it has to offer to people like me. I compared the standards and cost of living and looked at the quality of education, and concluded that Ireland was my best choice. I was seeking a course in the same field but with a business component, and luckily I found a course at Shannon College of Hotel Management which offered both Hospitality and Business components in it. One of the reasons I chose Ireland was the two-year stay-back work visa option, which means a return on investment after completing the course.

Swapping my comfort zone for new beginnings

Leaving a well-paid job and my family and country wasn’t easy, but I was determined to study further and was ready to go ahead with my plan. It was all for future gain, and I was sure I’d be a better version of myself afterwards. With that thought in mind, I flew from New Delhi to Dublin, swapping my comfort zone and the bubble of home for a fresh start and new beginnings.

Well, frankly Ireland is everything that I had imagined and expected it would be. After spending seven years of my life in some of the major metropolitan cities of India, I was keen on experiencing a new culture, learning new things and, most importantly, looking to live close to serenity and nature, and away from the hustle-bustle of urban living.

My college: Shannon College of Hotel Management

A collage that feels personal and offers few distractions

My college is in Shannon town in County Claire, which is an amazing place, very peaceful and with no distractions at all. My college is situated right opposite Shannon International Airport, and the town has a shopping arcade where you can get the basic amenities and groceries. Our campus has a beautiful compact structure. All Faculty members are very supportive, which helped us settle in very quickly. Since it is a new course, they ensure we get all the attention and guidance needed to grow as we navigate the learning curve. We get ample time to study and research as we have to attend college for just two days per week. Knowing about the alumni base of my college gave me a lot of confidence, because being a part of the National University of Ireland, Galway gives easy access to those features essential to progress, such as a university library, festivals, placement drives, clubs and, most importantly, people. As it is rightly said in Shannon College of Hotel Management you are a name, not a number.

Perfect if you’re in business – and mean business

In my opinion, this course is one of the best choices for anyone looking for an international-level credential with a global approach that prepares you for the business side of the hospitality industry. What I love most is that we are constantly exposed to inspiration via the guest lectures we have every month, and the opportunity to network with prominent personalities from the industry, which paves the way for opportunities in future.

Moreover, the time off that we get from college gives us the flexibility to accommodate a part-time job, which is very important for an international student like me. That’s not all though. Being a student from one of the oldest hospitality colleges in the country made it much easier to secure a part-time job in reputable hotels, which not only helps to make ends meet but also adds experience to my resume. Our course requires a lot of reading and writing, and ‘plagiarising’ is a big no-no. For this reason, college gives proper classes on how to cope with referencing and citation, which I feel is of utmost importance. The course work also involves a lot of practical and interview-based assignments, field trips and much research. The most exciting part is the last semester, where you are expected to complete a consultancy business project.

The Irish:  friendly, hospitable and love to laugh

In the beginning it was a bit of a challenge, as my college is not very big and has very few Indian Students. It took me a while to mix easily with different cultures, preferences and nationalities, but this learning served me well later as I started to settle in. From my experience so far, I have learned that Irish people are friendly, hospitable and love to talk. Although Ireland is a very beautiful country, the weather here is unpredictable and changes frequently, so carrying a rain jacket at all times is highly recommended. Transportation was an issue for me, as much depends on bus and rail service here, but I got accustomed to it in no time.

All in all, studying at Shannon has been a life-changing experience. I have acquired valuable language and decision-making skills, as well as coping mechanisms having lived in a new country, and a boost of confidence. The benefits are not just limited to skills either, as studying here has also given me exposure to industry networks as well as work culture at an international level. This prepares me for the future not only professionally but also at a personal level. In my opinion, whilst it has certainly been challenging, it is also one of the best decisions of my life. In this blog, I have shed light on my journey so far from India to Ireland. I hope you enjoyed it!

If there are any questions or queries, please feel free to connect with me through my YouTube Channel, Discover With Ashish, or my Instagram Page: @discoverwithashish