Many speak of the kindness of Irish people but, Student Ambassador Giang Thi Tran from Vietnam has found kindness in so much more… In her first blog, we read how Giang feels at peace in Ireland thanks to its people and its green embrace

I chose Ireland for a variety of reasons including, the Irish Government International Education Scholarship that I proudly received, and University College Cork’s course that perfectly fit my career goals. More importantly, Ireland offers one thing that not many places can offer to international students: the sheer satisfaction one gets from simply being here. This satisfaction stems from, among others, the “kindness” that I have received in County Cork. 

Feeling kindness from people

If, like me, you come from an Eastern country, living in a Western country like Ireland might be hard because of different cultures and living styles. I prepared myself in advance to cope with culture shock – that I think every international student worries about. However, I didn’t really feel the culture shock due to the friendliness and kindness of Irish people around me. For example, each time I make eye contact with someone in Ireland (intentionally or unintentionally), they respond to me with a smile or will say; “hi, how are you?” or “hi, how is it going?”. I was surprised at first because I didn’t know them but after receiving these responses almost everyday, I realised that it is Irish gesture of friendliness, and I love it! 

While I’m talking about “love”, not only is it an emotion we’re all familiar with, it is a word Irish people use as a pet name. As an example, when I opened the door for a lady in a supermarket, she replied with “thank you, love”. These small things really brighten my day, and they’ll brighten yours too if you choose to come to Ireland. 

Feeling forgotten about is rare at school. In my case, the lecturers and other staff at UCC always are willing to support whenever students need help (regardless if they are local or international students). My program director, for example, followed up with a student who was absent from the seminar right after this seminar ended. I never had any experience like it during my previous studies.  

Cork City’s sky in September (photo: Giang)

Finding kindness in Ireland’s nature

It may seem strange to use the word “kindness” in relation to nature, but to me, “kindness” from nature means it always brings satisfying feelings whenever I am grabbed by it. Ireland is well known in this regard. Have you heard of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, where Westlife recorded their hit “My Love”? If not, you should visit them some day – they’re amazing. In my county, Cork, nature is pretty and peaceful just as it should be.

Looking at the sky, you can see not only blue but also other rare colours on some days, such as various shades of pink. If you are obsessed with the sky like me, you will definitely love the Irish sky as you will feel you are closer to it when you live in Ireland. 

While on the ground, stunning County Cork well preserves its nature, with six natural reserves including; Capel Island and Knockadoon Head Nature Reserve, Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, Kilcolman Bog Nature Reserve, Knockomagh Wood Nature Reserve, Lough Hyne Nature Reserve and The Gearagh Nature Reserve. Most are open to the public so that you can go walking, hiking or just have fun while immersing yourself in the green scenes. And of course, with it being a coastal county, beaches are the go-to places for visitors. Kinsale is a lovely recommendation where you can see the sky, the sea and the hills all in one scene. 

All in all, during my three months in Ireland so far, it has shown me positivity. I am excited to discover Ireland even more and to share my broader view of Ireland with you.  

Giang is doing a Master of Business Law at University College Cork