Chinese Student Ambassador Ke Gong is enjoying doing research and experiments at college – and at home with new friends

Coming to Ireland
Luckily, an email arrived to say that the result of GOI-IES 2018 was successful and that Ke Gong – me! – had won the scholarship. I felt very excited. Everything would be fresh and curious for me, not only for the new research field, additive manufacturing, but also to learn more about life in Ireland.

After a short transfer in Finland, I finally arrived in Ireland, a little bit nervous as the feeling of homesickness arose spontaneously after my boarding. But the warm hearted welcome from the international office of Athlone IT made me feel better as Mr. David came to pick up new students from Dublin Airport and take us to our individual accommodation.

First look
Everything was unfamiliar, as people we came across were more likely to speak English than Chinese, tall buildings replaced by smaller houses. We even saw some horse riders on the road. Moreover, I was unaccustomed to people living at such a slow pace compared to China. This is such a pleasant life, actually.

Busy and challenging days
Studying the literature, doing experiments and fabricating large numbers of parts, had made me feel tired, especially when facing problems such as the breakdown of equipment and the low quality of the parts we produced. However, tomorrow will be a better day. Please do not give it up, always be hopeful!

Relaxing weekends
Weekends would be a fantastic time to gather with friends, no matter the same nationality or others. The ability to cook had started to develop, without help from relatives. Trying out meals seems to be an important step to improve ourselves, from scrambled eggs with tomato to stewed beef, each trial was proof of how we developed ourselves, not only the ability to cook but mainly on personal growth.

Getting fit
From 95kg to 70kg in half a year, yes, this is not a dream but a reality for me. Hiking in the sunshine with friends makes me feel happy and full of energy. Every day will be fantastic when you breathe the fresh air and feel warm after the touch of sunshine.

Ke Gong is doing a PhD in Polymer Science in the Athlone Institute of Technology