In his first blog, Student Ambassador Olutoyese Oyedepo from Nigeria tells us how best to avoid the potential chaos that can come with balancing school, work, and social life…

If your goal is to study in Ireland, earn some money, and enjoy the Irish social life, you need this. If not, well, you might enjoy the read and laugh along.

Olutoyese exploring Dublin (photo: Olutoyese)

Picture this. It’s October, and there I was, an excited International student bristling with energy and ambition but clueless about going about it. So I decided to seek advice from people already living in Ireland. I received a lot of advice ranging from scant and opinionated, to precise and interesting feedback (join Tinder, get to know your lecturers, run for office). Anyway, my mission was to excel at school, work part-time to earn money, and enjoy the Irish scene—any advice that fits into these three goals I took without objections.  

With school, I didn’t have much choice. I cared about how I fared academically.  I didn’t just want to pass. I wanted to excel. I made sure I didn’t miss a class, stayed attentive, and asked my lecturers for clarity. It was like a competition, and I had to be better than everyone else.  There was no way I would make a mess of that (well, I almost did).  

So my next goal was to get a part-time job.  Now, as an international student, you can’t work for more than 20 hours a week (nope, there’s no way around it), and I decided I was going to squeeze the most money out of my time. Since the class was just happening three days a week, I decided to apply for student jobs that were willing to pay a lot! So I finally got a job where I was paid a reasonable rate – I can’t mention where I worked for confidentiality reasons. 

Now for the social life sphere, you should know that you cannot get enough of it with the pubs and bustling city centre if you end up in Dublin. My school, Dublin City University, helped a lot as there are tons of clubs and societies you can participate in depending on your interest. I probably signed up for about seven communities.  

DCU Style Club and Society (photo: Olutoyese)

Everything looked great until school got intense (spoiler alert, it’s not all fun). Then, my job stressed me out because it was so demanding that I got knocked out for two days after working for 20 hours. Then, I could not participate in every society I had joined because I needed to rest from overworking myself. My grades suffered. My job performance suffered, and my social life took a nosedive. So, all that juggling goes down the drain! 

Making new friends (photo: Olutoyese)

How did I manage to change things? I decided to do a little reflection. I realised the first mistake on my part was applying everyone’s opinion. I should have made my decisions based on what works for me! I realised school should not be a competing ground  (thanks to my programme coordinator, Dr. Declan, who ingrained that into my mind on the first day of school). I decided to leverage the expertise of my classmates and learn from them. Fortunately, I paired up with my wonderful Indian friend for some of my projects, which made things easier.

I decided to quit a demanding student job and took on a flexible job even if the pay was lesser. I decided it was not about working. It was about not overworking myself. These decisions allowed me to explore the communities and societies that I was interested in and finally pick the ones I loved. 

So here’s my advice: Find the important things in your life, you can start by writing them down. Then, there’s making time for them. Find time to do the most important things in your life and always do what works for you.  You can juggle work, school, and play – or at least, that is what I am trying to do. Hopefully, if all goes to plan, I will keep you updated…

Olutoyese is doing an MSc in Emerging Media at Dublin City University.