Anshika Sharma is a Theology student and our DCU and Indian Ambassador. In this blog, she shares her knowledge of Ireland–from student travel discounts and benefits to dealing with Ireland’s infamous weather…

Leaving your country is a difficult decision. You are so focused on finding the right university, that other things take a backseat. The thought of what kind of a country Ireland is, probably hit you after your admission was done. Here are a few tips to give you an idea of Ireland and to help you get started…

Don’t travel, leap!

The Leap card is what you use to travel around in Ireland. It is valid for the LUAS, buses and the DART service. You can get your leap card from Spar–most local stores offer this service too, but Spar is almost everywhere and hence, easily accessible. Additionally, the maximum amount that is deducted from your leap card in a day is six euros. After that, you can travel for free! So yes. Go on a LUAS joy ride the day you have nothing to do.

GNIB and Visa re-entry*

Your GNIB card is your Irish ID proof. For this, you first book an appointment online*. The next step would be to get your own bank account. You need to pay an amount of 350 euros for your GNIB and that must be done by your credit/debit card. Further, you need a letter from your university’s International Office stating that you are a student there. If you are living off campus, make sure this letter has your address, so you can use it as residence proof. The visa re-entry process is also quite similar. You book an appointment online, take a support letter from your college and use your GNIB as an essential ID proof. You can check the official website for all the documents required.

*Please note that visa requirements are subject to change and are dependent on your nationality. Speak with your International Office and check with the GNIB before booking an appointment

The sunny weather

Bazinga! If you believed that even for a second, nobody needs to read this more than you. Ireland’s weather is like math: you will just fail to grasp it. However, unlike math, there is an easy solution: layer up. The wind here is your real enemy. So, you need to play it safe and be a walking burrito. Also, carry a pair of gloves or a cap with you always.

Smart grocery

That’s right, your Highness. You need to start buying your own groceries now. Tesco, Aldi and Lidl would be your go to stores. Tesco has fresh fruits, vegetables and almost all spices available at good prices. Lidl is good for canned food (like chick peas, lentils or red kidney beans) as they are a bit expensive at Tesco. Aldi has a great variety of junk food. Ice creams, chips, frozen foods (all the foods you need to block your arteries) at quite low prices! Spar, on the contrary, is quite expensive. So maybe just get your Leap card made there and never turn to look back.

Student benefits

Guard your student ID with your life because there are various perks attached to it. Ireland has accepted that all students are just broke, coffee-filled humans trying to get their lives together. There are discounts for students at the cinema, restaurants, cafes and at pubs! Gym memberships are also cheap for students. A student Leap card (yes, I love the Leap card!) also offers discounts on various clothing brands and restaurants.

My experience? Living in a new country can be difficult at first, but you will soon grow to love Ireland and hopefully these tips will come in handy! Any questions, comment below.

Find out more about studying abroad at DCU