Having spent the last eight months in Ireland, Student Ambassador Wen Heong from Malaysia shares her experiences and explains how to adjust to Irish slang.

I am an international student from Malaysia, who is currently studying at the University of Limerick.  In this blog, I am going to share some interesting knowledge I gained while studying in Ireland in these 8 months. 

People start every sentence with the phrase “How are you?” 

It might seem normal to most people (or maybe everyone) in European countries but in my home country, Malaysia, we start our sentences with a word as simple as “Hi.”  What makes this more interesting is, when people say “How are you?”, they don’t actually expect an answer – it’s just their way of saying ‘Hello’. I still remember, it was my first few weeks in Ireland and I was walking down the street on a sunny day when a friendly man walked by me with his dog, I smiled and nodded at him, and he said to me “How are you?”. I was shocked and was not prepared for that, I blanked for a couple of seconds but before I could answer he had gone on his way!  

Seven months passed and now I am fast enough to react (fortunately) and have adapted to the culture – quick enough to be the person who greets with this lovely phrase “How are you?” 

Friendly faces (photo: fpdress via Canva)

“Thanks a million”  

I have always delivered my appreciation with phrases like; “Thanks”, “Thank you so much”, “Thank you” etc. But in Ireland, you’ll hear the phrase “Thanks a million!” everywhere! It means the same as “Thanks”, but with a stronger diction – saying this means you are truly appreciative of what you received. 


So, when an Irish person asks you how you are, this is what you’re going to answer; “I’m grand”. It means “I am fine” or “Good”. In another way, it can also be used when you are agreeing with someone or something. For example; “That’s grand” can also mean “That’s fine with me” when there’s a discussion going on.  

Last but not least, for those who are deciding to study abroad in Ireland, the friendliness and kindness of the Irish are what you can look forward to. Their behaviour and words can always warm you up even on a rainy day. There are still tons of interesting stuff for me to explore in this lovely city and country. I am looking forward to learning more about Ireland!  

Thank you for reading. Have a nice day 🙂

Wen Heong is doing a Bachelor of Business Studies at University of Limerick.