Our ambassador from Malaysia, Jasmine See Wei Fong has made Ireland her home while she studies Health Science and Nutrition. She tells us why she has fallen in love with Athlone IT.

Life in a small town

Athlone may be unfamiliar to most, but for me this place is now home. Located right in the centre of Ireland this relatively tiny town still has plenty to offer. Shops, pubs and restaurants are all within an easy 30-minute walk from wherever you are in town. If you don’t feel like the walk or the Irish weather is getting in your way there is a regular bus service that costs just €1 from Athlone Institute of Technology. This is very convenient for a student that doesn’t drive!

I know so many international students who find life in a small town like Athlone hard to adjust to — particularly if they come from big cities. A lot of my friends chose to fly home for the summer holidays and return for the next semester. However, I found the experience refreshing. I have learned to make and do so many things I would never do back in Malaysia. I recently discovered flower arranging and created bouquets for my friends to celebrate their graduation.

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT)

AIT is an award-winning education institute — most recently named the Sunday Times Institute of the Year in 2017. The college was also ranked in the top 25 colleges for interdisciplinary research worldwide.  I have been studying here for three years now and I cannot recommend it enough. As an international student I have received so much support for my studies as well as help for when I’m feeling homesick. The international office is always hosting events for students — for Chinese New Year they hosted a huge Chinese meal and everyone was invited to join in the festivities.  They even offer customisable English classes to help you while you are here which is so helpful when you have just arrived and are concerned about not being able to keep up. The international office goes above and beyond to support us. Recently my friend had surgery for appendicitis, when the office found out they arranged for a taxi transfer to take her from the hospital back to her accommodation so she wouldn’t have to worry about travelling by bus or the costs that could be involved. It really warmed my heart to see how much AIT cares.

Three female students at a desk with nutrition advice

Promoting Health and Nutrition at AIT

An overview of the Health Science course

When deciding what course to do I had to think about what I was passionate about.  Rather than doing a full science degree, I choose to study Health Science with Nutrition in Athlone IT. It’s not only about food science and technology — there’s a good blend of social communications and politics too. The main aim of the course is promoting health to the general public with scientific evidence focusing on our food.The course itself offers a lot of insight on how different sectors work together to achieve sustainability and overall good health. There are a lot of career opportunities in this industry which is one of the greatest advantages of choosing to study a course like this. Following completion of the degree you can decide to work with people in the community or be in a lab focusing on analysis.

Hospital staff standing against a white wall

Jasmine and her colleagues on work placement

Work placement

While undertaking this course you will get the chance to avail of an industrial work placement. Hospitals and public health centres are commonly where nutritionists will be located. Last year I had my placement at a local hospital where I worked with the dietician and catering managers on site to establish a nutritious meal plan for the patients. Most of the time I was based in the kitchens monitoring and assessing food preparation. When I wasn’t doing that, I was analysing the nutritional values of each recipe, making posters promoting healthy lifestyle choices or creating calorie counts for the canteen. I also had the opportunity to shadow the dietician on her rounds on the wards. I learned so much during those 16 weeks and enjoyed every minute of it.

There is no feeling quite like finding what you are meant to do and I have done that in Athlone IT. I also love this little town and I hope that some of you reading will decide to make Athlone your home while studying in Ireland.