In his first blog Indian Ambassador Anish Umarjikar told us why he chose NUI Galway and MSc International Management. In this piece, he takes you on a journey through his master’s experience so far — from finding a place to stay and acing classes to holiday time in Galway…

Starting out

For me, finding accommodation in Galway was a challenge — but with patience and by utilising Facebook groups, the accommodation office and my own network I was able to find an awesome place, within two weeks. This helped me to start school with maximum attention. Orientation week was the highlight of my first month here. Yes, you read it right, it lasts for a WEEK! It is fun-filled with introduction sessions taking place all around campus including at NUIG’s Career Development Centre, Library, Academic Writing Centre, the Health Unit, ALIVE (a group focused on student voluntary work), counselling services, and many more. The University campus is huge, and during week one there were campus tours led by student volunteers around the major buildings on campus. During the international students’ orientation, the feeling of being alone was sucked out as I sat with 800+ students. On the same evening we had a wonderful ‘speed friending’ session where in I met some students from Canada, Germany and France.

The business school had organised an orientation for all the students enrolled in business courses. This not only helped us know the professors who will be teaching us, but speakers also advised us how we should approach studies, classes and exams. My course faculty also organised an ice breaker dinner for all the management courses. This helped us get to know each other, make new friends and start the term officially.

Getting down to work

Coming from a different educational background, the way classes were conducted here was a surprise for me. A suggestion for upcoming students — do not miss classes and take notes (the PPT slides alone are not sufficient for exams)! As the semester progressed, we were assigned groups for each of the classes and group assignments (the marks of which are computed in the final marks). Group assignments are a major part of this course. Be empathetic and respectful towards your peers and I am sure the assignment will be a success. Maintain cordial relations with everyone in the class, this shall help you with positive group dynamics.

At the same time I was looking for some part-time work. I would suggest that the future students start submitting their CVs as soon as they arrive. As Galway is a student city, finding work is not as easy as you might think and the pay can really help with monthly expenses. However, make sure that your studies are not affected. The students on student visa can work up to 20 hours per week during the college terms, and 40 hours per week during the holidays.

Joining the fun

NUIG offers a range of clubs and societies and owing to my interest in rock climbing, I signed up for the NUIG mountaineering club. I passed the climbing and safety test and bagged a membership for the climbing wall. Some of my friends regularly play badminton, volleyball, or swim along with the various clubs at the Kingfisher Club. However, in all honestly, balancing our postgraduate studies and these activities can be a task, but not impossible.

Making the most of the holidays

As this was my first Christmas In Europe, I chose to stay in Galway, and man it was beautiful! I would advise future students to either travel around Europe or stay here in Galway during the holidays. You can work during Christmas time; however, you’ll have to apply for the jobs from early September. This way you will be able to experience the Christmas celebrations and earn money during the holidays.

Galway is a sight during the festive season and it was just a week before the Christmas that I saw the giant ferris wheel right in the middle of the city centre. It was beautiful, especially at the night when the lights blinked in the concentric circles. My Instagram feed was filled with boomerangs of these lights. Couple this with the exquisite Christmas lights on the Shop Street and it really was magical. My pictures can’t sum the feeling of walking down the streets when these lovely lights are over you. The Christmas Market takes you back to medieval ages, where locals sell delicacies ranging from homemade fudge to donuts. On Christmas Day, one of my friends invited me over for lunch, it was so delicious! It was during these days that I realised why Galway was chosen to be the European culture capital for 2020. My December was amazing — the festive season and well-deserved rest after a hectic semester was just want I needed.

Top tip: the discounts are crazy during this period — often more than 50%! Yeah, that’s right! So make sure that you keep your shopping lists until then.

Exploring Ireland

I decided to travel to one of the cities in Ireland for two days, and I chose Cork. If you are in Ireland, travelling from one city to another is very easy, even if you must travel from one corner of the country to another, it won’t take you more than 3 hours. I took a train to Cork, where I had already booked a hostel for a night. Planning is of utmost importance when it comes to travelling, as it helps us stick to the budget and get maximum enjoyment!

Blarney Castle is one of the Discovery’s 100 places you should see before you die, hence it obviously made it to my itinerary. It has a long history and the castle still stands proud. The location is beautiful on the edge of a river. One thing I do not regret doing is walking on the river trails and exploring the area around the castle. I spent three hours walking in the woods and around the estates in this area. I explored Cork City in the evening and for me, Cork was a replica of Dublin, both equally beautiful and busy. However, Cork is more colourful, you can see in the pictures the building is built in various colours and it is quite densely populated (made me right at feel home!). Ringing Shandon bells is a must-do when you are in Cork. I also visited the Cork City gaol, the tour of which will help you visualise the pre-independence times. The 360-degree view of Cork city from the church is mesmerising.

In January, my course faculty arranged a wonderful outing for our class. The primary motive of this outing was to have a team building activity for the class after the break, and kickstart the second semester. We went to a place in Connemara called ‘Eilemental’. We played outdoor laser tag for 4 hours, and when I say outdoor, I mean in damp jungle, in the woods in military uniforms with heavy laser guns in our hands! I cannot put it in words the energy all of us had. There were 2 teams of 20 each and we fought till death (metaphorical). All the war movies’ fan, counter-strike fans were leading the groups in the war (again, metaphorical, or is it?!). By the end of the day, our clothes were wet with sweat, mud, water and some of us bruised, but one thing was clear – our class was amazing! We enjoyed a lot!

That’s all form me for this blog, I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey so far. Watch out for my next piece on my top tips for studying abroad!