Student Ambassador Hyosun Kim from Korea has some very helpful tips for getting settled in Ireland for the first time. She’s left no stone unturned in her very detailed piece – a must-read for anyone who’s a little nervous about arriving…

Have you decided to move out of your home country to study abroad? Thinking Ireland may be the place for you? Nice. I went through the same process three years ago when I decided to study abroad to pursue my dream in hospitality. I want to share what I have learnt through my experience because, if the next newcomers are anything like me, they will have no idea what to do the moment after landing at the airport.  

So, you’ve landed. Hello, and welcome to Ireland. Fáilte! that means welcome in Irish.  It will probably be raining the moment you land – now you understand why Ireland looked so green from above. I hope you brought waterproof shoes and bag covers following the advice from my last video!

A photo of my umbrella taken in Galway, Ireland (photo: Hyosun)


After exiting the arrival gate and getting your luggage, you will feel the natural feeling of not knowing where to go or even where you are! Relax, you’ll find your way in the end. Now look at your purse, have you got some Euros? One of the most common mistakes we make when going abroad is that we forget that we do not share the same currency. If you have forgotten to bring some cash, use the ATM inside the airport. The exchange rate will be higher than outside, but you will need it to get the bus or a cab and you do not want to walk with all that luggage in the rain.  

Here is where a little thing called a ‘Leap Card’ comes in. You can buy them in most small shops like Centra or Spar – they’re like convenience stores. A Leap Card lets you travel on public transport for less money and it’s easier than paying in coins! Once you’re settled, you will be able to buy a Student Leap Card and get cheaper fares – but once you arrive, an Adult Leap Card will do! You can easily top-up your Leap Card through shops with the Leap Card sign on the wall or via the Leap Card app. 

Leap Card (photo: Hyosun)

SIM Card 

By now, you have probably reached your destination safely and rested. Now it’s time for SIM card hunting.  After reaching Ireland, you will need an Irish phone number for every step of the way; including opening up accounts, Student Leap Card etc. Since most applications require confirmation texts via your phone number, it is essential to get the number as soon as possible. The most common phone companies students use are Three, Vodaphone, Eircom and Tesco mobile. Each has its pros and cons but most companies will have pre-paid unlimited data plan for around 20 euros per month which I have found very useful. You can buy the sim card in each phone shop. 

Sorting your SIM card (photo: Hyosun)


Now, this is the most stressful part of the whole settling in process. Unless you have already acquired the accommodation via the college or through people you know, you’ll need to find a house to settle in. But, most importantly, this cannot be usually done until at least two weeks before your moving in date. There is a very high percentage of house shortages in Ireland and most of the houses require people who can ‘immediately move in’. Thus, it will be extremely difficult to find accommodation months in advance because the system is quite different. To find a house, the most useful websites would be or On the website, type in your region and preferences. And the rest is email, email, and more email. Introduce yourself in the email and then they will reply with the house viewing date. Remember it won’t be just you who’s coming for viewing. Make a good first impression and you’ll get your house in no time! 

Hyosun is doing a Bachelor of Commerce in International Hotel Management at the Shannon College of Hotel Management.