Netra Charya from India shares with us her top ten tips to take on student life in Ireland. Netra’s tips bear in mind the fluctuating stages of lockdown the world has gone through over the past year.
Each and every one of us believed that the Covid-19 surge would miraculously disappear as we clinked glasses of wine on the eve of the new year and everything would go back to normal. I have personally forgotten what “normal” means by now. Haven’t we all?
When I landed in Dublin and took the bus to Galway on September 3rd 2020, I felt so accomplished that I was finally living my dream to pursue higher education in Ireland. I was coming back to formal education after five years, of course I was excited! I had my plans ready as we registered to the university, got my schedules and study materials and was on my way! Little did I know that with so many people travelling in and out of Ireland every day, a second wave of the virus was coming and all our lectures would be online for precautionary purposes.
Boom!! Darkness. Disbelief. Disappointment.
My first thoughts were; how will I see my Hogwarts-like beautiful university now? How will I attend classes in the new Business wing? How will I make friends? How will I explore Galway? Isn’t that what I came here for?
I quickly understood everything happening is for our own safety and wellbeing and that I should focus more on how well I can study despite the odd circumstances. Still, on my mind was how? How will I deal with being confined to the four walls of my room? I needed a game plan!
That’s when I prepared my list of tips. I swear by them to study well and stay sane at home:
Tip #1: Eat well and sleep well
I cannot emphasise this enough. Be practical and take baby steps. Choose local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try to blend local cuisine into your traditional meals. Sleep at least 8hours, or even more, for your brain to function well.
Tip #2: Stay entertained
If you are a Netflix fan, find shows that lift your mood. Avoid serious or upsetting genres like horror, thriller, hate crime (unless you are into such things ☺). Try comedy talk- shows, podcasts or music videos.
Tip #3: Go far within your 2km radius
Find a pathway near to where you are staying and pick an activity to do; walk, sit down, reflect on your day, exercise, meditate, read a book, sketch, take photographs, practice music, doodle or even dance!
Tip #4: Learn to cook
I personally prefer cooking good meals after a long, stressful day— it calms me down. Try different cuisines too. You need to cook for yourself anyway. Seriously, how long can you survive off Maggi or Koka noodles?
Tip #5: Do some online training or read a book
Try a LinkedIn Learning course on “how to stay positive or resilient in uncertain times”. Buy second-hand books or join a local library. I read “Ikagai” recently – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Tip #6: Go grocery shopping
Trust me, it’s a great stressbuster. The supermarkets and their aisles are a treat for your eyes. I enjoy spending time reading about the different products that are available on the racks. Watch out for impulse buying though, be mindful of your choices and stick to a list!
Tip #7: Network, network, network
Join groups on Facebook or university channels where you can meet fellow students and like-minded people in your locality who may also be feeling lonely like yourselves. Connect with them and conduct group zoom calls with pizza or coffee.
Tip #8: Form your own personal support brigade
Make good friends that will last a lifetime. Call your close friends and family members back home as often as you can to keep in touch and not feel homesick. Trust me, good friends often make your journey rewarding and enjoyable ☺
Tip #9: Learn Irish
Now, it’s not that easy but, give it a shot! The pronunciations and grammatical rules can be daunting in the beginning however, it’s a rewarding experience. You can mingle with the locals even better if you know their tongue. I loved my beginner sessions conducted at NUI Galway ☺
Tip #10: Start a blog
Don’t be baffled by the term. Start small by writing down your experiences in a personal diary in short paragraphs and reflect on your experiences. Attach supporting pictures from your phone or if you own an Instax camera, even better!
Don’t forget why you’re in Ireland in the first place– earning your degree with excellent grades. Fortunately or unfortunately, we now have more time on our hands to finish what we signed up for so I hope these tips help you on your journey!
Slán go fóill agus ádh mór!
Netra is studying for an MSc. in Business Analytics at the National University of Ireland Galway.