How much do you know about Ireland? Student Ambassador Momo from Japan knew next to nothing about Ireland before moving here. Despite this, she found her way! Check out her first blog to see what she recommends to make your study abroad experience completely unforgettable…

Studying in Ireland has been the most significant decision I have ever made. However, I noticed that many people in Japan do not know anything about Ireland. They would often say that Ireland must be so cold? – Not so cold. Ireland is ah, near the arctic circle? – No, that is Iceland. You may be surprised that I was asked such questions before leaving Japan. It is clear that Japanese people are not familiar with Irish people and Ireland itself. One of the reasons for this is how small Ireland is when compared to the rest of the world. Therefore, people in Japan do not hear about Ireland. Throughout my six months spent in Ireland, I would say Ireland is one of the best English-speaking countries for studying abroad, for safety, for good education, and for a unique culture. 

So in this blog, I will show you some great tips to make your life in Ireland memorable, and completely unforgettable!


1) Enjoy Irish sports! 

Ireland has unique sports, called Gaelic. It is one of Ireland’s favourite sports. Gaelic sports include Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie, and you can enjoy them by watching the match at the stadium or watching them on TV! I joined the garlic football society at DCU and this is one of the most exciting things that I experienced here in Dublin. Sport is an amazing tool to make friends regardless of their different backgrounds and feel solidarity with each other. DCU has a team for international students and holds training once a week. 

DCU international students GAA team (photo: Momo)

2) Being engaged in society 

I think it frequently happens that the international student may remain in the community at university and not explore the wider society. While the university provides excellent opportunities to make friends, there is sometimes no chance to know the people regardless of their age and culture outside academia. Here’s my advice to get involved!

Firstly, getting a part-time job. I work in a bakery in Dublin City Centre, and I have learned a lot from this experience. I noticed that the way of communication with the customer and other staff is different from what I was doing in Japan, as here it is more casual and friendly. I love it! Not only can you earn money, but you can also experience culture and meet new people as you earn. 

Volunteering is another way to be engaged in society. There are many kinds of charity shops to support people in need. The charity shops sell donations made by local people and donate the proceeds. Most of the staff at the charity shop are volunteers. Personally, I think this is an amazing way to support those who need it and not exclude them from local society. You can try volunteering if you want, then it will bring you new insight. 

Exploring Ireland’s beautiful natural world (photo: Momo)

Having read this blog, I hope you may want to study in Ireland to experience academic life but also enjoy Irish sport and culture. If you try, you will never regret it, but if you do not, you could. Also, I will give you a tip to enjoy Ireland more. There are many nice places to be in nature, which will minimise any stresses and set your mind free. My favourite place to go hiking is Bray Head, and my favourite swim spot is the Vico Baths. 

Living and studying in a foreign country will be exciting and unforgettable, but it is also true that sometimes you feel pressure and stress and may also miss your home country. Focusing on your mental health is very important when studying abroad, and Ireland has lots of places to help with this. 

If some of you who read my blog are Japanese, I have one thing I want to tell you. You may be surprised when you come to Ireland because you will wonder why people here whose native tongue is not English but speak English so well? I felt so when I came to Ireland, and I was a bit nervous at first because I did not have so much confidence in my English. It is natural that in Japan, many people do not use English in their daily lives, so you have to get used to speaking English, and you should enjoy speaking English once you come to Ireland. I found that the big difference between Japanese and other international students is this. However, my advice is to try not to worry if you do not speak perfectly and focus on enjoying the conversation. Irish people are very friendly and want to help you. I think it is essential for anyone away from home that they feel comfortable. 

I hope you enjoy reading my blog and are inclined to study in Ireland.

Momo is studying at Dublin City University.