In this blog, Indian student Ansh Mahajan shares his top tips for students when they arrive in Ireland to help settle in quickly, make friends and get started at college!
I still look back to the day when I had landed in Ireland as an international student from India. My mind was flooded with mixed emotions: excitement at being in a completely new world, coupled with a little anxiety of managing everything on my own in an alien country. Having been here for a couple of months now*, I literally laugh about each and every memory. So here I would like to share 7 things from my personal experience that I believe can help you navigate better when you start your journey on Irish soil.
(*this blog was written prior to the Covid19 pandemic, but all the information in it applies to any international student arriving in Ireland)
Get the exact information about the transportation facility. The flight will drop you safely at the airport, but what next? The first thing that you need to do is get to your accommodation. As soon as you land in Ireland, look around for the exact information about the transport you will use to reach home. If you’re taking a bus, make sure that you have the exact time and number of the bus and you are at the right bus stop at least 10 minutes prior to departure.
Tip: The bus fares are significantly less if you book your tickets online. If you are taking a taxi or getting a lift, make sure that you know the exact spot where you will meet the person picking you up.
Buy an Irish sim card. It is really important to stay connected with our near and dear ones, so your next task is to buy an Irish sim card and inform your family that you have arrived safely. There are many network providers in Ireland to choose from, including Vodafone, Three, Eir and Lyca. You can easily find a sim card in any shopping centre or Tesco (big supermarket chain with a branded mobile service). I personally got myself a Tesco sim card as Tesco was near me and many of my friends were already using it. Don’t panic if you can’t find a sim card, as free Wi-Fi is available in most places including buses.
Inform the international office you’re here. The next important step is to inform the international office about your arrival, so that you are taken care of. They will let you know the dates when you must visit the college for your induction and registration. Simple!
Get to know your surroundings. The next thing on the list is familiarising yourself with your surroundings – the transport routes and walks, the places where you’ll get your daily shopping etc. and of course the pubs.
Interact with people. Being alone in a different country can be really depressing and might trigger homesickness. So interacting with other people – on and off campus – is really essential to help you adjust and will also help you understand your surroundings better. The Irish are friendly so it’s not hard!
Open a bank account. It is needless to mention the importance of a bank account for almost any transaction nowadays. So opening an Irish bank account is one of the most essential things to do. You will require your passport and a letter from the college stating that you are a student of that college. Next you will need to take an appointment with the bank where you can submit your documents. You will be issued a bank card for use in stores and at ATMs.
Get an appointment for your GNIB card (Garda National Immigration Bureau). The Garda is Ireland’s national police force. Every student from overseas (outside the EU and Switzerland) needs to register with the GNIB soon after arrival. You are required to get yourself a GNIB card before your visa expires (which is usually 3 months), and for doing so, you are required to take an appointment with your local garda station. You are also required to renew this card every year till the duration of your stay is over, so make sure that you keep a track of it.
So these were some of the important things which I wish I knew before coming here, so that the path could have been a bit smoother. Feel free to contact me for any queries via my Instagram: ansh_73