There’s so much to like about studying abroad in Ireland, from the people and the standard of education to the culture and its proximity to Europe. Rebecca Jagoo studies at RCSI and tells us in this blog about her love affair with Ireland’s capital city…
Studying abroad is not a foreign concept for Trinidadians as many choose to leave the warm sunny island shores to gain international experience from highly reputable institutions. Growing up I knew for certain that I wanted to study abroad, as my mom had done in Miami when she was just 20 years old. However, knowing where I wanted to study was quite a dilemma, as the world is such a vast place with alternative experiences lurking in every corner.
Yes, we have all heard about some pumpkin vine relative or their neighbour’s cousin who got an open scholarship and went to North America and the United Kingdom to study… however whenever I mention that I study in Ireland, the look on everyone’s face says it all; why?!
So here are a few reasons why I thought Ireland was the perfect study abroad destination.
For starters, although I did learn French and Spanish in high school, English is still my favourite practical language. English is the main language spoken in Ireland, so it’s very accessible for Trinidadians. Gaelic is the official national language of Ireland, and though it is not necessary to know, you can appreciate it’s beauty on bilingual signs. And you could absolutely take Gaelic classes it if you wanted!
Ireland has been listed in the Top Ten friendliest and safest nations in the world which will definitely win your parents’ approval! The Irish are a kind and talkative people, similar to Trinidadians. They’re nicer than Trinidadians in some aspects; I’ll have to admit. As a medical student, I spend a lot of time interacting with patients and they’re all so lovely and willing to help.
Ireland is home to several top-ranked universities and research programs. The country invests a huge amount in its education system, and as a student here, you’ll be granted the opportunity to expand your knowledge at some of the finest institutions.
I came to Ireland for the academics, but fell in love with the culture. The city of Dublin has become my home; the streets filled with bustle, the cafes all scented with the aroma of coffee and pastries, and the cool air that refreshes my soul. My favourite stroll is St. Stephen’s Green Park, located directly opposite The Royal College of Surgeons’ campus. It is a lusciously green Victorian park that has been around since 1880, bursting with beautiful flowers, swan filled lakes, water fountains and tall trees to lie under and read a book. If this tickles your fancy, then imagine wandering the narrow cobblestoned streets of Galway, hiking up the scenic Wicklow Mountains or looking out over the breath taking Cliffs of Moher. There’s much craic to be had!
Being in Ireland means that I’m 50 minutes away from London, an hour& a half away from Paris, and 2& a half hours away from Venice. Being this close to other European countries means that a long weekend trip if definitely in your future. It pays to explore the world while you’re young and can manage to score cheaply priced tickets from Ryanair. Also it should be duly noted, that while you do not need a visa to travel from Trinidad to Ireland, you will need a Garda card to live here.
Getting around Ireland is very easy. It can be pricey, but you can avail of a student discount card. I honestly have no idea how to travel in Trinidad. I remember my cousin teaching me in convent, and I still don’t know which car is actually a taxi! In Dublin travelling is a breeze. The city centre can be managed by foot, but if you’re having a lazy day; there’s always the bus or the LUAS/light rail system. If you need to cab, there’s an app for that! So I’m no longer puzzled at the wrong car and you won’t either.
There are so many Trinis here in Ireland! In my class, I’m with seven other Trinidadians and it’s great! Initially, I felt like I didn’t need other Trinidadians to survive. However these seven and the many other Trinis in my college have become my family away from home. They will definitely have your back when you catch that Carnival Tabanca, and will cook up a storm of pelau and attempt making aloo pie with you.
While not always sunny, Ireland’s still quite nice. It can be terribly cold in the winter if you’re not appropriately dressed, but you’ll survive. The rain in Ireland is different. In Trinidad the rain is torrential, rarely lasts all day and you will feel it soaking you. The rain in Ireland is a cold mist of water that lasts all day, and because you don’t feel it lashing down on you, you’ll never know when you became soaked. This isn’t to scare you off, but I don’t want you to be surprised. Also, I came to Ireland thinking that all I would be able to wear are sweaters, but you can definitely wear the same clothes you wore in Trinidad, especially on nights out.
P.S. it doesn’t rain everyday… which is what I was expecting.