Moving from Pakistan to Castlebar in Co Mayo is a big change! Muhammad Abubakar Khan, our GMIT Mayo Ambassador shares his experience of living and studying in a more rural part of Ireland…

As a person who has lived all his life in one of most vibrant global cities, I didn’t really know how it would feel to live in a small Irish town. Castlebar is located in County Mayo, which is the third largest county in Ireland. Every place has its pros and cons, but when it comes to Castlebar, I think it is one of the finest and fastest growing towns in Ireland! It’s a place where you can make friends easily, simply by just smiling at the person you’re passing by.

Beautiful sunny view of the main street of Castlebar Town Centre.

My journey started the day my uncle and aunt picked me up from Dublin Airport, and drove for the three-hour route westward to Castlebar. The breath-taking scenery I saw on the journey left me speechless. Having photography as my hobby made me even more excited as I thought about all the scenery and landscape shots that lay ahead of me. We all know that the trees are green, but here you will see the depths of different shades of green in every tree.

An evening shot of Lough Lannagh Lake located in Castlebar, Ireland.

Traditional houses with wooden interiors, thatched roofs and a smokestack was something I had only seen in movies. Lighting an open fire with a group of friends in freezing cold weather is something that gives you traditional Irish vibes. The idea of placing coal, turf and wood in a chimney for a long lasting fire, is something I wouldn’t have learned in a life where the only source of heating was gas or electricity.

Breath-taking sunset at Lough Lannagh Lake, Castlebar, Ireland.

As a Pakistani, living in the western world was a massive change of culture and traditions from what I was accustomed. Apart from the unpredictable weather, settling into life here has been “grand”. Evolving into a different person has made me realise, apart from living style differences we are all so much related to each other. It takes time to understand the new surroundings, but once you do, you start to enjoy life from another perspective as well. The moment you have the right instant answer for “what’s the craic?” you know you can enjoy the Celtic vibes.

A visit to Cliffs of Moher where these sea cliffs meet the Atlantic Ocean. Located in County Clare, Ireland.

Education doesn’t only come from the books we study, but travelling itself is a great way to educate yourself. As the Irish saying goes — an té a bhíónn siúlach, bíonn scéalach, in English — he who travels has stories to tell. My parting words — in my opinion, Ireland definitely is a decision worth taking!

All photos taken by Abubakar Khan