By UL International Student Ambassador Marina Roehrich
Studying in a different country can be tough. Many internationals do not speak English as their first language; therefore, everyday life can already have struggles waiting for us. Not only do we need to deal with another language every day, we also need to study in it. So how do we do it? How do you become an international student?
1. Become a language hero by always speaking two languages. At the same time.
Yes, English is spoken in almost all parts of the world. Being able to speak English means being able to have a key to communication throughout the world. But especially for internationals, from countries which do not speak English as their first language, speaking and writing can be challenging. I experience it every single day: I mix up German and English, using German words in my English phrases and trying to speak English to my German friends. My phone is confused with my English and German keyboard and on Irish computers I constantly try to find letters like “ä”, “ö” and “ü”. Speaking two languages during your everyday life can be very confusing. Especially if you start dreaming in English and constantly forget the words in your own language.
2. Live in several time zones at once.
Coming from a different country not only means that you most likely have to speak a different language, but you will also have to live in a different time zone. For Europeans this is easy, most of us are just one or two hours from our normal time zone. But coming from across the ocean means that, a lot of the time, when you get up, your friends are just going to bed. I have to say, coming from Germany I am lucky. One hour time difference isn’t a lot. Still, it is challenging when it comes to agreeing on a time to talk on Skype. Since I am not the only one of my friends studying in a different country we sometimes have to deal with three different time zones to get all three of us there at the same time. Do you mean my time, our time or German time?
3. Deal with this weather like a pro!
Yes, I do know rain. Rain is nice! Rain is super. But if you are just not prepared for rain, it isn’t that nice anymore. I’ve lost count of the times that I left the house with bright sunshine and came home all wet because of course it started to rain the second I have left the university to walk home. But: International students are prepared! We have rain jackets, rain boots and warm winter coats that protect us from the Irish weather!
4. Develop super survival skills every day!
Living and studying in another country is a real challenge. Not only do we need to struggle with languages every day but even the simplest things can be hard. While Ireland has Celsius rather than Fahrenheit and also kilometers rather than miles, people still try to explain to me that something is just a couple of feet away. Baking supplies can be bought in ounces rather than in grams. I am officially confused. Nevertheless, we are lucky that Ireland at least gives us a language that is quite common. I already got several messages from friends in other parts of the world that sent me a picture of them sitting in front of the washer with a dictionary, trying to find out which buttons they are supposed to press. Yes, superpowers are needed to be an international student!
5. Travel and experience a whole country in just four months.
Let’s admit it. We all came with a bucket list. Right at the top of my list was making myself like Guinness. As an international we try to fit everything in just the small time that we have here. Four months for the fall semester. And so much to see! While trying to experience everything every single week, we cannot forget one thing: We came here to study. And part of studying is, as much I hate to admit it, work hard to get good grades. Try finishing three assignments a week while you are travelling each weekend and are participating in several clubs and societies during the week. Time management becomes a whole new task once you study in a different country!