By Halie Finke, University of Limerick (UL) International Student Ambassador
So you’re thinking of studying abroad in Ireland? Spending a semester in another country is a very rewarding experience that everyone should be able to have. In the process of preparing for your experience, your home university may have a seminar about the country you are going to. During this seminar, you may listen to some students who have previously studied in that country. This can be very helpful, but in some cases, their tips can be quite subjective. After a couple months spent in Limerick, I have made a list of some quick tips that can be helpful during your time here in the Emerald Isle!
If you have some free weight and space in your carryon or personal bag, add a few notebooks…I found that it is near impossible to find cheap notebooks in Ireland. They have some that are very comparable to Five Star, but I personally like to buy the cheap-y notebooks from Walmart.
Lidl and Aldi
Lidl and Aldi are two stores found around Europe that sell not only groceries, but clothing, appliances, bedding, and et cetera. One thing I love about living here is how cheap buying groceries can be. You can get bags and bags worth of food for only around €40.
Trying New Things
If you are unsure about anything, go ahead and try it. Whether it is a type of food, or drink, or club, chances are you’ll like it! Unless you tend to be picky, then maybe you won’t. But you should try it anyway. For example, I don’t like dark beers or stouts, but as a study abroad student in Ireland, I felt obligated to try Guinness for the first time. And I love it!
One thing that is true about studying abroad is this tip about packing:
“Take everything you packed and remove half of it.”
By all means, take the clothes you really love and want, but do be aware that you will probably buy some souvenir clothing, and if you experience Penneys, you are sure to buy clothing here. So…if the shoes are €1, just buy them. If the shirt is €5, buy it! You’ll add to your wardrobe and packing will be easier beforehand.
Bring a Blanket
Ireland IS cold. And so is the flight to Ireland. So bring yourself a blanket. It makes the plane ride comfier, you’ll have something from home with you, and whether or not you’re studying in the spring or fall, you’ll likely need one, or two, blankets for a few weeks.
Eating at restaurants is fun and you get to try great food. However, if done every day, one can quickly go broke. Therefore, a great solution would be to cook your own food and use the oven. Plus: it will warm up the house!
Ireland can be cold, but it’s not bad. You’ll have to wear sweatshirts and pants for some time. Scarves and hats are always a good idea. But unless you spend the entire day outside in gale force winds, you are not going to be unbearably cold. Dress smart, and you’ll be fine!
Your place of study will most likely have a few days of orientation where you learn about campus, classes, scheduling, etc. Some of these are mandatory, while some are not. However, sometimes people choose not to go to any of orientation. I advise against this. Orientation is very helpful and you can learn a lot about classes and the campus you will be studying on for the next 4 months.
Unfortunately, there were more than a few problems with scheduling, not just for me, but also my friends. You might experience some miscommunication along the way with the classes, but it will get sorted out and everything will be alright.
Chances are you will have a very long journey, especially if you are from America. If you’re flying in from a country like France or Germany, you can skip this tip. You probably won’t have jetlag. However, if you’re travelling in a situation much like my own (flying from Wisconsin, to Heathrow, to Shannon) the jetlag will be real. So it is in your best interest to try staying up until around 9:30pm, or whenever you normally go to sleep.
I hope Part 1 of my quick tips to Ireland helped you with some questions you may have had. Make sure you check out Part 2 of my quick tips to learn more about some things that you may find helpful in your travels!!