Xiao Yao, Chinese student at University of Limerick in Ireland, offers her insights into life in Ireland, such as how to properly respond to the question, ‘How are you?’
Each time, when I am recalling my experience in a period of time, I always begin with “How time flies”. I know this is really a Cliche and so old-fashioned, but it is also the reason why it serves well to recall memory, to let you have the feeling of ages, isn’t it? So! Oh god! How time flies!
I still remember on 28, August 2016, a day with sunshine (need to be emphasized since we are taking about Ireland), I arrived in Ireland with my totally exhausted body but excited heart. After leaving the airport with my huge 23kg suitcase, I was frustrated by the Irish bus system (for the first time, later they had a several weeks strike, so ah…) with no idea which bus would drive me to UL. All bus stops, company names and even the time on the notice board confused me. I kept asking drivers “Will this bus go to UL?” and got the reply “Stables?”, “Well, I mean University of Limerick.” “Oh yeah, we will stop at Stables”. After several rounds of such conversation, I gave up struggling with what exactly “stables” means, which by then for me simply means “a farm building for housing horses or other livestock”. I just got the bus, opened the Google map and wondered what kind of “stable” I am going to study in. But for now, after nine months, Stables has its new meaning: an amazing pub full of joy every Friday night.
After getting off the bus, I saw my Chinese friends who arrived several days earlier and were waiting for me. That moment is definitely on my list of the Top 10 unforgettable moments. They led me to my accommodation — Thomond Village. During the way to my apartment, I had my first impression of UL campus— big, beautiful and confusing. It really confused me actually, with all different shapes of buildings and short cuts everywhere. And during the teaching weeks, you need to find buildings where your lecture is going to take place. By then, you will realize that although you can see maps everywhere, you can still lost and let alone when you try to find a classroom or an office in the famous maze, the Main Building. As to this problem, unfortunately I cannot come up with any solution, so just leave home early before class and wish good luck with you.
And now, back to Thomond Village. The student village system may be a little bit unfamiliar to you, especially to Chinese students, so I am going to make a brief introduction to this system. Each student village has a “Reception” somewhere within the village. It functions really similar to the “xiaoquwuye” in China. So it takes in charge of helping you receive letters and packages; arranging the maintenance team to fix whatever is broken in your accommodation after you telling them; dispatching washing coins(of course you need to pay for the laundry package first), providing duvet, pillows and kitchen stuffs before your arriving and organizing some activities. Basically, any inquires related your accommodation can be answered by them. And the accommodation here cannot be called as “dorm”, which is the direct translation from Chinese word “sushe”. Here you can either say “apartment” or “house” depending on the structure. And to be more homey, sometimes you can also say “home” to refer to the accommodation. Also, I strongly suggest you to ask the reception to type your address on your phone, which should be one hundred percent correct, especially when you open an account in the bank or you gonna need several weeks to change the address and try to survive for several weeks without a local bank card. (Do not ask me why I know that, horrible experience). The accommodation provided by the system is safe, convenient and well-equipped but also relatively expensive and hard to get.
Understanding the Irish
The first day I went to the reception to get my key was a little bit embarrassing because the assistant manager asked my ID number and I just suddenly spoke it out in Chinese, like “yi liu ling …”. The lady was completely lost and stared at me. Another embarrassing moment happened when I first met my housemates (BTW also do not directly translate from Chinese “shiyou” as roommate, which is really strange). It was the first time for me to experience how fast Irish people speak English. So I was lost the whole short conversation and had no memory about what I said actually. And another thing I need to mention about Irish English is that it took me nearly a month to figure out that in Ireland when people meet you, they say “How are you?”, it is simply a way of greeting and you can even regard it as the same as “Hello”. I need to mention this because my English teacher back home taught me a really fixed conversation goes like “How are you?” “I am fine thank you and you?” But when my Irish housemates asked me “How are you?”, they seem to never gonna give me the time to complete the whole sentence. So, if an Irish greets you with “How are you?”, you can just say “how are you?” simultaneously or answer like “good (not bad, great..) and you?” It is important to know how to do proper greeting, because it is the first step for us to show our politeness and if you fail to do that, it can easily cause intercultural communication misunderstandings.
The reception will provide you basic stuffs and you just need to buy things that will make your life more comfortable. But do not buy too much, because now I am currently packing, so you can imagine how desperate I am with this huge amount of stuff.
Find out more
For living here, I wrote a blog about basic necessities, including clothing, food, living and transportation, which may give you more detail about the life in Limerick. Check it out here
And if you still have questions for the life here, no panic, because the IED will organize orientation week and help you with all problems from module selection to Sulis usage, from ID card management to society membership…
Then the semester begins, some academic advice is given in this blog. This will be really useful before you getting your hands on the essay writing.
Social Life in Ireland
Irish ways of entertainment are mainly parties and drinking. Well, you do not need to “do as the Romans do” but if you really want to experience, I recommend you to go to Stables on Friday nights. Its near, relatively safe and have so many international students. It is no use for me to use tons of words to describe how wonderful and amazing it is but it is useful for you to go there in person to feel.
It is really impossible to tell you all my wonderful experience in UL and in Ireland during this nine month period. Even myself can never bring back all amazing memories back home. So I can just pick up something I think really helpful to share with you.
And I hope all of you, no matter you are a current student here or one who is preparing to come soon, can have wonderful experience and great memory in UL!
Thanks to Xiao for writing this for us! Check out the University of Limerick
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