The International Education Division launched the UL International Buddy Programme with the purpose to promote the integration of new international students and students already attending UL. The programme pair each international student to a Buddy – a volunteer student – so that new students can have someone to help them during their stay in Ireland and in UL.
So, for those of you who are planning to study in UL or those of you who are already packing your bags to come to Ireland, you should know that you won’t be all by yourself when you arrive here.
The programme works like this, once the international office knows you are coming, they send your email contact to your assigned buddy so he can introduce himself and know a little bit more about you. This email exchange helps you answering doubts or questions you may have prior to your arrival. For example, one international student, who had never been abroad before, wanted to know how to get the bus from the airport to UL, how much was the fare price and how long the journey would take. I was glad I could help her sending the information about the bus companies, bus routes, timetables, etc, so that she could feel confident when disembarking in Ireland. Arriving in a completely new country, which you are not used to the language or even to the accent, might be daunting for many people, but if you know where to go, which bus to take, you will feel much more confident and things will start looking less scary.
Another student, wanted to know if life in Ireland was expensive, what should she bring to Ireland and what should she buy over here (as one checked-in bag is never enough to bring everything you want). I told her that she didn’t have to pack bed clothing as shops such as Penneys and TK Maxx have a great home-ware selection and are great for students shopping with a budget. All these questions came from students before they even had left their home country to embark to Ireland.
Upon their arrival I contacted them again to meet up for tea or coffee, which is sponsored by the Buddy programme. Meeting up for coffee during your first week in UL is a great informal way to get to know you buddy and ask for help in case you have problems with module registration, visa stamps, travel cards, etc. For example, the standard bus fare in Limerick is €2.30/journey, but if you buy the student travel Leap Card fares drop to €1.61.
When you study abroad, one of the best things you can do is to travel around. Taking advantage of low-cost airlines, you can travel anywhere in Europe on a budget. For example, one international student wanted to plan a weekend getaway in another country and during one of our coffee chats we talked about the places I would recommend him to visit, where to stay, what to do, etc.
The Buddy programme also organizes events throughout the semester, such as the Pizza Party. Free tickets for concerts, cinema screenings, museums and rugby games are also given to the students so that they can experience the best of what UL and Ireland can offer.
As an international student myself, I know that for new students the first weeks can be difficult, and for this reason I joined the Buddy Programme, I wanted to share my experiences and try to make these first weeks much easier for you to settle in. But I think the best part of being a Buddy is meeting new people and making friends from all over the world. If you got interested in participating in the Buddy Programme, check the webpage.