Tips to Help You Settle in Ireland from an International Student

My name is Sowmya Madathil Sabu and I am from India. I am currently doing my Master’s in Civil Engineering at UL. This is my first visit to Ireland and because of this, I would like to share with you my experience that may help you to settle into this city.

Accommodation – Choose Accommodation On-Campus

There is a serious housing crisis in Limerick. It is not very easy to find an accommodation here. The best way to get a reliable accommodation is to opt for on-campus accommodation. When compared to off-campus, the rent is high but the facilities and the proximity to the university makes it worth it. As the academic year progresses, life gets very busy and staying near UL has a great advantage of its own.

Every week, there are variety of events that are organized by Campus Life Services which is open to all residents staying on-campus. Also, we can make the most of UL’s facilities like the library, gym, and swimming pool which are free for on-campus residents.

Banks – Go with AIB

I hadn’t brought a Forex card or any other international card with me from India. I only brought enough cash until I opened a bank account here. The two main banks with branches near UL are the Bank of Ireland (BOI) and Allied Irish Bank (AIB). I decided to start an account with BOI since it has a branch closer to the university. Bank accounts are created online with both banks. I was not satisfied with BOI. Weeks passed and there was no progress.

Since time and cash was running out, I decided to create an account with AIB. The process was much quicker and within 2 weeks, my account was created, address verification completed, and I received my debit card by post. Make sure to start a Students Plus Account if banking with AIB. There is considerable savings in terms of charges and fees.

Travel – Get a Student Leap Card

As a student, you can avail of the benefits of a Student Leap Card. After you receive your Student Card, you can purchase your leap card at this link here. The card costs €5. The physical card can be received from the Student Union Office after you make the payment. It makes travelling around the city and country much cheaper. To travel anywhere within the Limerick city, it will cost you only 65 cent. You can download the Leap Top-Up App from the App Store to top-up your card.

Mobile Networks – Vodafone is a Great Option

There are many network providers here – Vodafone, 48, Three, Tesco etc. I am using Vodafone. Every month you top-up with EUR 20 and get unlimited data in Ireland, 100 minute any network talk time, 30 GB international data and unlimited texts to any network. The network coverage is quite good.

Groceries – Aldi and Dunnes are Affordable

Away from home and all by yourself in a foreign land, buying groceries and cooking is a regular task. There are no grocery shops within the campus other than Spar. Spar, when compared to other retail shops, are quite expensive. Outside campus, the main spots for grocery shopping would be Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, Dunnes and SuperValu.

From my experience, the nearest and cheapest is Aldi. At Dunnes, they have an offer where for every purchase of at least €25, you get a €5 discount which makes it quite attractive for weekly shopping. They also have a good collection of clothes there.


Honestly speaking, I am not very impressed with medical and insurance service here. 3 weeks back I had an eye injury and called an ambulance. The ambulance took more than 90 minutes to arrive. After reaching the hospital, there was again a long waiting time. For an injury that happened at around 8:15 in the morning, I was attended by the doctor at around 1 pm.

I was taken to the University Hospital Limerick. There is no pharmacy in the hospital. Medicines are only provided for in-patients. Luckily, there was a pharmacy outside the hospital. After a couple of days, I received by post an ‘Emergency Attendance Charge’ of €100. Coming to the insurance part, I still haven’t heard from them. I had taken the insurance provided by the University, Chubb insurance. Every other document asked by them for processing the claim have been submitted, repeated calls and mails have followed but to no avail.

Online Shopping

Amazon services are not as easy as it was in India. All payments made through Amazon here are in GBP. So, there is a conversion rate that applies to convert from EUR to GBP. Also, returning items is a big headache. After raising a return request, we need to personally ship back the item. No one will come to collect the parcel from your place.

In short, studying at UL is an experience of its own. Away from the crowded cities, pollution and noise, life at Limerick city is very quiet and peaceful. Everywhere you look, it is green. There are ups and downs in everything. The facilities offered by the college is appreciable. The library here is simply incredible with a huge collection of books, friendly staff, useful workshops, ample study spaces, rooms for group studies, and even options for laptop lending. All in all, I will say coming here to do my Post Graduation was a great choice.

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