As an international student, the prospect of moving to a new city, country, or even continent can be daunting for even the most courageous student. A plethora of questions flow through your mind before you step foot on Irish soil. What are the people like? What should you wear to class? Are there any other international students? To answer some of these questions and ease some of those nerves, here is a list of the top things you should know when attending Trinity College Dublin – from one international student to another.
1.Irish ‘Craic’ isn’t a Drug
English is the language predominantly spoken in Ireland. Having said that, Irish slang could be classed as a different language all to itself. Should you find yourself utterly dazed by terms such as ‘craic’, ‘gas’, ‘naggin’ and ‘shift’, don’t suffer in silence. Kindly ask the fast-paced speaker to explain what they mean. Soon enough you’ll find yourself learning and using these terms as if you were a local. Also, the Irish have notorious potty mouths and use “feckin’ shite talk” for an added theatrical effect and to embellish their stories. They are not trying to offend you.
2.The Leaving Cert (AKA The Spawn of Satan)
The British have the A-Levels, the Americans have the SAT, the French have the Baccalauréat, but nothing quite compares to the Leaving Cert… or so it seems to the Irish. Before embarking on their first year of college, your Irish peers spent their final year of school studying for the Leaving Cert; those dreaded examinations in June that determine what they can study in university. If you get through a week in your first year without hearing about ‘the good ole LC’ from an Irish student, consider yourself lucky. These exams are just about the most scarring experience of their lives, apparently, and they will talk about their exam essay on Shakespeare’s King Lear until their dying day. Regarding the points system, just know that 625 points is impressive, and most people in Trinity got a lot of points.
Dublin City has three modes of public transport to offer; bus, tram, and train. The bus service, Dublin Bus, covers the majority of places you may need to go in the city and generally runs on time, though there may be an occasion when your bus home mysteriously never shows up. The Dublin Bus app is the best way to find information on routes, stops and times, and it’s worth noting that buses do not accept euro notes. Following that is the tram called the Luas (pronounced ‘loo-iss’), which has two lines, the Red Line serving the north and west of the city, and the Green Line covering the south. There is currently construction underway to connect these two lines, and a Cross City Luas service is expected by 2017. Finally, the DART is a train running in the city and along the coastline, and is easily accessed by students via Pearse or Connolly station. Each of these modes of transport can be paid for using a Student Leap Card that you can purchase in the Students’ Union shop in House 6.
4. Trinity Global Room
A major asset to the community of international students in Trinity is the Global Room. Located in the Hamilton Building, this is run by student ambassadors and staff who provide assistance to international students with issues ranging from Garda clearance and visas, to helping students become more comfortable in their new home. The facility includes a hangout space that regularly holds meetups and cultural events, and is equipped with TVs that show news and shows from around the world. If you ever feel like you need help and support as an international student, the Global Room is definitely worth visiting.
5. The Irish Drinking Stereotype
The Irish may deny that the drinking stereotype imposed on them is a myth fuelled over the years by the media, but this is a myth with some truth to it. Irish people are indeed fond of their alcohol. More often than not, socializing involves sharing a pint with friends, and living in the pub and club-filled city of Dublin allows for this hobby to be maintained rather easily. By no means are the Irish boring without alcohol in their systems, but they do love to have a good time and a few cans can certainly lead to a great story in the morning.
6. Irish Weather
7. Getting a home-cooked meal at the weekend
Homesickness in an inevitability for international students, and knowing that many Irish students go home for the weekends while you can’t, often makes it worse. Those lucky, malnourished and worn-out students toddle home to a warm bed and a home-cooked meal whilst you’re left eating a pot of noodles on the pile of laundry in the corner of your room. One of the greatest things to come out of a friendship with an Irish student is the perk of receiving an invite to their homestead where you will be greeted with love and an over-sized Sunday dinner from an Irish mammy; the perfect cure for even the worst homesickness.