BA (Hons) in Law
Making the decision to further my studies in Ireland was a tough one. Having a ton of concerns and responsibilities on my shoulder, it was indisputably one of the toughest give-and-take situations I have encountered in my life. For instance, I was still in the two years term serving as a Catholic youth society’s president; being in a lovey-dovey relationship anticipating for the first anniversary; most worriedly, having to bear with financial problems and more to mention. Despite all the obstacles occurred, I made my step.
There is a Chinese proverb, “One only gains when he loses something”. I knew I had to extend my palms empty, as empty hands receive greater blessings; I knew that there was a more important aspect of life ahead of me; I knew it needed a lot of commitment, determination and perseverance which would provide various opportunities to better my life. Today, I am apart from 6,000 miles from home, in Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), Ireland.
After lingering with my family and friends in the airport back in Malaysia, I had the feeling of “And so, my journey begins”. Upon arrival in Dublin, I was so excited and fascinated by the beauty of this country, neglecting the fatigue after travelling for long 17 hours. Of course, I did not forget making a wish to come back visiting Dublin again one day, due to the lack of time to explore around.
All the way up to the north of Ireland, the “Cathedral Town”, or more precisely, Letterkenny, the new place I call home, was a simple, neat and peaceful town in my first impression, and yes it is. Such environment is perfect for a playful person like me not to lose focus on studies, while at the same time not lacking of entertainment. To further elaborate on Letterkenny, I will simply quote a Chinese idiom, “The sparrow may be small but all its vital organs are there.”
Nevertheless, given the fact that the living cost in Ireland is relatively lower than other Western countries, I would not have to be overburdened by high expenses while having a low budget during my degree years here, especially in Letterkenny. Furthermore, international students are allowed to work 20 hours and 40 hours respectively per week while studying and during holidays! (undergraduate students are not allowed to work part-time in most countries.) Provided by a minimum wage of €9.35 per hour, you may do your calculation, as this would be able to cover up quite a big part of your living costs, minimizing financial pressure. I would recommend (especially to first year students) not to work during school terms though. Instead join more clubs, societies and activities organized either by the university or the likes of Students Union! Working while having fun during summer break will be more than enough, it is great to get ourselves actively involved in the community of our universities.
In spite of the emotional feelings and withdrawals during and before departure, being able to study abroad is never a thing to be upset about. On the contrary, not everyone is lucky enough to have the opportunity; well I am one of the fortunate ones to enjoy such pleasurable experiences, especially in a country like Ireland. One has to cope with the difference of culture, lifestyle, weather (it is like durian in Malaysia, one will either love it or hate it) and the whole new environment here. Even though, I am proud to say that Malaysians are especially good at adapting ourselves in a new environment.
Undeniably, we will face difficulties to mix around with new people who have distinct differences to our backgrounds, but this would be a good experience. You may be wondering why the Irish act in a particular; you may even encounter someone who is unable to locate where your home country is. Anyhow, sometimes we just have to take the initiative to break the ice and discover their true colors.
“True colors?” Yes, almost exactly as we read from the web, the Irish are really kind, friendly and warm-hearted, sometimes humorous. I have been invited for card games, pizza, and nights to the pubs, bars and clubs. My wish to visit Dublin was even fulfilled, by joining the student march with my Irish friends! Nonetheless, the third-level institutions here in Ireland share one common advantage; the student communities are made-up of students from various countries around the world. I have made many good German friends here, also friends from the UK, Hungary, Ghana, Taiwan, China and Singapore, probably even more in the future!
This is really enjoyable when people from different countries introduce their different cultures. I am especially proud when people are so shocked after realizing that I can speak three languages fluently and one dialect, English, Mandarin and Malay language and Cantonese. As a person who loves cooking, I even cooked for some of my German and Chinese friends, in the meantime arranging another dinner with some of my Irish friends. Interestingly, I have been joining fellow Germans for an interactive board game called “Werewolves” fortnightly, by gathering in a house with snacks and drinks. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Studying abroad to me is in fact uneasy, yet, it is definitely extremely delightful. We just have to have faith that the rainbow comes along with sunshine after the rain, so embrace it! If you have the valuable opportunity (and capabilities) to study abroad, just go for it; if you don’t, try fighting for it! Certainly, the choice of university to study at, may vary by person; you just have to do enough research, pick one that suits you the most, and look forward to it! Most importantly, remember, choosing Ireland will be a brilliant choice that you will not regret it.