Current 2nd year Veterinary Student Tharsicaa Vimalarajah shares a look into life as an International Student at UCD

Starting university can be quite a lifestyle change. Moving away from home can be difficult and moving to a whole new country can make you question everything you’ve worked hard for to get to where you are today. Being an international student embodies both these hardships and opens up a lot of doors to new possibilities.

UCD is composed of a large number of international students so it’s without a doubt to say that the programs, the school and the students do their very best to make it a welcoming environment year-round. Your first stop on campus would be the International Office and Global Lounge where there are International Student Support Officers and a very comfy relaxing social space for you to enjoy. Services relating to health, finance, dental, religious, academic and many more are offered to students. There is also a highly diverse UCD’s International Student’s Society that you could join. It’s a great start to making new friendships, exploring the country together and enjoying endless events and activities.

Being an international student also meant that I no longer had the luxury of eating mom’s cooking. Cooking has always been a great way for me to take a break from studying. The best part of learning to cook during your time abroad is that often you’re cooking just for yourself – so it really doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out to be the best meal you’ve made. It takes a bit of experimentation, creativity and some spice to impress yourself with your newly learned cooking skills. At first you may get frustrated not knowing what you’re doing but you’ll learn on the go how to make many delicious meals. Before you know it, you’ve created your own Ireland food diaries photo album.

Your time away from home also gives you the opportunity to explore the country and its neighbouring lands. There’s so much to see along each coast of Ireland. Here in the heart of Dublin we have the Temple Bar – and well pretty much a bar on each corner street – St. Stephen’s Green park, Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park and the Guinness Storehouse. In Northern Ireland, Belfast acts as a major tourist city – home to Belfast City Hall, Belfast Zoo, St. Anne’s Cathedral and Belfast Castle, you will need to plan more than a day’s trip to appreciate its beauty. Further up north, I visited the serene county of Donegal. It’s a county filled with endless landscapes and scenery, making you want to stay outside forever. To the west we have Galway city and the Cliffs of Moher – attractions you will find yourself visiting more than once during your time here in Ireland, with each visit being more memorable than the last. Despite my two years here, I still have the rest of Ireland to explore. It’s certainly worthwhile to plan a Europe trip to different countries as well, and what better opportunity to do so than during your UCD school holidays.

Mornings in Donegal

Trips to the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren

Learning a new language can also be part of your journey to a different country. Here in Ireland, the language of the land is Gaeilge but you can certainly learn another language such as Italian, Spanish, German, French, English or Portuguese at UCD. Not only will it be an exciting addition to your busy course load but it also serves you well to be able to include a language on your resume – especially if you intend on building a career abroad.

Needless to say, there will be days you spend missing your family and loved ones back home. However, keeping a positive and adventurous mindset will allow you to thrive in this new chapter of your life. It doesn’t take long for you to make a home out of Dublin too.

If you are thinking about applying to UCD as an international student why not visit UCD to explore the Belfield Campus. You can book a campus tour here.

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