Hi everyone! My name’s Federico, I’m 21, and I’m currently in my third year of BComm International here at UCD! As you might guess from my name, I’m from Italy, and in this article I’m going to share with you what brought me to Ireland, UCD and my course, how I settled into it, and what my course is like!

I went through secondary school in my hometown, Rimini, a medium-sized seaside city located in the Emilia Romagna region, just minutes away from the border with San Marino. I decided to study in Ireland because I was looking for a truly international experience for my college years, and as Ireland’s Global University, I was confident UCD could offer me what I was looking for and much more!

I choose the Bachelor of Commerce International programme in UCD because I am really interested in business and this is a well-rounded business programme spanning across all business subjects, which would allow me to gain a thorough understanding of business as well as specialising later on in my degree. Also, a third of my course consists of a language that is studied alongside the business modules and it includes a built-in year abroad at another University in Europe or Asia. It really couldn’t get more international than this! Just as I’m writing, I find myself in the Netherlands for my year abroad, but more on this later.          

A typical day in Commerce International consists of about 3-4 hours of classes at most (although your timetable will change a lot from one semester to the next), amounting to around 12 hours per week. During my first two years, I would usually have a morning start with my language class at around 9 or 10am, then a couple of hours’ break, followed by a two-hour lecture for one of the business modules, another break, and a 50-minute tutorial around 4 or 5pm. It is great to have so many breaks throughout your day because it makes your day much more relaxed, and you have time to prepare for a class or review the material immediately after the lecture, go to the gym on campus, get a coffee with your friends and so on. Also, there are lots of restaurants and even microwaves on campus, so it’s always very convenient to spend the whole day there, whether you bring food from home or buy it on campus. In the evening, I sometimes also go to some society events such as the popular LawSoc debates or the culture-themed nights by the International Student Society.

You might be wondering how I settled into UCD and Dublin, as the transition to higher education can sound intimidating enough when you’re in the same country, never mind when you’re coming from another country! In my case, I think what made the difference was coming to Dublin 2-3 weeks before the start of classes. I arrived in Ireland in the last week of August so I had all the time to get to know Dublin and find an accommodation before the orientation week. Contrary to what a lot of first-year students do, I spent my first year at an off-campus accommodation I found through an online ad, sharing a house just minutes away from campus with three other students from my course (which was a total coincidence!). Even if you’re living on campus, UCD Residence usually lets you check in on the last few days of August, and I would definitely take this opportunity to get to know your way around campus and Dublin (if you’ve haven’t been there before). But most importantly, coming early gave me the opportunity to be all set for orientation week: during this week, your Programme Office organises some very useful welcome talks to help you settle into University life, and it also assigns you and some other students to a Peer Mentor (a student of your course who’s in their second year), who brings you around campus and shares some very handy tips. Also, student societies organise social events all around campus during this week, so each society can give you a taste of what they do. I went to as many events as I possibly could during the orientation week, and I met some of my best friends during that week! I can’t stress enough how much I recommend getting involved in everything that happens during that week as it is the best way of getting to know other students! Throughout the rest of my first year, I kept getting involved with the student societies I liked most, and I was constantly meeting new people. I also joined the Windsurfing Club and had lots of fun windsurfing in Dun Laoghaire at the weekend (or at least trying!).

But my first year wasn’t the last time I had to settle into a new place. As I said before, I’m now in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, for my compulsory study abroad. Luckily, certain destinations confirmed the study exchange (even though classes are held online due to Covid restrictions) and still allowed students to travel to those countries if they wanted to. Even though classes are online and I didn’t really need to travel to the Netherlands, the international year abroad is one of the reason I chose this course and I really didn’t want to let the pandemic take this experience away when given the chance to go (in fact, the first semester was unilaterally cancelled). I have to say I’m really enjoying Rotterdam despite the situation and I’ve already made a lot of friends, as many other people made the same choice as me and also physically came on exchange. I’m finding the classes really engaging and I am happy that my host university gave me some interesting module options that I hadn’t done in UCD. I’ve also had a chance to see some nearby cities since there’s no strict ‘stay at home’ measure during the day and I’m getting used to the Dutch way of life. I’ve also gotten myself a very Dutch-styled bike that really makes me feel like a local!

Just in case you’re wondering why I’m in the Netherlands instead of a country where a BComm International language is spoken (French, Spanish, Italian, German or Chinese), during my intake, there was still an option to switch to a pathway called Global Business, where you don’t study your language for your final two years, take more business subjects instead and go to a non-language destination (Rotterdam in my case). I just wanted to point out that this option is not on offer anymore, so if you’re looking to come to UCD in September 2021 or later, your destination countries will be either France, Spain, Italy, Germany/Austria or China, depending on the language you chose.

Just to wrap up, I’m really enjoying my course at UCD and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made three years ago! It is an amazing course that can really equip you with all the knowledge and skills you’ll need in your career, and outside of the academic side of things, the University offers so many ways to get involved and have an amazing time while in college. If you’re approaching your final year and you’d like to study business but from a more international perspective and with a language, Commerce International is the course for you! And if you haven’t done so, come and visit us, as seeing Belfield’s beautiful campus and its facilities really helped me make up my mind when I had to choose. If the current restrictions don’t allow it, then have a look at our virtual campus tours on MyUCD.ie and check out our on-demand open day on UCDOpenDay.ie to learn more about this course and other courses on offer. I hope this article gave you some insight into what my course is like, but if you have any questions at all, visit “MyUCD UniBuddy” (myucd.ie/chat-with-our-students), and myself or other UCD Student Ambassadors will be more than happy to answer all the questions you may have. I hope to see you all in UCD in the coming years!

Wishing you all the very best with your choice,