Berat Zorlu discusses the international student experience at UCD, and gives advice on how to make the most of it.
University College Dublin contains a myriad of colourful activities that can add much value to one’s experience as an international student. My name is Berat Zorlu, and I am from Istanbul, Turkey. I am pursuing my postgraduate studies at UCD in the MSc. Communication and Media programme. The reason why I chose UCD, and Ireland in general, is the high-quality education that this institution offers and the significantly liberal mediascape of Ireland compared to Turkey. While this piece will focus on the benefits available at UCD for international students, problems affecting the experience at UCD, and Dublin in general, will be presented as well. Hopefully, the advice and criticisms you will read today will help those of you starting or planning a similar experience.
Before moving on to the “fun” stuff, it is important to get some boring but equally important points out of the way. There are four core chores that an international student will need to take care of before they can comfortably live in Ireland. Getting an IRP card is the first thing that an international student must do. UCD has resources, such as UCD Global, that provides much information regarding this activity. One thing though, make sure to get an appointment early as they can be quite scarce. A PPS number will let you get employed easier while a Leap card will provide ease for travelling in Dublin. Make sure to start researching for accommodation well in advance unless you are planning to avail of UCD’s facilities in this regard. Be mindful though, student accommodation can be hit or miss, so do your research well. Once you complete this “checklist of inconvenience and doom” you are set to make the most of your international student experience.
Well, where to start? UCD offers a lot of opportunities for engagement. UCD Global, Student ResLife, Summer At UCD and Careers Network all offer excellent services for international students. Virtually every UCD outlet has some form of presence on social media, chiefly Instagram. Thus, this is where you want to start looking for updates and announcements regarding the countless services and activities available for international students. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but there will be a fair sum of activities you will have to miss out on as there is simply not enough time to do everything. This situation triggered a lot of FOMO in me, making me sign up for every single club, trip and activity I could find at UCD. I ultimately missed out on a lot anyway so I do not advise you to do the same.
Importantly do not be disheartened if you find yourself in a rut. Do a sport you normally would not be able to and sign up to its club, like fencing for example. Join some societies and participate in different one every week. Try to visit a new tourist spot every month and a new place in Dublin every week. Dublin may be small but there is definitely a lot packed in it. And, lastly, do not worry if you are running solo. It’s impossible to predict what fruit this realm of wonders will bear once you get out and about.