Soumya Arora discusses the international student experience at UCD, and gives advice on how to make the most of it.
It was one of the most emotional days of my life when I was awarded the 100% Global Excellence Scholarship and admitted into UCD to study the course that I always wanted to pursue. The feeling of finally getting everything I had worked for was heartening. Pursuing my education at a prestigious, world-renowned university in Ireland with highly acclaimed professors and a cosmopolitan student body encouraged me to intermingle with students from different backgrounds and develop a holistic understanding of their outlooks and perspectives.
The world is spiralling. Every moment presents a new challenge and has us reckon with imminent matters that seem to be leading the globe towards anarchy and mayhem. Amidst all of that, UCD gave me a platform to refine my skills in events that matter, providing me with experiences of a lifetime. As the International Campaign Co-ordinator for UCD Students’ Union, during my first year, I worked closely with international students from all over the world that uprooted their lives completely and moved to another country. This provided me with a unique lens and varying insights from international students. The environment here at UCD actively pushed me to become the best version of myself whilst also providing me with the opportunities and a platform for achieving my goals.
Ireland is the only other country I had ever been able to live in except my home country, India. In a comparative analysis, I observed that the socio-economic infrastructure of Dublin city reflects a multi-cultural, student-friendly hub for innovation and change. Apart from the scenic beauty that instils peace in Ireland, the people care. They care about the democratic rights of citizens—about refugees from war-torn countries and about every citizen that lives here no matter their race, ethnicity or sex. Therefore, it is easy for an international student to settle in this city. However, the exorbitantly high rent is no friend to us. International students are required to pay a significantly higher tuition fee, and the cost of living here adds pressure to our finances. This might act as a barrier to certain students, but there is a silver lining. Dublin and UCD have ample part-time job opportunities, often with flexible hours and a relatively high minimum wage. I am currently working with the Alumni Relations Office of UCD and the work environment there along with the skills and work experience that I am developing is a major advantage.
UCD also has diverse clubs, societies and events. The cultural societies representing various countries promote engagement and awareness, helping students feel at home and also celebrate various festivals and stay close to their roots. In order to benefit from these, it is imperative that as international students we become our most enterprising selves and take initiative whenever possible. Active participation is key to imbibing the benefits of the opportunities presented to us here. That, to me, encompasses the best college experience an international student can have.