Guest Blog: An international student settles into Freshers’ Week

Life Overseas: Student Haven

First-year undergraduates in the United Kingdom attend freshers week before they start their programmes —seven days without lectures but with lots of activities to help them settle in,make friends and familiarise themselves with the university system and its grounds.

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For each day of the week, the courtyard at Trinity College Dublin,Ireland was filled with many booths. At each booth,representatives from a club or a society tried to attract students to sign up as members. Some raved about having had famous guest speakers such as actors Alan Rickman, Will Ferrell and Whoopi Goldberg. Others displayed a list of interesting events which will be held throughout the year. A few boasted about their past achievements and prestigious histories. A club whipped out boxes of free piping hot pizza along with hot cups of tea and coffee. Another enticed students with free brownies, cookies, cakes and chocolates. No prizes for guessing the most popular tents. Students lined up to receive the free food after registering for the clubs at between €2 (RM8) and €4.

Some of the larger societies such as the Philosophical Club offered free breakfast and snacks to members for one week. There were free refills of coffee and tea, freshly made crêpes, buttery popcorn, iced blended drinks and candyfloss. I did not even have to buy any food during my first week of tertiary life.

Not to be outdone, some societies even gave away goodie bags filled with food vouchers, little boxes of cereal, chocolate bars, a carton of orange juice and a hardback daily journal worth RM70. Some societies provided membership cards with benefits such as discounts at a variety of restaurants and shops located near the university. There were also cheaper cinema tickets for a night out with friends.

I signed up for 12 societies even though I knew it would be impossible to attend all the meetings. As a clueless first-year student, the ideal way to meet people is to get involved in extra-curricular activities. It was the perfect week to settle in, explore the campus and meet people from across the globe while finding my own niche. All in all it was a student’s haven, especially for those who found cooking a challenge.

Audrey Chew Ernern is a first year undergraduate student. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart. Audrey is a Student Ambassador for Education in Ireland, representing Trinity College Dublin.

To read more of Audrey’s blog about her life at Trinity and see her photos,see here: www.nst.com.my/channels/you/life-overseas-student-haven-1.402840

Some of the best cafés in Dublin city centre

Dublin has a lot to offer in terms of cafes.  Here are just a few to whet your whistle!

Le Petit Parisien, Wicklow Street – Formally known as Gibson’s,this little gem is situated down Wicklow Street,an easy walk from Trinity College or Stephen’s Green. Boasting a stylish orange and black exterior, this café also hosts a range of delicious breakfast choices, sandwiches, hot and cold beverages, and a cosy intimate atmosphere.

Fallon &Byrne, Exchequer Street – Just about everything made, grown or otherwise perfected on the good earth, much of it organic and all of it delicious. Not only does the café boast a range of tarts,quiches, delectable sandwich fillings ranging from the finest duck to the choicest pieces of ham and cheese, but the Food Hall also houses some of the most delicious Irish produce, including organic Irish vegetables and Irish mussels from the West Coast.

KC Peaches, Pearse Street and Nassau Street – A wonderful vibrant café,with an ethos for all-natural food at affordable prices. A vast array of delectable cakes, chocolate filled morsels, and sandwiches to name but a few things, side by side with wonderful lemonades, teas,coffees and other beverages, and against the backdrop of a stunning interior, this café is one of the best in all of Dublin.

Fumbally Cafe, Fumbally Lane – The Fumbally houses a wonderfully cosy atmosphere and boasts some of the most delicious sandwiches known to mankind. Its high ceiling and stylized décor provide for a wonderful lunchtime bonanza, with soups, breads, tarts, cakes and hot and cold beverages, as well as having a vast range of Irish produce and Vegetarian options. A wonderful place that offers something for everyone!

Wall &Keogh’s, Richmond Street South – You name it,they have a brew for it. Housing over 150 varieties of loose leaf tea for your perusal, and fairy-lights on an outdoor terrace at the back of the café,this wonderful spot is a great little place to happily pass away the soirée. Sit in and enjoy or, alternatively, take a bag of tea home to someone you dig.

Foam Cafe, Strand Street – This funky café is fun and vibrant,and it’s menu reflects the spot’s wonderful décor. With soups to die for,cakes to make you break your “just one more bite” policy,and sandwiches so good they’ll make you go ballistic, who would want to be anywhere else?

Paris Bakery, Moore Street – Lying in the centre of Dublin’s historic older city, the Paris Bakery has been making quality artisan breads and pastries and top quality hot and cold dishes since 2010. The smell of freshly made bread wafts around a lush café,where one can also find some delicious soups,and delectable pastries. The proof is in the pudding.

Queen of Tarts, Dame Street and Cow’s Lane – This café was created by two sisters who trained as pastry chefs in New York in the 1990’s,who wanted to return home and create a café with the best breakfast and lunch menu in town,along with delicious scones,brownies,and sweet and savoury tarts.

Fixx Coffeehouse, Dawson Street – At Fixx, coffee is not just a drink – it is an art. Fixx has a wonderful warm ambiance, in addition to the finest baristas in town.  As well as having their own cycling club,the Fixx Rouleurs,the café also has a wonderful little library, where you can peruse many of the books available and read them at your leisure, and then swap them for something else if you didn’t quite get to finish that last chapter.

Avoca Café, Suffolk Street – The Avoca café is situated inside the Avoca shop,full of knit scarves and interesting trinkets to look at. They sell the usual selection of tea, coffee and hot chocolate, but also sell their own homemade lemonade and elderflower juice. Desserts include cinnamon doughnuts, pear and almond tart and a sweet raspberry cheesecake.

Is your favourite not on the list? Let us know,maybe we’ve missed another of our city’s gastronomic gems! Contact us at tcdglobalroom@tcd.ie

Aishwarya, a 2nd year Law student from India, reflects on her first year in Ireland

IMG_0451This is my second year in Ireland and to date my experience here has been very special as an international student.  Reflecting back upon the past one year, I can say that it can be grouped in four distinct phases. The first was one of utter chaos! Struggling with the GNIB (Visa) formalities, opening a bank account, trying to settle in, and on top of that, trying to understand the accent! The real test came when I visited Cork in my second week here in Ireland. At first, I thought they were speaking to me in Irish!  But they were not.

The second phase was more relaxed. This was when I had settled in,and started experiencing the various facets of College life at Trinity. This was the time when I got involved with various societies, started making good friends, and experiencing Irish culture in general. This was also the phase when the course difficulty level sky-rocketed.

The third phase, I can say, consists of my memories of “exam-time”! The value of every minute was realised then! I remember coming into the library at 7AM a week before exams started only to find myself without a seat it was so busy! The atmosphere was intense, but I guess when Trinity says it strives for academic brilliance, it really does mean it! And I am only glad that phase was over sooner than I could imagine.

The fourth phase I hold very dear to me.  I would say it is when I actually felt like an adult for the first time. I applied for the Global Room Ambassador position, and luckily I got the role. Having regular shifts to work at during the week meant responsibility, and a good one at that. But the joy of holding your first pay-slip was a different ballgame altogether. The value of the numbers on it do not matter, but to know that whatever is on it is your hard-earned money (arguably hard-earned), gives a form of satisfaction which is unparalleled. Further, to realise that your work is appreciated by your peers and those above you in the office hierarchy is a very good feeling to have. Not to mention the number of students who benefit by the few hours you put in every week.

All in all, the past one year has taught me things I never thought I would know,and that is what makes my experience here in Trinity very special.

Must-See Destinations in Ireland

So you’ve been living in Ireland for a while now. You’re getting to grips with life at Trinity, had at least one Friday night at the Pav and have mastered the 8am rush on Dublin Bus. Hopefully you’re starting to feel comfortable with your new surroundings, but be careful of falling into the ‘trap’ of never leaving Dublin. Ireland is so much more than its capital city. In order to help you figure out your ‘must-see’destinations, here are some top places to visit in Ireland.

Glendalough
A valley in County Wicklow, known primarily for its early monastic settlement its most popular feature is the range of hiking trails and mountain walks that suit everyone from the novice hiker to the most avid mountaineer. For a true taste of Ireland’s untouched rural beauty,Glendalough is a must see.

Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway
An hour-long train journey away this city is famed for its outstanding music scene, troubled history and links to the ill-fated Titanic. There’s also a bus tour which will show you all of the city’s main attractions including the famous Northern Ireland wall murals. A short distance outside of the city is the natural phenomenon, the Giant’s Causeway. Regular tours will take you to this unusual UNESCO heritage site where you can see geological structures such as the hexagonal basalt formations and learn about the Irish myths surrounding them.

The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher
The second most diverse floral landscape in Europe is one of the most stunning geographical places in Ireland. Vast sheets of limestone dominate the surrounding vista. The west coast of Clare and the Cliffs of Moher boast the longest continuous cliff face in Europe, standing at an impressive 120 metres at their highest point. For cave dwellers lovers,the Ailwee Caves are a must see, as is Poulnabrone, a Neolithic portal dolmen which is over 5,000 years old. The entire coastal road is also full of lovely quaint Irish towns, beautiful Irish country lanes, stripy cows and little Irish seaside villages.Cliffs of Moher

Galway and Connemara
Home of the craic. For the best nightlife in the world, and a late night Supermacs (an Irish takeaway), there is no place quite like it. Come on in and share a Guinness with some friends,talk to the locals and listen to some live traditional music in all the pubs, have a scrumptious bite to eat in the Latin Quarter,or walk along the quay beside the beautiful Galway Bay. Galway has it all,and is a must see place in Ireland. Great for a few days or a weekend away, there are a number of cheap hostels and B&Bs in the city, as well as some wonderful hotels. Nearby Connemara is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. With its ancient bogland,wonderful roving hills,and sharp valleys crafted by the glacial melt in the last ice age, Connemara is a site to behold. There are also beautiful beaches, as well as wonderful green fields and sheep galore.

Newgrange and the Boyne Valley
Situated in the heart of the Boyne Valley in County Meath this Stone Age Passage Tomb is over 5,000 years old making it one of the oldest ‘buildings’ in the world –older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt! Apart from the obvious incredible engineering involved in this monument,the most striking aspect of Newgrange is the remarkable link between this ancient temple and the Winter Solstice, December 21st. On this day each year the rising sun aligns with the entrance to the tomb at such an angle that the morning rays creep along the passage, illuminating the chamber within. As the chamber is so small only a handful of people,the lucky winners of a free annual lottery, are present to witness this incredible event. For those of us who are not lucky enough to be there on December 21st there are tours held daily where the kind guides at Newgrange will re-create the experience for you.

Carlingford Lough
For anyone interested in sports and outdoor activities, Carlingford should be one of your top destinations. Along with its picturesque lough and neighbouring mountains this small town boasts the very popular Carlingford Adventure Centre. Offering a variety of activities that range from rock climbing and abseiling to kayaking to archery,you can be sure that there is something to suit everyone’s interests and abilities.

The Ring of Kerry
From Killarney to Dingle,and Tralee and all the other places in between,Kerry houses some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery, with glorious rolling mountains and lakes,lively pubs,and wonderful food. A wonderful spot.

These are only a few of the places Ireland has to offer! There are so many more places to see so don’t be afraid to go out and see them on your own!
Trinity College Dublin’s international student society organise trips to many of these places and more. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates!

Aoife and Duncan are Student Ambassadors in the Trinity Global Room 

Academic Lives: Two Student Perspectives

For students trying to decide what to study at University, sometimes having access to 400 course options can be overwhelming. Here are two quick insights into two very different courses…

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Student Ambassador Sophie Morris, 4th year Business and Economics undergraduate:

One module I am studying is called ‘International Business &the Global Economy’. It’s a fascinating course covering a variety of prescient topics that are current stories we read about in the newspaper every day. We have been tasked with a project looking at a particular case study of money laundering. Our professor has asked us to act as detectives and track where the money comes from,where it goes to and what financial mechanisms are used in the process. It’s a great opportunity to become an expert in the area;the cases we are all looking at all concern large amounts of money and at times reading reports about them is more like reading crime fiction writing rather than fact!

Student Ambassador Lydia Fischer-Dooley, 3rd year Drama and Theatre Studies undergraduate:

There is a preconception when thinking of Arts students that we sit around reading books with vast amounts of free-time to fill. This is not the case when studying Drama & Theatre Studies in Trinity College Dublin. When I reflect on my last 2+ years studying Drama,my memories cover everything from painting sets,rigging lights and rehearsing lines to organising events. The course demands self-motivation,hard-work and ability to work in groups. Anyone interested in expanding their understanding of theatre should apply!

Trinity Student Ambassadors are available to talk about courses,student life and settling into Dublin in the Trinity Global Room from 9.30am-9pm Monday-Friday. If you want to get in touch with them, email TCDglobalroom@tcd.ie.