Guest Blog: Ireland in 5 essential tips

When embarking on an adventure in the Emerald Isle, it helps to be fully equipped with the “must-knows” of the country. Nobody wants to be stuck in an awkward situation due to a misunderstanding – may it be yours,or someone else’s. So, I’m going to share with you five tips about living in Ireland that I’ve learned during my time here.

1. “Grand”

The Irish have a very useful and multipurpose word – grand. This word can be used in almost every imaginable situation! Some examples to illustrate my point: A: How’re you doing? B: I’m grand; A: What’s the weather like? B: ‘Tis grand sure; A: Would you like to eat some healthy vegetables? B: No,you’re grand; A: I’m going to fail my exam tomorrow! B: Ah, you’ll be grand. These examples are of course, not exhaustive. So, if you’re ever asked a question that you can’t answer, the word “grand” might save your skin.

2. Like, like, like…

Many Irish people have the word “like” deeply embedded within their conversations. This word is just part of the slang as a sort of sentence filler, as far as I can see! In their opinion, it completes their sentences. For instance, “whatever, like d’you get what I mean, like?, I don’t know like, and what are you talking about like?

3. Telling the time

Learning some shortcuts is essential here when it comes to telling the time. This was one of the struggles I first faced when I arrived, I didn’t understand how the time was read! In Ireland, 5:30 is half five or half past five, 5:15 is a quarter past five, 4:45 is a quarter to five, 4:55 is five to five and so on and so on! However,it is very common for people to assume that you know what the hour is and totally omit the word “five” altogether. So often you’ll just be told “quarter past” or “quarter to” when you ask someone the time!

4. Slang words

In every culture,there are new created words that sum up many different situations. The Irish are no exception to the rule. Here is a little list of some of the most common:

Craic: Lots of fun

Banter: Exchange of sarcasm and wit

Shift or meet: French kissing or making out

Fair play: An expression to say well done, and an acknowledgement of effort

Happy out: Filled with happiness

Sound (person): Good (person)

Genie Mack: Oh my gosh!

And my personal favourite, I’ll be there in 2 minutes: I’ll be there in 20 minutes (this may be better or worse in different situations!)

5. Penney’s finest!

Shopping is always great when in a new country. However,the exchange of smaller currencies to the euro might cause your funds to dwindle a little. The solution? Pennys! It’s a department store available throughout Ireland which sells clothes, accessories and more for a very reasonable price. The merchandise available at Penneys never fails to impress in terms of style. So don’t be surprised if you hear this A: “oh that’s such a lovely dress, where did you get it? B: “Penneys’ finest sure!”

I have many more tips to share with you but these are a few for now. I hope you enjoyed them! All tips were done in good humour. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of them, you’ll be grand!

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.


Trinity volunteers

Volunteering is an activity many people begin for the first time when they study at Trinity. Trinity provides a large variety of volunteering for everyone,with differing time commitments and types of work involved. It’s a great way to get involved with the Dublin community, the wider Irish community and even travel around the world. Some of the opportunities that we’ve taken advantage of are below:

The Trinity Volunteer Opportunities Forum is a student initiative working to promote the spirit of volunteerism across campus and to support current volunteering activities within Trinity. TVOF endeavours to raise support and awareness amongst the local and business community and to provide a forum for the discussion of volunteer issues,sharing resources and information,as well as providing rapport between the different voluntary groups.

The SUAS Educational Development Society endeavours to raise awareness and promote fair education throughout India, Kenya and Ireland. The Trinity Suas Society gives you the chance to contribute directly to improving the lives of children in the developing world. With Suas, you can participate in the ever-expanding Suas Volunteer programme in primary schools in Asia and Africa,as well as Ireland-based Literacy Programmes. You can organise or participate in fundraising events,the proceeds of which go directly to specifically chosen projects. Or you can explore development issues by participating in the Suas Development Course.

The Voluntary Tuition Programme is a partnership between Trinity students,parents and volunteers from the local Dubin communities of Pearse Street and Ringsend. Every year they match Trinity students,graduates and staff-members as tutors with children and teenagers studying in nearby schools. Each pair spends usually one hour a week in one of our four centres, getting to know each other and working together on homework and other educational activities. They encourage anyone and everyone to sign up,get involved,and do some teaching. If you would like to get involved,contact VTP on or on their Facebook page.

Trinity FLAC‘s main aim is to provide free legal advice to the most financially vulnerable members of society. Trinity FLAC focuses mainly on common issues,such as tenant’s rights,and our goal is to make for a more legally aware student populous. FLAC run clinics throughout the year at which students can avail of free legal advice from a qualified solicitor. These are held every second Tuesday at 7pm in our room in the Atrium; any student can come along and seek help with their problems in an atmosphere of absolute confidentiality

Trinity Vincent de Paul Society is the largest division of the NGO St. Vincent de Paul in the world. It boasts over 20 weekly activities ranging from Homework Clubs to Soup Runs,Music Club to Kayaking. There is something for everyone in Trinity VDP. The society also hosts weekly fundraising meetings and last year held the infamous “Jailbreak” event which saw students try to get around the globe without spending a penny. The event raised 15,000 euro and the winners made it to Argentina. The society also has the annual Pantomine where students and kids take the starring role in a large stage show and the annual El Camino De Santiago sponsored walk across Northern Spain. For a full list of activities and events visit

Surf’s Up in Ireland!

Ellie Brennan 1

When I picture surfing,I automatically think of warm sunny California beaches, but despite living in California for six years I never got a chance to try surfing–that is until I moved to Ireland.

When I was first invited to go on a surf trip to Lahinch in County Clare over the bank holiday weekend along with 34 other students I had never met from different universities across Ireland, I was pretty hesitant. I certainly had not imagined surfing could be an option in Ireland and even the thought of jumping into the icy Atlantic Ocean made me shiver,but despite my doubts I signed up and set off to Lahinch for three days.

We drove across the entire country,from Dublin to Lahinch,in only three hours on the Friday afternoon. Coming from America it’s hard to imagine a cross country trip that short ever being possible,but that’s one of the things I love most about Ireland –that you can see so much of the country in barely any time. In that one drive I saw some of the biggest attractions Ireland has to offer like the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, Limerick City, and even Obama’s ancestral home plus, my personal favourite –countless idyllic rural villages and castles.

Elli Brennan 2

Saturday morning was the first day of surfing and we woke to some of the worst weather I’ve ever seen in my life. The lashing rain and gale force winds really made me rethink trying to surf in Ireland. But, when we reached the beach, all clad in wetsuits, the sun suddenly came out and I jumped in. After lots of work, I slowly but surely was able to get over the cold and even stand up on my board.

Ellie Brennan 3

Looking back, this weekend was very similar to my move to Ireland so far. There was definitely a lot to be afraid of and a million things I didn’t know,but all the new things;my new friends, experiences,and passions,have made me a stronger and more confident person. Given the chance I would absolutely do it all over again because it was definitely worth the risk.

Ellie Brennan is a first-year undergrad from the US studying PPES (Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Sociology). She is an ambassador for Education in Ireland. To see the original post, see here:

Bouncing into clubs & societies

During the first week of term, over 200 clubs, societies and publications set up tables in Front Square to recruit new members. Take a look: 

Being a student in Trinity,I am quite lucky to be able to join the approximately 200 clubs and societies in college. Each society and club has its own attraction and its own identity. I have joined an array of different groups during my time here in Trinity,and by the time I am done, I will probably have joined a lot more. One thing they all have in common, is that the moment you join,from the first event you attend right through to the last, you are made feel welcome and like a true part of the society. To talk about every society and club I am involved in would take aeons, so I will concentrate on giving a thorough look on the one currently in favour. This Club has made life in Trinity so enjoyable that I don’t see myself leaving the club,even after graduation.

The Club I’m talking about is the Trampoline Club. From the moment I joined,I felt like a real part of the club, from being trained by the Club’s amazing coaches, to drinking with the fantastic members and committee. I am extremely happy to belong to a Club with such dedication to making its members as happy as they can be here in Trinity. If you wish to compete at a very high level for the College,or if you wish to just learn how to bounce for the fun of it, they offer both of these levels and everything in between.

As far as the Social aspect of the Club,it is the closest group of people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone looks out for everyone, no exceptions. The events that are organised are so much fun,before it is over, you are already wondering when the next event will take place,and fortunately,we never have long to wait. There is always something going on, from competitions, training weekends in Cavan, Fancy Dress, Pyjama bouncing and night time socializing.

As I said, this is just one of many clubs in Trinity,each with their own take on college life. Finding the right society or club to fit into isn’t a hard task. The hard part is only picking a few to fully immerse yourself in. If I could give any advice, it would be to join as many as you can in first year and use the process of elimination to find your favourite.

–Student Ambassador, John Murray

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.

Audrey 2

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:

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

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.