Life in Ireland as a non-European International Student
Ireland is a beautiful island with a temperate climate. Like India, Ireland boasts of a young population, with 40% of its citizens being under the age of 25. It was ranked the friendliest country in the world by Lonely Planet in 2008 and 2010 and 10th safest country out of 27 OECD countries. In this article, we will try to find out how your life in Ireland will be as a non-European international student.
With close cultural, educational and economic ties to the UK and the US, Ireland is an English speaking country, making it easier for Indian students to communicate with others. Some of the most famous Irish writers you may have read or at least heard about are James Joyce, WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.
Weather and Climate
The dominant influence on Ireland's climate is the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream. Consequently, Ireland does not suffer from the extremes of temperature experienced by many other countries at similar latitude. Average annual temperature is about 9° C. In the middle and east of the country temperatures tend to be somewhat more extreme than in other parts of the country. For example, summer mean daily maximum is about 20° C and winter mean daily minimum is about 2.5° C in these areas. The coldest months in the country are December to February when the temperature ranges from 4° C to 7° C while the warmest months are July and August when the temperature ranges from 14° C to 16° C.
Few facts about Ireland
- The currency of the Republic of Ireland is Euro (EUR) while the currency of the Northern Ireland is the British Pound (GBP). In the Republic of Ireland, banks generally remain open from 10 am to 4 pm while in the Northern Ireland, banks usually remain open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- Ireland, like the UK, follows the Western European time zone. Hence, from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October, British Summer Time (BST) is followed and for rest of the year, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is followed. Hence, clocks have to be readjusted to the time being forwarded by one hour in March and turned back again in October by one hour.
- Plugs and sockets in Ireland are of 3-square-pin types while the power supply is of 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz. So, if you are planning to carry electrical appliances such as electric shavers, mobile chargers, or hair dryers, don't forget your voltage converts and plug adaptors.
- Smoking in all public places, including bars and nightclubs, is banned in Ireland.
- Excellence is the hallmark of Irish culture. The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2009 ranked Ireland eighth on the list of best education systems in the world, while the country is in Top 20 for its high quality scientific research output along with the US, Germany and Finland.
As Indian students are non-European Union nationals, they have to apply for the colleges and universities of their choice first, pay the fees, and then wait for their letter of acceptance from the institution. It is advisable to start applying to colleges and universities at least three to four months before you plan to leave for Ireland.
Once you are accepted in the Irish institutions of your choice, you can book an accommodation in a hostel or a hotel or you can choose to stay with an Irish family. At the time of immigration, you may also need to show health insurance documents that can cover your expenses for the duration of your stay in Ireland.
To renew your student visa at the end of your studies, it is very important to have at least 80% attendance in the course you choose.
Cost of Living
Ireland has a reputation for high living costs but a study by Mercer indicated something else. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, ranked 42nd on the list of most expensive cities in the world, far behind London, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Tokyo, New York, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Here is a rough estimate of costs per annum you will have to bear as a non-European Union overseas student in Ireland at undergraduate or postgraduate level:
Tuition Fees (may vary from institution to institution)
Rs. 6,50,000 to Rs. 14,00,000 (for engineering, science, business, or arts and humanities students)
Rs. 20,00,000 to Rs. 28,00,000 (for medical students)
Rs. 5,00,000 to Rs. 8,50,000 (depending on location and lifestyle)
Transportation in Ireland
In Republic Ireland, there are four main airports - Dublin Airport, Cork Airport, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport Knock - along with several regional airports.
In Northern Ireland, Belfast International Airport is the main airport. There are two other airports called George Best Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport.
You can travel in and around Ireland by air, train, bus & ferries. The railway network connects both sides of the Irish borders and the road network has been vastly improves over recent years with many new motorways connecting cities and towns with ease both north and south of the border.
As an overseas student, it might help you to know that air fares to Ireland are lower during the off-season which extends from November to March. You can also take ferries to Ireland from England, Wales, Scotland and Continental Europe.
Traveling in Europe
Life in Ireland as an overseas student is not only about studies. Traveling is an important part of foreign education. If you choose to study at Ireland, you can easily travel to any country in Europe, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and Turkey in just a few hours. However, you will need a schengen visa for the travel.