Having Survived two Natural Calamities

By Simran Kapur, MA in Journalism, University of Limerick

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When I initially packed up my bags for Ireland my mother was extremely worried about the possible weather conditions and kept stuffing my bag with every possible jacket she found lying around.

In the end as you all must have guessed my luggage went leaps and bounds over limit, so I had to sacrifice on a few pairs of jeans but my mum won’t budge about the sweaters, they had to go in regardless. After a few tense moments at the boarding section of the airport, my luggage a few kilos over went in without any difficulty. I’m pretty sure they understood my plight.

However when I landed in the extremely moody weather of Limerick it came as a shock to me at first, cause it was raining in September, quite an odd sight back at home. Of the humid weather and horrible traffic that I hated back home, I at least appreciated our weather being demarcated by seasons throughout the year.

However a few days into my cross-country adventure I realized I should have bought more jackets. Never had I seen the sun out, the winds blowing my head off and sudden drizzles of rain all at once. The weather here had more mood swings than I ever did.

Very soon I’d realize what I had signed up for. With winter almost round the corner we received our first code red weather warning. Now we’ve faced storms as crazy as Aila in Calcutta, but somehow everything becomes extremely scary when the term ‘code red’ is used. So after several concerned texts from my family in London and back home I prepared myself for Ophelia. It started early in the morning, ever so often jolting me awake from sleep. After finally giving on sleep altogether I, like any other student my age, put a few Snapchat updates and glued myself to the telly about the story updates. It turned out to be rather normal, with my flat mates and our frequent movie nights we forgot about the whole thing very soon. The next day updates about the lives lost, really gutted me and made me feel extremely thankful for being sheltered and protected in my student accommodation.

I managed to survive the extended winter spell and was glad for the vacations we had. Stacked up with every possible warm piece of clothing I was rather content with myself.

Very soon, news of storm Emma, ‘The beast from the East’ came knocking on our doors. I had never before seen snow, as you might have read in my previous post so for me it was rather exciting than scary. The university sent out several emails and Facebook reminders and with the store out of bread and milk it was indeed a big deal in Ireland.

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For me and my housemates it was an excuse to sneak up behind each other and throw snowballs. To waking each other up with a snowball on the face, we celebrated the festival of colours, Holi in a rather unique fashion. I made my very first snowman, took us two hours but our snowman was a monstrosity at 12 ft high, we were rather proud of that. We broke into snow fights every so often and it was indeed the best four day vacation I had.

The two biggest calamities in Ireland in decades and I was there to witness it, now that is special. My experiences in this country are getting more unique by the day.

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Undertaking an MA in Ireland: what American students need to know before jumping in

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By Jenny Schaeffer, student on the MA Sociology (Youth, Community, and Social Regeneration)

Many people (in Ireland and abroad) have questioned why I chose to study at the University of Limerick. For some, it is hard for them to wrap their heads around what this experience is really like — so I figured I’d attempt to put it into words and answer some of the more common questions that get thrown my way.

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Lookout spot on the Wild Atlantic Way in Dingle

 

What are the benefits of studying in Ireland?

The biggest draw for me was low tuition costs. A similar degree would have set me back double (or in some cases triple) the price in America. You can also use US federal and state student loans and grants to fund your education. I also received a scholarship from UL, which helped cut down costs. Plus, Americans conveniently do not need to apply for a student visa (though there is a €300 yearly immigration fee). I find Ireland to be affordable and the cost of living is relatively low and comparable to my hometown back in the States, too.

I was also drawn to UL because they offered an accelerated, single-year masters program that directly aligned with my professional and academic interests. Importantly, I also have the opportunity to receive a quality education by studying under distinguished scholars on a modern campus — similar to my experience back in the states.

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Cliffs of Moher

How do you find Ireland? Do you like it?

I really enjoy Ireland! The landscapes are beautiful, the people are friendly, and there are plenty of activities to involve yourself in. While the weather isn’t always something to write home about, it is relatively mild year-round — so unless it is particularly nasty outside, it never really seems to prevent anyone from doing outdoor activities.

While the public transportation services aren’t spectacular and taxis can be expensive, it isn’t terribly hard to get around the city. Limerick City and Castletroy are walkable and bikeable, too.

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Walking trail at the University of Limerick along the Shannon River

Traveling to different cities and villages is also relatively easy. I have already covered a lot of ground and I’ve seen a good bit of the country by bus (€3 to €30), train (€10 to €30), and car (€35 per day, plus insurance and petrol). Shannon Airport, which is just outside of Limerick, offers many inexpensive international flights, as does Dublin Airport — so weekend getaway trips are always a possibility.

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Taken on a trip with the International Society to the Ring of Kerry

What are some of the challenges you face?

Finding accommodation can be complicated as there is a housing crisis in Ireland. Rising rents, housing shortages, and homelessness are crucial social issues that Ireland is struggling to appropriately address. While I live on campus in student housing, many of my friends and peers struggled to secure rooms off campus. My only suggestion is to start looking for accommodation early.

Another issue is employment. In Ireland, American students can work for up to 20 hours a week. Despite my competitive resume, I have struggled to find part-time employment in my field. Luckily, I’ve been able to scrape by (on savings and student loans) but I know that this may be a serious point of contention for others.

The Irish grading system is also very different from the American system. While I am still getting great remarks, it took me awhile to wrap my head around it and I had to adjust my initial expectations.

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Day trip to Cork

What is Irish culture like? Have you made friends?

 Irish people are good craic! For those of you not familiar with Irish lingo, ‘good craic’ means fun and enjoyable. I’ve met a lot of friendly and lovely people here, including other internationals. Compared to my experiences in America, it does take a bit more persistence and effort to join established Irish friend groups, especially as everyone has seemingly known each other all their lives.

There is a culture of drinking, so most socializing happens in the pub and out on the town. Limerick luckily has a great nightlife scene. There are plenty of pubs, clubs, and restaurants to satisfy all tastes and the Irish are seemingly always down with any excuse to party!

Sports are also central to Irish life. Everyone seems to play or watch Hurling, Gaelic Football, or Rugby. I haven’t managed to make it to a match yet, but I cannot wait to see a live game and be in a crowd of rowdy and passionate fans.

As a single lady, the dating scene has been a challenge to navigate. In America, it is not unusual for men to approach women and start a casual conversation….but here, that rarely happens! Everyone seems to be on tinder or bumble, which is seen as an accepted way to meet new people. I’m also not opposed to asking men out, but I’ve experienced some mixed reactions with my bold techniques. For now (at least) Irish men remain perplexing and bewildering creatures.

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At Bunratty Castle

Lately I’ve also been volunteering as a way of building my connection to the community. UL has a great portal to connect students to opportunities on campus and around town. Also, there are plenty of student organizations to join, like the International society or the Kayak club. These groups host fun events, trips, and get-togethers and serve as a great way to meet new people. In addition, I’ve made friends with my peers in each of my classes. They’ve been a great support and are a welcome addition to my network.

 

Would you do it again? Should I consider studying there?

All in all, I am extremely happy with my decision to study in Ireland. In fact, I can’t seem to get enough, as I am planning to apply for a PhD position at the University of Limerick! If you are considering undertaking a postgraduate course, do not hesitate to consider studying here, as the Emerald Isle will surely serve as an excellent setting for all of your postgraduate dreams.

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Overlooking Lahinch, taken on a weekend trip with the Kayak Club

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My experience studying Law at the University of Limerick

The School of Law at UL recently received recognition of its Law degrees – Law Plus and Law and Accounting – from the Bar Council of India. Here one of our recent Law graduates, Pavan Ramaswamy, tells us of his experience and why he chose the School of Law, University of Limerick (UL) to study Law:

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I distinctly remember my first day on the campus at the University of Limerick… Attending one of the rites of passage, ‘open day’, I was here trying to make up my mind about where I wanted to study law, post my graduation in economics. The campus is awe-inspiring and of course, the Law School’s reputation precedes it. But what pulled me here was the ‘eight-months cooperative education’ opportunity in the third year that the University of Limerick has to offer, alongside the employment opportunities for law graduates. In addition to this, UL also offers Erasmus and exchange programmes, with more than 40 destinations to choose from, and options as varied as Belgium and Australia.

The daunting ‘next step’ of choosing a university suddenly seemed like a world of opportunity. If I hadn’t needed persuasion beforehand, I certainly didn’t need it afterwards: UL’s opportunities were unparalleled and it was where I was going to go!

Undertaking my Law Plus programme, at the University of Limerick, I was convinced that I had made the right choice of career path and acquiring professional legal skills. I was impressed with the overall academic content and the diverse variety of modules, the Law Plus programme has to offer. The modules not only deepened my knowledge in law but have assisted me in furthering my professional career as a lawyer in the commercial world and in my entrepreneurial ventures.

Completing the Law Plus programme has assisted me in developing my academic and research credentials alongside my practice of law. It was a great platform to build on my existing economic knowledge from my graduate degree: for instance, I gained a better comprehension of the common law system, which will be invaluable in my future career.

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The Law Plus programme allowed me to choose elective subjects like economics, politics, history and others, which permitted me to tailor the programme to my own interests. The course also offered various lawyering oriented skill modules, which helped me to acquire written and practical legal skills. The Advanced Lawyering module in the final year, enabled me to understand the alternative mechanisms for solving disputes outside the legal system (ADR), which is an increasingly important area in the modern legal profession.

I appreciate how the Law Plus programme focused both on domestic and international law, specifically, the International Legal Systems module, which introduced me to legal systems from all over the world. The class structure was refreshing and the academics never made learning seem like a chore. My classes facilitated regular interaction between professors and students, which often led to lively debates on relevant legal issues.

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In order to motivate the law students, the university offers various scholarships and awards. The law school has a wide range of connections with reputed law firms like A & L Goodbody Solicitors and Arthur Cox Law Chambers, who offer various awards and prizes to law students for their excellence. In support of the international students, the School of Law offers a number of free lectures, introducing students to fundamental areas of the law in Ireland. Further, UL law degrees are internationally recognised. Graduates of Bachelor of Laws (Law Plus) and Bachelor of Arts in Law and Accounting are qualified for admittance to a number of international bar associations including Indian Bar and New York Bar.

The ‘First Seven Weeks’ programme initiated by the University of Limerick provides strong, enhanced and targeted support to students from the beginning of their university experience. This, combined with the ‘Welcome and Induction’ week, helped international students to get introduced to the services on the campus. The University of Limerick Student Union (ULSU) is a student organisation which also represents and helps students with any problems or issues they might have during their time in college.

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The Glucksman Law Library was one of my favourite places to work during my studies at UL – the online databases are incredible and it’s a comfortable place to study.  The UL academic staff and the lecturers are absolute professionals and are very supportive of the students.

The university prides itself on its ability to create employment for graduates. The Cooperative Educational & Careers Division with a network of 1,6000 employers, helps more than 2,000 students to secure employment. There is an exceptionally high employment rate for students graduating from the School of Law. For instance: Students of Law & Accounting have an almost perfect 100% employment rate over a 5-year period. The International Education Division also assists students with their visa application and financial planning.

As a whole, I can say that the University of Limerick has a student-friendly environment, where students are provided opportunities and encouragement to explore, learn and grow in their fields of interest. I recommend the Law Plus program at the UL School of Law to anyone interested in a legal career and deepening their legal knowledge.”

 

For more information on the School of Law, University of Limerick, please visit https://ulsites.ul.ie/law/.

My work placement in Spain

By Aine O’Neill

As part of my BA in English and History at the University of Limerick, it is mandatory to do a cooperative placement. Although you have the option to do this placement in Ireland, I luckily was picked to go to Spain! There are many companies which collaborate with UL for placement, for all aspects of any Arts degree. Through the University, I was set up with a company called Meddeas. This company specialises in sending students to Spanish schools to be a language assistant.

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So I’m now in the province of Cadiz, the sunniest part of Spain. Among my many duties at the school I am there to improve the children’s English skills. I work with children aged 1 -5 years old, they are enthusiastic about the language and are always trying to communicate with me. I have conversations with them in English and do activities with them.

I live with a host family which has made me feel right at home, although of course nothing beats the comfort of your own home (or dog). It is nice to have the support and dynamic of a family even when it feels like you’re a million miles away from yours!

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The culture shock is perhaps the most interesting parts of my cooperative placement, no more potatoes or Cadburys and I am now a far cry from the coffee at the Eden café. The Spanish culture is one you have to immerse yourself in, the people; their way of life and their food are all things I hope to take back to Limerick with me. The most glorious aspect of placement is the Spanish weather, it seems like yesterday I was walking through the UL campus with a heavy coat from the rain but now the only worry I have is what pair of sunglasses to wear!

My Arts degree at UL has not only has given me the opportunity to make friends, travel and work with a language – which I love – but it has also giving me grounding for the real world of work. I am thankful for this opportunity which UL has made possible for me, it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Until my next blog, Adios!

How to prepare to go on Erasmus

By Elle Walsh, 3rd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick

It can seem daunting trying to get ready for a semester abroad if you’ve never lived outside of Ireland before. Knowing what to pack, what to leave behind and most importantly, what to expect can be a real challenge. That’s why I’ve decided to make a quick checklist of what I believe is essential.

Clothes

If you’re only going for one semester like most University of Limerick students do, it’s important to not bring too much stuff as you won’t need it all and it will just be a pain dragging stuff that you barely wore back home again. If you’re going for the first semester you will most likely be arriving to warm summer like conditions, DO NOT be tempted to bring heaps of summer clothes and the weather will change quickly and you’ll be left feeling cold.

I think it’s a good idea to bring one of everything and try make sure that most of the things you bring match the other stuff, so you can create new outfits which will stop you getting bored of your clothes.  In most mainland European countries except for Spain girls don’t get as dressed up as we do at home, my advice is to leave the heels behind and bring some nice boots that you feel comfortable in to wear out at night.

Remember that you will most likely always want to buy something new as well when you’re over there so don’t over do it. Packing lightly is not my strong suit and it is something that I regret!

Documents

Before I left UL in December 2016 to start my year abroad someone told me to scan everything important to you and put it on a memory stick and save it to a cloud that you use. This was the best advise that anyone has given me. I also made copies of my passport, driving licence, birth cert and E111 card as well as a letter from UL saying that I was in fact still a student there. In Germany especially, I needed these things to register, get a train ticket and for my job.

In April while on Coop I lost my purse with most of these things inside, luckily, I had copies, so I still had proof of identity while I waited for my new things to arrive. I would recommend doing this, it only takes a few minutes of your time before you leave and saves so much time over there.

 

Skin Care and Medicines

If you have super sensitive skin and have your skin care routine nailed down, I would advise bringing at least two month’s worth of supplies so that you have time to find the stuff you use in your new country or at worst have it sent over to you!

Similarly, with prescription medicine or stuff that you need every day, bring enough with you to last until you will next get to see a doctor at home again, even with the pill. It can be really complicated going to doctors in other countries and this is a stress saving method of staying healthy!

 

Must haves

These are just some random things that I think are so important to bring with you.

  • Obviously, an adapter for the plugs, what I usually do, is bring one or two adaptors and then an extension cord so that I can use everything I want to when I want and if there isn’t a plug close to your bed you don’t have to rearrange your whole room (your welcome).
  • A swimming costume, even if you’re not going to somewhere near a beach you never know when you will want to get away for the weekend.
  • Plasters, paracetamol, cold and flu tablets etc. It’s something I always forget to buy until I need them by bringing them with you, you can avoid having to go to the shops when you are at your worst.
  • Something from home, it’s so important to bring something that brings you comfort when your upset. For me it’s my dressing gown and my favourite slippers, I have them with me whenever I move away and it’s nice to have something that reminds you of home when you get a bit lonely or stressed out with assignments.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten somethings, but I hope this was helpful for you while you are packing to leave on your adventure. I’m so jealous, I wish I could be back starting mine all over again, best of luck!

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Elle Walsh is a 3rd year Applied Languages student studying French, German and Politics at the University of Limerick. In 2016, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe.