One of the biggest transitions international students have to make is preparing for their first few weeks at university. In Ireland, our partner institutions Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology and Maynooth University have made this transition easier by providing accessible services and support from the respective student service centres that specifically cater to international students. Here are some reminders and suggestions on what they should do upon arrival.
Students have to coordinate closely with the EduCo representative in their country or region for the checklist of requirements that they have yet to comply with after they get accepted into their university of choice as well as the documents that they have to bring with them upon arrival to their respective campuses. They also need to secure their accommodation whether on-campus or off-campus prior to arrival for the start of term in September.
EduCo Ireland Managing Director Jacob Kestner and his team are also ready to assist students with their queries upon arrival.
It is important that students settle into their respective accommodations on- or off-campus as soon as possible. Initiating friendly conversations with their roommates is a good start. More than likely, they will be the first lifelong friends students will make during their university study. To ease into the settling-in process, they need to:
Register into their respective campuses to obtain their student card: Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology and Maynooth University.
Check their mail and fill out every form they receive.
Attend orientation days and take note of all important announcements and their responsibilities as students.
Familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
Meet the staff who run the various campus services and get their questions answered.
Getting familiar with the campus
Knowing where everything is helps ease the students’ anxiety about their new environment. Students also get a feel of the university vibe, allay their fears and apprehensions about not belonging to the campus community.
They have to get familiar with their surroundings with the help of campus maps of DCU, DIT and Maynooth and the services that are available in their respective campuses – library, IT resources centre, student union and welfare office, international students office, departmental secretary’s office, canteen, coffee rooms, meeting places/student meeting hall, computer rooms in their department, etc. Some of the development plans and support services from the campuses can be found in these links: DCU, DIT and Maynooth.
Checking bulletin boards and university website
The latest important announcements for students are normally found in bulletin boards. Students need to check this out regularly and also refer to the university website for details. The announcements normally include a link where students can log in to get more details, especially on upcoming events at DCU, DIT and Maynooth.
At DCU’s Explore link, students can find information by clicking buttons on locations and directions, campus maps, parking, safety and security, accommodation, video gallery, sports, services and facilities such as language translation services, interfaith centre, restaurants, university sports complex, healthy living centre, bookshop, bank, hairdresser, pharmacy, print shop and even a creche or a daycare centre for the children of students and university staff. DCU is not an age-friendly university for nothing when it accommodated mature students in its education, research and innovation programmes.
DIT’s Induction Week kicks off in September. Students are required to register as a DIT student upon arrival so that they will be issued a verification letter by the Student Services Centre which they can present to immigration for the issuance of their stamp 2 student visa. DIT also provides details for finding accommodation, registering, letters for immigration and medical insurance, registration with immigration (for non European Economic Area countries), setting up a bank account, working part-time, and medical insurance details.
Maynooth University will also have its Orientation and Registration Week in September and students can take advantage of the opportunity to arrive on campus a week before the start of the university term and meet the academic staff and register for their courses. They can also register to MyMaynooth 2018 (the date as to when the link will go live will be announced in the university website soon).
Joining clubs and societies
Students can settle in better and make friends faster by participating in a sport or activity that they’re interested in. They could join a sport where their passion lies. They may also join a society that they’re familiar with. Or they could volunteer in something that they want to know more about like a campus-based sport or cultural event that’s unique to Ireland. Here they get to expand their social circle, get to know students from other courses as well and gain the experience of working in a local setting.
Planning and scheduling activities
Students need not get panicked or overwhelmed about university life in a new country. They can achieve this by planning their week ahead and gradually expanding it into a fortnight to a month and adjusting to circumstances as they come.
Most international students come to study in Ireland alone, fully aware that there’s no one to hold their hand anymore and no family support system. Most of them have completed an undergraduate degree from their own country and as such are considered adults who are responsible for their actions and how they manage their studies.
After the flurry of activities, the family and friends who may have accompanied them to their study destination will depart and they will be left alone with no support system.
But with the peace and quiet comes the opportunity to map out their activities by balancing studies, part-time work and socialising, know where they want to be in the next 3 or 4 years, what’s expected of them as students and young professionals – and work backwards from there by managing expectations from family and friends as well as lecturers and school administrators.