What did you do for your 20th birthday? How would you enrich your university career?
I chose to go to Ireland for my internship.
This is the very first time for me to travel to Ireland, especially Europe. I had never thought of going to Europe before until I started thinking of my internship, as Europe is far away from Asia. This is the typical excuse when one doesn’t want to leave their comfort zone. However, this is a rare chance for me in my life so that I chose to start my internship in Europe.
I have heard that Ireland is surrounded by sea, which means there must be many natural landscapes. I studied Geography for three years in secondary school.
I am totally interested in natural landscapes created by our ocean. Apart from the sea cliffs, large pieces of green land attract me a lot as well.
All these elements made Ireland a pleasant place for those who want to relax.
Since in Hong Kong people always talk about time and speed, Ireland should be a good place for me to take a break.
I personally have never been to any European country. I usually travel to Japan and Korea for vacations with my friends and my family. This was the very first time for me to travel by myself. I think this journey will make my 20s life become fruitful.
Difficulties I met in Ireland
During the first few days I got to the country, I think I was nearly devastated. People in Ireland speak English with Irish accent. Sometimes they just mix English and Irish slangs. This is quite difficult for me as my first language is not English. This makes me feel nervous.
For what concerns food in Dublin, there are lots of international and local restaurants. However, comparing to Hong Kong, the price might be a little bit expensive for me. Every normal meal in Dublin costs around €10! For the fast food shop like McDonalds, a set costs around €7. But in Hong Kong, prices are even less than half! I was so surprised by it! As I have got only limited savings for my stay here, eating in restaurants seems too expensive for me. Additionally, I am currently living in the residence of University College Dublin (UCD) for my internship program. I have never been to a college apart from that of Hong Kong. UCD has a big campus that is nearly triple my college in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University! Going to the bus stop for work from the residence needs more that 20 minutes!!! If I hadn’t a map on my phone, I may easily get lost in the campus or be late for work.
How can I tackle all this?
It seems that life in Dublin is rough as I have already met many difficulties.
However, without any challenges, I wouldn’t enjoy my life. First of all, for what concerns language barriers, Irish people are nice. And people here seem eager to answer and solve all my problems. One time I got lost in the campus, an Irish person immediately explained me how to find my way. She was so nice to me though my English accent had made her confused, she made me finally put a smile upon my face!
For the transport, I think things look easier as soon as you get used to it. Searching is fundamental when you are in a new environment. An Irish student has taught to me how to get the Dublin Bus in a easy way – by downloading Dublin Bus Apps. Routes and timetables can be found in the App so that I can check the time of the arrivals and the stops of the bus easily.
In Dublin you can also taste Irish traditional dishes everywhere, as well as some international restaurants. We have so many meal choices as well as cooking by myself. Supermarkets are everywhere in Dublin so I can go to the supermarkets to buy ingredients for cooking meals. Prices of the ingredients are low-in-price and the whole meal must be cheaper than dining out.
Till now, I have only stayed in Dublin for around one week. In the following days, I hope I can learn to be independent and a mentally strong person. It is a great chance for me to leave my comfort zone, Hong Kong and home. I can be more mature as I always relied on my friends and my family all the time. I hope I can handle all the difficulties that I am going to meet in Dublin in order to avoid being a troublemaker anymore! I hope I can visit more tourist spots in Ireland at weekends rather than just focusing on doing my internship. I believe that it will become one of my memorable experiences in my whole life!!
Tips for the beginners to travel to Ireland
If you would like to have the same experience, do an internship or just travel to Ireland, here are some tips for you, a beginner like me.
The biggest obstacle which come up to my mind mind is the language barrier. For the ones whose first language is not English, they may refuse to go to English-speaking countries. However, after I got here, I discovered Irish accent being nicer than I thought. We cannot let language barrier become our excuses for not visiting English-speaking countries right? Please don’t be shy of asking them any questions. They are not as cold as people in Hong Kong.
Secondly, since this will be the first time for you to travel to a new country, it is important for you to do more research before journey, by watching some video clips on YouTube, reading Travelbook or blogs on the Internet. Since the living lifestyles are quite different from Hong Kong or Asian ones, please try to get used to them as soon as possible. This will make you feel more comfortable whenever staying in Ireland or other European countries. If you are from Hong Kong like me, try to get used to the “slow time” to get into Irish mentality, so that you can enjoy life in Ireland!