First year as “international student”

My first year of university is officially OVEEER! …Unless I get repeats…

Not a big deal, right? Well, not really because I am an INTERNATIONAL STUDENT.

I have been called for the first time international students when I applied for my student’s grant, and as soon as I heard it I just remember thinking: this sounds cool! But once I tell people that I am an international student there is this general misconception: “Like, are you a kind of visiting student?” Nope. The confusion comes from the basic difference between me and Erasmus students. Erasmus are all those student who are away from their university in another one, in another European country for a period of both one or two academic’s semesters, while I will be here in NUIG…for, at least, the next 3 years of my undergraduate bachelor (still…if I don’t get to repeat anything! Perdoname madre por mi vida loca!). So YES I am doing my FULL degree here, Ireland, Galway city, NUI, 4 years BA international.

Now, what the heck does BA international means? That in 3 years time from now I’ll have a little piece of paper saying that I’m graduate in a: Joint-Honours Bachelor of Arts!!

…Which  basically means that  I study two subjects that I should “master” in order to get my dual honours. So I’ll be graduate in both Spanish and Geography which are the two only topics I’ll do from the second till the fourth year. In Ireland, a bachelor degree is usually 3 years but because I’ve that “international” that follows, I’ve to do my full third year in ‘Erasmus’ which for me will be Spain or Mexico/Latin America . Cool, isn’t?

Now, what was like to be an Italian student in Ireland??

Firstly, I’ve to say that being called “international student” represents pretty much how I always felt about myself. I’m not a normal student neither am I an Erasmus, so I’m in this eternal limbo where I cannot identify myself as one nor the other. Fun! This literally happens in every single aspect of my life. Anyway…

How many international undergrads students are there in NUIG? I only know another international student in college. I feel like an endangered specie, to be honest. However, I never perceived, not even once, marginalised in college because of my being “international”, even though the struggle is real. Mostly, when people start asking ALL the same question:

-“Why are you studying in Ireland??”

-“Courtesy of the EU and Schengen: IT IS POSSIBLE. An Italian girl can apply to university and start a full undergraduate degree in Ireland! Wow!!!”

Ok, this is the honest answer to the question, but because it will not be socially accepted this is actually what I tell people:

-“Well, you know…I just did it! Furthermore Galway is one of the best place to be; so here I am.”

Borderline questions a part, this year it’s been mental. I gained so much from university as an international student: better Irish-English pronunciation, many new friends all over globe, higher tolerance for drinking beer in any circumstances and at any time of the day!! Ah-ah-ah.

Well this year it’s been much more. I proved myself that if you really care and work on your passion, you can do it. I loved learning the basics of a new language that is actually so similar to Italian but, I swear, not easy anymore for me is to think in my mother tongue, as everything I learnt so far was from and through English. It is little bizzarre, but most of the geography’s terms that I do know now are in English and I don’t have a clue on how to say the same thing in Italian as I never covered, did or studied it!!

Aside from languages confusion, being an international student gave me plenty more possibilities to socialise not only with Erasmus friends but also with the local Irish, creating such an amazing group mix of cultures all around me. Thanks to my Indian friends which opened their home door to make me try their amazing ricey-spicy cuisine and pleased me with some traditional music. Thanks to my Irish friends that made me learn some GRAND Irish slang which I find TOTALLY MCGOATILY, not to mention the great CRAIC! Thanks my Italian friends that made me feel almost at home walking down Galway’s streets talking some loud Italian together. Thanks for my Spanish friends which gave me the opportunity to talk to them and practise my Spanish and to all of those that made me feel way less noisy, as Italian person, compared to them! Thanks to my Pakistani friends that made me learn way more about their country and tradition… should try to play cricket. Thanks to my German friends which always prove that it is possible to drink more than the Irish. Thanks to my American and Canadian friends that confirm it is possible to establish such a strong friendship against two weeks spent together in the same hostel. Thanks for making me laugh, thanks for making me enamour, thanks for being part of this.

My first year of university as international student is officially over, and I can’t wait to see how the second one will go!

The adventure is out there!


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