Many nationalities, similar patterns among international students
Griffith College has around 1400 international students, from more than 77 different countries. But who are they? Where do they come from? Do they share similar experiences? Which courses they apply for? It is easy for them to find work in a city such as Dublin?
According to Susan O`Connor from the GCD International Office, the majority of the non European international students at Griffith are from Asia. They arrive from countries such as China, Turkey, India an Pakistan. Outside the Asian continent, most students come from Brazil.
Those internationals are usually enrolled in language courses. Those that are not here to learn English, pursue a degree in areas such as accountancy, business an computer science. Such courses have a high number of students from China, India and Pakistan.
Most of the internationals prefer living close to Griffith during their initial months in Dublin, mainly at the city centre, a place where we can hear so many different languages at the same time that we almost forget we are in a English speaking territory.
I interviewed 5 students from outside Ireland (1 from EU and 4 non EU) about their experience in the country so far. The interviews showed similar responses and patterns to most of the questions asked. The topics of the interviews included: nationality(s), course taken, adaptation issues, accommodation issues, contact with people from and outside their own culture, job seeking and favourite places in Dublin.
Ali from Pakistan is studying business at Griffith. He`s been in Dublin for 6 months. He had no problems finding an accommodation, since his parents had already found a place for him in the city centre.
“My friends are mostly from Pakistan and share the same culture. All of them have part time jobs, and, because of that, we are only able meet at the College. I had homesickness during my first three months in Ireland. But, I think that been on my own has been very positive, particularly because of the self-sufficiency and personal growth acquired when someone is away from home.”
One aspect in which he differs from the other interviewers is job seeking. He says he prefer to finish his studies first to then start looking for a job.
Khalid is from India and is studying finances. He has been in Dublin for 1 year. “Finding an accommodation was easy, because my uncle already leaves in Ireland.” Like the other students, Khalid leaves near the city centre.
The biggest problems experienced by him were related to climate and the Irish accent. Homesickness wasn’t a big issue though. After 2 months, he got over it. “Most of my friends are from India as well. I work with security. It took me 3 months to find a job.” His favourite places in Dublin are St. Patrick Cathedral and Stephen Green park.
Alice from Botswana is studying computer science and has been here for 5 and a half years. Initially she stayed in a student residence, moving later to a rented house. “I had problems with the could weather and the Irish accent. Most of my friends are from Botswana or other from other countries in Africa.”
She is currently working as an care assistant for the elder.She took more time than the others to find a job: a little more than 6 months. She recommends “The Morgan Bar” in Dublin.
Vithoria from Brazil is studying public relations at Griffith. “My main issues when arriving in Ireland were the weather, lack of sun and food. “Brazilian food had more variety, and it was also not as heavy as the traditional meals in Ireland. This lack of variety makes it difficult for me to keep on regular diet. Brazilian food has just nothing in common with the traditional dishes in Ireland.”
Her friends are mostly from Brazil. To her it has been difficult build significant friendships with the locals. “They are very polite and helpful, but also kind of distant. I think the Brazilians are more friendly.” Curiously her boyfriend is from Ireland. “I met him during my first month in Ireland. He was part of the Host Family”.
“After my first month in here, I found a place to rent. I was lucky to find a place so quickly, because I know other Brazilians that took much longer than I to find an appropriate place to live. I also get very well with my neighbours and roommates.”
For Vithoria, homesickness wasn`t a big problem. “I miss my country and my family, but Dublin is were I leave now. My house and my job are here”.
Her biggest issue has been with finding a good job in Dublin. “It didn’t took me a long time to find a job; the problem was finding a job that I actually liked. It was very difficult in the beginning because I was feeling very unhappy at my first work. I worked for several hours, and received very little for the amount of things I had to do”.
She recommends the “Cineworld” and the Portobello Canal.
Another issue is her landlord. “He never forget when it is time to pay the rent, but if there is a problem in the house that needs to get fixed he postpones it for a long as possible. He also enters my room, sometimes very late at night, without knocking or been invited.”
Marc from France is studying Business at Griffith. He`s been in Dublin for 1 year. He talked a little about French groups/societies in Dublin: “We talk to each others at forums or on facebook. The main idea to both help, offer tips and hang out with other French citizens in Dublin”.
The weather and transportations were significant issues for Marc: “The buses here are too expensive if compared to France. Public transportation in Dublin is also too slow. That`s why I prefer to go by bike.”
He has friends from different nationalities. “Outside France, I have friends from Norway, Turkey and Brazil. For me it is not difficult to befriend people from outside my own culture.”
In his first semester, Marc tried to look for a Job: “It was really difficult for two main reasons: the employers don`t like to hire for part time jobs and I also don`t have much professional experience. At the moment I focused on my studies”.
He recommends Trinity College Library and Hodges Figgis.