Swapping Toronto for UCD, Eliza King shares her experience of the concrete jungle.
Third year, Eliza King, is a Canadian student who is spending a year in UCD studying English. Life as a visiting international student in UCD has proven to be very different for King in comparison with the University of Toronto, where she will complete most of her studies.
Despite the difficulties these disparities will inevitably present, UCD compensated these with efforts to integrate international students from various countries in an official capacity. King said that there was a large amount of orientation and induction provided for international students.
“It was a good way to meet people. There are a lot of international students at my residence which helped as I could meet people there. It was also nice to know who else was an international student at the school.”
However, King did notice that UCD pushed the international students together rather than actively encouraging mixers between Irish and international students. King was forced to use her own initiative to integrate with Irish students and “managed to make lots of Irish friends.”
King made it clear that she managed to form friendships with Irish people by getting involved in societies and summoning the nerves to simply talk to people. She reveals that UCD played no direct role in this. King comments that, particularly with her involvement in Dramsoc, forging friendships was not as exhausting a task as she thought it would be.
Often with international students from countries that do not speak the language, there are communication challenges in terms of both academic comprehension and establishing friendships.
Though King’s first language is English, she noticed that being placed with almost entirely non-English speaking students presented a difficulty in communication. In the Blackrock residence, King lives with around 200 international students in one building.
“Naturally, [the other international students] sometimes speak their own languages together and not practice English all the time. I think they do get a lot of English practice cause they have to speak English at college, but people do lapse into their own language, which is inevitable.”
A positive disparity which King has discovered between UCD and the University of Toronto is the large amount of the student body living away from home, something which she describes as being “much more exciting”.’
King found that UCD felt like a ‘community’ compared to her home university. “In Toronto, you could see someone on your first day and never see them again, where as here I’m seeing the same people over and over again!”
There is a difference also in academic format between UCD and King’s university schedule in Toronto. King comments that “the lecture hours threw me, the one hour lecture was very different. Back home, I have two or three-hour lectures. It’s better [here] because longer lectures can get very boring. [Shorter lectures] give a nice pace to things.”
Studying internationally will naturally have huge financial implications for any students and King managed to cope with these burdens with the aid of a grant, which she received from the University of Toronto.
However, despite the help that a grant offered her, King still found the year to be quite expensive. Even with extra finance, King has worked out that her year in Ireland will cost around 5000 Canadian dollars, bringing her expenses in line with that of her those in Toronto, where she has to pay fees.
King adds that she was given no financial aid by the Irish government to come here, so budgeting is essential for her. Irish students must do the same needless to say, but King noted that the cost of living in Ireland is much greater then back in Canada.
In conversation with Sarah Costigan