So, you’ve arrived at UL! Now what?

Welcome! It’s so great to see you here and we hope you have an amazing semester! However, before all the fun stuff, you need to sort out your life just a little bit, so that you can have a good time here. How are you going to do this?

Firstly, it’s grocery shopping time (food is always a priority for us at Int Soc).

Your choices are Aldi (nearby if you live in Plassey, Brookfield, Groody, or Troy), Lidl (if you live in Kilmurry, Elm Park, Oaklawns, Milford, etc.), or anywhere in Limerick City Centre.  Tesco, Dunnes Stores, and SuperValu are the main supermarkets in Ireland.  Tesco is cheaper than Dunnes Stores and SuperValu, and sells pots, pans, dishes, etc., in addition to food.

To go to the city centre, find a bus stop.  The following buses will take you to the city centre:

304: €2 to the city centre.  It will stop outside a large department store called Debenhams (1).  You can catch it back to the university by crossing O’Connell Street and walking up William Street to (2). If you wish to go to the Crescent Shopping Centre, then say this to the bus driver when you get on at UL, and they will give you the correct ticket.  It’s possible that you’ll have to change to a different 304 bus outside Debenhams, but you’ll be told if this happens.  If you do need to change to a different bus, then show the bus driver the ticket you bought saying ‘UL to Ballycummin’ and you’ll be grand.

307 and 308: €1.80 to the city centre.  These buses can be caught from the student villages (if you live in Plassey, cross the road so that you are opposite the flag posts and standing on the road that leads you to UL) and usually take a little longer to go to town.   They don’t go as often as the 304, but they will take you back to your village so if you have a lot of shopping to carry, it’s a good choice!  There are timetables available in the villages, and you can catch it at the bus stops on William Street when you want to return to UL.

When you are there, the two supermarkets are Tesco (3) in Arthur’s Quay shopping centre and Dunnes Stores (4).  Tesco is cheaper, and Dunnes is a little bit fancy!  Dunnes also sells clothes, bedlinen, towels, etc.

Secondly, you may find yourself in need of an umbrella/a blanket/socks/a sweater (what we call a jumper).  The cheapest place for clothes/bedlinen/etc. is definitely Penneys (5).  Definitely go there, even for a scented candle or a jumper/sweater that you don’t need but only costs €10.

  • Top tip about life in Ireland: if someone compliments anything you buy at Penneys, the appropriate response is “Thanks! Penneys!” or simply “Penneys!”.

Thirdly you’ve sorted your life out so far.  But nighttime is still so far away and you are suffering from jet lag… what to do?  If it’s not raining, take a walk around campus – it’s really pretty.  Introduce yourself to your neighbours.  Walk to the Stables or Scholar’s (get their hot chocolate, it’s unreal – which means great) and go to one of the traditional music sessions.  Meet up with your Buddy.  Learn some hilarious and confusing Irish slang words and impress your housemates (roommates).

View of the Living Bridge, as shown on the UL website.

And come to our sign-ups on Friday, 22nd January at 5.30pm in Red Raisins (the canteen in the Main Building)! :)

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You're coming to Limerick!

So, you”ve started packing and you”re thinking about what you”ll do when you arrive in Ireland, but what do you know about Limerick, the small city where the University of Limerick is located?  We”ve asked Jess, the Secretary of the society and a proud Limerick woman, to give you some top tips about what to do when you arrive here!

Welcome to the ‘Riverside City’! You may be wondering what to do and where to go in your new home, but fear not, we’ve got you covered

Shopping:

If you’re looking for general household items at affordable prices, Penneys is your best bet. There are two in Limerick – one on O’Connell Street in the centre of the city and one in The Crescent Shopping Centre. You can get everything from bed linen to towels on a student friendly budget! They also have some very affordable clothes, which every second person will probably be wearing!

For groceries, there is a small Spar shop on Campus that has all the basics. For larger shops, there are many supermarkets dotted around UL – Aldi, Lidl, SuperValue and Dunnes to name a few. You can find everything you need here, with Aldi and Lidl being the best value.

Limerick city has tonnes of other shops for everything you need; it’s reachable by a bus that runs from the UL campus itself!

Where To Eat:

Limerick has a lot of restaurants that cater to every appetite.

Vegan/Gluten Free option: Gasta Healthy, Thomas Street. Can be pricy but they list all the ingredients and use all natural stuff so you’ll always know what you’re getting.

Traditional Irish: The Locke Bar is great for food and drinks. It’s located beside the river and is the place to be on a sunny day!

Asian: The Jasmine Palace, O’Connell Street, offers a buffet on the weekend of Asian cuisine for twenty euro all you can eat!

Italian: Marco Polo O’Connell Street has great food and always have cheap lunch options

Other recommendations: La Chocolat, O’Connell street, a little more expensive but offers food from all backgrounds and is a real treat!

Mejana, Lebanese cuisine to die for!

Coq Bull and El Toro offer barbecue and burgers, they have student deals too

Take-Away:

Here we get serious – what to eat after a night out. It may not be custom in other countries but after a night out in Ireland, you will most likely go and get some terribly greasy food to end the casino night! Some Limerick favourites are Supermacs – Irelands own version of McDonalds but like ten times better!

Chicken Hut is a Limerick institution, offering fried chicken better than anywhere on the planet (Trust us, we know). Make sure you tick their ‘gravy chip’ off your bucket list before you leave!

What to see:

Limerick is a medieval city soaked in history, so a trip to a castle is a must!

King Johns Castle makes for a great day trip, offering student price tickets allowing you to explore the castle and its surroundings. There are great views of the city from the top!

The Hunt Museum holds a collection of Irish as well as European artefacts from various time periods and is definitely worth a visit.

If you like sport, Thomond Park is the home of Munster Rugby and student tickets usually cost just ten euro!

There is a farmers market in the middle of the city every Saturday morning and is a must! It’s always bustling and the smells are amazing. You can definitely find some treats and bargains here.

If you want to travel outside the city, a trip to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a must! You can easily spend a day exploring here.

Another beloved tourist spot is the picturesque town of Adare, filled with little thatched cottages and manors.

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UL Internationals in Belfast

Yes, we did it again! The Saturday morning, the 26th of October will forever remain deeply etched in the memories of over 100 international students, maybe because of the early 6am departure after a sleepless night following the TGIF madness in the Stables the night before (although for some it was rather one more attraction to add to the trip), or maybe, and more importantly because of the journey that we were about to begin. Once again, the International Society and two full buses of excited international students crossed the ‘invisible’ border all the way to Belfast, the city of Titanic, beautiful accents and much more. After refuelling, both literally and metaphorically, at a few petrol stations, and some detours caused by two rival GPS who could not reach a compromise, we finally made it to Belfast Castle. Soon after we arrived at the hostel and allocated everyone to their rooms, the students were left to their own devices and began to explore the city of Belfast. In the evening, the whole group was reunited in the kitchen or the ‘basement’, nbso online casino reviews which was quite a useful discovery for those who wanted a bit more space to socialise. On Sunday, we visited the Giant’s Causeway, which in spite of the hurricane-like wind and freezing weather, did not lose its charm. In the afternoon of the same day, we set off on a historical and sentimental journey through the streets of Belfast. We visited the Protestant and Catholic areas, saw the murals and also had the opportunity to sign the peace wall which separates the two groups in the Northern Irish capital. The evening was dedicated to shopping and/or gathering strength for yet another night in Belfast. Our last but not at all least important stop was the Titanic museum on Monday. Thanks to the innovative and interactive museum, we could travel back in time and follow the journey of Titanic, from the first strike of the hammer in the Harland and Wolff shipyard, to its tragic end in the North Atlantic Ocean. After such a fun-filled weekend, we came back to Limerick at around 8pm. It was, without a doubt, a trip to remember, and one that, we hope, will be a landmark for our international students of their time in Ireland.

by Monika

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Positive Mental Health Week – Wednesday!

Day 3 and we”re halfway through the week – that beautiful Bank Holiday weekend is almost tangible! Here”s another guest post about taking care of your mental health while you”re away from home. – Muireann

So you’re here in Limerick making new friends, improving your language skills, studying interesting subjects and experiencing a new people and culture as part of your ERASMUS or Study Abroad experience. This is probably one of the best times of your life and you know you’re lucky because you are studying in one of the best universities for international students in the world – UL!

However, there can be some downsides to living away from home. It’s not all parties and travelling! Erasmus can be lonely and difficult. Sometimes you will have bad days. It can be something as simple as missing your mother’s cooking or your favourite food or TV show or boyfriend or girlfriend. You may suffer from homesickness, which is normal and a lot more common than you think! Language barriers can be very problematic too, but you soon learn the power of hand gestures! Culture shock is unfortunately unavoidable. No matter where you go, you will notice some small, and big, differences between cultures. It can be different ways of greeting people, or finding the weather hard to adjust too.

Most of these feelings will pass with time as you make friends and become more comfortable in your new environment.  You get used to the currency, understand the transport system, find your lectures, and make fun and multi-cultural friends! The key to a successful Erasmus is to be brave and confident, try new things and to take care of your-self.

But while we are very conscious about our physical health, we often don’t take care of our mental health. Sometimes your Erasmus experience isn’t as fun as you expected, sometimes the homesickness is persistent, and sometimes you find it hard to make new friends. Believe me, I know. I went to Vienna, Austria for my year-long ERASMUS experience. It’s a fantastic city with a vibrant culture and interesting people. I made some close friends with whom I am still in contact, improved my German, studied new subject areas, and experienced Austrian culture. However, when I think about my ERASMUS experience, I often feel very sad because that year was the most difficult year of my life.

While I was there, my parents split up and then, we lost our house. I found this out in October, at the start of nbso online casino reviews my experience and even now, two years later, I am still coming to terms with what happened.  The year was a blur. I felt alone, isolated, lethargic, exhausted, and to be honest, very depressed. Nowadays, I am a very different person in comparison to the lost, sad person I was back then. When I think about how I managed my mental health, I can see my biggest mistake. I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. Instead, I kept all my feelings in, but they just got worse and worse.

Some of my friends in Austria knew what had happened, but they didn’t really know how much my parent’s separation was affecting me. Why didn’t I tell anyone? Well, I thought that either:

a/ they wouldn’t understand,

b/ they wouldn’t care,

c/ my friends had their own problems,

d/ and they wouldn’t be able to help me anyway.

I also didn’t tell my family much because I felt a lot of guilt. I had this fantastic opportunity to enjoy a different culture, but my family were at home with no distractions. I felt like I had abandoned them. I was stuck in Austria and I couldn’t go home and support my family. Equally, my family were in Ireland and couldn’t support me. Skype helped to some extent but it doesn’t replace a mother’s hug!  I should have realised that bottling up my feelings was making me quite sick. I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning, I could sleep for hours and hours, I lost interest in things that I used to love, I was over-eating and I hated being alone because that was when my thoughts got worse. It also began to seriously affect me academically.

It was so unlike my personality. I am a very happy and positive person.  I am patient and understanding. I always encouraged my friends to share their problems with me. However, when it was my turn to share my problems, I felt paralysed. It was easy to keep my thoughts to myself because all of my friends were at home in Ireland. It was easy to hide behind Facebook. But it was a very stupid thing to do and my biggest regret is that I didn’t seek help sooner, because it ruined my Erasmus year, and my negative thoughts were consuming me.

By May, things were very bad. I felt really low and was beginning to get anxiety attacks. However, a friend encouraged me to contact the Erasmus office here in UL. I did but basically exploded! I wrote them a long email detailing all of my thoughts – probably too detailed! – but all of a sudden, I had support. Someone knew and could help. The UL Erasmus office was fantastic. They took me seriously, even though they had no proof of how much I was suffering or whether I was telling the truth. They told me to do my best in terms of classes, and to seek out counselling. I also told my mother and even though, it really hurt her, she supported me. I just wanted to jump on the first plane home but with their support, I went to a counsellor.

To be honest, it didn’t really help. The counsellor listened to me but when I was finished, she gave me the name of a 24-hour pharmacy where I could get some Xanax. That was not what I wanted. What I needed was to talk to someone, not to take something. However, the end was in sight, and I just about got through the end of term exams, although I missed one or two. I nearly failed the whole year, but thankfully UL were very supportive and gave me options so I could return to university.

However, I wasn’t ready. As I had been in pain for so long, I needed a break. So I took a year out of my course, stayed at home, worked and began to deal with everything I had tried to ignore. I started counselling in my town, which was much better than the counsellor in Vienna – thankfully! It really began to help me, and I am now continuing counselling here in UL. They couldn’t be more helpful and understanding, and I am finally feeling like I am taking care of myself: physically, emotionally and mentally.

The only regret I have was that I didn’t tell my loved ones sooner. If I had, maybe things wouldn’t have become so serious. I also learnt that your friends and family really are there for you, no matter what. Even if they can’t fix things, a friendly smile or an understanding hug can make a huge difference. So if you’re a student here in UL, finding things a bit hard, please go talk to someone. Like they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. It just took me a bit longer to realise that.

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Positive Mental Health Week – Day Two!

Hey guys, happy Tuesday! We have another guest post about mental health awareness for you today, focussing on how self-perception affects mental health and how important it is to look after yourself. – Muireann

Let me begin by introducing myself. I”m an international student here at UL. I was born in Texas, where I”ve lived most of my life up to this point. I”m big on hugs, I love people, and I tend to have a lot of friends. I”m also transgender*.

Being transgender is really rough. Even though I know that I”m a man, I live every day inside a biologically female body. Imagine what that would be like, if you can- what would it be like if every day you had to look down at yourself and see the opposite of what you expected? I”m shocked and disappointed every time I look at my body. I never see what I expect, and my body serves as a constant reminder that my identity doesn”t fit the norm.

My discomfort doesn”t end there, though. On a typical day, I can count on being called “she”, “lady”, “her”, etc. a number of times, even though I do my best to look as male as possible. I should note that I have good friends who take care to refer to me as “he” as well, for whom I am extremely grateful. I hear every pronoun. Every day, I can be sure someone will (through no fault of their own, and with no malice on their part) treat me as if I were a woman, when I am not.

Also with regularity, I”m faced with awkward questions from people who don”t understand. People who”ve never met a transgender person and don”t know how to treat us can say the darndest things. Some people, rare birds though they are, actually dislike me or are offended by me just because I”m beste online casino trans.

As if all of this weren”t enough, I”m not exempt from the same pressures every other student faces. I worry about money, assignments, tests, and relationships as much as the next person.

For the time being, there is nothing I can do to change any of this. So how to face the daily struggle? How do I protect and maintain my mental health?

First, I talk about my struggles. All of them. Every day. I tell my journal about them, I pray about them, and some of the time I tell my friends, too.

I also take care of my body by running, getting enough sleep, and making sure I eat as well as I can. Not only does running release endorphins and improve my mood, but it”s also a break from all the pressure. I tend to run outside, away from people, where I can just escape it all for a while.

None of this is a magic bullet. Every day is still an uphill climb requiring self-discipline and endurance. But it”s been enough thus far to keep me going, and I maintain the hope that at some point, things will get better.

*Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals who express their gender differently from or identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned to be at birth. I fall under the umbrella because though I was assigned female at birth, I identify and live as a man.

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