My name is Cristina Miceli and I’m an Italian student currently studying a masters in Journalism with Sport in Ireland at the University of Limerick (UL). I am from the north of Italy, from a city called Asti. It is close to Torino.
I now live in a big house in the middle of nowhere with four students and…ehm…a bull in my courtyard!
You may be confused and wonder why I decided to leave Italy and come here to live in the middle of nowhere. Well, if you are interested, keep on reading!
This is my story.
Never in my life had I had such a great first impact with a foreign country. Ireland welcomed me like an old grandma who has not seen her nephews for months, with warm tasty food and gifts.
On the bus to Limerick, a stranger who overheard my conversation and insisted that he would give me a lift to my Airbnb. He made sure I was in the right place and drove off with a smile on his face.
Patricia, my first host, welcomed me with a warm and tasty dinner during which I happened to say that I needed a bike. In less than an hour, we were driving to one of her friends who gave me his old bike for free. Patricia even accompanied me to the UL to show me the way.
It was my first day in Ireland, I was already in love with its people, and the feeling seemed to be reciprocated!
I spent my first week visiting the city, familiarising with the UL campus and looking for a long-term accommodation. I was able to find the perfect house (yes, the one with the bull in the courtyard) in less than a week, thanks to the UL accommodation office.
At first, the UL campus seemed too big and I often felt lost, but after a few weeks, it felt like home. The campus has a huge number of facilities. For instance, the big Glucksman library with its new modern wing and its thousands of books, which is a huge help.
You can get a free coffee or tea at the Postgraduate Student Union (PSU) or make use of the several sports facilities all around campus, from its hurling pitch, rugby fields or the Olympic pool.
You will never get bored here!
You can take part in any of the many activities and events that are run all year long. You can even become a member of any of the clubs or societies on campus. Believe me the choice is endless: basketball, chess, skydiving, surfing, parkour, photography, music, drama and many more. You will surely find the one for you!
I personally chose UL for different reasons. It was the only master’s programme I could find in journalism (the others were more specific, such as economic journalism or political journalism). Apart from that, I wanted to practice and take my English to the next level in an native English speaking country.
However, the more time I spend in this university, the more I realise that I made the right choice. The reasons are countless, and I am only half way through my stay.
UL gives you practical knowledge in the field you are studying. In the first semester, I covered several stories for the Limerick Voice, the newspaper of the university. In the second semester, we will have the chance to spend a day in court and report on a real trial!
This course gives you the opportunity to experience how your future life as a journalist will be. Moreover, I get access to many work tools such as cameras, microphones and tripods.
Classes here are much smaller. For instance, there are approximately 20 students in my class, which allows teachers to follow each one of us more closely.
Another difference from Italy is the grading method. In my case rather than a final exam, we receive grades through a continuous assessment system, like in Italian high school.
Although it may be a bit more stressful, as it requires good time management skills, it gives you a better understanding of what it means to work as a journalist. However, this is my experience and some courses follow different grading methods.
At UL, you tend to have less hours of class compared to Italy. In my case 13 contact hours per week, which gives me more time to study and work on my assignments.
Teachers and UL staff are always available. I was able to open a bank account and to find a house thanks to UL’s help. However, sometimes bureaucracy can take some time. So don’t wait for the last moment to make sure you’re registered for your courses.
However, I know what you are all wondering…And the weather? And the food?
Well, if it’s true that in Ireland it’s always rainy, it is also true that if you wait for 5 minutes, it will probably stop. On a normal Irish day, you will see: the rain, the sun, a storm, a couple of rainbows and the sun again. Temperatures are never too cold (it’s difficult to go below 0 ℃) and never too warm.
For the food, Ireland is famous for its beers, full-Irish breakfasts and the famous spuds (Irish slang for potatoes). As a vegetarian, I can guarantee only on the potatoes and the beers. However, if you adapt easily, you will find yourself eating porridge every morning and getting addicted to tea in less than a month. In any case, do not stress too much, there is a Lidl supermarket close to campus.
If you are thinking of studying abroad, please consider UL! Not only will you get the chance to study in a native English speaking country but you will also learn the many traditions of Ireland and get to know its amazing people.
You will love the Irish passion for music, sports, hospitality and people chat with everyone. In this country, it’s impossible to feel alone.
Every now and then, I still see Patricia. She cooks wonderful warm dinners for us and then we go and play some pool. We usually drink a couple of good pints of Guinness and sing old Irish songs with her friends.
And yes, the bull is always outside of my window greeting me every morning. My roommates and I named him Rí, the Irish for ‘the king’, of Ireland of course!
University of Limerick