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Alpa Agrawal MSc student at UCC writes about her time in Cork

Hello, I am Alpa Agrawal. I did my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering ( Specialization in Surface Coating Technology) from a premier institution of India, known as Institute of Chemical Technology (I.C.T.), Mumbai, and I am currently pursuing an MSc in Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at University College Cork.

Choosing to do my Masters in UCC has been the best decision of my life so far. For me, Ireland is an entirely different world, almost a fairy tale in itself. It is a magical world with lovely people around. When I made a decision to study in Ireland, there were a lot of fears in my mind as it was the first time I was travelling abroad.

I was thinking whether I would be able to adjust to the place, the people and the lifestyle there but, The moment I landed here all such fears just vanished out of thin air as Ireland is a home away from home. I realized, not only does its flag resemble to India but, its warmth, hospitality and love goes beyond. Irish people love talking as much as we Indians. People here are the best gifts that you will get. Irish people are undoubtedly the friendliest and most helpful people you will ever come across. If you lose your way, people will nearly walk down with you to the place you want to go, so that you don’t get lost. They are very accommodating and you instantly strike a chord once you start talking to them. It is impossible to dislike them.

There was another big fear in my mind about the food as I am a vegetarian and would generally prefer to eat Indian meals. But, to my surprise, there are a lot of Indian stores and restaurants and you can find almost anything from authentic Indian Spices, Pickles, Parothas, Daals to Maggie, Bournvita and Namkeen etc. I could even find those spices here for which I had to search a lot in India.

Another pleasant change that I experienced when I came here was the intimacy that, Ireland being a small country, creates amongst its people. Almost everyone seems to know everyone directly or indirectly. Hence it doesn’t take time to make friends. You never tend to be alone here.

One more difference that I found is that, the country is absolutely safe at any time of the day. Being a woman, I can safely go around walking or cycling the most silent streets at the grey hours of the night without even having to fear one bit.

In terms of culture, I observed that even this is very similar to India in a way.  Like we Indians, the Irish are interested in people and place great value on the individual. They are naturally courteous, quick-witted and will go out of their way to welcome international people to their country. But don’t rush them. Although they work very hard, the Irish are dedicated to a less stressful lifestyle that allows time for friends and family, a visit to the pub, a cup of tea, or just a bit of a chat on the corner. Families are closely-knit and very important to them. The country is always in a festive mood and you can enjoy numerous events like The Cork Rebel Week, The Jazz Week and the likes almost all year round.

Also, the overall living expenses are manageable apart from the house rent which is a little high. Basic necessities are priced almost similar to that in India and the best thing for girls is that shopping is very superior and economical. Opportunities for part time work are numerous and you can easily manage your living expenses by taking up a part- time job along with your studies.

Overall it is a wonderful experience studying in the emerald Isle and I am enjoying every bit of my stay here. Living in this country with beautiful people around has surely made me a better individual and look at life with a different perspective. Alpa Agrawal

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