Blog by UCC Student Ambassador Christine Kannapel
What do a passport and a reusable grocery bag have in common? They are both items absolutely required during your study abroad experience in Ireland.
This blog post might bring-on a yawn or two, but in the end, I hope that it helps answer questions pertaining to immigration and to basic living as a student in Ireland.
Personally, immigration was the most stressful part of cozying into life as an international student. When I rolled off the airplane, security stamped my passport, gave me my visa submission date, and advised me that I had best run to immigration at the Anglesea Street Garda Station as soon as possible—even though my submission date wasn’t for another three months.
Every international student will be advised to do the same, however, the reality can be more complicated. Do not get too worried if complications do arise! The International Office is incredibly helpful; do not be shy in asking for help (like I initially was). The office has also created this crucial checklist on the back of the Irish Residence Form (IRP), which you will need bring to the Garda with your other required documentation: UCC Checklist for First Time Registration with Immigration (hyperlink: https://www.ucc.ie/en/media/studyatucc/international/documentation/ChecklistFirstTimeImmigrationRegistration2018.pdf ).
A few important factors to keep in mind as you check-off the checklist are:
1. You will need to have your UCC student identity card before you can sign-up for a Bank of Ireland account (which you will be prompted to do directly after registration and student ID card collection). Therefore, you need your student ID before you can have an Irish bank account AND before you can submit to immigration. See? It all comes together bit by bit. Patience is key!
2. Your funding, of which you will need proof, may take a few days to process or appear in your statement. Don’t panic if you don’t see it right away!
3. Medical insurance is required. My mother was an angel and emailed me PDFs of my current healthcare coverage details and a travel document listing the specifics of my coverage overseas. Both of these documents were signed by an employee of my insurance company and had my full name on them—be sure that yours do too.
4. Remember, once you have your student ID card, you can use the Boole Library to print documents.
5. Plan a morning out of your week when you will wake up before the break of dawn to stand in line with all of your required documentation. Trust me, the earlier the better. The immigration line doubles exponentially starting after 8:00 AM.
6. Though not on the checklist, bring your UCC acceptance letter and a copy of your registration/module selection. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared!
7. This may be an obvious pointer, but I kept all of my important documents in a single, sturdy, plastic file. The file definitely helped me keep organized and it might help you as well! Also, I think the woman who helped me at immigration appreciated the efficiency.
8. Oh, and don’t forget your passport.
Now onto less serious, but just as important subject material! Remember my blog post (hyperlink: https://uccinternational.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/what-to-pack-and-what-not-to-pack-for-studying-abroad/ ) last month about what to take and leave when preparing to study abroad in Ireland? Well, the turn in this blog post will take you past which coat to pack and to the contents of your kitchen cupboards.
Campus residencies will already have the staples, as will some shared houses outside of campus (it will be on you so ensure your residence does). However, there are little things that you will want to acquire yourself, i.e. sheets, towels, hangers for that empty wardrobe, maybe even a shower caddy so you don’t hog space in the shared bathroom, and most certainly, reusable shopping bags. All of these items, as well as other essentials, can be found at T.K. Max and Home Sense (which is literally the same thing) for student-worthy prices. Of course, you should also pursue a shopping trip into Dunnes and Marks&Spencer.
My last tip is simply this: before you leave home, take a mental note, or a make list like I did, of household items you use everyday and might overlook. These things might make your living experience a way from home just that more comfortable.
Remember that at first, everything may seem like a whirlwind pulling you every which way, but I promise you that it will all slow down. Cork will feel like home in no time.