A Photo a Day – Michael Chen

Michael Chen is an international student from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, U.S.A. who spent his Spring 2017 semester abroad. Check out his blog to see the photos he snapped during his time at NUI Galway!



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A Day in the Life – Daniel McFadden

Daniel McFadden is an international student from America studying Computer Science & Information Technology.


My morning routine usually consists of waking up early and heading to the gym for a cycling class. After I head back up to Corrib Village accommodation and take my shower and get dressed, followed by either making myself some breakfast or stopping by the cafe for some coffee and a scone if I’m running late. I head in early to class for around 9:00AM and write a few notes down, send a few emails, or just hang with friends.



Everyday of the week my classes start at 10AM and usually last for an hour or two, but most are split between days if they are two hours. The mornings are usually spent in the classroom with a lecturer learning about the subject we’ll need to know for our weekly labs. In our class we have about 60 people and are quite a close bunch. After class, 2 of my Irish friends here head to An Bialann (the canteen on campus) for some lunch. My favourite place for food is Sub Central for the Bacon Lover’s sub. It’s really filling for the hours I spend after class and labs and is a good deal.



My friends and I usually head from lunch straight to our programming labs in the afternoon together. Some of our labs this year have been group projects so I’ve gotten to know other people in my course that I may have not spoken to. But one of the really good advantages of group work in programming is that it looks good on a CV/resume and you do learn a lot from your peers and it does help you improve your coding and technical thinking.



Around 5 o’clock, all of my classes are done and I head back to my apartment in Corrib for dinner. Generally, I cook some pasta with meat, or on weekends, some type of meat as the main course. Sometimes I am able to catch one of my friends Alex into dinner and we have dinner together. Usually we end up talking for 2 hours together and then we split and head off on our own ways.



Societies generally start around 7 and go for about 2 hours. Wednesday and Thursday are good days to go to The College Bar as a lot of societies meet there and you get to see all your friends. If not, there is always something going on, a fundraiser, a party, or some karaoke in the back. I am involved in the International Students Society here so we generally meet and have tea and chats, then after our meeting, we head to the college bar. Societies are amazing here at NUI Galway, it is where I made most of my friends and grew skills in public speaking and team leadership. I’d highly encourage everybody to join a few societies – you also sometimes get free pizza!



On days when societies do not meet I get work done so on the weekends I can travel. As Ireland is cold and rainy, there is nowhere else better than the warm Library to do work. So I head to the library to do some work and study. I have this particular seat that I promise is more comfortable than the rest, but I won’t tell you which one it is! I generally like the 2nd floor (3rd floor for my American friends – the floor numbering system is different!) as it provides a nice view of campus while also being sparsely occupied.GBayUpward.JPG

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Balancing Academics and a Social Life at NUI Galway

Hui Sun  is an international student from China earning her MEconSC in International Finance.

Some Chinese friends kept asking me how I manage to balance full-time school, part-time job, recreation and extracurricular activities in Ireland when I barely knew anything about how life is like in another continent. As a foreign student studying abroad for the first time, it goes without saying how important it is to improve our work-life balance in an entirely different environment.

If you want my honest answer, there are two very important tools that I’ve integrated into my weekly life that I think each international student should bear in mind: handle your pressure and time management.

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My Master’s degree major is Finance but my Bachelor’s degree major is Accounting. So honestly, I did not have a very solid foundation with what we ought to have in mathematics and programming, except some basic understanding in advanced mathematics. So at the very beginning, I found it quite hard to catch up when we were studying quantitative finance computations related to calculus, statistics and computer programming. I have to confess that at that period, I was quite upset and even depressed because I found myself quite slow in understanding lectures (both in aspect of language and content) even though I have already spent most of my time in library learning by myself. Then I made a complaint to one of my Chinese friend who has been studying in NUI Galway for 4 years, he told me to stop push myself too hard and gave me some useful tips:

  • Step 1: Self-analysis, find your limits, your strengths and weakness, the most effective studying method for yourself and your optimal hours of sleep, etc.
  • Step 2: Stop spend all day in library and enrich your spare time, but narrow down your involvement to the things which could really ignite your enthusiasm.
  • Step 3: Keep a calendar. Stick to it.

I followed his suggestions and did a thorough self-analysis. I realized that I am always eager to understand concepts and things from very bare bottom, i.e. from the bare axioms. I liked logical reasoning. In short, I was right on choosing my major. What I truly lack is not mathematic knowledge itself, but enough confidence and patience. So I settle down to study from the very basics, little by little, and luckily, my classmates were always there to help me so I happily aced my first semester’s exam.

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Also I have decided to push myself to develop healthy habits—to work out and better my physical fitness. This semester, instead of taking everything one step at a time, I decided to take life head-on because, why not? You don’t know your limits until you challenge yourself and I wanted to learn mine. Sure, there are some hard days, but that’s when exercise comes into play. Specifically, tennis and climbing. Actually, I was quite uncertain when I begin to decide whether I should start learning some new sports because I am not used to be a total novice when I enter college clubs. It’s not like the time I attended college table tennis club in China when I have already been trained for years. Fortunately, when I finally set up my mind and stepped into the tennis court and the climbing wall, I found there were quite a few newcomers like me who had no experience and all of us were taught from the very basic. The club managers were very friendly and patient, we all enjoyed ourselves, and I should say doing sports is really a great way to release our pressure form the daily routine. I even passed my NUI Galway climbing certificate after the whole session of climbing class!  Sun Pic 4.jpgSun Pic 5.jpg

The third aspects for me to change has been organization, specifically time management. Utilizing my at-home calendar app, Google calendar app, and an on-the-go planner app has helped me tremendously in terms of knowing my weekly assignments and tasks. I believe very strongly in writing things down and setting reminders because that is one of the best ways I retain information and memorize my goals. A good organizational practice to get started is to take everything that you need to do in a week and write them down from greatest to least important and make it your business to set aside time for every goal each day. Before you know it, your entire list will be diminished and you might even have some time to spare for extracurricular activities.

These may seems like two very small methods towards self-improvement, however, practice makes perfect and habits turn into muscle memory so even if you don’t see much of a change immediately, taking baby steps towards big goals are still steps in the right direction.

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Student Life During Exams

Ronald Saraswat is an international student from India earning his MSc in Neuropharmacology. Take a glimpse into his exam preparations below!

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A Day in the Life – Michelle Lau Chai Hong

Michelle Lau Chai Hong  is an international student from Malaysia earning her MSc Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety.

“ Ring……” It is my alarm ringing to tell me it is a new day!

As usual, I quickly wash and get myself ready to go to the university. The university is just 20 minutes by foot from the place I live and there is a “park and ride” bus that can cut my journey to half the time.


My class starts at 9 am and on the way to the class, it is normally the time to grab a coffee or get some food. I meet my course mates and we have a good chat before the class starts. The lecture starts at 9am sharp, followed by a 10 minute break after an hour lecture. The break makes me feel better after an hour of study, because I get some fresh air and make my mind clear to get ready for the next hour class.

The class finishes at 1pm. It is then lunch time and the canteen is not far away from the lecture hall. A few of us go canteen together and enjoy our lunch.


After lunch, we have our lab. It is about the thermal comfort in the workplace and we measure the temperature, humidity and the air flow in the laboratory. Before measurements start, we were shown the procedures to calibrate the equipment as well as the technique to collect data. It is fun, as it makes me recall my days in the laboratory during my time in secondary school.

The lab finishes at 4pm, which indicates the end of my lecture hours on the day. After spending some time in the library, I head home for dinner.

I cook dinner with my housemates and we have a wonderful evening. Before I go to bed, I manage to do some revision on the lecture and prepare for the next day’s lectures.

Student life is busy, but I feel contented with the knowledge I’ve gained!

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Why Study at NUI Galway?

Daniel McFadden is an international student from America studying Computer Science & Information Technology.

Freshers Week, Petting zoo, Thanksgiving day, Poster sales, Mental Health week, and SHAG week, are some of the few events held throughout the year at NUI Galway that students can take part in. Both the university and the Students Union here are phenomenal at getting people together to make activities fun and engaging for everybody. In addition to campus activities, there is almost always a festival on every month around town or just a short bus ride away. Galway is considered the cultural heart of Ireland and thus there is always something that is new and exciting, whether that is a march/protest, or the International Oyster Festival, or the St. Paddy’s day parade, this is a town you cannot be bored in.

As an international student at NUI Galway is one of the best experiences I have embarked on. I consistently find myself torn between a RyanAir flight to mainland or taking a boat to the Aran Islands for a day. However, when I do stay in for a weekend on campus my friends and I usually spend the nights together out in town or eating Chinese takeaway gossiping until the wee hours of the morning. Just this past weekend I had a kilo of ham and baked dinner for one of my friends and I, together we ate dinner and watched a movie then headed out for Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds. Following that day I hosted a large breakfast with American style pancakes and some of my Corrib Village friends brought over the ingredients and we had our breakfast together.

Besides my experience as an NUIG student in terms of social life, the college atmosphere is equally as important and strong. While NUIG is a big school with 17,000 students it can feel small at times. In nearly all hallways you will always see someone you know or a friend of a friend. Even when I am in the Bialann (a cafeteria under the Arts Concourse) I always see someone I know through societies or Corrib Village, that I can chat with. In the realm of academics, each of my professors know me well as we are a smaller course (Computer Science) of about 50 people. NUI Galway’s small town feel but big city offers make it attractive place to live and study in.

Being an international student has allowed me to learn about other cultures, and in the process my own, and connect with people from all over. Opportunities and surprise come around every corner in Galway, making it a place your heart will fall for every new day.GalwayBay.jpg

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A Day in the Life – Nur Syazana

Nur Syazana Idris is an international student from Malaysia studying Medicine.

What I love most about the lecture timetable at NUI Galway is that it is very relaxing whereby sometimes classes start at 9am, sometimes at 10am and usually ends by 12pm. On days where there are Anatomy and Physiology Labs, the lab sessions resume at 2pm. On days where there are no lab, classes would end latest by 1pm and you may spend the rest of your evening studying in the library or going to the gym. This relaxing schedule rewards students with sufficient rest in between and allows us to be more productive in studying.

The most hectic day for myself is Tuesday because lectures usually end by 12pm, then I would have Anatomy lab from 2 – 5pm. Then, I would go for Karate from 6pm – 8.30pm. Lunch is not a problem at all in case I forgot to pack my lunch because there are a lot of cafés in campus that sells food at a reasonable price. There is also a canteen on campus which sells a variety of food and there are also a lot of seats whereby you can enjoy your packed lunch with your friends. It’s really cheap as well! A plate of fries would only cost you 1.50€. Besides, there are plenty of restaurants near campus which are within walking distance.

Despite the hectic schedule on Tuesdays, I really look forward to the Anatomy lab because I get to apply what I studied theoretically and therefore understand Anatomy better. During the 1st year of second semester, the Anatomy department and a few Anatomy and Medicine students organized an Anatomy Memorial Day which made us further appreciate the gift of knowledge that the donors have given us. Ever since then, I tend to fully utilize the dissection practical to study from the cadavers and realize the responsibility that I have as a student.  Hence, being in the anatomy lab is never close to boredom!

Karate is the first martial arts that I have ever indulged in and I am really glad I did because I made a lot of new friends and I also learned some really cool moves that might help myself in the future. Karate is also one of the ways I take a break from studying twice a week and it is definitely stress relieving because I get to release my anger/stress especially when we kick pads.

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Although Tuesday is my favorite yet hectic day, every day for the rest of the week is not that bad at all because the “Galway vibe” is very calming and positive as the traffic is not that bad and there are also lots of picturesque landscape that you will be amazed with when you walk around Galway.

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