A New Chapter: NUI Galway Edition

Mary Labib is an international student from Canada studying Medicine.

“The best way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” – Allan W. Watts

Moving 6000 km away from home to a whole new continent, and a whole new way of life. The true definition of heartache became clear to me, I mean crystal clear. Boarding the flight to come to an unknown land carried a wide range of emotions – excitement, nervousness, and disbelief. It felt as though there was a ten ton elephant on my shoulder the whole way there, but upon landing in Ireland, I received a sudden rush of exhilaration. My emotions went from running high in anticipation to running high in excitement within the snap of a finger – that was the past, this is now. When I think about my experience at NUI Galway, I gather a sense of joy. This year is definitely one to remember. NUI Galway has so many attributes which make for the most amazing experience. I can attest that although NUI Galway has outstanding education and as an international student the focus is on academics, there are a plethora of other factors that come into play.

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Studying at NUI Galway has been an amazing experience for me not only academically but also socially and personally for many reasons:

The campus:

NUI Galway’s campus is not only education-based, supporting many study facilities, but also encompasses everything from student societies and sports to media, arts and volunteering. At NUI Galway, there are opportunities for everyone to get involved, no matter what you study or what you are interested in. As an international student, I walked into societies day thinking that nothing would be of interest to me. I was thrilled when I quickly realized that there is something for everyone! NUI Galway offers a wide range of societies and sports among many other extracurriculars which appeals to people of all different backgrounds. This is especially important for international students looking to get involved in a new community. This campus promotes a well-rounded life style which I find is essential to take part in. The multitude of activities that NUI Galway offers enhanced my experience because it helped me get involved and experience Galway from a perspective other than academics.

Academics:

Where else would anyone want to be educated besides the land of the scholars? When you hear that NUI Galway is ranked within the top 2% in the world, the statistic speaks for itself! However, take it from someone who loves education, I cannot believe the quality of teaching I began receiving from my very first day. My professors are all tremendously intelligent which really helps because they are able to answer any question anyone fires at them. This is hard to find, especially in the university setting where the level of education is already so high. From the opportunities students are granted, to the support that the teachers give, the education system in NUI Galway is one that resembles the true essence of holistic learning.

Culture:

Galway in particular has a prominent culture with includes traditions, language, music, art, folklore and not to mention the hype that is Irish football. As an international student, traditional Irish pubs are the place to be in order to experience the sense of unity in the culture! One of my most fond experiences in Ireland thus far is when my friends and I went to our first Irish pub. I felt the Irish culture in a way like no other; you have to see it to believe it! The abundance of pride and sense of belonging that Irish people express, especially in this close-knit city, was my first indication that these next six years are worth looking forward to.

Scenery:

The culture is backed up with beautiful scenery. The natural beauty that is country possesses cannot be put into words. After all, they don’t call Ireland “The Emerald Isle” for nothing. After doing some traveling, I can confirm that Galway is hands down one of the most beautiful places in Ireland!

There are a couple great locations in Galway which helps a student to unwind:

  • Shop Street looks like it is literally out of a movie! There are cute shops surrounding the cobble stone walkway as well as live performances and not to mention the best ice cream known to mankind: Gino’s.
  • The Spanish Arch is another place where students can go and gather a true sense of peace. With it being in town and right on the ocean, it is a very convenient go to place for many students to relax and relieve stress.
  • One thing that really puts Galway over the top is Salthill – walk the prom, breathe in the fresh air and soak up the views! Salthill offers the nicest boardwalk for students to enjoy morning, day or night on the shore.

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What is not to love about studying at NUI Galway? The people, the places, the education … just wow. Moving away from home, I was so focused on the fact that I am only here for school. Initially, I was under the impression that between the library, school and fending for myself, there would be no time to enjoy the city. More importantly, I didn’t know what there was to enjoy in Galway. However, upon beginning this new chapter in my life, I realize that it’s not about having time to experience Galway as a whole, it’s about making the time.

Committing to a certain number of years to one city, away from home, was by far the hardest decision I’ve ever made. However, when I lay in bed at night and think about my experience in Ireland so far, I have nothing but appreciation for the land that I’m in, the people I have met, and the experiences I have had. Since my recent move to Ireland, I have started a new book, its pages are starting to get filled up with words I put on it myself. This book is called “Opportunity” and the first chapter is called “Grateful.”

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Semester Abroad at NUI Galway

Michael Chen is an international student from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon spending his Spring 2017 semester abroad. Follow along on his blog as he snaps a photo a day during his time at NUI Galway!

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MSc Clinical Research at NUI Galway

Shubham Atal is an international student from India earning his MSc Clinical Research.

The program I am pursuing here at NUIG is the Masters (MSc) in Clinical Research. It is offered as a 1 year full time taught course for international students while it’s also available as a 2 year part time course for Irish students. Clinical research is the branch of healthcare science that determines the safety and effectiveness (efficacy) of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use, through conduction of interventional / observational studies.

This course is for candidates who wish to move into professional roles in the domain of clinical research in industry or develop as researchers in academia. The course is delivered by the HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway. The HRB-CRFG is a joint venture between the Health Research Board Ireland, the Saolta University Health Care Group and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). The course has a very nicely structured curriculum and an ideal duration of 1 year, which was a perfect fit for me trying to switch from an academic to a more clinical research oriented career.  The format of compulsory and elective additional modules offers great flexibility.

The MSc Clinical Research was established in 2010 and till date has produced 49 graduates who have gone on to utilise their skills successfully in various domains of clinical research and healthcare. This was the first course of its type in Ireland and remains one of the very few courses of its kind across Europe with handful of universities in UK and a couple more in mainland Europe offering such 1 year training in clinical research for international students. It has acquired a national and international reputation with ever increasing numbers of applicants since its launch. There are 34 students currently registered, both full time and part time, to the program from a variety of backgrounds.

The objective of the course is to provide education and training to a community of professionals who will enable to enhance Ireland’s reputation as an upcoming major player in the global clinical research scene. Developments are still ongoing in the field, but opportunities are opening. It wouldn’t hurt if you had prior experience though, in terms of job opportunities in Ireland after a course like this.

Typical backgrounds from which students come in the course are: Medical/Surgical (50%), Biomedical science, Life Sciences, Pharmacy, Nursing, R&D (Industry), Healthcare, Education. Typical roles that graduates can go into after the course are: Clinical Prinicipal Investigator, Trial Monitoring/Clinical Research Administration, Research Nursing, Research Pharmacy, Data Management, Quality and Regulatory affairs, Education, Pharmacovigilance, Project Coordination/Management.

Students are required to complete three compulsory modules and choose from a basket of elective modules to make up a total of 90 ECTS credits including the 30 ECTS MSc thesis. The thesis is to be completed over the 1 year period and submitted at the end of the course. In choosing a thesis topic, interests of the students are taken into consideration well, attempting to match them with supervisors in their choice of research areas.

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The modules covered in the course range from basics of medical research like fundamentals of health research, ethics, basic biostatistics to a wider spectrum of elective modules like advanced biostatistics, observational research methods, clinical trials, systematic reviews, translational medicine, clinical research administration, and even ‘wider perspective’ topics like economic evaluations, project management, database development. The first semester is mostly comprised of the 3 core modules, with choices of additional 2-3 modules available. So, in that sense, the second semester can be considered quite loaded with most elective modules to be chosen from and the thesis work expected to initialize.

The course has a blended learning format wherein there are modules ‘taught’ conventionally, or ‘discussed’ or offered completely / partially in online mode. So, quite a bit of self-learning is expected, along with different kinds of assignments, which is a unique enriching experience in itself. It may require some ‘getting used to’ if you come from education systems based on didactic and proper classroom learning. The course is expected to move further towards an online delivery platform. The faculties involved in delivering the modules are very accomplished in their respective fields. Professor Martin O’Donnell who is the Program Director is a very well renowned figure in the field of vascular medicine and stroke.

Another beneficial aspect is that there are opportunities to participate in clinical research activities in the HRB-CRFG, gaining hands on experience and thereby providing students with greater opportunities in the future, having delved into the real-life setting of clinical research and associated activities. These opportunities come in form of part time paid internships / jobs and volunteer research assistantships. For the paid profiles, it is usually expected to have relevant prior work experience.

To sum up, this Master’s program is a great platform if you are looking to launch or further your career in healthcare research in industry or academia. The learning atmosphere at NUIG is stimulating and encourages you to indulge in reading, learning, discussing, analysing the nuances of the field. I would gladly recommend it to people who wish to explore opportunities to develop in clinical research in Ireland and globally.

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A Day in the Life – Ronald Saraswat

Ronald Saraswat is an international student from India earning his MSc in Neuropharmacology.

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Sai Abinesh – a day in my life …..studying MSc in Computer Science (Data Analytics) at NUI Galway

A day in my life

Not a day goes by in my course without thinking of the assignment overdue just around the corner. It’s usually many. Once you’ve gotten that pain out of your stomach, you’re free to make any breakfast you want and get on to prepare for another exciting day at the university.

After the usual oats, blueberries and eggs, I try and make it on time to the first lecture usually at 10 or 11. (Which is supposed to be ‘early’ in student standards) Arrive on time and everything’s nice and peaceful. 5 or 10 minutes late (like  a fifth of the class does) and you’ll have to worry about losing continuity of the lecture, let alone losing a place next to your Greek friend, who is almost always on time.

There’s rarely a dull moment in lectures.  Especially the 2 hour lectures because 1 hour classes just fly away and you have to be on the edge of your seat if it has to make any sense. One really can’t afford to slack away, take a 20 second notifications break, or a micro nap because the whole problem or derivation would be solved by then. Unfortunately the lecturers are so dexterous that they can write something on the board, while explaining it, faster than a student can take them down on paper. It couldn’t feel that fast till you tune out to daydream and a couple of seconds later, you’re desperately trying to put the pieces together while your hands are trying to copy them down as fast as they could before it’s rubbed off. But they’re all nice people!  you could stop them any time and they’ll explain it to you. No question is stupid. Trust me, I’ve done it many times. They don’t assume anything. People have asked all different sorts of questions – from what is an inverse of a matrix in Advanced Probability class – to what is an access modifier in Large scale data analytics(where you’re supposed to know in advance , how to code in Java). Every time, you get a friendly, concise answer that would get you upto speed; and then some version of “Does that make sense?” to make sure you got it. You could also email them and expect a prompt reply. Or just drop into their office. All of them.

One really can’t appreciate the lectures enough when they’re in the middle of it. The slides and their supporting materials(like tutorials and excel sheets and java codes) are works of art that have an elegance in their minimalism. They really come to life during exam time when you don’t have enough time for textbooks, with their wordy explanations and cryptic notations. Nor can you type something on YouTube or Wikipedia and try to brood over which one of them to watch because you only have limited time). That’s when the concise and the beautifully crafted slides would come to life, covering the essence of every single topic and their explanations would start to play in your head. So it was a realization that in the digital era of the internet, you still need lectures and professors. They do add value. At least in top universities they do.

Whenever I’m not at home or at lectures, my time is spent at IT305. It’s an awesome lab with nearly 30 computers that are exclusively for our masters. (with rarely 10 in regular use because everyone works with their own laptops, which is kind of sad). It’s not the lab or the computers themselves that make the place awesome. It’s basically a computer lab and a lecture hall for programming modules.

It’s a home away from home in a sense that it’s the go-to place for most of the DAs(Data Analytics gang) who hang around there all the time. In between lectures; during assignment nights when the eerie deadline grins at us while we bash each other’s brains, trying to decide which stackoverflow code will do the magic for us.

During group study sessions we play tutors, trying to fill in gaps in knowledge and bring something to the table when someone is in doubt or some obscure algorithm doesn’t make sense for any of us. “To the board. Time for the markers”. During one of these sessions, I took the lead when trying to piece together a machine learning algorithm. I tried to start from scratch and oversimplified a partial differential equation trying to explain to my classmates who didn’t have calculus exposure. It so happened that they liked the way I did it and told me A couple of classmates told me they’d pay me to do this. I only realized they weren’t kidding when they actually had me grind them for a session in “Calculus for Probability”, and paid me handsomely for it. A lot of potential to make money and help people at the same time. Then there is the NUIG grinds where you could register to tutor for students who are willing to be tutored, in subjects where you think you can contribute.

Except for an average of three and a half hours a day of labs and lectures combined, you’re free to do whatever you want. Except you’re not. Because reading for, and doing assignments take twice as much time a day.(If you know what you’re doing, otherwise longer). You can’t blame them because that’s the only way professors can evaluate that you can actually put the knowledge into practice and make something out of it. That’s more important than just knowledge, which is why continuous assessments carry as much as 40% of the entire grade, the remaining from written exams.

If one can figure out how to get out of the vicious cycle of going through the entire student  life, moving from one assignment to another, which is tough, but doable, there’s always time and place for awesome things inside the university. Every Monday, 6-8 pm and Wednesday (9 -11 pm) are awesome because of badminton at the monstrous 12 court facility of the college. Every Fridays and Saturdays are awesome because of the Kayaking club’s beginner sessions. (where a magical boat like an f1 car, you sit inside and keep rowing). These are the regulars that I visit.

Other than that I’ve tried out ultimate frisbee, Rock climbing, Soccer and  Basketball. There’s a sports club for every sport it’s a shame that you can only select so much to play in a week owing to the schedules. When I am not doing assignments, or studying, or playing badminton, or dancing, or kayaking, or doing radio shows in my university, I like to read and watch about subjects that interest me, which are a lot: insightful and thought-provoking books like Thinking, Fast and Slow and Antifragile; scientific(especially cognitive science) documentaries of BBC, NGC, and Discovery Channel; actionable TED talks; biographies of the likes of Nikola Tesla, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson and Elon Musk.There’s also the beautiful library where I wanted to spend the majority of time, I just couldn’t. But I have the  whole semester 2 ahead of me and I will.

My day ends with dinner and good rest and I can’t wait to repeat all over again.

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MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland Galway | Study in Ireland | Education in Ireland Blog

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MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland Galway

Studying MA Culture and Colonialism at NUI Galway, Parul Verma shares why her course is so engaging and why Ireland offers a literary seduction which is difficult to resist…

Ireland has produced some of the greatest writers in literature. From James Joyce and Oscar Wilde to Anne Enright and William Yeats. It is a dream destination for each and everyone who is seduced by archaic or modern literature. Any art student with a history, sociology, political science or a literature background will identify how Ireland has incorporated the arts within its national identity, right from fighting the British colonialism to achieving her independence. Hence, my interest in pursuing my higher education in Ireland couldn’t be more convincing.

MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland, Galway

NUIG offers an MA programme which provides the developmental stimulation of both, the intellect and cultural experience, to its students.

If you are an art student, you’ll know the utter importance of critical thinking and giving birth to ideas that form the basis of any revolutionary and engaging literary work. This intellectual stimulation becomes necessary especially when reading and understanding the abstractions of words in literature. NUIG offers an MA programme which provides the developmental stimulation of both, the intellect and cultural experience, to its students. The programme is multi-disciplinary and aims to holistically gather literature, politics and culture from Ireland, India, Africa and the Middle East. Students critically engage with race and racial theories, imperialism, postcolonial experiences of the writers, neo-colonialsm, nationalist movements and the politics of development in the post colonial era.

NUIG offers that space to polish your critical engagements with politics of literature and beyond. The programme is aptly suited for students who have specific interest in postcolonial literature. The University offers generous Scholarly fellowships for any students who have a keen interest to pursue their research in literature after post graduation.

Different nationalities under one programme

The coming together of students of more that four different nationalities, the literary debates and the  discussions  becomes highly insightful and enriching.

From India, South Korea, Scotland to United States of America, my class is truly enriching in its cultural diversity. The coming together of students of more that four different nationalities, the literary debates and the  discussions  becomes highly insightful and enriching. The curriculum encourages the historical and political understanding of imperialism and post colonial era of various countries and the discussions in the class truly reflects the same. The faculty is the another reason why you can’t resist NUIG. The professors here, create a space where you can learn your infinite potential and unlearn your limits. A space where individuality of the student is encouraged and polished. Furthermore, a space which transforms a student from a reader to a substantial writer.

If you are an arts student who loves to read, critically think, passionately write and obtains a desire to pursue this passion up to a research scholarly level, then MA Culture and Colonialism in NUIG is the space for you. The programme will truly challenge your limits and will aid you in sparking out your literary potentials.

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Why I’m a MSc Neuropharmacology student at NUI Galway…

Interested in a post grad course in Neuropharmacology?

Ronald Saraswat has you covered with the full run down as to what’s involved in MSc. Neuropharmacology course at NUI Galway…

I am high on exam fever right now, and guess it’s exactly almost the right time for me to wonder that what really made me choose this program over plenty of other options worldwide and after actually going through it in last three months, is it still what I thought it to be?

The course

I was almost always intrigued about what science has to offer, it’s just not always what you study but the way you think which brings you to science. The natural world has always inspired me to explore and learn why and how the intricate interactions of non-animate things give birth to this wonder we know as reality and life. Most of all, I learnt later in life that it is our brain which makes us wonder the same and I built this strong liking to learn more about the most complex machinery known to man in the universe, the human brain!

Long story short, I went through a lot of research before arriving on Ireland as a study abroad destination (I have written about my experience in this country, and how it has treated me on my personal blog) but for this piece I’ll be focusing on my course, MSc in Neuropharmacology at NUIG.

The beginning

NUI Galway was established way back in 1845 and the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics here was incepted in 1974. The MSc in Neuropharmacology programme was initiated in 1998, to equip students with the latest in Neuroscience knowledge and research. It has been actively involved in the field of neuropharmacological research and, for a scientist, what’s better than being part of a historical institute which brings them close to real world scientific problems that are being worked currently.

It’s a one year program with three 4-month semesters, comprising of 90 ECTS in total. The starting of the first trimester is full of theoretical knowledge of basic and advanced aspects of neuropharmacology involving the Central Nervous System and related systems in the body; hands on practicals and projects involving presentations and posters are taught and students are guided through the field and encouraged to explore unbiased scientific critical thinking. The use of experimental design and statistics to neuropharmacological research and hands on tutorials of computer packages involved in data processing and presentation will bring you to a different understanding. Written, verbal and presentation skills are also enhanced through regular group based and individual efforts. Most of all, if you haven’t experienced a “real” research environment, you’ll do it here.

Fret not if you are new to a few of the concepts. It can get a bit tricky at times, as in my case, but the lecturers and guides provided are ample – enabling students to get through any difficulties you may face along the way.

First exams & second semester

Exams take place before the Christmas holidays and are based on theory and practical sessions that you attend during the semester, they can be online or written, and you get an insight of them during the pre-final activities and MCQs during the course work, The second semester will be more focused on the detailed knowledge of what you learn in the first semester and refer to more advanced aspects of pharmacology. It is also this time that you start to focus on your research project for the final trimester. Don’t forget to actually getting involved in the seminars that take place throughout the study year, it will help you to gain the latest insights in the field and decide what to focus on your energy on in the future.

What to expect

In the end, you’ll have to do a research project and for that you’ll have to write your own research thesis under the guidance of a professional, I still have to figure that out… The rest all depends on what you really want out of your study abroad experience, I managed to be part of many societies and clubs during my study time. It depends on your personal preferences but you’ll have to focus on the studies from the beginning to keep up with the workload as well! It’s all just a balance and it might be difficult in the initial days for some to adjust in, but with an International crowd it’s totally a different experience.

All in all, it has been a brilliant experience for me and while I prepare for my exams and write this for you to read, right now am very much firm that my decision to join this program is worth it. After coming here it feels am part of a bigger scientific community that is helping the world to make a better place and It has been a brilliant experience as of now in this beautiful country and hope it will be the same for you as well. Rest there’s still a lot for me to explore and I wish I achieve what I look forward for in the scientific community and in turn for the world.

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February 1, 2017 · 9:57 am