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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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