Monthly Archives: May 2017

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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