Category Archives: Students

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!

Michael Chen_Ireland Photo Challenge.jpg


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Celebrating our International Student Ambassadors

NUI Galway’s International Student Ambassadors were honoured at a special ceremony last week. On Friday 19 April, our ambassadors attended a special reception at the Department of Education and Skills in Dublin, where they were presented with certificates of achievement by the Irish Minister of Education, Ruairi Quinn.

NUI Galway International Student Ambassadors

NUI Galway International Student Ambassadors (L-R) Keegan Charlier (USA), Felicia Robbins (USA) and Zeping Zhang (China)

The event was followed by a visit to Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin, where our students met with President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, a fellow NUI Galway graduate.

International Student Ambassadors meet President Micael D Higgins

(L-R) Zeping Zhang, Keegan Charlier, President Michael D Higgins, Felicia Robbins and Brian Hussey (International Office, NUI Galway)

Four NUI Galway international students were selected this year to take part in the prestigious Irish government backed programme, which saw a total of 40 international students blog about their experiences studying in Ireland and take part in various student outreach activities on behalf of their respective institutions.

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How to Blend In When Studying Abroad In Galway, Ireland – Tip No. 4, Get to class on time (or not!)

One of the things many visiting international students notice when they first study abroad in Ireland is that they show up at the scheduled time for a class, only to have to wait 10 minutes or so for it to begin.

Friar's Chapel, Lecture Theatre

Lectures are usually timetabled to last an hour, however it is generally understood that teaching begins at about 10 minutes after the hour.

The main reason is because students may have lectures in different buildings throughout the campus, and therefore may need the time to get from one to another.

Of course, some lecturers may begin on the hour, so it’s probably best to gauge each one individually over the first few weeks. However, if you do find yourself running late, there’s usually no problem getting in a few minutes after the hour, even if this would be not allowed at your home university.

***Update, August 2013 From the 2nd of September 2013 9am Lectures will begin on the hour and finishing at 10 minutes before the hour i.e. 9am-9.50am, 10am-10.50am etc.***

If you found this tip helpful, then be sure to check out our other tips on blending in when studying abroad in Ireland, 1, 2, and 3.


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Teaching, Learning and Assessment at NUI Galway

While the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures is probably the main reason most students decide to go abroad, whether for a semester or for their full degree, one of the less talked about benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to experience new ways of teaching, learning and assessment.

Higher education in Ireland shares many common features with Europe and North America, however most international students will encounter some differences in how courses are taught and assessed here compared to their home country.

Teaching and Learning

Most courses are delivered through lectures, which are normally held in large lecture halls. Lectures provide the foundations of a topic on which students are expected to explore further through their independent study and are quite different therefore to the classroom based learning you may be familiar with in your home country, which tends to be more interactive and discussion based.

Lectures are also usually supplemented by smaller tutorials, laboratory classes or seminars, which provide an opportunity for more in depth study and discussion in a smaller group setting.

The academic culture in Ireland therefore places a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are required to undertake a good deal of self-directed study outside of regular teaching hours.

When you first get your timetable, you might be pleasantly surprised to see you only have about 15-20 contact hours per week, depending on your programme, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that all that free time is just for hanging out out with your friends 😉  That ‘free’ time is when you are expected to undertake your own reading and research around the themes highlighted in your lectures and to work on your assingments.

Overall , whether you are a degree-seeking international student or a visiting student from another university, it’s important to understand that you are expected to take charge of your own learning and that this also includes your attendance at lectures and tutorials, keeping up with your reading and handing in your assignments on time.

Of course, transitioning to university life is not just a challenge for international students, and the University is committed to helping students adjust to their new learning environment as easily as possible.

Lecturers are generally friendly and approachable and above all keen to help their students succeed, however the relatively lower level of monitoring and structure, compared to secondary school or indeed colleges in some countries, means you may have to request help before its forthcoming.

Assessment and Exams

Another big change that comes when attending university abroad is adapting to new ways of assessment. While continuous assessment is increasingly used in Irish universities, end of semester examinations are still the main method of assessment for most courses.

End of semester exams usually entail 2 hour or sometimes 3 hour written examinations, though this can vary by course. This means that students are required to demonstrate an in depth understanding of the course material through a number of essay-style answers.

This can big a big challenge, especially for international students from countries where continuous assessment and/or short multiple choice type tests are commonly used.

If you are not sure what may be required of you in an end of semester exam at NUI Galway, you should speak with the relevant instructor at the beginning of the semester, so that you understand what is required of you.

Past exam papers for courses are available from the Exams Office and are a great way to practice exam type answers and get a feel for the type of questions that are likely to appear in your exam.

The NUI Galway Students Union website also provides some great tips on adapting to university life in general as well as practical advice on sitting examinations. The Students Union also runs The Academic Writing Centre, which offers (free) one-on-one teaching sessions tailored to the needs of individual students who require help with written assignments.


Plagiarism is defined by the NUI Galway Student Code of Conduct as “the act of copying, including or directly quoting from the work of another without adequate acknowledgment, in order to obtain benefit, credit or gain.”

Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offense in Ireland and can result in sanctions for a student found to have copied someone else’s work.

As an NUI Galway student or a visiting student from another university, you are subject to the normal rules and regulations of the University. Therefore, if you are unsure about what plagiarism is or how it can be avoided, please refer to the NUI Galway Students Union website for practical tips and explanations.

What Happens If I Fail?

Finally, while failing an examination is relatively rare, it can happen and it’s important to understand how it may affect your studies. The different colleges of the university have their own policies regarding appeals, rechecks and repeat examinations, so the first thing you should do is contact the relevant college office or refer to your handbook for further information.

Students are usually required to retake a failed examination, however, in the case of a non-formal examination, such as an essay, project, continuous assessment, you should contact your instructor or the relevant College Office to discuss your options. Please refer to the Exams Office website for more information.

For more information about the NUI Galway grading system be sure to check out our previous post Making the Grade.

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Student Volunteering at NUI Galway

NUI Galway is recognised as Ireland’s leading university for student volunteering, with more than 2,000 registered student volunteers working in local and international communities.

All NUI Galway students can volunteer through the University’s ALIVE (A
Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience) programme, established to support NUI Galway students who wish to volunteer.

Volunteering Week at NUI Galway – 24th September – 28th September 2012

Volunteering Week is your chance to meet and mingle through the variety of volunteer opportunities offered to NUI Galway students both on and off campus.

The week kick starts with information stands about volunteering, followed by the Volunteering Fair and leading to a one-day biltz of volunteering in the community on a specfic project.

Check out the website for details of what’s happening each day.

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Fall Recruitment Week, USA, 2012

We are delighted to announce that representatives from NUI Galway will attend a number of information sessions and education fairs in the United States this coming Fall.

Fall Recruitment Week

Fall Recruitment Week

NACAC National Conference, 4-6 October 2012

Colorado Convention Center

700 14th Street

Denver, CO 80202

Denver National College Fair, 7 October 2012

Colorado Convention Center

700 14th Street

Denver, CO 80202

Irish Universities Open House (New York), October 10, 7-9PM REGISTER NOW!

Xavier High School, 30 West 16th Street New York

New York, NY 10011

Irish Universities Open House, (Pearl River), October 11, 7-9PM REGISTER NOW!

Pearl River High School

135 West Crooked Hill Road

Pearl River

New York, NY 10965

Irish Universities Open House, (Boston), October 13, 2-4PM REGISTER NOW!

Boston College High School

150 Morrissey Blvd

Boston, MA 02125

Irish Universities Open House, (Fairfiled, CT), October 14, 2-4PM REGISTER NOW!

Fairfield Library

1080 Old Post Road

Fairfield, CT 06824

Students, parents and college counsellors are all welcome to attend these events. For more information, please contact:

Brian Hussey

International Affairs Office

National University of Ireland, Galway


t: + 353 (0)91 495358

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Service Learning for Visiting Students

Literacy and Learning in the Community is a new service learning class for Visiting Students from the United States at National University of Ireland, Galway.

Service Learning at NUI Galway

Service Learning at NUI Galway

This semester long class is worth 5 ECTS credits (approximately 2-3 US credits) and is delivered via a series of academic lectures, reflective seminars and over 20 hours of service at an after school homework club at a local elementary.

NUI Galway has long been recognised as the leading university in Ireland in  the area of student volunteering and service learning. While visiting students have always had the option to take part in the universities volunteering programmes, Literacy and Learning in the Community is a unique opportunity to earn credits through service learning.

Literacy and Learning in the Community Class (2012)

Literacy and Learning in the Community Class (2012)

Learning Outcomes

Students gain an improved understanding of important theories and perspectives relating to literacy acquisition and how Irish society responds to the challenges associated with this important educational and social issue.

Homework Club

Homework Club

Students will also benefit from experiential learning of how local homework clubs in the Galway area provide support and structure for children to develop their learning and literacy skills; additionally, they will develop an appreciation of the relationship between the university and these voluntary organisations in respect of the concepts of civic engagement and service learning.

Additionally, students will develop an ability to reflect on the academic content of the course and relate it to their personal experience in community homework clubs.


Students are required to complete an essay in examination conditions at the end of the course, which counts for 30% of the overall grade awarded. In addition, students are required to submit a detailed portfolio of reflective learning, which counts for 50% of the overall grade.

Students are given regular journal assignments which are informed by their reading of specific academic texts relating to the subject of service learning and literacy acquisition as well as by their first-hand experiences at their service placements.

The remaining 20% of marks is based on attendance and participation in both the formal classes which take place each week of the semester and at the students’ chosen homework clubs.

For more information, please contact the International Affairs Office at NUI Galway.

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