Life as an International Student at University College Cork
Your successful University placement after completion of the Foundation programme is a critical part of your study plan, when you are considering studying abroad – however, it can be sometimes overlooked when considering your options for Foundation.
There are a number of things you should be asking potential Foundation providers about when looking at your options for Foundation, including:
- How will the Foundation programme prepare you for University?
- What assistance will be provided for your University placement?
- What University options are available for your progression?
Therefore, we thought we would ask one of our past student’s, Selena Guo, (now studying her third year Accounting degree at University College Cork) about her experiences studying the International Foundation Year – Business with DIFC and how this helped her to gain a placement with University College Cork.
Why did you choose Ireland for your studies?
I wanted to improve my English and it was suggested that Ireland was the place to go because of the high quality education. Also, as Ireland is an English speaking country there was more chance of immersion in an English speaking place. I didn’t really compare other countries as I heard that there weren’t that many differences. I felt that it didn’t really matter what country you choose; whatever one you choose, you’ll gain something from it. I hadn’t really been abroad so everywhere was going to be different/foreign.
Since arriving, I have found that Ireland has a lovely environment and culture. but honestly, before I arrived I didn’t really think about it.
What did you like about your Foundation studies with DIFC?
I chose Business Foundation programme and studied EAP and basic business lessons. First of all, I really enjoyed the atmosphere…being in a group of students experiencing the same thing as me. It was my first time being away from home, in a different country – we were all a little nervous and the feeling of support from people going through the same thing was a big help. The teachers were really friendly and helpful. I could get all the support I needed – like accommodation, studying and social life events. The structure of lectures was well organised and every student was well taken care of as the size of class was restricted to 8 to 12 students. So everyone got an equal chance to talk and ask questions in class.
How did the foundation year prepare you for your undergrad degree?
It prepared me for the standard of studying required in university – Academic English as well as business learning. I learned how to be involved in lectures, in discussions with other students, how to have more effective study skills such as taking notes, abbreviation of notes and some techniques about how to understand the lectures in class, such as catching key phrases (First of all…And then…), to help keep up with the lecturer in lectures. Also, it was good practice in writing academically, as well a lot of tips in relation to referencing, plagiarism etc.
The course was closely related to what I study in University (Accounting). I really appreciate the pathway program DIFC has with Universities in Ireland. It provides plenty of information to review when I made my choice of University.
What kind of guidance and advice was offered to help you make your university applications?
Every month I would have a one-to one talk with my mentor. I could tell him any concerns that I had in terms of the degrees I was looking at or the universities. They tried their best to provide me with information that I needed, such as websites, contact information and even organised trips to some universities for us to learn more about partner universities. DIFC offered a variety of different universities or institutes to choose from and were in contact with them in regards to requirements for applying. We were guided through the application process in lectures and tutorials. Every one of us can make as many applications as we like and we will have to accept the first offer received.
Why did you choose University College Cork for your undergrad studies?
Because it was the most popular University in Ireland! In the Irish Times, it was voted as the the best University. It’s also very popular with Irish students. I approximated the costs. I learned about the different courses in different Universities and UCC seemed to be the only one to offer work placements in my course, which is important for me to have an understanding of the working environment before I enter a real workplace. I didn’t research so much about Cork but I did visit UCC before I submitted my application and was attracted to the historical and beautiful aesthetic of the place, and friendly campus environment.
On the other hand, I thought I was quite a strong student. UCC seemed to have a strict standard in its applications, so as a challenge to myself I thought I’d apply.
What have you liked about your time in UCC so far?
Now I’m in 3rd year. I did Accounting and I’m in a placement as a co-op in a software company. I really appreciate the opportunity to gain work experience whilst studying in UCC. I get a lot of supports from various resources, like international student office, UCC Student Union, academic mentor, lecturers and class reps. There is also such a diversity of students, from many different countries and backgrounds. A huge variety of societies and clubs that organised by students and welcome other student’s involvements. I joined societies and have made friends through their activities. I have really enjoyed my time in UCC.
What is it like living in Cork?
It’s a quiet city for sure, but it’s also quite interesting. There are many places that you can eat – Italian, Chinese, French, Irish cuisine. There are loads of pubs to have drinks with friends. If you have access to a car, you can drive out to west Cork, which is beautiful. People are really friendly. As I am on campus, many of the events I go to are student-orientated.
What challenges have you faced studying abroad?
The first year was quite hard as there were so many changes; new people, new culture and new environment. I thought I was well prepared but the University life I experienced at first was a lot more than I expected. A lot of time I spent with Irish students and I had to catch up in terms of language and how they speak. I had to adjust to different teaching styles of lecturers as well. Making friends also seemed quite difficult. But as I mentioned, there are societies I could participate in which allowed me to meet people and get used to UCC College life. It is never short of supports for international students in UCC.
What’s next for you?
I would like to graduate. I’d like to finish my undergraduate degree and work in one of the companies in Ireland to apply what I’ve learned in University into the working environment.