“What?! Ireland! Why Ireland?!”
I got this question every time I said to my friends and family in Tanzania that I was moving to live and study in Dublin. My only response at the time was “I’ve heard the Irish are lovely people and I think DIFC is the place for me”. After long flights and stale airplane food, I finally arrived in Dublin, it was cold but at least the sun was shining. Apparently this is what they call summer! I couldn’t have been more right about the Irish. From the locals in the quaint, cobblestone streets, to the staff at DIFC, my lovely homestay host, although brief, to my new DIFC family; everyone has exceeded my expectations in their genuine altruism.
My homestay experience was sweet but short, too bad because Kathleen’s food was ridiculously good and of course, beautiful Marlay Park! I was very lucky to find an apartment very close to college in my first week in Dublin. My father travelled to Dublin to settle me in and we took the time before school began to do a spot of travelling. We spent a weekend in Galway, where the people are even nicer (if that’s even possible!).
The countryside is rich with heritage, and this is what I love most about Ireland; from the way the rocks are laid in stone walls, to Fairy Trees and special knits from the Aran Islands (specific to each family, mind you!), this country has me beaming. A short bus ride from Galway is the most breathtaking sight I’ve ever seen, The Cliffs of Moher!
It was extremely cold and windy for my tropically-acclimatized body but so worth it! Another really exhilarating experience is the Howth Cliff Hike, and the cherry on top? It’s 20 mins on a train from Dublin!
Although leaving home wasn’t easy, I was eager to discover a new place and meet new people: my travel bug was buzzing. In the first week after my father left, school had begun (no classes yet though) and so did the homesickness. I had started making new friends however didn’t know any of them as well as I would have preferred; there was a bus strike, which was a completely new phenomenon that I hadn’t a clue how to handle; I had forgotten what it was like to have “adult” responsibilities, living with my family in Tanzania; I missed my mom’s cooking; and predominantly I was lonely. Everything that could go wrong, did. As the days passed however, I slowly started to find my feet again, the staff at DIFC were very helpful and made my transition as easy as it could have been.
DIFC today, is solace, in spite of all the deadlines! The classes are fast-paced but the teachers are more aware of the difficulties students face than I’ve experienced before. I really enjoy the small class sizes, it makes lectures more personal and facilitates a more efficient connection between my teachers and myself. Dublin is finally starting to feel like home and I couldn’t be happier.
Written by Ilma Manji
Ilma is a Tanzanian student currently studying the International Foundation Year – Health & Science programme with DIFC.