While Dublin is technically the capital of Ireland, a true Irish knows Galway is actually the heart of the country. With cobblestone paths leading to stores like Topshop and HMV, it is a wonderful fusion of urban and country. It is culture-rich and absolutely breathtakingly scenic. The Irish in Galway are the friendliest of the lot and are absolutely in love with Singaporean fried noodles (which we all know does not exist).
When term begins in September, it is nearly the end of summer and temperatures will hover around 13 degrees (warmer if there is sun). Shortly after, autumn comes and the temperature drops slightly hovering around 10 deg. autumn only lasts for a month before winter begins. Temperature drops to hover around 3 deg. and drops below 0 at night. It hardly snows though there will be frost on the ground from the night. When the next semester begins in January, it will be the peak of Winter, with some snow and slippery floors. Spring (temperature around 11 deg.) comes around March (evident from tons of colourful wild flowers blooming) and turns into summer within a month, where weather is warm enough for shorts/berms.
Situated near the coast, Galway is notorious for its wetness. The worse bout of rain in a year would occur between October to December. A raincoat is an absolute life-saver (umbrellas don’t work due to the strong winds). The weather during spring and summer is absolutely beautiful, with hardly any rain and tons of sun.
The days are also shorter during winter. Daylight appears at 8am and disappears around 4 or 5pm.
Activities and Attractions
Within Galway city itself, the attractions are mainly on Shop Street, where colourful shophouses line the sides of cobblestone pathways, ending at the Spanish Arch where many jugglers and youngsters gather on a good day, to practice or just to laze around. Within many of the shophouses are the famous Irish pubs serving beer and baileys and all sorts of alcoholic concoctions and of course, yummy pub food. The typical Irish student spends his nights in the handful of clubs around town or a party at a friend’s house, drinking, dancing and hanging out with friends.
In the Galway suburbs (easily reached by the many available bus services) are famous attractions including many abandoned castles, parks, the cliffs of Moher as well as the Aran islands.
There are also locations within Galway city or nearby areas for more sporty activities like surfing, paintball, skydiving, go-kart and such.
If you’re more interested in retail therapy, the shops in Galway will hardly satisfy your needs. But there are buses going to Dublin almost every 30minutes. It is a 3-hour journey on a comfortable bus with free Wi-Fi and costs as little as 1 Euro per journey. Dublin city has most of the clothing brands found in Singapore and is also the place to go for cheaper Chinese cooking ingredients like tofu and kang kong.
Estimated Cost of Living:
- Accommodation: €70 – €120 per week (depends on whether electricity/internet included)
- Home cooked: €5 or less per meal
- Eat out: €5-20 per meal
- Mobile phone: €20 a month
- Transport: Mostly free because everything is within walking distance.
Bus rides are €1.40 per trip.
Total: €800 a month will get you everything you need, some of what you want, and some change.
National University of Ireland, Galway
County Galway is located at the west of Ireland. Galway city is the busiest area of the county and the university is located centrally, surrounded by residential areas, the hospital and town (aka where all the retail stores are.)
National University of Galway is the only Singapore-recognised University in the county and has one of the best medical programs in the country. Studying medicine is itself a challenging task that requires hours of dedication beyond the 30+/- hours of lecture/labs we have weekly.
Irish students largely populate The University. In addition, it has students from all over the world including America, Pakistan, China, Korea, just to name a few.
A typical class of medicine has about 140 students with 4-5 Singaporeans, 20-30 Malaysians, 5 Americans, 10 Canadians, collectively about 5 from other countries like Australia, South Africa, etc. And the remaining are Irish from different parts of Ireland.
Before departure, all the Singaporeans tend to meet up once or twice, to meet the new students and to let the new students meet each other. The small community of Singaporeans makes us a tight bunch. Everyone knows everyone and we frequently gather at one of our houses to cook-up Asian dishes that remind us of home, which is also a form of welcome to new students. The Singaporean seniors typically take initiative and responsibility in helping the first years with their visas, bank accounts, etc.
All the current students are contactable by email, which can be obtained from the Singapore application office.