Spending Christmas away from home could come across as a challenge. While normally, the rigor and busy schedule of the MBA hardly gives you time to miss home , as an international student the start of the holidays can come across the same as the existential crisis you get when you finish binge watching a Netflix series.
Most of the students look forward to the Christmas holidays as they finish exams by the 3rd week of December. For an international student, it would certainly be advisable to have plans ready, either to visit your home country or anywhere else around Europe. Ireland literally shuts down during Christmas with no public transportation or grocery stores open on Christmas day. And if you have no family or friends, its going to get monotonous.
Fortunately for me, my MBA peer John Keegan asked me to join him and his family for Christmas. However, due to unforeseen circumstances we had to drop the plan at the last minute. I mentioned this part as it shows how considerate your Irish MBA peers can be, and that they understand how tough it is for an international student to spend holidays alone. I didn’t make any plans to visit home or anywhere else as both my flatmates from India started working in Dublin in November 2017. Hence, I had plans of spending the holidays with them exploring Dublin. On Christmas day, my friends and I went for a walk around the city centre. It was both a haunting and a serene experience. The streets which are usually bustling with people were empty. It is in this moment that you take a deep breath and realise how beautiful Dublin is. Fortunately, we stumbled upon an Indian Kebab shop, which seemed like the only shop open in all of Dublin. After having the most amazing kebab for Christmas dinner there, we headed home on the lonely streets of the Dublin city centre.
As for New Year’s Eve, my American house mate Shannon Dean suggested that we drive down to Cork to celebrate. Again, it was a fabulous experience wherein we sat in a cosy Cork pub celebrating the new year with some new found Irish friends. This is the best thing about Ireland, you can talk to anyone and everyone, and make acquaintances if not friends very easily.
All in all, it was a successful Christmas even though I didn’t plan anything in advance. I would however recommend international students to make plans early on for Christmas and not to wait till the last minute. In addition to this, make friends – in your accommodation and your cohort – they are going to be your family away from home!
Bhavya Verma, Full – Time MBA 2017-2018