Dublin is one of the leading destinations for international students from all over the world who want to learn English and have the experience of living in a foreign country. If you are planning to do the same and move to Ireland to become an English learner, it’s very important that you plan well ahead and avoid some common mistakes to make your time here even more special. To help you in this new adventure, we prepared a guide with the first steps any international student in Dublin should follow when first arriving for your exchange program:
1. Choosing the best English school in Dublin
The first thing you should do after deciding to do an English exchange program in Dublin is to choose the best school according to your needs and wants. There are more than 40 schools to choose from in the Dublin Area, offering different methods and programs, so take some time to research about them, talk to other students and make a list of what you want from the institution you will be attending for the next few months. Start by making sure you choose a school in the ILEP list, which scrutinizes institutions to make sure they meet the key requirements of the Irish government. It is also important to take into consideration the location of the school, the infrastructure, and the methods used during classes.
2. Book the appointment for your Irish student visa well in advance
To be able to get your Irish student visa you will need to be enrolled in an English course with 25 weeks of duration, it will also give you more 8 weeks for holidays. When arriving at the Dublin Airport, you will pass through the immigration agents and show them the documents proving you have paid for your English course. You will then receive a temporary visa just to make sure your situation in the country is legal until you get your permanent visa, but remember that the sooner you go to the immigration office, the sooner you will be able to start working in the country since you are not allowed to do it until you have your Stamp2 visa.
The only way to get your Stamp2 visa in Dublin is by booking an appointment at the immigration office, where you will talk to an agent and show all the documents proving the reason for your presence in the country. You can book this appointment at the Burgh Quay website, while you are still in your home country, and since Ireland has reopened after the COVID 19 pandemic it is even more important that you do so to avoid having to wait for months before being able to get an available time slot. Try accessing the website every day in the morning (Irish time), to have more chances of finding available spots, that's the time when the website is usually updated. Good luck and 👇😂...
3. Start looking for your accommodation as soon as possible
Since the reopening of the country, many students have been surprised by a lack of availability for places to stay and rent in the city, because of this it is very important that you start planning your accommodation in Dublin as soon as you decide to become a student here. The first step is to find a temporary place where you can stay for your first month, or more, and book it way before leaving your home country. It will give you more time to search for a permanent room/apartment since it’s always good to go on visits and see it for yourself before closing the deal. Hostels are a great option, in this case, you will pay less than if staying in a hotel or student accommodation, and it’s also a great way to meet people going through the same as you. At Canbe Hostels (Gardiner House & Garden Lane Backpackers) we have special weekly rates available for those willing to stay with us for at least a month - you can find further info on our "Staying a while?" page or by contacting us directly here.
Once you start looking for your permanent house, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as the location and the main options available in Dublin for students. Houses located close to the city center will always be more expensive than the ones in the suburbs, however, it will also be more likely that you can avoid public transport when living in this area, which saves some euros at the end of the month. You can also choose between sharing a house with other students, renting a room for yourself in an Irish family house, or getting a small studio for yourself, depending on which fits your budget. You can use websites, such as Daft.ie, and Facebook groups to find available rooms and houses. Talking to your new friends at the Hostel or your English school can also be very helpful.
4. Getting an Irish mobile chip is easy and very handy
When you first arrive in Dublin your phone will be very important in helping you navigate through the city, connect with other student, and keep in contact with your families and friends at home. The best option for students is the prepaid plan by Three, it costs 20 euros per month and you have unlimited internet access. You can get your mobile SIM card at any Three stores in town, and then it will just need to make a top-up every month, which can be done straight from your phone, or in any convenience shop such as Centra, or Spar.
5. Look for a job in Dublin as soon as you get your student visa
Once you have your Resident Permit card in your hands, AKA your Stamp2 Visa, you are allowed to start working in the country. As a student, you can only work 20 hours weekly, or 40 weekly hours during holiday periods, so it’s important that you stick to the rules and find companies looking for part-time employees. Working will also be a great way to practice your English and improve your skills in the language, so don't be afraid to apply for jobs even if you are not 100% confident when communicating in English, it will help you in the process. Start by making sure you have a CV with all your important information, personal and professional, not forgetting to include which languages you speak and your level: advanced, beginner, or intermediate, and the time you have available to work during the day.
After getting your CV done, it’s time to start looking for jobs, be open to all the options available, such as uploading your CV to popular job seeker websites, such as Linkedin and Indeed, asking your classmates and housemates, and going door to door around restaurants, shops and pubs close to where you live or around the city center.
6. Getting a PPS number and why do you need it
The Irish PPS is your Personal Public Service number, and it is necessary for any individual willing to work in Ireland for some time. It will help you access social welfare benefits, public services, and tax information. It is also necessary for you to have a PPS number so your employer can pay your salary. An international student will only be able to get the PPS once you have a letter from your employer explaining why you need the document. The student should then make an application at the MyWelfare website, uploading a copy of your photo identity document (passport, driving license, ID card, etc.), the letter from your employer, and proof of your address. All the relevant information about how to get your PPS number is available on the Citizen Information website.
7. Opening your Irish bank account as an international student in Dublin
After getting a job in Dublin, you will need to open a bank account to get your wages. The first step is to choose one of the Irish banks operating in the country, some of the most popular ones used by students are the AIB Bank, Bank of Ireland, and KBC. To open your bank account you will need to go to the agency you wish to use and make an appointment since the flow of people trying to open accounts every day is high and the banks are unable to serve all customers. The time of waiting will change depending on where your agency is located, the ones out of Dublin city center usually have a shorter waiting list and sometimes can even open your account on the same day.
On the day of your appointment, make sure you have all the documents required for the bank: your passport/driver's license/national ID, your PPD, and a proof of address which can be a utility bill in your name, or any government letter. It will take up to five working days for the bank to register your application, create your new account and send the debit card to your house.
Now you know all the initial and more important steps to be followed when you first arrive in Dublin as an International Student. If you need any other information or clarifications about those processes, don't be afraid to ask our staff in the reception, we will be more than happy to help you :)