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International Students - Adjusting to Academic Life in NCI: Getting Started

International Students

Where Do I Start?

We know that it can be a stressful time starting out as a new student, particularly if you are coming to study in a new country. The guidelines on these pages are designed to help you get started and feel mor comfortable in your new surroundings.

Top Tips

  1. We highly recommend you attend the library induction at the beginning of term
  2. As soon as you identify any problems using or accessing the library services and resources, please come and ask us for help
  3. It will take time to adjust to studying in Ireland but the more questions you ask, the sooner you will better understand the differences

Getting Started

The very best place start in familiarising yourself with library services and resources is our Basics GuideHere you can view an introductory video, see how to find and borrow books, use the library facilities and get an introduction to our online resources as well as referencing and plagiarism.

Surviving the First Semester

It can be tough studying a new subject in a strange country, this guide is designed to help you adjust to your new environment and settle quickly into life in the National College of Ireland. The main differences you will find are - 

  • You will have a lot more independence in terms of how and when you study
  • Analysing and thinking critically about your topic will be more important than remembering facts
  • You must not copy the work of others and you will need to credit (reference) all the sources that you use when writing your assignments

SIX WAYS TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST SEMESTER

  1. Keep on top of things - attend all your lectures - review your notes regularly - keep up with your reading - ask questions if you don't understand something
  2. Be organised - plan your study time - keep tidy and organised lecture notes
  3. Use the technology and resources available in NCI - make sure you are aware of and know how to access all the library resources, e.g. our Subject Guides - look at all relevant material on the NCI website and your Moodle pages
  4. Keep in contact - as well as attending your lectures, check your college email and Moodle pages for any updates - stay in touch with your lecturers and academic support services - talk to other students on your course
  5. Don't suffer in silence - if you don't understand something or have a problem, ASK FOR HELP! Unless you talk to your lecturers or academic support services, nobody will know that there is a problem until it's too late - contact the Library Help Centre or Student Support
  6. Embrace college life! Make sure that you have a varied college experience - while it's important to stay on top of your studies, you should also get involved in student activities - play sport or join a society

WORKING INDEPENDENTLY

In Ireland, you are expected to read independently in preparation for your lectures and assignments - as well as recommendations from your lecturers, you will be expected to find information for yourselves. Instead of just reproducing information from textbooks, you will be expected to read and research academic journal articles, particularly on postgraduate courses. Many of your assessments will focus on the understanding you have gained about your topic rather than just repeating facts. Study will be much more an individual activity - you will need to manage your own time, do your own reading and research, prepare for your classes and complete your assignments on time. You will spend many more hours studying independently than attending lectures - you are responsible for your own learning, just because there are no lectures, it does not automatically mean that you have time off.

TIME MANAGEMENT

 It's very important that you begin planning your time at the very beginning of your course. As well as adjusting to life in Ireland and NCI, you will be expected to prepare and study for several different assignments at the same time. First of all, it's vitally important that you attend all of your lectures and that you attend them on time - it is no coincidence that the students with the worst attendance rates are the ones with the worst course marks. When you're not attending lectures, you will need to be disciplined and plan your study and preparation for your assignments - it is not uncommon for assignments to be due in the same week or close together. It is your responsibility to plan your deadlines and make sure that you hand up your assignments on time.

MANAGING YOUR READING

 You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of reading you are required to do on your new course - this can be particularly stressful when English is not your first language. You are not expected to read everything on your reading lists from beginning to end - at first you need to be strategic in your reading; just concentrate on the core texts. Read your course material selectively, just looking for information on the particular topic you are researching at that time. Your first goal is to understand the main ideas in relation to your topic - this will help you build more confidence and also help you better understand the lectures. When reading journal material for the first time, it's always a good idea to read the abstract, summary or conclusion - this should be enough for you to get an understanding of your topic at the beginning; you can go back and read the material in more detail later.

ACADEMIC SUPPORT

Don't suffer in silence - we are here to help so please ask questions. Check out the support available here.