Creating Connections – Sumeera Kamil on her Irish Experience at Mary Immaculate College
A 20-year-old student from India, Sumeera Kamil, tells us about the study abroad program that led her to Mary Immaculate College and the fine city of Limerick, Ireland.
Noted as Ireland’s first City of Culture in 2014, the city of Limerick boasts a rich history dating from medieval times and a stunning wealth of historical architecture all juxtaposed against a spectacular backdrop of winding waterways and lush greenery. Set on the River Shannon, Limerick is the third largest city in Ireland and home to many colleges and universities, providing a welcoming and dynamic environment for students from all around the world.
Mary Immaculate College (MIC), founded in Limerick in the year 1898, is a Catholic College of Education and Liberal Arts that has a student population of over 3,600 and welcomes many International students to its campus each year. Sumeera Kamil, a 20 year old student from India in her final year of her undergraduate studies, tells us about her academic experiences and the study abroad program that led her to MIC and the fine city of Limerick, Ireland.
Living, Studying and Travelling Around the World
Sumeera lived in India and the US before arriving in Ireland on a study abroad program. She completed her primary and secondary schooling in New Delhi, India before becoming a student at Queens College in New York, where she embarked on attaining her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. A professional tennis player, her athletic prowess has given her opportunities to travel around the globe to places like South Korea, Qatar, Japan and Sri Lanka to name a few. As an international student, her contributions to the Office of Global Affairs at Queens College have been substantial and she has been rewarded for achieving excellence in academics and athletics while also making significant contributions to the local community.
Venturing Into the Field of Political Science
Wanting to improve India-Pakistan relations is what led Sumeera to her initial interest in the field of International Relations and to her chosen course of study. “Politics and International Relations have always captivated me. They can be seen as conventions inextricably linked to the birth of diversity and conflict, but they can also be viewed as the foundation for the willingness to co-operate and act collectively,” Sumeera explains.
Being from the Indian administered area of Kashmir, where political stability is considered a luxury, she has recognised the importance of both politics and international relations in providing a safer future for everyone.
A Year Abroad at Mary Immaculate College
Sumeera explains how she went from studying in New York to crossing over the ocean to Ireland. “I heard about the Government of Ireland Scholarship opportunity through my college in New York and I applied for it immediately. I was accepted at Mary Immaculate College as the Government of Ireland Scholar – a student ambassador representing the country of India,” she says.
Ireland’s natural beauty and the rich Celtic history and culture pulled Sumeera to Mary Immaculate College. The opportunity to study abroad in a location like Ireland, steeped in history and culture, was an exciting proposition for her and she jumped at the opportunity to grow, learn and explore in a new place at another stellar university.
Discovering Limerick and Mary Immaculate College
Mary Immaculate College is a friendly campus where the faculty and staff focus on the students’ well-being and academic involvement. “There are great opportunities to mix with students from many different cultures and countries,” Sumeera says. The campus location is ideal for student life – it is just 30 minutes away from Shannon International Airport and it is within a short distance of all the town’s tourist destinations and hotspots.
As for things to do around town, students will never be poor for choice in Limerick. Rich cultural activities await students in this lively town, from theatre performances and art shows to historical sights and museums. Students can enjoy the many sporting events and nature activities in the city and on campus and there is also a thriving music scene that indulges a wide mix of musical tastes.
There are many clubs and associations at MIC and Sumeera is Vice President of the International Society that organises fund raisers and other events to create memorable experiences for not only international students, but all students at the university.
“My favourite thing to do in Limerick is to go downtown, about a 15 minute walk from the campus, and walk around, grab a cup of coffee and study in one of the cosy cafes scattered around the area,” Sumeera says. She also enjoys scouting out the weekly Milk Market, an outdoor market that sells local produce, cheeses, fresh spices, homemade crepes, fresh-baked bread and crafts.
Dealing With Differences
The teaching and learning methods differ greatly between the United States and Ireland. Sumeera explains, “In the US, I would have homework to complete every day, whereas in Ireland, most classes don’t require homework but you are still responsible for keeping up with the weekly readings and assignments according to the class syllabus.” In Irish higher academic institutions it is common for one paper and one final exam to be assigned and administered at the end of each semester that count as 100% of your final grade.
Sumeera notes another significant difference between life in the US and Ireland. Shops close relatively early in Ireland, usually around 6pm on weekdays, and some stores remain closed throughout the weekends. In the US, on the other hand, most stores stay open until 9pm on any day of the week.
Regardless of the challenges students might be facing, the Office for International Students always serves as a useful and comforting resource to all international students. The department provides a warm and engaging environment on campus by offering a wide array of programs and services that support international students’ social and academic success.
The Results of Studying Abroad
Choosing to study away from home has been a pivotal decision in Sumeera’s life. She comments, “I aspire to work for the United Nations and work towards making this world a better place to live. In my opinion, studying abroad and experiencing the culture of different countries plays a very important role in realising that we are all unique individuals, however, together we are one ‘colourful creation’.” Traveling abroad for your higher education helps build a positive international outlook and enhance international awareness.
Meeting a diverse range of people has always been important to Sumeera, and she believes that it not only helps develop effective communication skills but it also gives you a better knowledge of the many cultures around the world.
Final Thoughts on Ireland
Sumeera has these final thoughts to share with international students who are considering pursuing their higher degrees in the great country of Ireland. “The Emerald Isle has always held a certain allure for me: Guinness, friendly locals, rolling verdant green hills, leprechauns, pots of gold, lucky charms, hearty food, and ancient castles. It is one of the most beautiful places in Europe!” Sumeera reflects.
“Though I haven’t yet seen as much of the country as I want to, I have met a lot of locals – and I have to tell you that while Ireland itself is beautiful, it’s the Irish people that make the country so wonderful. I loved the abundant friendliness and hospitality I was constantly shown. Whether you were asking questions on the street or interacting in stores, the people of Limerick were always happy, helpful, and energetic. They have an infectious charisma that just makes you feel happy,” she concludes.