When you are in a new country and concentrating hard on your studies, it can be easy to neglect your health.
Challenges like a different climate, unfamiliar food and a shortage of free time can make it more difficult to stay healthy.
Here you will find tips on how to stay healthy, as well as advice on where you can turn if you get sick.
Tip for Staying Healthy
Taking exercise several times a week, like walking, cycling and sports, helps build strong bones and muscles and contributes to maintaining a healthy weight. These activities also reduce stress and help us feel better after hours spent sitting down in a classroom or library.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to help renew the body and to maintain concentration in lectures and classes. Try and get into a regular routine that builds in enough time for sleep.
Eating the right food is vital to keeping warm and healthy. Be sure to eat regularly and avoid skipping meals. The canteen or restaurant in your college may offer good value, but eating this way all the time can be costly and it will be difficult to keep a good diet without some cooking for yourself.
It is important to ensure that you have a balanced and varied diet to get all required nutrients. Typically, this will include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus carbohydrates (e.g. bread, rice, pasta), protein (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils) and some dairy produce (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt). Learn more
You should also drink water regularly – the body requires at least 8 cups of fluid per day. Ireland’s public water supply undergoes rigorous testing to EU standards so tap water is safe to drink. Purchasing and carrying a reusable water bottle will eliminate the expense and waste of buying bottled water. Water is the healthiest choice for quenching your thirst at any time. Learn more
Extra care is needed when incorporating foods not found in your own country into your diet, especially processed and convenience foods which can be very high in fat, sugar and salt. Keep sweets, crisps, chocolate and soft drinks to a minimum. If in doubt, check the nutritional information on the packaging.
Good health is complemented by good hygiene practices. Food safety and hygiene have become very important issues in recent times. In addition to your regular kitchen hygiene routine, cleanliness in food preparation must also be considered, especially with perishable foods such as meat.
Your Mental Health
Living and studying in a new country is normally a highly positive and life changing experience. However, sometimes the challenges that come with moving to a different country can be very stressful.
Sometimes we suffer in silence unnecessarily, when the best way to deal with a problem is by asking for help. If you are going through a difficult time, here are just some of the ways you can get help. For more information, visit yourmentalhealth.ie.
Universities and most big colleges offer student counselling services that registered students can often access for free. These services are confidential and offer professional help, whether you are experiencing stress due to your studies, feeling homesick, having relationship problems, or experiencing another difficulty that is impacting your mental health. Group sessions may also be available. Contact your institution’s counselling services for more information.
If you do not attend a university or college that offers a counselling service you should make an appointment to speak with a doctor (known as a general practitioner or GP in Ireland). Many people go to their GP with mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, and will not need the help of a psychiatrist. In other cases, the GP may decide to refer the person to members of the mental health team, such as a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or addiction counsellor. Click here to find your nearest GP.
If you experience a mental health emergency and your GP is not available, you should go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or to the nearest police station, where you will be kept safe until you can receive appropriate treatment.
Sometimes talking to a friend or a family member can make the world of difference. If you do not have someone to talk to, there are organisations such as the Samaritans who are there to help 24 hours per day.
Call 116 123 (free of charge from Ireland)
Text 087 260 9090 (standard network fees apply)
Visit www.samaritans.ie for details of the nearest branch.
Emergency Medical Services
For emergency medical care, such as a serious accident, dial 999 or 112 from any phone or go to the hospital emergency department (ED).
If you do not require emergency assistance do not go to the hospital, visit a GP.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) divides non-EEA citizens into two groups:
Ordinary resident – a person living in Ireland for at least 1 year or who intends to do so
Visitor – a person living in Ireland for a period of less than 1 year
Students from any EU country visiting or living in Ireland will be treated as ordinary residents.
It is important that non-EEA students understand their entitlements and what they will be required to pay should they need to visit the A&E without a GP referral.
Students who have been living in Ireland for one year or who will be studying here for at least one year will be treated as ordinary residents and will pay a standard fee of €100 for a non-referral visit to the A&E.
Persons with GP referrals to the A&E do not incur any charge. If admitted to the hospital, a standard fee of €80 per day will be applied, for more information visit the HSE website.
It is up to the non-EEA student to show proof that they are an established ordinary resident e.g. bill in the person’s name, residence permit or visa etc. See here for more information.
Non-EEA Students who are here for a period shorter than 1 year, are regarded as visitors and do not have any entitlement to free or subsidised health services. Visitors are not entitled to health care and will be required to pay upfront at their first visit. Any additional treatment or admission to the hospital will be treated as private care with costs ranging from €800 – €1500 per night. In cases of hardship the HSE may provide urgent necessary treatment at a reduced charge or without charge.
Non-Emergency Medical Treatment
Normally when you are sick or need medical treatment, you should visit a doctor (known as a general practitioner or GP in Ireland). GPs provide a broad range of services to their patients on all health issues, and may refer patients to see specialists or hospital consultants if required. GP clinics are normally open during the daytime and early evening. The cost of a consultation with a GP is normally about €60. Click here to find your nearest GP.
For non-emergency medical treatment visit a GP. For emergency treatment, visit a hospital.
Most universities and big colleges have medical centres on campus, or arrangements with GPs based nearby. These services are generally subsidized for registered students. You will have to pay normal prices for prescribed medicines.
If you are attending an English school or private college you will probably not have access to a subsidised GP.
Pharmacies are generally open from 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Saturday, although some in busy districts have late night hours and are also open on Sundays. They stock a wide range of prescription and non-prescription medicines and the pharmacist can advise you on which is the most suitable for your complaint or whether or not you need to consult a doctor. In addition, most chemists sell first aid, skin care products, dental and toiletry items, and non-prescription contraceptives.