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Useful Information
Contents:

National Holidays:
January 1st, March 17th, Easter (Friday and Monday), the First Monday of May, June and August, the last Monday of October, and Christmas (25 and 26 December).

Time Zone:
Ireland follows the same system as Britain (Greenwich Mean Time).

Driving:
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.

Electrical current:
The standard electrical supply is 230 volts AC (50 Cycles). Small travel transformers and adaptators may be needed to operate small appliances.

Travel & Medical Insurance:
If a visitor to Ireland needs medical treatment, drugs or medicines, a general practitioner should be consulted. Students are recommended to take out travel and medical insurance in their own country before departure. Visitors from other parts of the European Union can be treated under EU social security regulations. Students from EU contries should therefore bring form E111. Hospital services are provided free in public wards for EU visitors.

Currency:
The currency in Ireland is the Euro.

Shopping:
Most shops open from 9.00 - 17.30 or 18.00 - Mondays to Saturdays. Some smaller towns have an early closing day. Late shopping is generally available in shopping centres and towns until 20.00 or 21.00 on Thursdays and Fridays. There is also Sunday shopping.

Weather:
The Irish climate is quite mild given Ireland's high latitude. Invariably described as temperate, Ireland's prevailing weather systems are influenced largely by the Gulf Stream coming from the Caribbean. However, it can seem very harsh to students who come from a warm climate and the dampness in winter can make it seem even colder. Temperatures rarely fall below zero degrees Celsius but due to easterly winds, it can sometimes feel that way. Irish summers are considered good if the temperature rises above 16 degrees Celsius but some parts of the country routinely have higher temperatures.

It is the dampness of the Irish climate which many students from other countries find a problem. Sometimes, it may not be raining heavily but it can feel worse than it is because of a combination of cold wind and driving rain. The wind is not dry as some may have experienced it - it tends to make the rain feel colder!

The best way to prepare for Irish weather, is to make sure you have warm clothes which will protect you in all types of weather. Layering is one way of doing this. That means wearing T-shirts or shirts to which you can add sweaters, jackets and overcoats, depending on how cold it is. You should also have one waterproof coat or macintosh and some strong shoes. Gloves, hats and scarves are also very effective in defeating the cold.

Food:
Healthy eating is important, even more so when choosing to live in a different culture from that of your own. This means simply eating a wide variety of foods, in the correct amounts, to ensure that you will get all the energy that you need. It may seem as if Irish food is dependent upon meat and dairy products. This is true to an extent but if you look carefully in shops, you can source a variety of good foods.

The main food groups are cereals, bread and potatoes; fruit and vegetables; milk, cheese and yogurts; meat, fish and alternatives, and; sugars, fats and oils. Choosing food servings from the first four groups provides you with the balance of nutrients necessary to maintain health. Variety comes from choosing different foods from the same group. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise and adequate rest will assist you in maintaining a feeling of well-being. The eight regional Health Boards distribute booklets on healthy eating and many other areas of health education.

The main supermarkets, e.g. Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Super Quinn are the cheapest places to buy basic foodstuffs. They have central and suburban branches, and some of them have a broader selection of foods that you may be used to getting at home, e.g. certain types of grains or vegetables. However, there are a few specialist shops in all the cities and main towns for buying spices, fruit and vegetables that are outside the normal Irish range.

Source: International Education Board Ireland http://www.educationireland.ie/

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