In search of knowledge


Curiosity and a desire to improve his English and his career prospects brought He Xiaoyi (27) from his native city of Fuqing to Dublin four years ago.

Having graduated with a diploma in applied electronics from the Fuzhou Institute of Technology, he was working in Fuqing.

"Before I came to Ireland my friends who were here told me that it was a nice country to work and to live in, and the other reason I came is it's an English-speaking country. I wanted to know what the outside world is. I like to learn different customs," he says. "I could have stayed working at home," he points out. "What I am looking for is experience in living and working abroad. I wanted to study English and maybe to work in Ireland."

He got a visa, and when he arrived worked part-time as a waiter in a golf club and he studied at the Pace Language Institute in Bray, Co Wicklow. Then he got a job as an office assistant in the language institute.

He moved on to a computer science degree course at DIT Kevin Street and is now in third year and doing well.

He calls home every week to talk to his father, an engineer at a television station, and his mother. In the long term, he believes he will return home when he is around 35.

"The reason I choose to go to college in Ireland is that I can work in Europe because it's very important for me to gain experience before I go back to China."

He didn't expect the people here to be so friendly and he didn't expect the cost of living to be so high.

Although he has plenty of assignments and lectures, he continues to work part-time. He has a job as a cleaner, working between 5pm to 8pm each week night. When he gets home he usually studies until 1am or 2am.

He has made a lot of friends here, he says, including Italian, Japanese, Korean and Irish. There is little time to relax, but "I do go out with my friends because I enjoy going out," he says."Most Chinese students are like me, they are working and studying at the same time," he adds.

- Catherine Foley