Practical Guide for Parents with Irish Students Studying Abroad


Your child studying abroad isn’t just a new adventure for them, but likely for you as well. Be prepared for the ups and downs along the way. While this can certainly be hard on parents, studying abroad is also an amazing opportunity for your student to learn more about themselves and the world, beyond a traditional classroom setting. HomeHak has put together a practical guide to help you to support your student studying abroad. 



Why should I let my child study abroad?

Study abroad is a decision that will impact the rest of their lives. It reaches far beyond just academics and careers, as it can also open their minds to understanding new cultures, experiences, and create global friendships. In our globally-connected world, spending a semester or year in another country gives students a unique chance to develop skills that will benefit them both professionally and personally.

Photo by Marco Lopez on Unsplash


Benefits of studying abroad

There are  many benefits to having your child study abroad. It teaches real-world skills that aren’t found in classrooms. The opportunity to improve proficiency in a second language. It provides a change to build global friendships and connections. Finally, it helps to develop confidence and independence.


How do you pick a study abroad program?

Some of the top variables to consider while picking a program are location, cost, program length, semester, and whether or not the credits are transferable. Knowing exactly when your student wants to study abroad and having a few possible locations in mind will be helpful for the planning and researching process.


Key questions to ask:

  • Will the school offer full credit for this program and course load?
  • Will this delay the path to graduation?
  • Will financial aid apply? If so, how much?
  • What is included in the tuition?
  • When will the semester start and end?
  • What type of in-country support will there be?


Tips for studying abroad while on a budget

Keep track of all your students expenses, including pre-trip expenses. Encourage your student to utilize public transportation. Be mindful of how much they spend on excursions and activities. Check out this article on proven tips for students studying abroad on a budget.


Practical guides tips on how to prepare before your student studies abroad

  • Get travel insurance.
  • Learn about the host country.
  • Make sure they know their medical history.
  • Be smart with valuables and money.
  • Keep backups of everything handy.


How can I stay in touch with my child during their trip?

  • Set up a safe arrival call. 
  • Keep in touch but be flexible.
  • Be clear about when you want to hear from them.
  • Avoid calling the course coordinator unless its an emergency. 
  • Download apps for communicating long distance.


To summarise

Even if your student doesn’t say it enough, they will forever be grateful that you supported them and saw the value in this experience, which will shape who they are for years to come. You may even be surprised at the maturity of the person standing before you in the airport. But then they’ll ask if you made their favorite dinner, and after they wolf it down, they’ll fall asleep in their childhood bed. Looking in on them you’ll know it was all worth it and they’re still your baby, no matter how worldly they become. HomeHak hopes this practical guide has put your mind at ease!

For more parent guides, check out our other articles you might be intersted in:

Great Study Space For Your Third Level Irish Education – How to Create One.


How to Create a Great Study Space For Your Third Level Irish Education


HomeHak is going to show you how to create (or find) a study spot that lets you get in and do your best work. We’ll examine the do’s and don’t’s of study space creation, and the key principles to make sure your study space does what it should: help you study better.



Photo by Iewek Gnos on Unsplash

1. Remove Distractions from Your Study Space

As in so many areas of life, it’s useful to start with what to leave out and then add things from there. Naturally, what puts you in a studious mood will differ from person to person, but here are some things you should probably avoid in your study space:

  • Video games.
  • Your phone.
  • Messy food/drinks
  • Other people unless for group projects

These are all things that, while fun or even productive-seeming, are ultimately distracting. The goal of a study space is to maximize the attention you can devote to studying while minimizing the amount of effort necessary to do so. You can’t do that if the space is full of distractions.


2. Have Easy Access to Everything You Need Before You Start

Now that we’ve gone over what to leave out, let’s get to what to include. This is a long list, and much of it depends on what exactly you’re studying. For instance, you’ll need different materials for writing an English paper than for preparing for a chemistry exam. To help you out, I’ve divided the list into two sections: essential and optional items.

Essential Study Space Items

Comfortable yet ergonomic chair, an external mouse, your computer, Textbooks, Notebooks, Index cards, Pad of paper to write down distracting thoughts, Plenty of writing utensils, Calculator and Good lighting. 

Optional Items

  • Whiteboard and dry erase markers, water, Healthy snacks, Inspiring decorations, Paper calendar, Study music or ambient noise and Headphones.


3. Pay Attention to Lighting

According to a German study , researchers found that the students were more creative under warm light (3000k), yet concentrated better under cold light (6000k). To put this into action, try to study near a window, so you have some natural light coming in.Another tip is to experiment with different brightness levels and color temperatures until you find something that works well for you.


Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

4. Adjust Your Study Space to the Ideal Temperature (if possible)

Aside from color temperature, the actual warm-cold temperature of the room you’re in is also a big factor. Not only can an environment that’s too hot or cold cause you to be consciously distracted, but it can also cause you to make more mistakes in your work unconsciously. Researchers  reviewed several studies on how temperature affects office worker productivity. They found that, on average, productivity is highest in a temperature range between 22°C and 25°C. Below or above that range, errors increase.


To summarise

Firstly, remove distractions from your study space. Secondly, have easy access to everything you need before you start. Additonally, pay attention to lighting.  Finally, adjust your study space to the ideal temperature. We hope you enjoyed HomeHaks top tips to create a better study space!

A Guide to Cork City for Students – Restaurants, Cafes, Bars and Brunches


The bustling city is bursting with independent coffee shops, artisan produce, live music and an impressive dining scene. Keep reading to find out some of the best places to eat and drink as a student in our guide to Cork City. 




A Guide to Cork City for Students – Restaurants, Cafes, Bars and Brunches



Studying in Cork? Cork has a reputation as the food capital of Ireland and finding out why should be at the top of your list during your time here at university. Not only are there countless top restaurants and vibrant pubs but also some excellent produce markets where you can taste some of the finest morsels made right here in this great city. 


Starting off with Captain Americas. Captain Americas offers some of the best student rates around. Here you can enjoy a main menu item of your choice, fries and a soft drink for only 9.95 monday-friday! Make sure you have your student ID on you as this is required to get the deals. 


Next up is The Linen Weaver – JD Wetherspoon. This pub/restaurant famously sells drinks for far less than the average in other establishments across Cork. You will find pints for as cheap as €3. Their food menu matches the drink prices with meals cheaply priced and perfect for students on a budget. 


Want a more diverse selection of places to eat? Check out this article.





If you think that Irish food is largely based around spuds then you are in for a rude awakening. Or a tasty one, at least! Cork City has long been dubbed the “food capital” of Ireland, partly due to having one of the world’s largest natural harbours and partly thanks to its very long history of trading exports and imports. Brunch in Cork City is a thing of beauty, if you know where to look! 


We recommend that you check out Liberty Grill or The SpitJack Cork. Feeling thirsty with your brunch? Check out Dwyers Of Cork, Clancy’s Cork, Brick Lane and Crawford & Co to name a few.





Cork is in the midst of a pizza boom with a number of exciting new makers joining an already impressive roster of top class cafes, takeaways and restaurants. And as always on Leeside, Some of these restaurants named below are really showing the depth of talent and creativity we have when it comes to top class food. Bring a taste of Italy to you and check out Franciscan Well Brewery & Brewpub. Home to delicious craft beers as well as their atmospheric outdoor seating area. Another tasty place is Fionnbarra.This is a hidden gem of a bar with a cosy charm and delicious pizza. Want some more inspiration? Check out some more here




Funky hot spots

Looking for something a bit funkier? We recommend that you check out Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy. This cosy candle-lit bar is set in a Victorian chemist shop. Mutton Lane is one of the oldest drinking establishments in Cork City and has a beautiful ultra-candlelit interior



Fancy great pints, craic and a traditional music session? The Rock is always a hit on a Wednesday night and always has student drink deals. The pub also has a pool table and darts board for the students who like to play some pub games. If you want to watch any sporting match, go to Reardon’s. It always has a great atmosphere for a game. During the daytime they also do great food. Check out this link for the top 10 best student pubs in Cork. UCC student ambassador gives a great recap of her favourite bars in Cork in this article also. 




To summarise

Money is tight. As a student, it is all about finding the best places to eat and drink that your pocket can afford. We hope that you can check out some of these hot spots and get yourself a bargain. We hope you enjoyed reading A Guide to Cork for Students – Restaurants, Cafes, Bars and Brunches!

For more information on Cork City, check out our articles:

Activities to Do in Cork for University Students – Top Hot Spots!


Activities to Do in Cork for University Students – Top Hot Spots!


Cork is a vibrant city and home to over 25,000 students during the academic year. It has the cosmopolitan culture and energy of a capital city, with none of the drawbacks. Want to find out the most popular things to do? Then keep reading HomeHak’s top activities to do in Cork for students guide below!


In Cork you will find all the facilities you would expect of a modern European city. You can still easily navigate your way to and around the city centre, bumping into friends along the way. Everything you need is within easy reach. This includes cafés, restaurants, nightlife, cinemas, theatre, music venues, sports facilities and fantastic shopping.


Looking for a great game of bingo and some cheap drinks? Head to the Bishopstown Bar for a fun Tuesday night out. This isn’t your standard boring game of bingo but instead is filled with plenty of craic. 


fun activities to do for students in cork


Range of Activities to do

In the mood for a range of activities? Head to the Mardyke Entertainment Complex which offers discounted prices for students. You can do anything from bowling, pool,sociable darts, karaoke, ping pong and arcade. Guaranteed good fun and food!


fun activities to do


A student’s stay in Cork will likely involve a sample of the city’s nightlife. Cork has a wide variety of pubs, clubs and music venues. Live music varies from traditional and classical to heavy metal and experimental. These can be found in venues such as An Spailpín Fánach, Cyprus Avenue, The Cork Opera House, The Everyman Theatre and The Crane Lane. There are also many dedicated student nights at various venues around the city centre. These are usually well advertised around campus. 


drinking activities to do

Tourist activities to do

Wondering what else is worth a visit for your time as a student in Cork? We recommend checking out The English Market, Cork City Gael and St. Finbarrs Cathedral.


For the artsy and creativity students, pay a visit to The Glucksman Gallery, The Crawford Gallery and The Triskel Arts Centre.


To make the most out of your stay in Cork, play a day trip to the picturesque town of Cobh. This was the last port of call for the Titanic. Get the “Gift of the gab” by kissing the Blarney stone at Blarney Castle. Are you a whiskey lover?  Visit the world-famous Jameson Distillery in Midleton.


Like to wander around meandering colourful streets? Head to Kinsale – the ‘Gourmet Capital of Ireland’. And finally, don’t miss out on the rugged beauty of the coastlines and little villages. This includ Barleycove, Inchydoney, Baltimore, Glandore and Mizen Head. A tour of West Cork may be the highlight of your stay!


touring activities to do

Here are some more.


City touring

Take the Hop on Hop Off bus and explore the city’s streets and attractions. Cork City Tours is a popular Cork City sightseeing tour taking in some of the best attractions in Cork.


Make sure to take in the sights, sounds and smells of The English Market. This is Ireland’s most famous covered food market, in the heart of Cork City Centre. 


Fitzgerald Park is just minutes away from UCC Campus Accommodation and Cork City centre. It is situated on the picturesque bank of the river Lee. The park spans approximately eighteen acres. It has a new state of the art playground, manicured gardens and Cork Public Museum located at its centre.


St. Anne’s church and steeple, built in 1722 reaches 37m high into the Cork skyline. It is a much loved local landmark and tourist attraction. Try your hand at playing the world famous Shandon bells. The panoramic view of the city is well worth the climb.


Lifetime Lab, on the banks of the River Lee, is a unique attraction for visitors of all ages. It has a modern interactive exhibition, themed playground, beautifully restored buildings and scenic views over the River Lee. 


Call into Cork Vision Centre at St. Peters. This offers visitors an opportunity to appreciate a fine example of conservation in action. It will also allow you to explore Cork’s evolution from past, through present, and onwards to future development. 


Outside Cork City

Fota Wildlife Park is Ireland’s premier Wildlife attraction and a must see for all visitors to Cork! It’s only 15 minutes from Cork City and you’ll come face to face with a vast array of animals as they roam around the park. 


Experience the second largest natural harbour in the world by taking a gentle boat trip with Whale of a Time, or an exhilarating boat trip with Cork Sea Safari. Both offer fun and informative harbour and dolphin watching tours of Cork Harbour. You can explore the city’s many river channels and bridges with Atlantic Sea Kayaking.


Visit Doneraile Wildlife Park. The Park comprises approximately 166 hectares. It is an outstanding example of an 18th century landscaped park in the ‘Capability Brown’ style. 


Blackrock Castle and Observatory is on the banks of the River Lee. The venue has a unique location and ambiance with a magnificent courtyard and fully restored buildings.


For many student travellers you might have to research extracurricular activities to do in a host city while navigating campus. You also have to look for the best dining options, and learning the ins-and-outs of public transportation. This can seem very daunting to some. We have added some resources to help you out.

Here are some more handy resources:



To summarise

If you choose to study in Cork, you certainly won’t be shy of things to do and see. Listed by the Lonely Planet Guide among the top ten cities to visit in 2010, you will be sure to fall in love with all of what Cork has to offer. HomeHak is the best student platform to help you find your dream accommodation in this beautiful city. We hope you enjoyed reading out Activities to Do in Cork for Students guide!

For more information on Cork City – check out our articles:

Shopping Essentials for Students in your New Accommodation in Ireland

student food shop

The novelty of walking into your kitchen at home and everything you ever need is always there has come to an end. It is now time to arm your own kitchen with all the basic essentials. Read more to find your shopping essentials for your new accommodation in Ireland.


Packing your life away can be stressful enough without having to think of all the basics you need to have in your kitchen to make a decent meal. Bringing along a grocery list or a weekly menu is a good idea if you get easily side-tracked in the store or don’t know where to begin.


When creating a shopping list you should consider creating a healthy and well-rounded diet . This should primarily comprise of whole, nutrient-dense foods. Include for example,veggies, fruits, protein sources like fish and eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. 


HomeHak has put together a go to list of essentials to get your cooking journey started. It’s time to stock up the refrigerator and cabinets – let’s get started! 


Let’s start with groceries.


Student doing their grocery shopping


Let’s start with the essentials!


  • Protein – chicken, beef, fish.
  • Grains – rice, pasta.
  • Milk 
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Oats
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Fresh fruit and vegetables:

  • Potatoes
  • Berries – strawberries, blueberries.
  • Bananas 
  • Apples
  • Onions 
  • Peppers

Spices and herbs:

  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Dry basil


  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce 

Frozen food:

These are truly a gift in university. They take away the pain of chopping up vegetables and there is no worry of your fruit and veg going out of date. 

  • Fruit 
  • Vegetables
  • Meat- chicken, beef, fish

Home essentials

It is easy to forget about everything we take for granted at home but do not forget these basics to get your kitchen in proper running order.

  • Washing up liquid
  • Hand soap 
  • Laundry supplies (if needed) – detergent.
  • Toiletries – razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies


Best supermarkets to do your food shop in? Check out these:

Aldi is your best bet when it comes to buying only essentials. This store focuses on the staple items. They offer some of the cheapest products and weekly sales that really help when you are on a budget. 


Lidl is the cheapest of them all when it comes to buying your shopping essentials. It focuses on essentials. Lidl has weekly specials where they offer amazing discounts not only on food items but also on electronics and more expensive products in general. 


SuperValu is Ireland’s largest grocery and food distributor serving local communities throughout Ireland This reputation has been earned through their fresh food quality, strong value offering, consistent support of local producers and the expertise and customer service across their stores.


Dunnes is a high-end supermarket which makes it a bit more expensive than Tesco. The stores usually sell clothing, homewares and groceries. You can find reasonable and trustworthy products of their own brands. They have a grocery delivery system and a click and collect from their nearest stores. 


Tesco is a UK based retail store and probably the largest supermarket chain in Ireland. They have the widest range of products including well-known brands and a variety of their own brands. You can also find some of the cheapest prices for your groceries here. 

student doing their food shop

To summarise

When creating your shopping essentials list try and break it into sections. For example non starchy / starchy vegetables, fruits, beans and grains, nuts and seeds, proteins, frozen foods, dairy and nondairy substitutes, drinks, condiments, and miscellaneous items.


Want to learn more? Read the definitive guide to healthy grocery shopping here. 

If you are an international student, check out our article “Where to shop for international students”. We share the best places for you to do your shopping and get all your necessities!

Importance Of a Reference for Irish University Student Accommodation


As a renter, moving from one home to another is inevitable. However, you may come across new landlords who want to know about your renting history. Before approving your application, they may ask for a landlord recommendation letter provided by your previous landlord. HomeHak will share our tops tips for the importance of a reference.


A landlord recommendation letter, also called a rental reference, is an important component of your rental application. In a competitive rental market, a good reference can make a huge difference. 


Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash


What is a landlord recommendation letter?

A landlord recommendation letter is a letter written to a potential landlord by your current landlord. A property manager or a supervisor can also write you a rental reference. Your new landlord will likely ask for this reference in order to complete your background check.

Landlord recommendation letters tell your landlord that you are a responsible and financially stable tenant and that you adhere to the terms of a lease. A rental reference letter can help boost your application and make up for any shortcomings, such as a low credit score. This is one of the main reasons behind the importance of a reference. It assures the landlord that you’ll pay your rent on time, respect deadlines, and not incur defaults.


What references should you include in a rental application?

Submitting a great rental application is key to getting the rental property you want. Once your personal information, proof of income and background checks are complete, the references you include with your application can make or break the deal.

A rental reference (or referral) is a vote of confidence from someone who knows you in a personal, financial, educational, professional, or prior rental experience capacity. Ideally, your rental reference will know you well enough to speak to your character and express it to a property manager/owner. Who you choose as your reference and what they say about you can make all the difference to your application. Here are a few things HomeHak recommends to consider when you get to this stage.


Importance of a reference – what relevance does your rental reference have to you?

When a property manager starts screening applicants and calling references, they will ask each person how they know you. If you include your Dad and college friend, their opinion may look a little biased. Where possible, choose people who can talk about how you’ve performed at your current job (your employer, for example). Look for a reference who can say you’ve demonstrated great personal responsibility through other means. If possible, add a previous landlord to your reference list who can vouch for your ability to look after a property.


How to approach your rental references

If you have a few people in mind but want to select the most appropriate person for your application, think about some open-ended questions for them. Things like, ‘If I were to list you as a reference, what would you say you’ve noticed about me and responsibility?’ The answers you get will give you some idea of who to include. Try to select people who know you well. You don’t want to pick casual friends or a tutor who took you for one class back in the day. Avoid including your boyfriend or family members unless you plan to include personal references. Here is an article on choosing a personal reference for a rental application.


Choose your rental references wisely.

Once you’ve thought of a few people who know you well, work out whether they’d provide a positive reference for you. Remember, some people find it hard to say no to others, or they might not tell you that the reference they provide could be less than glowing. A better move here is to offer your potential reference a way out. Let them know you won’t be offended should they prefer not to be contacted. Gauge their reaction and decide whether you still want to use them on your rental application.


Who makes the perfect rental reference? 

A former landlord/property manager: If you had a good experience with your former property manager and know they would speak highly of you as a tenant, they’re probably the perfect choice.

A career mentor: Career mentors could make an excellent reference for your rental application. Their experience with you will most likely be a professional one, and they’ll be able to speak highly of your good qualities and ability to perform under pressure.

An employer: Employers have probably worked with you for a long time and would also make an excellent reference. Top tip: Ensure they’re happy with your work ethic and attitude first!

Volunteer supervisor: Have you done volunteer work in the past? If you worked under one supervisor, they would also make a great choice.

Think about the people in your life who think best of you in terms of what is needed to be a good tenant, such as: personal and financial responsibility, professionalism and accountability.


To summarise

No rental reference? Don’t stress. Even if you’ve never rented before, you can still find people who make perfect rental application references. Choose co-workers, employers, coaches or mentors. These are the ideal people to tell your potential landlord or property manager what you’d be like as a tenant. They will base their experience on what it was like to work with, coach or mentor you. Their opinion will also help demonstrate the character of someone who would make a great tenant.


Choosing your Housemates at Irish University – Best Tips


Moving out of home and taking your first step towards independence can be exciting but also a bit of a minefield. It is important to thread carefully if you want to make accommodation sharing work. Here are HomeHaks top tips to help you in choosing your housemates at Irish University.


Make poor choices and you could find yourself falling out over dirty bins and dishes. Pick well and you will have so much fun and make lifelong friends. Don’t know how to go about picking housemates? 


Photo by Wasa Crispbread on Unsplash

Know the sort of people you think you will get on with

Looking for housemates is a bit like online dating. You need to go into it knowing what you’re looking for and make that clear from the get-go. If you think you’ve found a potential match, ask your prospective house-sharer some questions. This is to see just how compatible you might be. Don’t make them feel it’s an interrogation. You just need to get a feel for what they’re going to be like once you’ve moved in together.


People can be very different once the front door is shut. Get to know them better before you agree to go house-hunting. This could spare you a lot of grief further down the line. Here are 30 questions to ask a roommate before moving in together. 


Get ahead of the competition

Don’t put off until tomorrow something you could do today. There’s always fierce competition for the best houses and apartments in university cities. If you want to stand a chance of finding nice housemates and a nice place to live, then it’s never too early to start.


You’d be amazed how many people leave it until the very last minute to decide on who they’re sharing with and where they’re going to look for houses. If you want to end up living in housemate heaven rather than housemate hell, you need to start broaching the subject with people as early in the spring term. This is so you can start arranging to view a few properties together. This article gives some more tips on starting your search early.


Choosing your housemates – Same course or different?

Sometimes living with the people you ‘work’ with isn’t always the best move.  You’re probably most familiar and friendly with the people doing the same course or modules as you but remember that everyone needs some space now and then. If you’re living with the same people you’re in seminars with day in, day out, you might get sick of each other’s company very quickly.


Try to have a mix in your house if you can – not only does it widen your social circle but it can broaden your mind. If people are studying different courses to you, you’ll each learn something about the other’s subjects. You’ll also be forced to find other things you can bond over, such as societies, hobbies or even your shared love of obscure foreign language films…


Set house rules from the start

Almost all household disagreements are avoidable in some way. You need to set out a few ground rules right at the beginning.  Before you agree to move in with other people, you need to make sure they’re the sort of housemates you can trust.


Chat with them and decide how to carve out who will organise things like paying the bills and how the rent will be managed. Pencilling a schedule for cleaning and cooking before you move in together will give you a good idea of whether or not they’re likely to pull their weight. If they look like they’re shirking responsibility, then maybe you need to look for someone else.

The following article is designed to help you and your roommate(s) establish guidelines for while you are living together.


To summarise

If a house share is going to be a success you need to know you’ll all get along and it’s not going to descend into chaos. Try to spend as much time as possible getting to know each other before you commit to moving in together. House sharing is a nightmare when it doesn’t work out but choose your housemates carefully and you could have a fantastic couple of years.