Monday, 7 March – marked the official start to the OITP for me and my group of 20 excited and enthusiastic students from the Diplomas in Chemical Process Technology (Industrial Chemistry and Polymer Technology options) and Food Science and Technology. We were heading for Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Ireland where we were to be attached for five weeks.
We arrived in Ireland after an 18 hour plane ride that included a short transit at London. The breathtaking scenery of the surroundings immediately took our breaths away.
As typical Singaporeans, food was utmost in our mind. So shortly after depositing our luggage at the hostel, we set off for the Asian Market to do our grocery shopping. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for those who, like me, never really had the necessity to shop for groceries as everything was taken care of back home. It was an opportunity for us to learn independence as well as practice our budgeting skills in order not to overspend.
On our first day of attachment, we felt the warmth and friendliness of our hosts as our hosts welcomed us graciously with open arms. We were briefed on the history of the Institute, as well as the various projects that were available to us. To cater to our different interests, we were given options to pursue a wide range of projects, ranging from the use and development of aerogels, the chemical development of fingerprints, to the development and research of food products. We were all excited and raring to get started on our projects. The laboratory technicians and staff were also ever ready to lend a helping hand and our supervisors and mentors were also extremely helpful and provided guidance during our entire attachment period.
While weekdays were spent working hard on our projects, weekends were reserved for us to let down our hair and experience other attractions that Ireland had to offer. We made trips to many must-see destinations like the Cliff of Mohers, Guinness Stout Headquarters and to view the famous Book of Kells at the Trinity College of Dublin. We were also fascinated by the spectacular scenery and rich history of Glendalough (‘the valley of the two lakes’) and Wicklow. Then who could forget the shopping at Dublin with plenty of shops offering the season’s latest trends and styles at affordable prices?
On Saint Patrick’s Day, which was a public holiday in Ireland, we took a day off from school to catch the parade along the streets. It was certainly a boisterous crowd, with lots of people jostling to catch a better view of the proceedings.
However, all good things had to come to an end. In the blink of an eye, our attachment at DIT ended and it was time to say goodbye to our new found friends. While we looked forward to returning home, we still left Ireland with a heavy heart, knowing that what we had experienced there would be cherished memories which we would never ever forget.
By Hazel Loo
Diploma in Chemical Process Technology