By Ilka Denker
Every student knows the struggle of forking out enough money for accommodation, travel, food and the general cost of living. This issue’s Campus Cairde, Gideon Oluniran from Nigeria, is a student as well as a member of NUI Galway’s staff, who knows how difficult it can be to balance college work and earn enough money to live in comfort. Gideon came to Ireland on 29th September 2017 to start his PhD in Physics. Fortunately, his wife and son were able to accompany him, as he says: “You just can’t stay apart from your family for four years.”
He knows what a struggle it is to make ends meet while trying to complete a degree. He says: “I got full funding for my PhD, but it wasn’t enough to take care of my family, especially when you have to consider the cost of housing in Galway. The idea was to get something else to do in addition.”
Gideon tried himself in a couple of different jobs, as he says: “You do anything to get money. I did cleaning in a hotel and in Dunnes. At some point, I was a stockroom assistant in DID Electrical. That job was really hard, as I often had to move washing machines and large TVs. It was quite energetic and sometimes, when I came to university to continue my studies, I felt tired. For six months last year, my PhD work was really slow.”
Things took a better turn for Gideon last year in November, when he got a job as an IT assistant in NUI Galway’s library. “There was this advert that came out, saying that an IT student helper was needed. I applied, went through the interview and, voila, I got it!” Gideon remembers.
The job in the library is ideal to compliment Gideon’s studies, as he explains: “I can easily switch between doing my job and going back to doing my PhD work, because it is on campus. Here, I get time to think. Sometimes when I am less busy at work, I try to do some of my PhD work.”
Gideon works 20 hours a week at the IT helpdesk, assisting students and staff with any problems arising with their laptops or phones. He says: “I try to do 16 hours of library work during the week and then a few hours on Saturday, because I do not want to forget that my main work here is to do my PhD; that’s my main focus.”
Thanks to the paid job in the library, Gideon gets the chance to focus on his studies and at the same time financially support his family. He voices: “I can live comfortably now. If you are not comfortable, there is no way you will do well academically. You need finances, but at the same time, you need work that helps you not to be under too much stress so that you can focus on your main things.”
Gideon concludes that “you need to get that balance”, and, luckily, he did!