Amy - University College Dublin

B Arts/B Laws (Honours)
Semester 1, 2023

Motivation

I can’t say much here except that I had a gut feeling about Dublin and this experience. I was right. It helped that I haven’t met a single person thus far that had had a bad exchange. Trust your intuition!

Personal Development

I've seen so many places now. I hadn't travelled much before so I decided to backpack both before and after my time in Dublin. I'll be away for almost nine months in total. I've gained so much confidence and I trust my gut now more than ever. You can't ask your family and home friends for their opinion or help because they're all asleep during your day. Going to Dublin not knowing anyone was scary but you just have to take a leap of faith, and once you do that the rest feels easy in comparison. You make friends so easily and you learn to be independent.

Academic Development

I found the study was quite manageable. I was extremely hesitant to study six courses and was unsure as to how this would be equivalent to four. I had twelve contact hours each week and had no tutorials or seminars. Study was entirely self-directed because you had no pre-readings or submissions. This is not to say that the workload was without fault. Other students were not required by their home universities to study six courses, meaning that you're doing more work than your peers. I feel that this is something that should be investigated because you can begin to feel frustrated and isolated due to your workload, seeing others have more time than you to immerse themselves.

Professional Development

I actually managed to get a job in Dublin! I got to run a vintage store in Temple Bar. I didn't intend to work but I had such a nice relationship with the store owner that when she asked for help I couldn't say no! This experience certainly will assist in my future employability, not to mention that the discounts were great and I had so much fun. Otherwise, you make so many new friends and international connections.

Costs

Note: these are current conversion rates that I’ve used as I’m writing this, so please double-check these as they’re constantly changing. Ireland was recently crowned the most expensive country to live in the European Union. On-campus accommodation at Belgrove cost €4031 ($6644) with an additional €720 ($1186) refundable deposit. This is the cheapest on-campus option available. Quite grim. Public transport in Dublin was rated the worst in the European Union. However, it is quite affordable. You’ll apply for a student Leap card online once you arrive. This is the same as a GoCard. Note that it is different to a regular Leap card. It’ll allow you to travel by bus for €1 ($1.65) per trip and then for free within 1.5 hours of your first tap-on. Dublin is home to Ryan Air. You’ll find that flights leaving from Dublin are extremely cheap. I once flew to Edinburgh for €22 ($36) return. I’d recommend bringing with you a carry-on backpack so you don’t pay for luggage. Ryan Air is strict on carry-on size and will charge you €60 ($99) for carry-on bigger than the measurements listed on their website (though you can get lucky most times and there are ways to finesse the system). Vodafone will charge you €20 for monthly unlimited data and 30GB roaming. I didn’t eat out much in Dublin given the cost. Budget-friendly places I did find were: White Rabbit, Bambino’s, Soup Dragon, and Kebap Connection. You have to pay €300 ($500) to obtain your Irish Residence Permit. This is your permission to reside in Ireland for longer than ninety days. Note that this is not applicable to students with dual citizenship somewhere in the European Union. Temple Bar is an expensive area to go out in and is lively but crowded. Sending a suitcase home will cost you €300 ($500). I severely underestimated the costs associated with studying in Dublin. You want to say yes to everything during exchange and this can also be costly. I don’t regret what I’ve spent but I would expect to spend no less than $15,000, and this is arguably conservative. You’re spending almost $8,000 alone on accommodation and likely $3,000 on a return flight ticket.

Funding

I wouldn't have been able to do this experience without funding. I used this funding to pay for my accommodation as soon as the money came into my account. This way I wasn't paying rent each month but just payed a lump sum prior to the semester starting.

Accommodation

There is a housing crisis happening in Dublin. I could not confidently recommend off campus accommodation due to limited availability and stories I’ve heard. It was a first-in-best-dressed system when securing on campus accommodation in Dublin. I opted for Belgrove which is the least expensive with the largest capacity. Belgrove itself was fine, nothing particularly special. There is arguably no situation in which you’d voluntarily sign up to live with people you’ve not met, except this one. I had difficulty with my roommates due to uncleanliness that prevented us from developing better relationships. I would only sleep in my apartment; I would eat and socialise at other people’s apartments. Village is the most expensive on campus accommodation and is the only one that has an oven. Air fryers are prohibited but people have them anyway. Fridges are small so you have to play Tetris.

Highlight

The people I met were the ultimate highlight. It’s absolutely cliché but these are my people. I couldn’t imagine having done this whole thing without them. People don’t like to make friends with people from their home university on exchange, but I did, and it was the best coincidence. You have friendships that you get to take home with you.

Advice/Top Tips

Bring a digital camera! Say yes. Go with Vodafone, not Three. Bring a Kindle; books are heavy. Collect souvenirs that are flat or small like postcards, stickers, magnets, and pins (I collected shot glasses which was a fun nightmare). Grocery shop at Aldi Blackrock. Don’t go to the Academy. St. Patrick’s Day is a marathon, not a sprint. Use Free Now, not Uber. Bring a long phone charge lead or an extension cord because outlets are far from your bed in Belgrove. If you happen to find the time capsule that I made, put it back! Plan a trip to Lahinch. Get the half and half at Kish Fish in Howth. Go to Workman's on Friday and Saturday to see Paul Mescal. Your best friend is the 39A. Thrift stores: Lucy’s Lounge, Collected Treasure, Nine Crows, Oxfam on Talbot, Dublin Vintage Factory.