Diem - University College Dublin

B Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experiences 

I am a third year Bachelor of Science student majoring in biomedical science and took six courses at UCD which is equivalent to four courses at UQ. I took five third year biomed subjects including: endocrine physiology, molecular basis of disease, nervous system development, higher cortical function and a pharmacology course. My sixth subject was an Irish studies elective called Ireland Uncovered which is specifically designed for international students. Despite taking six subjects, I found that there was less content in each subject and each course was also less demanding. The cut-off for a pass at UCD is 40%. 
The major difference for me was the exam format. At UCD, most of my exams were of the format "choose three of the four essay questions" as opposed to the MCQ and short answer format that UQ uses. Another difference was that my classes were a lot smaller than at UQ and one class even had only 30 people signed on. I really liked this as it made way for class discussions and I found that I participated a lot more under this structure.

Personal experiences 

Going on exchange is the best decision I have ever made. I met so many new people from all over the world, got to travel around a lot of Europe (Ryanair was my best friend for cheap flights) and learnt how to look after myself without my parent's help. 
My best piece of advice would be to explore your host country! UCD's international student society (ISS) and erasmus student network (ESN) host heaps of trips to places like Galway, Achill Island, Belfast and Wicklow which are really affordable. The bus and train networks here are also really good for trips out of Dublin. One of my favourite places is Killarney! 


I lived on campus at Glenomena Residence which is self-catered. At Glenomena, you live with five other people who you share a kitchen and living room with but get your own bedroom and bathroom. All my housemates were international students as well which meant that I made a lot less Irish friends than I thought I would but that just meant more friends from other places in the world. 
On-campus accommodation is really convenient for classes and offered everything I needed including a free gym, the uni library, the campus convenience store (Centra). It's also a great way to meet people!


I found Dublin living costs to be slightly higher than Brisbane, especially with the low Australian dollar at the moment. I kept track of all my spending in an Excel document and separated the costs into different categories including travel, groceries, social etc. 
My main expenses included flights and accommodation while travelling around Europe. I ended up spending a lot more than expected on groceries and food delivery (which is totally avoidable). 

Professional development and employability

Exchange has definitely made me a more confident person. Being in a new country surrounded by new people forced me to put myself out there, whereas at home I was very comfortable with my group of friends. I also met a lot of people with differing views and opinions which has helped broadened my general knowledge on topics such as politics and social issues. Living with non-family members for the first time has taught me how to compromise and learn how to work with other people. 


The highlight of my experience was meeting new people and travelling around Ireland and the rest of Europe. I fell in love with the Irish countryside and how green and peaceful everything was outside of Dublin. The Irish people I encountered were all so friendly, warm and welcoming and are some of the funniest people around. 

Top tips 

  1. Stay organised with documents, course selections etc. If unsure about anything, just email the relevant person to double check. In saying that, course registrations can still be sorted out after arriving at UCD.
  2. TRAVEL! Take weekend trips, travel before exchange and/or after exchange. Ryanair is a really cheap airline for travelling around Europe but try to explore Ireland too!
  3. Go to the orientation events and join groups/societies etc. I joined a running group and managed to make some friends from that. 
  4. Keep track of your spending if you're on a tight budget but at the same time don't let that limit your experiences too much!
Diem - University College Dublin