Nicholas - University College Dublin

B Commerce/ B Law
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I studied six law subjects at UCD that included Banking Law, Law of International Organisations, Employment Law, History of English Public Law, IP Law, EU Economic Law. While undertaking 6 law subjects at UQ may be impossible, it is more than manageable at UCD and I’d highly recommend every one of these.

Apart from genuinely enjoying all six of my subjects, I found the lecturers to be very engaging and approachable. I particularly enjoyed the freedom that came with mid-semester research essays, allowing students to focus on areas of the law that were highly topical on a broader level. For example, I looked at the questionable lending practices of banks in Ireland prior to and during the GFC in banking law- something that is still a hot topic of discussion in Ireland.

Though the final examination questions may have been more straightforward than we’re used to at UQ, it still required some good preparation to get over the line. I found the UQ law students at UCD sometimes had to forego the odd night out compared with fellow exchange students with a lighter load.

Personal experience

Multiple people had told me prior to committing to an exchange that it’d be my biggest regret of my time at University if I didn’t go. You can’t fully appreciate the truth in this until you experience it for yourself!

Making lifelong friends with both locals and international students is awesome. It was super special visiting these same people post-exams in their home country. You’ll collect a host of memories made with these people that you’re unlikely ever to forget.

Personally, the experience has grown my confidence in my ability to be independent and resilient and reinforced a desire to work overseas one day.


I stayed in Merville accommodation and had an exceptionally positive experience. You can’t go wrong with any of the on-campus accommodation. Merville is un-catered and you share an apartment with 3 or 4 others and a bathroom with one other person. Glenomena was another popular choice for international students. Though you get your own bathroom, I personally think this is balanced by the fact that you get the same fridge and freezer space in Glenomena as Merville gets but for 6 people to share! Our cupboard space was also better. My experience was that the layout of Merville apartments was also more conducive to a social apartment (I’m pretty biased as you can see).

UCD prioritises on-campus accommodation to first-year Irish students and international students who are far from home. As a result, if you’re wanting diversity and wanting to meet European exchange students, I’d recommend staying off-campus at Muckross. On-campus is essentially all North American students. Otherwise, I found the ESN trips a great way to meet other international students and to broaden the base of people I met.


I budgeted 170 euros a week which covered food, transportation, academic expenses, travel, medical and social expenses. It excluded big one-off expenses like Flights from Australia and accommodation (that included utilities but not food). Over the 18 weeks of the semester (12 weeks of teaching, O-week, two weeks for Spring break and two weeks for exams) I pretty much met this budget. The biggest expense other than one-off expenses for travel would have been on groceries and social activities. I budgeted 65 euros/week for food but probably spent less than this each week

Professional development and employability 

As far as employability, the experience in itself on your resume is a massive boon. It’s an experience that not all university students undertake though most have the choice. A lot of strong planning and organisational skills are required to fund the semester and coordinate subjects. I also think employers recognise that people who’ve done an exchange are more likely to be go-getters and more likely to thrive when presented with unfamiliar and uncertain circumstances


I have four standout highlights: 

  1. Saint Patrick’s Day in the city followed by a house party on a houseboat on River Liffey.
  2. Seeing an Australian music legend, Paul Kelly, teaming up with local Irish artists at an iconic Irish music venue- the Button Factory. 
  3. Exploring the Irish countryside and coastline. In particular the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.
  4. The UCD Rugby Dinner in O’Reilly Hall after my team won the premiership.

Some other unforgettable memories:

  • interacting with local students on Harcourt Street at either of the “Big Three” Irish institutions- Diceys, Copper Face Jacks or DTwo. 
  • Going for runs and exploring the surrounding suburbs of Dublin 
  • Being there for 100-year commemorations of the 1916 Rising

Top tips

Playing team-sport is the quickest and easiest way I found to make Irish friends. Everyone I socialised with on-campus were international students and though I made great friends, I personally came to Ireland hoping to engage with the locals. It may be a bit of a challenge at first given you may not live with locals or necessarily meet them in your lectures, but my experience would have been far less fulfilling if I hadn’t made the effort to meet locals.

The organisation required before going on exchange may seem overwhelming but I can assure you that is all worth it. The more research and planning you can do in advance in relation to subjects you can study and the funds you require, the better. I did a pretty comprehensive spreadsheet of my budget prior to leaving which helped planning post-exchange travel.

Figure out before you leave Australia what motivates your exchange. This may lead to greater clarity and ability to be flexible when required. For instance, some people’s main motivation for choosing UCD and Ireland was that it is such a great base from which you can explore Europe during the semester (via Ryanair and Air Lingus). They may have travelled more than ten times throughout the semester.

Whereas I chose to travel far less outside Ireland during the semester as I wanted to really immerse myself in the Irish culture and become an honouree Dubliner. 

Nicholas - University College Dublin