Meggan - University College Dublin

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons)/Science
Semester 1, 2018
The best decision I have made led me on an adventure I will cherish forever.

Academic experience

I studied six courses at UCD including Smart Cities, Ireland Uncovered, Arthropoda, Transportation Operations and Planning, Water Waste and Environmental Modelling, and Principles of Zoology. Even though there are 6 subjects, they have less workload than at UQ and are definitely manageable.

I thought the academic system at UCD was similar to UQ in terms of the distribution of assessment and their worth towards the final grade. Some of my courses had a very small cohort (e.g. two classes had less than 10 students) and I enjoyed how this made it easier for lectures to functions almost as tutorials with active participation and discussions.

One of the challenges I faced was going to classes without knowing anyone else at the start of the semester. I found that the best way to overcome this was to always approach people and talk to them when provided the opportunity. Classes were much easier and more enjoyable with friends.

I thought the enrolment and registration process was reasonably straight forward if you were organised and on time. Being organised with this also made it easier to arrange for travelling throughout the semester.

Personal experience

Exchange turned out to be invaluable to me. I gained so many new friendships with people from all over the world and got to explore many different countries in Europe. At the end of my exchange, I definitely felt like I had become more responsible and independent. I didn’t realise how much I had gained until I looked back to where I was at the start. Now I feel more confident and resilient in handling what life throws my way.

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Glenomena residences (self-catered) and found that I really enjoyed being close to my classes, student activities and all the friends I had made who also lived on campus. My housemates and I came from 4 different countries in total and it was great learning about all the different cultures.

To any future students, I would highly recommend on-campus living. Everything is so much more accessible and convenient. Be ready to apply for it the second the clock ticks over to when applications open because they go quickly. Have enough money in your bank account for the deposit and notify your bank that you will be making an international online payment to ensure no problems arise in the transaction.

Costs

I spent around $17,000 over the 6.5 months I spent overseas and on exchange. About $7,000 was for on-campus accommodation for exchange and $5,700 for travelling. The rest was dedicated to entertainment, food, transport and other livings expenses, such as sport/hobbies and shopping. I severely overbudgeted but I recommend doing so as this provides plenty of back up money for emergencies or extra expenses. For example, I recommend budgeting €350 per week for everything (including travelling) except Australian return flights and accommodation. Having an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of expenses was really helpful.

Professional Development

Exchange definitely improved my organisational skills. You have to do a lot of organising and communicating when you’re coordinating travel plans with other people and this is something that can easily be translated into the professional environment. I also had a lot more responsibility and independence to make my own choices and I think this helped build my decision-making skills and confidence because I learned from my own mistakes and improved each time I did something.

Highlight

The highlight of my journey was meeting so many people from all over the world and getting to be a part of their experience in Dublin as well. I can look back at all my photos and appreciate what an amazing time I had with all the friends I made overseas. Ireland all together was a highlight and it's definitely worth taking your time to see all that it has to offer.

Top tips

1. Try and make friends with locals. It’s a lot harder than making friends with other internationals but it’s worth the effort to get their insight. 

2. Joining a club or sport also gives you an opportunity to make more friends and get more out of the campus life. 

3. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up and say YES to opportunities. At the same time, don’t feel pressured to fit absolutely everything into your schedule because you might find this becomes stressful or you didn’t make time to enjoy the things you really wanted to do. 

4. Find your niche and you’ll be grand.