Madeleine - University College Dublin

B Arts
Semester 2, 2018
An amazing experience, something that you will never regret!

Academic experience

I did a reduced work load and studied 5 subjects whilst at UCD which is equivalent to 3 subjects at UQ. I took four subjects that reflected my degree including Philosophy: logic, Philosophy and mental disorder, Historical sociology and Gender war and violence. I also did an elective that was focused around Irish studies: discovering Ireland, which was tailored specifically for International students to learn about Irish landscapes and history.


Despite doing five subjects I found that there was less content in each subject and each course was also less demanding. As well the smaller sizes made the classes more encouraging for group discussions and participation. 
I did find challenging the weighting percentage of some of my assessments in a few of my classes with some weighing 90% and 100% which is different to my course’s weightings at UQ.

Personal experience

Going on exchange is probably the best decision I have ever made. I met so many new people from all over the world, got to travel around a lot 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 events and trips to places like Galway, Belfast and Wicklow which are really affordable and a great way to meet different people from around the world.

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Ashfield Residence which is self-catered. At Ashfield you share with 5 other people who you share a kitchen and living room with, but you are provided with your own bedroom and bathroom.  The apartment was fairly easy to get as UCD priorities first year and international students for rooms within the residences. A lot of the students at Ashfield Residence were also international students so although there were less Irish students it was a great way to meet people from other parts of the world. Staying on-campus accommodation was super convenient with classes less than a five-minute walk from the accommodation and the residence offered everything I needed including an onsite laundry, common room to hang out in, a free gym, the Uni library, the campus convenience store (Centra), and a bus stop less than a 5 min walk which can take you to the centre of Dublin.

Costs

I found daily expenses to be similar to Brisbane, and quite manageable despite the Australian dollar not being fantastic when I was there.  I think the most important thing is to have a budget, try to stick to it each week, and keep track of what you are spending. I spent on average about 150 euro per week which included for food, transportation and other expenses.  The big items are definitely travel related, and the more you budget for this the better, but definitely keep an eye on Ryainair's website if you do intend on travelling because they do have quite a lot of sales with very cheap flights e.g. 9 euro from Dublin to London.

Challenge

A challenge I faced when I was on exchange was that my subjects where not available when I went to sign up for classes. I definitely recommend that if this happens to you just correspond with UQ as they were quick to help and resolve the problem.

Professional Development

My exchange experience has definitely influenced my future academic and employment aspirations. There were a lot of challenges that came with living in a foreign country and the skills that I gained adapting to these will be valuable for future academic studies and future employment. Also, my exchange experience 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.

Highlight

It is impossible to single out one highlight from exchange.  Aside from travelling around Europe, some of my favourite memories include getting to see Vance Joy finish his tour in Dublin at the iconic Olympia theatre, Exploring the Irish country and coast line and Northern Ireland. As well as immersing myself into a new culture where the people I met where all friendly and welcoming.

Top tips

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. 


UCD has a great student union that runs heaps of different events that cater for different likes and interests, they are a great way to meet different people and immerse yourself into Irish culture. As well I strongly recommend going to the orientation events and join groups/societies etc. I joined the harry potter society and the international student society and managed to make heaps of friends from that.