Lucinda - University College Dublin

B Arts
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange is a one-time opportunity, so make every minute count.

Academic experience

I studied six courses that translated to four electives back home. I studied four history subjects, which included Islam & Christianity, Ireland Uncovered, Modern Europe, and Lost Cities, as well as a French language subject and an Art History subject -- all of which I found highly interesting and enjoyable. I really appreciated the smaller class groups, which meant you could really engage in the subject as a group and develop personal relationships with teachers. The enrolment system worked quite similarly to that of UQ, although all the home university students had first pick of the subjects, so some of my originally desired subjects were unavailable before I could choose them. However, this did not turn out to be too much of a problem, as the subjects I replaced them with were fantastic and there are so many options in each category of study.

Personal experience

I learned how to manage my time well and incorporate tourism and social time into a busy academic schedule. I explored many beautiful places around Dublin and Ireland on a broader scale, such as the Glendalough glacier and lakes, the beautiful west of Ireland (including Galway, the Aran Islands, and Connemarra), as well as taking weekend trips to other nearby European countries. Overall, I managed to explore 20 countries before, during, and after my exchange.

Accommodation

I lived on-campus and loved socialising with my roommates and fellow college dwellers. It made it very easy to shop for groceries, visit friends, and take the university bus into the city. However, I'm sure living off-campus would offer many valuable opportunities too, because the transport system in Dublin is great and it is easy to travel from one end of the city to the other.

Costs

Accomodation varies from 5,000 to 20,000 for the exchange semester, so it just depends on what you personally are willing to spend for ease of distance to the university or quality of dormitory, although I found that even the cheapest rooms were of great quality. Food and transport cost about the same as they do back home in Brisbane, as do drinks. However, I would say it is always better to over-budget, as many opportunities for trips and events can come up while on exchange, and you might not want to have to refuse these due to a limited budget.

Challenge

My biggest challenge on exchange was a bit of homesickness towards the start, but I quickly overcame this once I decided to embrace living independently and quickly got used to the exchange lifestyle.

Professional Development

I have developed an ability to quickly embrace new situations and be confident in the way I make choices. I have become a more confident communicator after being required to use initiative to meet many new people, and to adjust to a new culture that might not always have the same traditions as my home country. I have also learned to take on a slightly higher workload, by juggling six full-time subjects rather than four.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was the cheap inter-country travel that I was able to do from Dublin (which is a big airport hub in Europe and the base of RyanAir, Europe's cheapest budget airline) as my intention on exchange was always to do a lot of travel. I was able to get most of my plane tickets for 20-40 euro, and spend three or four days overseas due to the flexibility of my timetable.

Top tips

I would recommend taking every opportunity (social, travel-related, etc.) presented to you and making the most of every experience that pops up spontaneously. These happen often and it is easy to say no for whatever reason (uni, money, etc.) but this is exchange and you might regret it if you don't make the most of it.