Bridey - University College Dublin

B Arts/Science
Semester 2, 2018
As cliché as it sounds, going on exchange was really a life changing experience.

Academic experience

I studied mainly archaeology subjects, along with some subjects regarding Irish history and culture. The classes were straight forward and had a lot of communication with the professors, as they were small late year classes. The grading system was very similar to our own and easy to understand. It was challenging working with the new online system and somewhat difficult as the navigation is very different. Talking with students at the university aided this. Enrolment was confusing at the time but following the steps provided to me by the university was easy enough. The most difficult part was finding the right subjects, which was under modules and not programmes. There are different times for different programmes to enrol into classes, and I was given a specific time slot. I was slightly confused as I wasn't sure if I was considered an Erasmus student or an exchange student, as I had never heard the term Erasmus before going over. Turns out I was an Erasmus student.

Personal experience

The experience I got from this exchange is priceless. I made many friends through university events, my own roommates, the societies, and sports clubs. I met some people also going to UCD for exchange before I left for Ireland and one of those people became one of my greatest friends, along with a couple of my roommates on campus. I travelled with them throughout Europe on the weekends, learning Dutch and German and even some Spanish, learning about their cultures and history. The school provided language courses for Gaelic as well which was very interesting. I personally believe I developed a lot more independence and resourcefulness, as well as greater communication skills on a more professional level. Speaking with different professors and academics from all over the world was very interesting and rewarding experience.

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Ashfield, the newest accomodation block. I really enjoyed having housemates, the close proximity of all my classes, and the living environment. I personally believe Ashfield is one of the better accomodations on campus, as it is very well furnished and the rooms are very good. Having your own bathroom is a big plus to me. It is less then a 5 minute walk to the little convenience store on-campus, which is also right next to the bus stop. Merville and Glenomena were the closest to the bus stop. It was easier for us to walk to the other bus stop on the slip road off Stillorgan Road (which has more buses anyway). I would recommend setting up Tescos delivery and splitting it with your housemates. The closest supermarket is a 30 minute walk or about 10 minute bus ride (but very far inbetween buses). The RAs were very friendly and helpful, we even became friends with some of them. Also, while I was there Ashfield had yet to be added to the maps found around campus. It was a little confusing trying to find it on the first day (I didn't get the shuttle bus to the university, which would have been a lot easier then what I did). The university had plenty of people on staff for check in, and they direct you where to go. There were also a lot of events within the first few weeks just for exchange students.

Costs

Living on campus at Ashfield was around $7-8k (~4500 euros). There is a 400 euro bond which you get back at the end of the semester. Food costs were around 30-50 euro a week when buying groceries, as it is very expensive to eat out. Transport was around 2 euro into the city, but your student leap card (transport card) caps at 5 euro in a day. Travel is generally fairly cheap as Ryanair is based in Dublin and you can get some very cheap flights around Europe. I would recommended planning them as early as possible as they get expensive closer to the date as you would expect. Getting an aircoach to the airport is the simplest way to get there, its around 15 euro return when you book online (10 each way if you don't). Going on weekend trips with university societies was around 130 euro which included transport, tours, and accomodation. If you want to travel almost every weekend, or go out into the city a lot, it will be a lot more expensive. If you aren't travelling a lot, 500 euro a month would work easily. Travelling adds 2/3 nights of accomodation, food, airplane tickets, tours and more. This would probably add another 200-300 euro depending on where you are going. Personally I liked having a little more freedom to travel and would recommend at least $10k, some of which will be lost in currency exchange.

Challenge

The biggest challenge I faced was making interacting with the people in my classes. As it was in the later years, people already knew each other in the small classes I had. The classes I did generally didn't have any group work either. While this still remained a struggle for me most of the semester, I made a few friends by joining the society of the subject I study. While it was daunting going to the events as I didn't know anyone in them, I did make some friends and got to talk with some of the professors who also attended the events.

Professional Development

As mentioned previously, I believe I gained a lot more independency and resourcefulness on this experience. I was in a completely different country and didn't know anyone at the beginning, which forced me out of my comfort zone but was highly rewarding. It allowed me to be more proactive in my ambitions, creating better networking skills, confidence, and academic abilities. On a professional level, I believe I am more adaptable to any situation, able to take on conflicts and difficulties in a calm manner, and generally more accomplished in the academic field.

Highlight

One of the best days that comes to mind of my experience in Ireland is one of the trips that my friends and I went on with the International Students Society. It was a weekend trip to Galway and included the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. One of my best memories is hiring a bike to cycle around on one of the Aran Islands with my friends. It was so peaceful and beautiful, and exploring the island was a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend it!

Top tips

It is well worth every dollar to go on exchange. From the people you meet to the places you see, it really is a life changing experience. I would advise to do a lot of research into the place you are going, and don't leave things that you want to do to the last minute. Travelling is a lot easier at the start of the semester, when you don't have a large study load yet. Set up a budget early, and make arrangements with your housemates to set up a roster for cleaning etc (this is very important). Definitely do Tescos delivery, it's much easier. A really good way to meet people is to go to the social events at the start of the semester and joining a few clubs that you like. Don't join too many, you'll never make it to all the events. Joining a sports club is well worth it too, although can be a little more expensive depending on the sport. I did mountaineering, which had a lot of great people in it! Also, don't leave work until the last minute. Try to get it done as early as possible so you can go travelling and experience Dublin better. If you prefer a quieter gym, Roebuck Castle has a small one that is nowhere near as busy as the main gym (but very basic).