I’m not going to lie to you. Dublin is a cold, wet, dark, windy place. But if it weren’t then it wouldn’t be so green. However, miraculously, most of the time, when you’re out exploring sites, taking photos, having a laugh then you’ll get blue skies and sunshine. You might also get hail in your face, but you’ll still get sunshine. Ireland was an amazing place to go on exchange. It’s a vibrant country full of music, dance, drink, humor, and wonderfully friendly people. And, it very quickly became home.
I lived in Roebuck Castle Catered and couldn’t recommend it more! Eddie and Kay run the kitchen and make the most delicious food (potatoes: not a stereotype), and they are the kindest, warmest people and truly made Roebuck wonderful. Say hi for me if you live there! While I’m on the topic: the food. Food in Ireland is amazing. You’ll be in a back-woods lane of county ‘I don’t have a clue where I am but look at all the green’ and come across a tiny pub that will serve you the best meal of your life for just a few euro. Man, I miss the food!
The best part of my exchange was, of course, the food. Kidding. It was the people. I was lucky enough to make a huge group of friends very quickly. I never spent long sitting still as there were always plenty of people who wanted to explore and experience something new. We did countless trips all over Ireland, which I definitely recommend. Explore Europe, yes. But, explore Ireland too. And forget the warnings, I went to Belfast with Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and it was one of my favourite places. Meeting new people and being exposed their different cultures, opinions, senses of humor really does change you. I met some amazing people while in Dublin that I will remember for the rest of my life. They are the people I shared an unbelievable six months with and hope to see again many, many times.
I am a third year BA student majoring in Writing and English Literature, and I took an assortment of English, history, folklore, and linguistic courses. Uni is uni, no matter where you are in the world, so some of my classes were grand and some of them were less grand, but all the lecturers/tutors were lovely, joking people who frequently mock their students before hurling chocolate at our heads. Enrolling was the hardest part. Chances are you’ll get there only enrolled in half the number of classes you need. Don’t fret. UCD operates better face to face, so just go into the international office and have a chat to the lovely ladies and it’ll all get sorted. Then, at the end of semester, you get take your exams in a giant barn with three thousand other students, which really was just the most surreal experience. But, basically, don’t stress the academic stuff. Just do the work, and try to do it early because if you’re sitting in your room writing an essay instead of at a concert in Scotland then you’re going to kick yourself.
Five of my top tips:
1.      Just say YES. Say yes to everything. Even if you’re tired, hung-over, have a ton of work to do. Just say yes. Do everything. Meet everyone. Say yes.
2.      Go to the Woolshed. It’s an Australian bar and you’re guaranteed a great night!
3.      Centra is your friend. Get a chicken baguette and enjoy!
4.      Don’t worry about getting all your stuff before you leave, its better and cheaper over there. Go to Clarkes and get a good pair of boots. If your feet are happy, you’re happy. Go to Dunnes and Penneys for everything else.
5.      Travel! See everything you can. The two best trips I did overseas was a tour of the Scottish Highlands with MacBackpackers and an eight-day sailing trip around Turkey with Busabout. I had an unbelievable time on these tours and met more fantastic people (there’s always an Australian nearby if you start feeling homesick).
My exchange was the best semester of my life, and now I wander around UQ in a blissful haze not believing it was real and knowing I’ll definitely go back. So GO, have a brilliant time! Then come back and try to answer the question, ‘how was you’re exchange?’. You won’t be able to. You’ll smile and nod and say, ‘amazing’, but think to yourself, you can’t even know…


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