Bachelor of Science, 3rd year
Bachelor of Science, 3rd year

Academic experiences

While abroad, I studied four third-year science modules in physiology, biochemistry and cell biology.
I also took two first-year subjects in European art/history and Irish (Gaelic).
I did find adjusting to a different academic system a bit stressful especially when it came to exam time.
At UCD I found there were more small assignments to complete as opposed to one or two major pieces and that exams had a slightly different format (essays rather than short answer) and were often weighted more to what I was accustomed to in my science courses at UQ.
However, at the end of the day, the content and outcomes that were examined were not that different to what I was expecting and I made it through unscathed!
One other thing I noticed about the academic structure at UCD is that a lot of my classes were very small (20-30 people) compared to the large lectures at UQ.
I quite liked this arrangement as it allowed me to develop a much more personal relationship with my lecturers and other students.

Dublin, St Patrick's Day

Personal experiences

Having never lived away from home before, exchange was quite a personal leap for me.
Aside from learning many new life skills, being away from my friends and family took me right out of my comfort zone and taught me a lot about myself.
Like most exchange students, I had the chance to make friends from all over the world and to enjoy exploring Ireland with a bunch of fantastic people.
I went on exchange without knowing anyone, and travelled alone during and after my time at UCD.
Although this was quite daunting at first, going solo forces you to put yourself out there and meet fellow students and travellers, and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.
I think that I have definitely made some important friendships from my exchange- particularly amongst my fellow UQ students who were also on exchange at UCD.

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Glenomena residence, where I shared a self-catered apartment with five other international students but had my own bathroom.
This was quite a useful arrangement as I was sharing with people who were in a comparable stage of their degree and who were seeking out similar experiences in Dublin as I was.
However, it did mean that I missed out on living with local students.
The apartments at Glenomena are well kept and modern, and very conveniently located on campus.

Inis Mor, near Galway

Budget

As far as Europe goes, Dublin is quite an expensive place to live.
The city is home to many fantastic places for eating and drinking, however few of these come cheaply.
I found that, in general, prices were comparable to what I would pay in Brisbane, plus a bit more because of the exchange rate at the time.
Unfortunately I have no magic solution for the budget problem.
My strategy was to over-budget as much as possible and to keep a watchful eye on my spending through the semester- which was quite important as I had plans to travel afterwards.
Overall, I probably didn’t spend much more than AU $200 per week, on food and entertainment.
In terms of managing travel costs during semester, the Erasmus Student Network and International Students’ Society both host weekend trips to some of the top tourist sights around Ireland at great value for money.

Academic development and employability

Exchange certainly broadened my university experience, allowing me to become confident with working under a different system to what I was comfortable with.
Also, studying at an institution that had different research interests to the academic community at UQ expanded my ideas about what I might like to do after I graduate.
Planning all of my own travel, and living on a budget encouraged me to be much more resourceful and independent than I was before arriving in Dublin.

Highlight

My favourite part of my exchange was having the opportunity to travel around Ireland and to experience some of its extraordinary natural beauty.
Virtually anywhere you go on the island you are greeted with rolling green hills, ancient ruins and desolate coastlines.
Even if you don’t go to Ireland for your exchange, I would absolutely recommend taking time out of studying (and partying) to explore the history and landscapes of your host country.
Ireland is also just a hop away from the rest of Europe.
Along with exploring my host country, I was able to travel to the both the UK and continental Europe before my exchange, afterwards, and during my mid-semester break.

Inis Mor, near Galway

Top tips

Relax!
I tended to get quite worried about getting courses, accommodation, travel etc. organised (on time), but it is important to remember that going on exchange is really about enjoying the experience.
There are also countless people at your host university and at home who can help you with the challenges you might face along the way.
At UCD, you might find that module registration happens quite late in the game.
Don’t panic.
Once you arrive they are very helpful about sorting out any registration/timetabling issues you have in person.

Other Dublin-related tips:
Budget carefully but don’t be too stingy- you want to make the most of your experience while you can!
The Old Punch Bowl is a cute local pub that is within walkable distance from UCD and sometimes has live music
If possible, try and get a ticket for one of the IKEA buses in Orientation Week.
They are a great way to get set up without breaking the bank.
 

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