UQ Program: Bachelors of Arts

My semester on exchange in Ireland was certainly the most memorable of my degree. In my second year of a BA taking 6 months away to explore Ireland was one of the best decisions i've made.  My time there was filled with some of the best craic (irish for fun) i've had in my life and gave me the opportunity to make life-long friends who travelled with me as we explored from Finland to Croatia, Prague to Spain and everywhere in between. I got to experience Ireland filled with some of the world’s most amazing natural beauties and take a step back to explore a culture and a history so similar yet filled with fascinating subtle differences to our own. Through this experience I've had the opportunity to explore Europe and learn from the challenges that life and travel on the other side of the world pose and I would recommend anyone to take the opportunity if they can.

I found settling into UCD incredibly easy, getting greater culture shock in the change to living on campus then from the country the campus was placed in. Easy going, friendly and mad partiers the Irish are easy to get along with and made getting accustomed to Ireland dead easy. Getting used to the system at UCD required a little more work as they run their courses a little differently (generally with more short lectures and few or no tutorials) and getting used to taking 6 subjects for a full-time load instead of 4 took a while but as the course content tends to be easier than at home once you’re accustomed the work load ended up being roughly what I was used to, but here are some tips to make your time a little easier.

Friendships, especially with other exchange kids, you'll find are easy to forge. Just make sure you’re around for O-week when everyone is arriving and you'll find everyone is in the same boat, just head along to the Orientation activities the office organises and introduce yourself – by the end of the week I'd made the friends I would spend the rest of the semester with and who I'm sure I'll keep for life. Make sure you join the ESN (Erasmus Exchange Network – you'll find them around at some of the orientation events). They run weekend trips to all around Ireland which are guaranteed to be some of the best weekends you'll have all semester and are a great way to see some of the rest of the country. But also make sure you sign up for other clubs and societies as well, in freshers week, as while other international friends are easy to find, unless you’re lucky enough to be housed with them first up Irish friends are harder to make.
Dublin is an incredibly expensive city compared to the rest of Europe, but if you’re looking to you can do it reasonably cheaply.  Do your groceries at Tescos and your clothes shopping at Pennies (believe me once you've found it you'll swear by it) and you'll find you can get by comfortably on 150ish euro a week once your accommodation and flights are out of the way. Do try to have as much cash heading over on you as you can though – jobs are near impossible to find even if your visa will allow it  - and you'll want plenty of money to spend on travelling everywhere else while you’re there.
If you are planning on staying on campus Glenomena or Merville are your best choices! Both residences sit together in the same complex along with the Centra (the Irish 7/11-corner store equivalent that will very quickly become your most relied upon friend) and as they have the most people, they are also the most social and you don't have to worry about leaving the res gates to go see your friends. But be prepared for the associated noise -  Parties in Dublin (or more specifically on campus) happen every school night and drop silent on the weekend, so party Monday through Friday with the Irish kids and save your weekends for travel! Make ryan air your homepage and take full advantage of being a 3 hour and 20 euro flight away from anywhere in Europe you could want to go. And if you have the opportunity, head to Ireland a few days before accommodation opens up to give you time to explore Dublin a bit and do some of the touristy stuff like checking out the museums and galleries. Once you’re on campus you'll find other priorities (like checking which club is that night’s pick on Harcourt Street) and the touristy stuff is definitely worth a look.


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