Bubblin’ Dublin

Renee G., Bachelor of Business International
University College Dublin, Ireland (Semester 2, 2017)


I began the second half of my full year of study abroad at University College Dublin in Dublin, the capital city of Ireland. The first day that I arrived on campus I was very surprised at the size of the university and a bit in shock about how I was going to find my way around as my previous host university was a lot smaller. I found UCD campus to be very clean and well looked after and goes above and beyond to provide numerous facilities for students including multiple food restaurants, cafes, small supermarket, bus stop within campus, free gym, pool and sport facilities, a cinema, uni bar and a bank. The university itself is almost like a small city and this was very handy for us international students. In terms of buildings/classes, each academic school has its own allocated building for classes, for example I was a part of the Quinn School of Business and therefore all my classes were in the Quinn building. This made finding classes a lot easier and saved time if you had classes back to back. Each of these buildings are fitted with numerous study rooms, printing facilities, support staff and lunch areas to make your academic experience great.

Trinity College Dublin

Whilst at UCD I chose to stay in on campus accommodation for security, the proximity to campus was convenient. Although expensive, I also found this to be the best way to meet other international students as there are many rooms allocated to them in a certain area. When it comes to choosing accommodation, there are about 5-6 different options, some catered and others not. There is also a difference in room size, shared or own bathrooms and number of flat mates. In the end I chose Merville Residences as it was one of the cheaper options that provided a sufficient living environment for the four months I would be there. I shared my flat with three other international students, one girl from New Zealand, one guy from Germany and one guy from America. These students turned out to be very good friends and based on their connections with other students from their home universities and countries, making friends and socialising was made easy.

UCD Residences

During orientation week at UCD, the international society puts on a large range of activities for students to participate in if they like as well as the residences hub Reslife who also organise numerous night and day options for students to get to know each other. These events gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and interact with students from around the world. Additionally, through my flatmates friends and connections I could connect with people who I will now consider friends for life and be sure to catch up with in the coming years. I strongly advise to participate in as much as possible so you are never left to do anything alone as that is not always the greatest idea when in a foreign country.

In terms of Dublin City, there will always be something for you to do. It is full of pubs, restaurants, shops, tourist attractions, great nightlife and the people are the friendliest bunch you will ever meet. The Irish culture is one you don’t want to miss out on experiencing if you have the chance. As Dublin is a large city there are numerous forms of public transport, but most popular is the bus system as this is required to get from the UCD campus into town using the student leap card. If you want to explore the rest of Ireland as well, the train/rail system is also a handy way to get somewhere faster than on a bus, but the cost of transport in Ireland is not cheap. This also goes for the cost of living as groceries and accommodation whether it be on and off campus will be higher than you expect. On a more positive note, the city itself and surrounding suburbs I found to be very safe and I was comfortable whilst travelling alone, but of course always use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

Dublin City

Now, much like my first exchange in England, the weather in Ireland can be very unpredictable and you can experience all four seasons in one day. Lucky for me, I was fortunate enough to get numerous sunny days during the four months I was there but as expected there were many cloudy, rainy and windy days as well. Despite the weather, Ireland is a beautiful country with a lot to enjoy and with its proximity to Europe you have the chance to travel to numerous beautiful countries as well on the weekends or whenever you please. My advice to everyone is don’t miss out on taking advantage of Ireland’s location and the cultures you could experience that are only an hours flight away. Try not to stress about money and just make the most of it.

I must say the highlight of my exchange was the people I met and friendships I made along the way as without them my experience would have been a lot different. Of course, the academic side is very important as well and UCD is fortunately a lot like QUT and how everything runs so you shouldn’t have too many issues with settling in. I highly recommend UCD as an exchange destination and you’d be crazy not to go if offered the chance. Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way and enjoy the time you have because I can assure you it goes quicker than you would think possible.

Ring of Kerry

The Great Land of Ireland

Sophie R., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Creative Industries
University College Dublin, Ireland (Semester 2, 2017)

The University College Dublin (UCD) in the Republic of Ireland is a great destination for an exchange. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ireland and would highly recommend it.

Host Country

Irish culture is unique and is largely homogenous and the Irish people are exceedingly friendly, welcoming and resilient. Not many places in the world can one have a lively conversation with a stranger in the supermarket like neighbours or meet people on buses who are happy to chat and interested in a stranger. The rebellious and turbulent history still affects the Irish today, encouraging their resilience, spirit and pride. The landscape has the beauty of quaint rural villages to windswept dramatic coastlines. Dublin is a city with a small-town vibe but the vibrancy of a global hub with headquarters for Google and other multinational corporations being situated there.

Host University

UCD is an organised and modern university with many support-mechanisms for international students. Living on campus provides many opportunities for meeting new people with the Resident Life organisation offering many social events to ensure international students feel included.

Struggles

There was only one major struggle I experienced on my exchange and it was of an administrative nature. I had 18 pre-approved subjects from QUT including subjects that correlated with my QUT business subjects as well as some very interesting electives from other faculties. When I arrived, I discovered I was unable to study outside of the business faculty and I almost did not have enough subjects to complete at UCD. Due to this miscommunication between the universities, my first week in Ireland was stressful. So, for incoming international students, it is best to expect some hiccups with subject enrolments.

Tips

As for my tips for future exchange students going to Ireland, I have five. (1) For on-campus accommodation, be prepared for applications to open late at night. Campus accommodation applications are highly competitive. (2) As for clubs and societies, quality not quantity is the best option. Your time will be divided between travel, university life and study, so sign up for one or two clubs and make a conscious effort to go to their events. One of my favourite experiences at UCD was an entrepreneurship competition at Google as part of the Entrepreneurs and Inventors Society. (3) Make the most of travelling around Ireland. Many students spent all their time travelling elsewhere in Europe and regretted not exploring more local sights. (4) Seek out live music. Venture to Cork and find a small pub to listen to the mischievous Irish music. For a more contemporary repertoire, Dublin is the place to be with the buskers on Grafton Street and the singers in pubs on Temple Bar. (5) There will be highs and there will be lows. That’s just travel, and it is best to be prepared.

On Dublin, snowboarding in the Alps with 200 Irish students and a bunch of other things helping me to procrastinate

As I enter the last week of teaching week of this semester at UCD in Dublin, Ireland, I’ve become overwhelmed by a certain feeling, one that I’ve definitely felt before, over and over again. It usually signifies that the end of something is near but you’re not quite there yet. The feeling (action…?) is procrastination, and it has most definitely come to say hello.

Speaking of hellos, I’m Ambar and I’m currently on a yearlong exchange for the duration of 2015. Back home I study Business/Creative Industries but here in Dublin I’ve ended up in the Business/Law faculty taking 6 subjects (a frightfully “normal” concept here). While it’s dismal that this is my first blog post, procrastination lends me well, meaning that there’s no time like the present to catch up on what’s been going on for the past few months. And by “no time like the present”, I mean being 8 days out from 5 exams in a row. Exam timetables = providing endless joy regardless of the country that you live in.

I’m currently sitting in a park in Copenhagen, Denmark, wondering how it somehow became the end of the semester and the start of summer. The sun is out; it’s like 16 degrees (if that), so naturally everyone is in t-shirts enjoying the ‘hot’ weather (I use this term loosely Brisbane). I left Australia going on 5 months ago now, but it feels more like 5 weeks. I’m sure that every exchange blog says the same thing: being on exchange flies by. And it definitely does. Maybe it’s the sentiment that you’re not counting down until the end of the semester, or to what come next – whether it be summer holidays, graduation or that next overseas trip. You’re not waiting for the next adventure because you’re already on it simply by being at uni, going to classes in a different country and meeting so many new people. I’m fortunate enough that this is my second exchange, having spent 6 months in France when I was 15, so while in some ways this feels slightly familiar territory, it also couldn’t be further from being the same. Although I frequently refer to my exchange in France being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, this would be a close second – and then some. Funnily enough, France is where my UCD trip begins, so with that little segue, let’s rewind to six months ago where an email I chose to send landed me a spot on the annual Snowsports trip to the French Alps.

Somewhere between Swotvac (study week) and exam week last November, I found myself creeping the UCD Snowsports Facebook page. Having spent majority of the past 3-ish years in Canada living in a ski town, snowboarding had become one of my main motivators in terms of getting through those final weeks of uni before holidays. During my creeping, I happened upon the info stating that the snowsports club was organising a trip to the French Alps in January. Perfect. I was also conveniently going to be in Alps snowboarding for the month before the planned trip. I tossed the idea around for a solid 2 minutes before deciding that I’d send them an email and see if I could get on the trip, despite not technically being a UCD student – or never having visited Ireland. YOLO as the kids say.

Two months later and I stepped off a bus in Alpe d’Huez, a little rusty from the night before. I have quite the affinity with red wine and the $5-per-rather-decent-bottle-average in France never fails to distract me from how bad I know wine hangovers can really be. The 2 busses and 3 trains I’d had to take that day with my luggage for a year hadn’t improved my feelings of utter bewilderment and confusion. It sounds worse than it was, I only had a snowboard bag and a small backpack but with a hangover to boot, it felt like I had more possessions that the whole of Australia put together. Only before trying to check-in to the completely wrong hotel did I manage to find the 200(ish) intoxicated and/or hungover (it was hard to tell between the two) Irish university students that I was to spend the next 7 days with. Fuelled by the encouragement that they’ve made the 38-hour journey from Ireland by bus (oh, the respect), I pushed back the drink someone gave to me and before I knew it, I was cable-tied me to someone I’d never met and well wished for the evening.

The next 7 days passed with little new snow but beautiful sunny days to distract us from the hangovers. Can you sense a theme here? Apparently the Irish like drinking – who would have thought? They can also rally like absolute champions and when I was there in the foetal position in bed, the committee members were up and at it, banging on saucepans outside the rooms every morning at 7am, hustling everyone to get out on the slopes. Before we knew it, the trip was over as quickly as it had started. I know it sounds as cliché or corny as anything, but I really did make and incredible bunch of friends on the trip who made me feel as though I’d known them a lot longer than 24 hours. Needless to say, it made getting on the plane and rocking up on the first day of ‘college’ a whole lot less daunting – despite not a single one of them being in the same faculty as me.

Having gone on the snowsports trip, I unfortunately missed orientation week with the rest of the international students, including a free bus trip to IKEA. Tragic, I know. Thankfully, my wonderful new housemates were able to catch me up with all the ‘craic’ (read: Irish slang for ‘going’s-on’) of O-week and I found my bearings pretty quickly. When sign-ups for on campus accommodation opened back in December and not knowing anyone in Dublin, I went in blind and and opted to share an apartment with three other random students. As it turns out, on their end, it wasn’t so random and I found myself in apartment with 3 Americans all from Northeastern University in Boston. I think I’ve actually learnt more about the fraternity-sorority (Greek) system in the US than anything to do with Irish schooling, but there you have it. Officially, I don’t share any classes with my housemates but we do share a love for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and quesadillas so with that bond, we’re basically family. Unofficially, we have Irish class together, which basically consists of absolutely terrible linguistic skills, a whole lot of laughing and our teacher organising meeting points for beers after class.

Terrible Irish speaking skills in tow, the rest of the semester has literally passed in a blur. I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of the accessibility that comes with living in Europe, having travelled a fair bit throughout the semester. When a friend living in London asked me to jump in on his birthday celebrations and fly to Spain with 20 of his friends that I’d never met, it was a no brainer. Flights were booked in minutes and the bunch of us hired out a villa that housed 30 people where we spent the Easter long-weekend lounging by the pool, eating paella and drinking cervezas.

Between the UK, Spain, Denmark, weekly netball games against other universities, events on every other weekend and squeezing in a two and a half-week trip to Canada over ‘spring break’, it’s easy to see where the semester has gone. Despite my friends wondering how I ever manage to get anything college-related done, it’s definitely been a work-hard, play-hard balance. Even though taking six subjects in Ireland is technically worth the same as the Australian equivalent of 48 credit points, it still feels like an extra two subjects to juggle in the mix of everything. Which brings me back to procrastinating studying for those impending exams. As I’ve managed to avoid studying for today by writing this (despite my best intentions of bringing my laptop with me to Denmark), I best be off given that my plane’s boarding in an hour and I’m still in downtown Copenhagen. A picture paints a thousand words anyway, so here’s the paintings of seventeen thousand words from my first few months here.

 

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UCD Snowsports trip to Alpe d’Huez, France

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Up at 3300m in the French Alps

UCD Snowsports trip to Alpe d'Huez, France

The Valley Rally – last day of the trip

 

UCD Snowsports trip to Alpe d'Huez, France

Bobbing for apples in sangria and flour for the Valley Rally scavenger hunt. Gross.

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Après Ski sessions, France

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Connemara National Park, Ireland

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Galway Bay, Ireland

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Sunny days actually aren’t that hard to find in Dublin! (shocking, I know)

UCD Snowsports + Surf Ball (i.e. trying to be fancy)

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Camden Market, London, UK

 

 

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St Patty’s Day in Whistler, Canada (spring break)

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Ice crevasse in Whistler, Canada

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Hiking in the Pacific Ranges, BC, Canada

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Easter in Alicante, Spain

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Easter in Alicante, Spain

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Copenhagen’s Skyline, Denmark

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Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Until next time,

Tabhair aire 🙂