Ireland: Where the Craic is Mighty Past Review

By (English, Sociology, Hope College) for

IES Abroad: Dublin Direct Enrollment - Trinity College Dublin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was fairly light until the end, there was a lot of reading but you learned which readings you needed and which you didn't. The teaching was very dry at times, but that could just be because I'm not used to big lecture halls and just being talked at. I felt like I didn't learn as much as I would have at Hope, but I was able to take unique classes that focused on Irish society and literature, which was an option I wouldn't have had at home. Having one essay be your entire grade was very concerning, especially since we had so many due at the same time.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IES is a wonderful program. The staff are friendly and caring, and they knew all of us personally. The field trips were great, we saw so much and were able to make deeper friendships with other IES students as well as the staff. Their services were pretty good. Accommodation was excellent! Our apartment was right in the city center, and it was lovely. The size of the program was good. There were lots of people to get to know, but not so many that you felt overwhelmed or lost. I got to know all of my fellow IES Trinity students very well over the three and a half months we spent in Dublin. IES was incredibly knowledgeable about Irish and American education systems, and were very helpful in registration, and they offered lots of advice (including how to come back some day!). My expectations were beyond met by IES. I loved this program, and would definitely recommend it to anyone! The only down side was that the IES center was not very close to Trinity, but it wasn't too much of a hassle.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was in a great location, and it was very nice. The only down side was the mattresses, which were not very comfortable. However, we were provided with cookware, sheets and towels, and whenever we had an issue it was always addressed pretty quickly. We were only about a 25 minute walk from school and the city center, which was perfect. We also lived in a very safe area; we never felt threatened walking around at night. There were a few roommmate issues, but our RA helped to sort things out and we were all able to compromise enough to get along.

* Food:

Restaurants are expensive in Dublin, so it was much easier and cheaper to make most of our meals. Some good lunch spots for Trinity students are Maguire's, which has a good student sandwich deal, and KC Peaches, which is right next to Trinity and has a student discount. Aldi and Lidl are cheap grocery stores, though they're a bit of a walk to get to. Dunnes is also a good grocery store, the food is a bit more expensive but it lasts longer. I never had a problem finding good, healthy food to eat. And our kitchen was well equipped, though a bit small for three girls to share.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I really got involved with Irish dancing, which is something I used to do at home. This is where I met most of my Irish friends. It was just a great cultural experience, and I learned so much about the history and music from class. Belfast was also an incredible cultural experience. I'd heard about the Troubles, but it makes so much more sense when you see it all. I also loved the trip to Causey Farm that IES sponsored. It was nice to see how life was in Ireland back when everyone farmed. We even got to make soda bread, learn to play hurling, and try to herd sheep! It was also fun to get into GAA sports. We watched a lot of games in local pubs, which was a great cultural experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Dublin is very safe, although the North Side can be a bit shady at night. I never felt threatened or unsafe. IES was very good about helping us get in touch with health care. They even provided us with insurance.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Groceries were about twenty euro a week. We traveled almost every weekend; with a student travel card, it's not as expensive, but each trip in Ireland cost about 150 euros (hostels, train tickets, admissions). The trips in the UK were more, maybe about 350 euros. I bought a lot of souveniers and clothes while I was here, probably about 20 euros a week. Also, dance classes cost me about 20 euros a week. You will end up spending much more than you thought you would, but I think it's worth it. Also, Dublin's a very expensive city since the fall of the Celtic Tiger, so be prepared for that. Food, drinks, cover charges, and clothes all cost more here than they do at home.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to plan out a budget and stick to it. That way you won't go over your funds. Traveling was a lot more expensive than I thought it would be, so if you plan on traveling you should be aware that it will cost you (but it's worth it to see as much of Ireland as you can!). Also, food goes bad very quickly here, so I ended up spending a lot more on food that I anticipated. It's better to by a little at a time, and get food twice a week.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would highly recommend this program to anyone! To anyone who's coming to Dublin, I would recommend that you be bold. Talk to people in your classes, get involved with a club or two, go to lots of pubs (especially the ones off the beaten track, they'll be less touristy), try to learn as much about the history and culture and literature as you can while you're here! The experience really will fly by, so don't put off things you really want to do. Don't be afraid to go places on your own, or try things that are completely new. Chances are, you'll find something you love, make some new friends, and have a great story to tell when you come home. Dublin is a very modern city, and sometimes it doesn't feel very Irish. There's always a lot going on, and there are people from every country in the world here. Students who appreciated culture, and like to have a good time, will love Ireland. There are so many beautiful things to see, and so many fun things to do.I would just encourage students to be brave, to be willing to try new things, and to be very flexible. Things rarely ever go as planned! But sometimes the misadventures are the best memories.