Dublin was a Dream Past Review

By (Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Rochester) for

IES Abroad: Dublin Direct Enrollment - Trinity College Dublin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
There are no words to describe what this experience means to me. It exceeded my expectations in every way and was truly the best decision I have made so far in my life. I will forever look at the world differently because of my experience. Equally important, I learned a lot about myself. I'll never forget my days in Dublin and I will forever consider it home.

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Dublin - Trinity College Dublin Honors Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Academics at Trinity College Dublin are definitely taken very seriously, as can be expected. The professors were brilliant and the classes were very interesting. The biggest challenges for me were course registration, the grading system, and the course work. Course registration was the first obstacle at Trinity. Trinity is very advanced in many ways, but technology is not one of them. They still use paper registration! This means that students have to run around an unfamiliar campus to locate the head of each department to sign their course registration form for each class that they wish to enroll in. This was very overwhelming at first, but IES was a huge help. The important thing to remember is that it does seem chaotic and it can be stressful, however thousands of students have been frustrated by the same process and they always end up okay in the end. You just have to relax and keep an open mind and do the best you can. This is a good attitude for most adventures abroad. Another difficulty of the course registration was that their credit system is different. They call credits ECTS and I believe 1 ECTS is worth 2.5 American college credits. At first it all seems very confusing, but again, it works out and you will have support every step of the way. The grading system was much different, as it was out of 70. There are no As, Bs, etc. Instead, there are firsts (equivalent of an A) ... and to be honest I don't remember what the rest were called. I never fully understood the grading system beyond knowing that anything above a 60 was very good and that it was drastically different than anything I was used to. Lastly, I found the course work to be challenging, not because of the material or even the amount, but rather the lack of course work throughout the semester. In my experience and most of my friends' experiences, we had virtually no grades until our final papers that were due the last week of class, Knowing your entire grade was based on one paper was pretty intimidating. This was very different from what we were used to so it was difficult to stay caught up on material without having any assignments to support the class material along the way. Basically, at Trinity, and probably most European colleges, they expect the students to be much more self-motivated to stay on top of the material and your entire grade may rest on one paper. Overall, despite the challenges, my educational experience at Trinity was absolutely incredible. I especially valued the different perspective of an abroad education.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I honestly do not have one negative thing to say about IES Dublin. Each and every one of them made my experience one of the best of my life. From day one, they know you and make you feel at home. I can honestly say, even to my surprise, I was never once homesick while in Dublin. I am very close to my family and friends and had never traveled abroad or traveled without friends or family so I expected to be very homesick at times. Yes, I missed my loved ones like crazy, however I never once wanted to leave Dublin. I would still be there if I could be. I attribute my amazing experience to three factors. Firstly, the IES staff organized many events and workshops to help us adjust to both the cultural differences of living abroad and also our lives away from familiar people and places. Secondly, the people on my program were incredible and I know some of them I will be friends with forever. These strong, although new, friendships made me feel like I was never alone. That is one of the amazing parts of studying abroad - everyone there is out of their comfort zone; everyone is "alone" in a new country - that is what allows you to grow so much as a person and make such amazing bonds. Lastly, the incredibly welcoming, friendly, fun-loving nature of the Irish made being there feel very natural. Although I know it was blatantly obvious that I was an American, I never once felt out of place. I never once felt alone. They welcomed us with open arms and were as interested to learn about us as we were to learn about them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was gorgeous! We all joked about it being the nicest place we had ever lived. When I first walked in on move-in day, I thought it was a mistake! I shared a room, but it was never a problem. Everything that we needed (sheets, cookware, etc) were provided for us. The apartment complex was about a half hour walk from campus but it was a beautiful walk and I would give just about anything to be able to walk it again! It is the little things you miss the most. However, for those early morning classes or rainy days (and we know Dublin can have quite a few of those), the Dublin Bus system had several routes that went right by our apartment and right to campus. The neighborhood was a very nice area and was very safe. I never felt unsafe anywhere in Dublin, however.

* Food:

Ireland is not known for their vast variety and quality of food. However, you can find more than meat and potatoes. The food was actually a lot more varied and delicious than I expected, although I rarely ate out. Due to British influence, Indian food is very popular and delicious in Dublin. The Mexican food, on the other hand, was a big disappointment. Of course, the traditional Irish stews are a must.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

SSP (Semester Start-up Program) was a program for international students at Trinity before actual classes started. It was meant to give us a better understanding of Irish culture and history. We went on several field trips around Dublin and other areas of Ireland. I have wonderful memories of these field trips and also the field trips organized by IES. Being able to enroll at Trinity also allowed me to have another social outlet that people on many programs didn't have. We were able to join Trinity clubs which was very helpful in meeting Irish students and forming some close connections. Having friends of different cultures really makes you get a better understanding of your world and it is something that is truly invaluable to me. And it doesn't need to be said, that Dublin is probably one of the most fun cities in the world. :)

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Dublin is incredibly safe. The fact that their police officers (Garda) do not need to carry guns says it all. Of course, with that being said, in any city, especially unfamiliar ones, it is always a good idea to travel with others when possible and remain aware of your surroundings. I never needed to use the healthcare system so I don't have much to comment about it. However, based on what I have heard it is very different from the American healthcare system because you have to pay upfront and then submit insurance claims for most medical treatment. However, again, IES is always available to help with any healthcare related concerns.

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? >$200 I ended up spending a lot of money on traveling around Ireland and Europe and also on buying souvenirs/gifts. Although I spent more than I would have liked, I don't regret any of it. If money is a big concern, definitely make a budget plan and stick to it.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I spent more on traveling than I expected. If you are on a budget, i would recommend prioritizing your trips and activities and choosing which ones you can afford to do.


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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A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • being in Ireland because of how beautiful the country is and how friendly the people are
  • The amazing people that I met and now call friends
  • How supportive IES was every step of the way
* What could be improved?
  • More information about housing, life at Trinity, etc pre-departure
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If studying abroad is even a thought in your mind - Do it. I have never heard of anybody regretting their decision to study abroad, I have only heard of people regretting not studying abroad. Take a chance! My other points of advice would be to budget yourself if money is an issue. Living abroad can be very expensive, especially with conversion rates. However, living on a budget is possible. Also, make sure to get out of your comfort zone while abroad. Don't spend all of your free time in your apartment. Get out and explore. Join a club. Meet locals. Travel as much as you can, but don't forget to explore the city/country that you are in. Sometimes being in Europe can be so overwhelming and it is natural to just want to go everywhere. I would recommend picking a few other countries to go to but make sure to leave enough time to truly experience the country you are in to its fullest because you may not have the opportunity to feel so at home and a part of a foreign country again.