A roller-coaster of exploring Ireland, Europe, and myself. Past Review

By (Biology and Psychology, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/30/2014 to 12/20/2014 with

IFSA: Dublin - University College Dublin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience was very much worthwhile. I learned how to be more relaxed about certain things and remain flexible while traveling or dealing with other people. However, I was a bit too relaxed about some important things, such as keeping track of deadlines and studying, and I learned to notice signs that my attention was slipping in those areas and how to turn that around. I learned that studying abroad doesn't have to be one constantly amazing experience. There will be days you're bored, homesick, stressed, and frustrated, just like school at home. I also gained independence, because I couldn't quickly pick up the phone and call friends or family for advice about something. Finally, I gained insight into a new country and made friends there, and that to me was my original motivation for studying abroad. I feel incredibly lucky to have the experience I did.

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.

The support system set up for study abroad students at UCD is extensive and useful. They make sure you have many people to turn to. It was difficult to be a science student at UCD while abroad. I found it hard to balance taking six classes (as required by Brandeis), four of which were required to be in the science school (as required by UCD). I wanted to be involved in traveling, hanging out with new friends and clubs and this was too heavy a course load to balance academics with that.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IFSA- Butler is helpful and well-organized. The Dublin staff would always answer my questions about a broad range of topics very well and in a timely manner. They were so much fun and I became very close with some of the staff members. They would help us not only with academic or travel questions, but also with personal problems. They also let us just hang out in their office and set up plenty of events and trips for us. I can't begin to express enough how positively IFSA Dublin staff influenced my study abroad experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I liked the exchange students I was placed in a suite with, and IFSA mediated all the living arrangements if you lived on campus so that was very helpful. And the apartment was nice, although it had little fridge or counter space. Also, I would have liked to live with some Irish students, too. Additionally, my dorm was very conveniently located to most parts of campus.

* Food:

I cooked for myself at school, but if I grabbed something on campus it was good quality, but could be a little pricey depending on where you went.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I chose to do ultimate frisbee at UCD, and that was a great way to make friends with Irish students. That was a great decision and I had a ton of fun with them. Also, I learned most of the social norms, public transport, local food, etc. fairly quickly. And IFSA gave great tips during orientation and an optional class they offered called Community & Culture. However, I don't think one semester is enough time to become truly integrated into any country or school one goes to.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Thankfully, I didn't have an experiences with healthcare, but IFSA and Brandeis provided a lot of information about what to do if that were the case. I didn't need any vaccines, and there were no prevalent health issues in Dublin nor Ireland.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in Dublin. They have a very low crime rate, and what the little crime that exists is mainly pickpocketing. So my advice to future students would be to not leave your phone (mainly iPhones are the issue) on a table/bar counter, in your back pocket, or sticking out of your purse because people can grab it. But that didn't happen to anyone I know.

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)

Dublin's a bit expensive compared to other cities, but if you hang out with friends that have similar spending habits and shop wisely, it's not a problem at all. Most of my money actually went to travel, which is cheap with certain airlines like Ryanair but can get expensive quickly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $200. But that was because I chose to travel a lot. Otherwise it would have been much more affordable.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The best advice I can give is keep track during the first week of how much money you spent and spend what you consider to be a reasonable amount. Then, calculate how much that would be for the whole semester if you keep spending money in a similar way, and compare it to how much you budgeted for the semester. Also, pick friends with similar spending habits and eat at restaurants that aren't in the main touristy area.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the IFSA-Butler Dublin staff
  • the trips and Community and Culture class planned by IFSA
  • the other students I met through IFSA
* What could be improved?
  • They do schedules some trips that overlap with classes, because they assumed people didn't have class on Friday/late Thursday or could miss the classes they did have. That was frustrating.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just like freshman year, don't expect the first people you meet to be your best friends for the whole semester. You may find people later on you click with better, and that's ok. You don't have to try to be close to everyone, it's just not possible. Also, because you spend a lot of time with Americans through this program, it can be easy to not branch out. Don't fall into that trap, and actually go to the clubs and activities you signed up for and meet friends from other countries. The sooner the better, especially because UCD Irish students see a lot of people come and go (it's a large international school), and it may take a bit of effort to become friends with them. Joining a sports team definetly helped. But I'm sure joining any society will help.