An Amazing and Fun Adventure Past Review

By (Villanova University) - abroad from 01/02/2013 to 05/16/2013 with

Villanova University: Galway - Irish Studies Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot of independence. You're on your own for a lot of things, so I am definitely better at shopping and cooking and cleaning for myself. I'm more responsible. I learned how to budget money. I'm way more grateful for the comforts of home and America. I gained a knowledge of other cultures and how people truly live in other countries. It was so worthwhile. I feel like I am definitely a more mature person, and I do not stress out or worry about the small things as much as I used to. You definitely will become a much better traveler - I am an expert at packing and navigating airports now. I don't forget things as much because I had to be very responsible in foreign countries. I am better at navigating and reading maps.

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.

Classes at NUIG were fairly laid back. They consisted of large lecture halls, that many of the Irish students did not attend. This does not seem to be the University's fault, but rather is a consequence of the large school. Teachers mostly had powerpoints that they read out loud and that were available online. School was basically what you made of it. You could attend smaller, extra tutorial lessons to discuss more; or, you could skip class all the time and no one would notice. Overall, fairly easy. No homework, just one final and/or paper at the end of the term.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

NUIG had an orientation, which was definitely helpful to prepare for school. But, registration was still confusing and slightly complicated. Again, this is probably because of how large the school is. They had lots of speakers who gave us tips, and it felt like they truly wanted us to get involved. All the teachers I had were extremely accommodating to international students and seemed to really want us to do well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was not a big fan of Gort Na Coiribe. It was definitely a fun place, and it was nice to be so close to everyone else from Villanova. However, the people in charge there were not that helpful, and seemed to always want to nickel and dime us with charges, even if we were not responsible for them. There was a lot of stuff that was damaged and dirty when I arrived. The phone had been ripped off the wall, and there were stains everywhere. Gort staff expected us to fill out an inventory of stuff (including counting the number of forks, etc) the second we got there, without even really explaining what it was for. We then found out later that we would be charged for any damages or missing items if we had not turned in that inventory. It seemed outrageous for them to expect us to be rooting around for all the plates, etc. in our apartment when we were still dazed and confused from arriving in a new country. Plus, they wouldn't accept damage forms unless all roommates signed it, which meant that some could refuse to sign it, or leave for home early without ever signing it. They definitely should have evaluated the apartments themselves before we moved in and noted everything that was missing and broken instead of allowing us to be blamed for it. My apartment was dingy and dark and definitely did not have a homey feeling to it.

* Food:

Food in Ireland is great. Lots of variety, pretty much similar to America. They have great deals for lunch for students, and everywhere you go are great sandwiches. I was delighted with the selection of foods and restaurants in Galway.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Everyone in Ireland is extremely welcoming and friendly and definitely wants to include you and make you feel at home.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The student health center was just so-so. They sent me to a free clinic at the University hospital, and some of the receptionists there were rude and kept questioning why I was there and who sent me. Once I was able to see a doctor, however, the nurses and doctors were extremely lovely and could not have been more helpful and understanding.

* Safety:

I have never felt safer than I did in Galway. No incidents. I consider it to be safer than America.

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)

Galway is pretty expensive. You definitely could live cheaply, but most people do not, because you want to experience the culture while you are there. Groceries are not terribly expensive, but going out is costly. Alcohol costs a lot both at the grocery store and at the pubs. That will put a dent in your wallet. Movies, eating out, etc. are all much more expensive than they are in America. So, you definitely could live on a cheap budget, but you would not be able to experience a lot of the things that others are doing.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make sure that when you do eat out, it is something that you truly want. There are lots of great restaurants to try, so don't blow your money on Mcdonalds, etc. Drinks at the bar are expensive, so limit how many of those you have. I would recommend only eating out for lunch. It is much better food anyways, and dinners are way way more expensive. Budget yourself and do not stress about money. You will definitely look back later and wish you had done/seen more, regardless of expenses. So, make sure you save your money for the things you will remember.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* 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 actual city of Galway
  • The nightlife and fun
  • the people from Villanova I got to know better
* What could be improved?
  • Housing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Not much - I like that there were a lot of surprises for me when I got there, because I definitely think that is part of the experience. I rented a bike while I was there, which I would definitely recommend to everyone. it made getting around a million times easier.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.