Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad in Ireland

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Countries

Demographics

Regions


Travel

– Flying is not very scary, they weren’t as strict about the rules with luggage size as I thought they would be, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would to get to my gate, the plan ride was louder and colder than I thought it would be. Additionally, for flights to other parts of Europe, Ryanair tends to be the cheapest. Below is a picture of some Ryanair planes at the Dublin Airport.

– How the buses work: To get a discount on buses, you can apply for a leap card online. Do this as soon as possible as it takes some time for it to get sent in the mail. This allows you to take the city buses as well as buses that go in between cities such as Citylink and the Dublin Coach at a cheaper fare.

– The need to give myself time to adjust, especially from the jet-lag.

Basics

– How phone plans work: One of the first things I did was get a local phone plan as it was a lot cheaper than using the international plan from my US provider. It was only €20 per month for an unlimited data plan with 3. However, international calls were still extra, so I used WhatsApp to make calls to people back in the US. Also, you will have a new phone number, so make sure any important accounts, such as email and bank accounts, have the phone number changed to someone at home. For me, I changed them to my mom’s phone number. It saves a lot of headaches with two-factor authentication.

– What to do for money: Most places in Ireland will accept card and some are even cashless. If you want to use cash, watch out for the fees the ATM charges. The ATM on campus charges ridiculous fees while the ATM next to the Bank of Ireland building is reasonable with about a 3% markup. Additionally, for cards, make sure whatever card you use doesn’t have international transaction fees. I ended up getting the CapitalOne student Savor One card since it has zero international transaction fees. This card is also nice since you don’t have to notify the bank when you go to a different country to make sure your card doesn’t get frozen.

– How induction stove tops or “hobs” work: they’re not that complicated to use. If anything, they feel very futuristic because of the touch controls. However, it took me awhile and many burnt meals before I got used to how quickly it heated up pans.

– How much it rains: It does rain a lot, like right now while I’m writing this, but it’s usually more of a drizzle than a downpour. The rain does, however, help with the flowers growing. Below is a picture of a bunch of daffodils on campus which are some of the earliest flowers to come up in February. Make sure to bring a rain jacket. However, there are still plenty of days that are lovely when the sun comes out. It also got quite cold in January and February with the wind and the rain so bringing my winter coat was not overkill.

Academic

– How the classes differ: Overall, I have found the classes to be much less work since there is little assigned homework, mostly just lab reports. However, I am expected to make sure I know the material which I would usually use the homework for. They have given me practice problems that I do in my own time, I just don’t get credit for them like I do with homework at my home university. Because homework doesn’t really factor into the final grade, the final exam is weighed much more than I have ever had at home with most classes having the final be worth 40%.

Social

– How big sports are, especially the Gaelic games: Gaelic football and hurling are popular across Ireland, and I recommend going to a game if you have the opportunity to since their sports specific to Ireland and are quite entertaining to watch.

– How things happen at different times: Clubs and societies are a great way to meet more people, but some of them meet late at night compared to what I’m used to. For example, the archery club meets from 7 – 10 pm. Additionally, a lot of places close at 5 pm, which is earlier than what I’m used to.

– How friendly everyone is: Even strangers were willing to offer help just because I looked confused. If you need help, most people will be willing to offer it. Also, the students at the clubs and societies meetings have been super friendly.