Dublin, Ireland: the first impression is not always the last

For a lot of students the third term is starting in the middle of September. I chose Dublin for my semester abroad. I’m here at Griffith College for about a month now and I’m really enjoying my time. Further I’ll let you know how it all starts, how I live and what you can do during your stay in Dublin. I hope I can help you with your decision where to go in semester abroad.

During my semester break I applied quite late for an accommodation in the so-called „Halls of residence“, the hostel on campus of the Griffith College. You can choose between a single or a double room (only if you’re sufficiently early). You share your room and the very small bathroom with your roommate and the kitchen and living room with another two persons in the apartment. The rent for the double room will be 580€/month, for the single room 1160€/month. At first I thought the prices are too expensive, but I did not found a much cheaper alternative near the campus and besides that I was told that the busses will be late very often. So I was quite happy when I got a commitment for a bed in a double room.

I arrived at Dublin airport on the 15th of September. I got there on time for the Induction week on Campus. The drive from the airport to the college, which is located in the south of the city centre, takes about 30min by taxi. The accommodation „Halls of residence“ is located on campus. The check-in was much more difficult than I expected, because the reception moved to a different building on college and everyone I met told me a different way to get there. It took me a while but when I got there a lady perused the house rules very quickly with me and I got my bed linen (rented for 25€) and my crockery (rented f0r 10€, do not expect too much) in plastic bags. Packed full of my luggage and the plastic bags I ran through the old military area and finally got to my apartment. My imagination of my arrival was much better than I experienced I have to say.

The apartment in the halls of residence by itself is okay. It’s mostly clean (the previous students are responsible for cleaning the room) and the most important things are there. Do not expect the cozy and nice rooms as you see them in the pictures on the internet. You need a lot of phantasy or have to buy some decoration to make it more comfortable. The kitchen itself is barely equipped. There is one old pan and three small pots, an old toaster, water boiler and a microwave in it (that is really everything you get). Everything else you need for cooking and living (like bowls, knifes etc.) you either bring with you or you need to buy it here. Most of us bought the most important things here for about 100€. The good news are that you can report if something is really old, damaged or not as you expected and someone of the accommodation office will come and replace it or fix it for free. That’s why we got a new water boiler, toaster and new matrasses. Ours were really old and in a bad condition. Not in the rent included is the laundry. You have to pay 3€ for one wash cycle and 1,50€ for the dryer (if there is a free washing machine or dryer available).

Security is a very important issue on campus. The whole campus area is surrounded by high walls with barb wire fence and after 22:30 you can only enter the campus area with your registered handprint and personal code. Furthermore the campus area and the corridors of the accommodation are monitored by CCTV cameras everywhere. After 22:30 there are no guests and people under the age of 16 in the rooms oft he „halls of residence“ allowed and half an hour later it’s night time peace. So don’t be surprised when the Security personal visits you at 1 o’clock on a Saturday night (and if they’re in a bad mood you have to pay a 100€ fine per person). In general the Security is very strict and mostly unfriendly as we experienced it the last weeks. The other staff of the accommodation is friendly and helpful.

 

Finally I’ll tell you something about the College itself and my life here in Dublin, Ireland.

During the Induction week you were registered, got your schedule and the most important people of the college introduced themselves. After that week the Freshers’ week starts. In this week the so-called Students Union organises several different events and trips. You can also join one or more clubs or societies of the college, e.g sports like football, rugby, basketball, badminton or you join the beer pong society instead. There’s also a gym on campus. You have to be fast so sign up for it. They only accept a certain amount of people, because it’s not that big. An alternative to this would be a gym which you can reach in 15min by foot which offers special prices for Griffith students and 3-month-deals. The schedule is quite the same as it is in Germany. You have quite a lot free time before you have to work for assignments or exams and the lessons start not that early in the morning (my earliest is 9:30). You have to write an assignment in every of the four classes here which you need to finish by the beginning of December. In the first two weeks of January you write your exams in every class. The lectures a quite good to understand for us (yes, there also a lot of Irish people you can hardly understand) and most of them make their class very interesting. Unfortunately some classes take place in container which are not that nice and might get very cold in winter. The regular classrooms have the same charm as German ones. The size of the campus is not that big because the buildings are standing side by side. The campus also offers a canteen and a Starbucks. From Monday to Thursday you can get something to eat until 20:30, on Fridays and Saturdays until 15:30 and they offer several different kinds of warm food or sandwiches/salads for a good price. If you live here on campus you can easily go to your apartment to have lunch as well which might be cheaper. Grocery stores like Spar and Tesco are very close to the campus but they’re more expensive than in Germany. You can also shop at Lidl which has quite the same prices as at home. You can reach Lidl also by foot within 15 min.

 

The best thing about studying here in Dublin is of course the city itself and the many trips you can do here to see several different places of the island.

You can reach the city centre by foot within 20-30 minutes but you can also take the bus, which stops directly in front of the campus. Dublin is a beautiful city to just walk around, look at all the different architectures, listen so musicians on the street or stop at one of the many different cafes or restaurants with lots of good food. In the evenings the people meet in the pubs and talk und listen so the live music. There are also popular streets as O’Connel Street or Graften Street where you can find nearly every store to shop. The brick row houses with their front doors coloured in many different colours, the churches and big parks are also a great eyecatcher here in Dublin. You can reach a lot of places in the city by foot (sometimes it’s faster than taking the bus) and that’s why you can orientate yourself quite fast and easy. Taking the bus here isn’t that easy as it is in Germany but I’m sure this will get much better in the next weeks.

Since I’m here everyone I met so far was so kind and friendly. If you ask someone for the way or have any questions you can be sure you’ll get help. I think that’s an important aspect which helps you to feel comfortable and welcomed. Dublin is a very beautiful city and a perfect one especially for students.

The highlights of our stay so far were the trips we made on the weekends. On the first weekend we travelled to Galway. This is a small and beautiful city on the Westcoast of Ireland. It took us 2,5 hours to get to the other side of the island. The city has lots of small and cute shops and restaurants and musicians at every corner. We went for a walk on the coast and visited the aquarium. If you come to Ireland sometime you have to visit Galway!

 

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On the second weekend we went to Howth, a small peninsula in the north of Dublin. You can reach Howth easily by train within half an hour. The train station is directly located at the harbour from which you have a great view over the sea, some small isles and boats. We did a 3 hours long hike along the beautiful cliffs. The time flew so fast because it was so beautiful walking there in the sun while looking over the sea. In the evening we ate at one of the many restaurants at the harbour. It was so good!

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Another great trip was last weekend to the wicklow mountains national park which is located in the south of Dublin. We booked a bustour which brings you to the highlights of this area. The trip is definitely a must because you are there in such a short time and see really great landscape. We stopped at a bridge in the middle of nowhere which some will know from the movie “p.s. I love you”. Another stop was Tough Lay where you have a fantastic view above the Guinnes Lake. You can not describe this place, you have to see it by yourself! Glendalough was another stop at the tour where we walked to the lower and upper Lake. This place was also so beautiful. The trip ended in a Pub to get something to eat before we were brought home to Dublin. This tour was a really great experience for us.

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For the next weeks we still have a lot of things on our to-do list, e.g. the popular cliffs of Moher, the Malahide Castle or the Coast of Dublin. But there is so much more I hope we’ll find time to see. You can also easily spend a weekend in Scotland or Britain because the flights are so cheap. So you see, it won’t get boring J

 

Even though the first days in the accommodation weren’t that great, I would recommend to apply there for an place in an apartment here. You can save a lot of time because you’re already on campus and the prices for flats outside are not cheaper. You just have to be aware of the fact that this is not a hotel, it’s more like a youth hostel so you shouldn’t expect too much. You need to invest some money to make it more cozy but then it’ll be fine and you’ll also spend a lot of the time in the city.

Ireland is great for a semester abroad because you can see so much of the island during your stay, the people are so nice and friendly and Dublin itself is a beautiful and charming city.

As I said before I’m here only for a month now and the time flies by so fast. I’m looking forward for the next weeks full of weekend trips and walks around the city. I would definitely chose Dublin as the place for my semester abroad again because I really like the country and the people. I hope this blog can help everyone who is insecure about where to go in his or her semester abroad.