Galway, Ireland

Going on exchange for a semester or two is without a doubt the best experience a university student could have, and I encourage every single UTS student to study overseas. However, it won’t all be smooth sailing; there will be good times as well as bad times; you will be pushed outside your comfort zone and learn a lot about yourself. For me, going on exchange was the first time I had lived out of home, so getting used to messy roommates who eat your food was a challenge. Back home I was used to mum cooking dinner each night when I came home, tired from university and having her doing my washing….I was spoilt! Exchange was a bit of a rude awakening, but I managed and so can you! Continue reading “Galway, Ireland”

Irish you were here

Dublin. A city with a bit of everything for everyone. I have spent an incredible 4 months exploring the good, the bad and the ugly of Dublin (and the rest of Ireland) while studying here at Dublin City University. I came to Ireland looking for the country out of ‘P.S. I Love You‘ and ‘Leap Year‘ and found it, and so much more. Doing global exchange with UTS has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always remember and wish that I could do over and over again! Continue reading “Irish you were here”

Dublin City University

As my global exchange at DCU comes to an end, my friends and I have been reflecting on very important things, like why on Earth we chose Dublin, Ireland of all places for our study abroad choice. General consensus? Nobody knows. For most it was because they wanted an English speaking country that was not England itself, or it was their only option for financial reasons.

Me? Well to start off DCU was my 4th of 5 preferences for where to go on exchange. So you can imagine at first I was pretty devastated, I mean I was meant to get into one of my top 3 schools (all in America) and turn 21 and have the time of my life. 2 out of 3 of those things still happened… because I didn’t have to leave early to go to America to start in January I got to have a sick 21st birthday at home with all my friends before leaving in Mid-January and heading to London for a few days before landing in Dublin for my next big adventure… and yes, as cliche as it sounds, this has been one of (if not) THE BEST experience ever.

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Dublin City University is the only University on the Northside of Dublin, making it clearly the coolest (up to debate from schools like Trinity College, DIT and UDC etc. but whatever)…  The main campus is located in Glasnevin, about 20 minutes on the bus from O’Connell street at the heart of Dublin. With a Leap Card (like an Opal Card) it only costs €2.05 per trip which is pretty grand if you ask me considering a cab is upwards of at leeeeeeast €13 (nearly $20).

DCU is currently in the process of combining with St Patrick’s College and the Mater Dei Institute of Education, both Education Colleges in Drumcondra to become the biggest school of Education in Ireland. I am currently studying Primary Education at UTS and found this out after I got here, but hey, that’s exciting!  The lecturers are incredibly nice and actually I’ve found them to be very helpful, they’re very accepting of exchange students so instead of looking around like a lostie, just tell them and they will try and help out as much as they can.

Quick note: If you are going to Ireland, use your heads guys. It’s going to be cold. Deal with it. Have a raincoat at the ready. It’s currently April (almost Summer) and yesterday it hailed almost all day… but two days ago it was like 15degrees, yaaas!

DCU is actually also really close to the airport, it’s like a 10-15min bus so when you have days off/long weekends you can easily jump on a RYANAIR flight at the crack of dawn without having to go too far to get to the airport. HOWEVER, Ireland is not a very big country and if you have your license I definitely suggest going for as many road trips as you possibly can, there is so much to see and Ireland has such a rich history full of incredible stories. Not to mention some great pubs and food…

DSC00286Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin, must do, the whole inside of the building is shaped like a giant pint glass… it’s pretty impressive, they have a 360 degree Gravity Bar at the top that’s similar to the top of Centrepoint Tower

12806020_10207343911088291_2265714142215815549_nIf you like hiking (or even if you don’t) there’s incredible national parks like Connemara National Park on the West Coast of Ireland that will (quite literally if you do the hike) take your breath away…

There’s also the Wicklow mountains if you like this kind of thing,
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Not to mention the famous Cliffs of Moher, honestly how is this even real?!
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If you’re feeling a little more cultural there’s always the Temple Bar area on St Patrick’s Day if that’s more your scene…
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Gotta get into the spirit though guys… 1743537_10207493354384280_910663404231336201_n

You can also cross the international border and head into Northern Ireland which is still a part of the UK, do NOT ever imply that Ireland itself is part of the UK because pls, do some research, this year was the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising… Just, know where you’re going guys… it’s important.

In Belfast you can go to the Titanic Museum which is pretty damn impressive if I say so myself…
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Or if you’re adventurous enough you can cross the Carrick-a rede rope bridge that nearly made me cry…
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The Causeway coast is incredible and the Giant’s Causeway itself is pretty unbelievable, (not just the part where the rock formations were supposedly made by a giant)
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There is so many things to do both in Dublin and all around Ireland… I had no idea what I was getting myself into coming to Ireland but I am so unbelievably glad I did. I live in student housing with 4 amazing Irish girls and I’ve made so many friends from different parts of the world.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to be disappointed if you don’t get your first, second, or even third choice on your placement list. Go in with an open mind and it’ll pay off. Your exchange will only be as fun as you let it be so suck it up and smile, you’re going to be a student at another university for 4/5 months, open up, relax and enjoy every single second.

If you have any questions for me or want to hear even more stories about my experiences in Dublin, I have my own wordpress where I’ve been documenting my time, not to mention my instagram for all the good pictures… #attemptingtostudyabroad is my new favourite thing to tag it’s very accurate, haha. My friend and fellow UTS student Mads also made a bunch of awesome videos of our experiences that you can see here.

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The Rocky Road to Dublin

Greetings from the Emerald Isle! I’ve been in Dublin now almost 2 ½ weeks, with getting paper work sorted, starting classes and learning what grocery stores sell the cheapest beer.

Average Dublin courtyard
Average Dublin courtyard

But before jetting on down to Dublin, I made a small detour, in the form of a 1 ½ month trip around Central Europe, travelling around the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to name a few.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Bruges
Bruges

For my first big trip out of Australia, the proximity of everything is mind-blowing. Especially from Dublin, Ryan Air is a girl’s (or guy, they don’t discriminate) best friend, with cheap flights to most places.

The International Team at Dublin City University are great, and not only picked us up from the airport but sent us away on a daytrip trip to an Irish farm, where we learnt Irish life skills like hurling (think a cross between American grid iron, soccer and hockey),

MVP
MVP

baking soda bread, tramping through peat bogs and playing the Irish drum, the bodhrán (said bow-rawn).

I have no idea what i'm doing.
I have no idea what i’m doing.

Similar to UTS, DCU was founded in the late 20th century, and while it doesn’t have the impressive buildings of Trinity, or the literary history of UCD, DCU does have chicken goujons and chips at the Uni Bar, and my god, I’d swap them for all the James Joyce in the world.

Deep fried goodness.
Deep fried goodness.

DCU is set in the suburbs, a 40-minute ride on the Dublin Bus to town, but I managed to get a room in Shanowen Square, student accommodation just up the road from the main campus. The leafy tree- house ratio is incredibly high in Dublin suburbs, with lots of green areas to chill, on campus as well as the surrounding suburbs. Coming into autumn, the colours in the trees and vines around the campus are really beautiful.

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What happened to the old DCU you say? We don’t talk about it.
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One of the parks near DCU.
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Autumn vine.

The centre of Dublin is where the nightlife is though. Dublin’s population sits at just over 500,000 but it feels much bigger, with so many amazing museums, historical monuments, parks, pubs, music venues all crammed into the centre around the winding River Liffey, it’s been pretty easy to spend a casual day wandering the streets, especially with the Indian summer Dublin is currently having.

Jameson Whiskey Tour. Daytime Drunk.
Jameson Whiskey Tour: Daytime Drunk.
O'Connell Bridge over the River Liffey
O’Connell Bridge over the River Liffey
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Molly Malone and her exquisite bronze décolletage

However, its not all beer and sunshine, as I am here to actually do some study. Although at home I’m a science student, here I am studying Humanities. I was a bit apprehensive at doing something different, but so far it’s been great. A lot of my classes are mostly international students, so they understand we don’t know every little detail about the Irish University system. But the classes where there are a lot more Irish students are great craic (fun), even if a couple of the in jokes kind of fly over my head.

I’ve still got at least 20 pages left in my passport, an Irish bus pass and a need to do and see everything (also a sneaky membership to the DCU Harry Potter club), so who knows what will happen this semester.

Rosemary Hulak

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Oirland and Intrepid Trepidation.

River Thames, London
River Thames, London
the Lochness Monster
the Lochness Monster, Lochness
the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.
the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

“A once in a lifetime opportunity”, they say.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity”, I repeat. Over, and over again, on occasion whilst staring at myself in the mirror, in a sort of pep-talk/self-motivation kind of way. A once in a lifetime opportunity.

Truthfully speaking (always best done in retrospect), leading up to that 6am flight, that would take me from Sydney to Heathrow, I had a lot of suppressed emotions. Emotions that I sub-consciously forced down to sub-zero, scared fruitless of what I was about to do, what I had jovially been planning for the past 6 months – what I had gotten myself into. So I fooled myself into an automated sanguine state.

Oh, for sure I was excited, ecstatic even, but there were those moments of doubt and apprehension. Apprehension about crossing the globe for the first time in my 19 years of life, solo. Apprehension of not meeting new people, of not experiencing, and grasping opportunities whilst on the other side of the world, and thus, a once in a lifetime opportunity wasted. But most of all, my most mind plaguing, blood straining, tossing-and-turning-during-the-night apprehension was, homesickness. Fear of falling sick because of the distance between myself and home, in an un-homey city, fully aware that the arms that had held and caught me thus far in my life, could only do so much from the opposite end of the world; and knowing it was somewhat inevitable.

But, now I am here, in Dublin, where I am to call home for the next 4 months, and am already thinking about making it 10, having only officially started my student exchange 2 weeks ago. I’ve been on this side of the world for almost 2 months, and in Dublin for almost half of that – and I’m LOVING it.

In my months of planning, I had deemed it a brilliant idea, with not much forethought except that I had a desire, to make a couple of pit stops on the way to Dublin. Expectantly, however un-hoped for, like a newborn foal, taking their first dubious wobbly steps, the first 48 hours in London were somewhat, trepidatious to say the least. However, I see now, I just needed to reconnect myself with the world, and after a good talk with a local, intrepidness started to seep through the veins. Hence, by the time I reached Dublin, and orientation week had arrived, I wasn’t so very wrought with nerves or anxiety, but was more eager, ready and settled. I guess my brilliant idea paid off.

Travelling, meeting people, fellow travellers (loads of Australians on this side of the world), the locals, and experiencing their country – it’s reassurance that you’re living, breathing, existing in this crazy and wonderful world, and that you’re on the right track – you’re doing just fine.

Tip: as quite a timid, and at times indecisive being, I keep in mind the question – “Will I regret not doing this later?” and if the answer is “Yes”, then I’m decided.

But hey, that’s not to say the pit of homesickness won’t come. But if or when it does, I’ll be well aware that it’s a reversible pit, that I’ll be more than capable of digging myself out.

So yes, technically, you’re here to “study”, but we all know in the hierarchy of student exchange prospects – “study” falls low. Studying abroad, of course in the big picture, is a grand opportunity for one to learn, experience, grow and discover the world and its people, including oneself.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity”, they say.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity”, I repeat, wholeheartedly.

Katrina Lay – 11980808

A semester in Leprechaun land

The 5th of August came around surprisingly fast, after months of counting down, planning and organisation it was finally the day I was off on my 6 month adventure to Dublin City University (DCU). After a few hugs, tears from Mum and final goodbyes I was finally on my way.

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I spent my first 2 weeks in Dublin, staying with family and getting used to the city. I had previously visited Dublin in 2010 whilst on a family holiday but this time I have quite different expectations seeing as I will be living in the city as a 20 year old student.  After getting settled in, I then travelled to London and I’m currently still here. I have been visiting more family, seeing the sights and enjoying my downtime before the semester starts in the end of September. I am heading to Greece next week with other UTS Students that are also doing exchange which should be a memorable trip.

I’m excited for the coming 6 months, I’m particularly looking forward to being able to live by myself and the freedom and challenges that I’m going to face not living in the family home like I do in Sydney. Fending for myself is definitely going to be a big change for me, but I’m fairly confident that I have the ability to adjust quickly.

I’m involved in a lot of sport and extra curricular at UTS, which I will hopefully be able to mimic whilst at DCU. I’m going to see if I can try gaelic football (a sort of soccer come rugby sport with a bit of AFL rules chucked in there too) so I’ll be really thrown into the culture, at least in the sporting side of things. It’ll be interesting going to DCU where the campus is very big and spread out, especially coming from UTS where everything is relatively close and built up together. I guess all these differences are only going to make my semester abroad even more interesting.

I have orientation at DCU starting on the 15th of September, with classes starting the following Monday the 22nd. I’m wasting absolutely no time during my trip, with a quick trip to Munich for Oktoberfest planned on the weekend between Freshers Week and Classes.

Hopefully by throwing myself into everything I can at uni, travelling when I can fit it in, getting to know more of my family from this side of the world and living independently in the centre of a currently unfamiliar city will all add up to me having a very memorable and worthwhile exchange. I’m already loving the experience and it’s only been 3 weeks, I’m excited to see what is going to happen for the next 6 months. I certainly don’t feel like I’ll be in a big rush to get home!

Bronte Finegan – 11417235