I started thinking about my semester abroad about 1 year before actually going abroad. If I had got a place through Erasmus, it would have been necessary to be clear about which courses one had to take and when, in order to get information about the universities, etc. However, since I didn’t get a place through Erasmus, and was only informed of this in April, I then had to look for a place privately, and did so through MicroEDU. In the end, my preparation for the specific semester abroad I started did not start 6 months beforehand and this time was sufficient, even if I would not recommend anyone to make it much shorter.
So I found out about universities at MicroEDU that offer my subject or something similar in English-speaking countries, and I found what I was looking for. After choosing a university and getting advice from the staff, I immediately tried to get a learning agreement and a scholarship recommendation at the University of Siegen. Get more student review on Griffith College Dublin on jibin123.
Since Ireland is luckily an EU country, I didn’t have to take any special precautions, except for the usual accommodation and travel bookings. I was also very happy with the communication through MicroEDU , feeling safe and prepared before my trip.
In retrospect, what I would recommend to everyone is to get a detailed look at the housing situation in the new city; I did get a basic overview, but in detail I imagined things that were different from reality.
- Arrival / arrival / formalities
I flew to Dublin. The airport wasn’t too far out, so it was easy to get into town by bus. I didn’t book the flight very early, but not too close to just before and, although I took the cheapest flight (125 euros with a change and 2.5 hours in Copenhagen), I came with the estimated 100 euros travel expenses of the Promos scholarship does not go there.
In Dublin, I first found an Irish phone number, explored the city and contacted the college. A week later the introductory week began, in which we could attend any course and then decide which courses to take. The procedure was simple and clear, but in my opinion clearly too bureaucratic. I would have liked a little more flexibility here.
Cell phone contracts in Ireland are on average probably. 25% more expensive than in Germany, but if you keep your eyes open and do good research, you can get cheap offers. I myself paid 10 € for internet flat rate and 300 minutes, so it was quite cheap. Opening a bank account is cumbersome and, in my opinion, not worthwhile. The problem is that every bank requires a permanent address and a tax identification number in order to open an account, which is of course cumbersome or impossible for newcomers in terms of the apartment and for students in terms of tax ID. I just have a credit card myselfin DE, with which I could withdraw money for free at the ATMs anywhere. However, since this can take up to 2 weeks, depending on the bank, you should take care of this in good time.
The finances abroad are of course a big issue, because in addition to studying you also want to celebrate, travel and live. Traveling alone costs money, but you have to expect that the cost of living will be significantly higher. In this respect, you should make sure that you seek grants early enough, put money aside and apply wherever possible. At the end of the day, the flight is no longer of any importance, insofar as foreign BAföG, promos, Erasmus funds are checked off and you make sure you put some reserves aside.
Accommodation – by far the most annoying issue in Dublin. First of all, you won’t find accommodation in advance. Apartments are not on the Internet for a few weeks like in Siegen, they are sometimes only there for 2 hours and then have already been taken. In this respect, for better or worse, you have to live in a hostel first and search from there. This is anything but easy, there are easily 40-50 applicants per apartment, and that’s only because the apartment will be taken out again quickly enough. In this respect, it means to look at the Internet every 2 hours, make phone calls and get rejections, rejections, rejections. If you look at an apartment, the rooms are small, expensive and anything but modern and renovated. Due to the beginning of the semester, the hostels are also overcrowded on weekends, so you can expect expensive hotels, Apartments or the like have to avoid. I’ve met people who only flew home for the weekend because the flight was cheaper than the hotels, or people who drove 3 hours across Ireland to find a hostel. And if you look on the Internet, every 5th advertisement is also a fraud that frivolous people take advantage of. Be on your guard if you really want an apartment there. On the other hand, the student residences are so incredibly expensive that normal mortals can hardly afford to live there. The prices are 700-1000 euros for a single room and 550-700 euros for a shared room per month, but you are not allowed to take people into your room or use the stove because of the risk of fire. Certainly not recommendable. After 3 weeks in a hostel I still hadn’t found anything and luckily I moved in with a friend of my sister’s who lives in Dublin and who happened to have a free room for 1 month. After another 4 weeks of searching, I finally found a room. 650 €, not exactly central, but nice people & clean. Not a dream, especially for the price, but I needed somewhere to stay.
The accommodations in Dublin are mostly rather sparsely furnished, ceramic hobs or the like are rarely seen, the bathrooms are sometimes very old and dirty, even if I was lucky myself. What is very important is to check the water pressure. Many showers just trickle and some toilets can only be removed once every 15 minutes or longer because the water pressure is so low.
- Studies / information about the host university
The orientation week ran for 7 days, 2 days for an introduction to the university in general and then 5 days in which you had classes, but very relaxed and you were allowed to go where you wanted to. As already mentioned, that gave me an overview, but it was all very rigid and bureaucratic, and you didn’t feel particularly welcome.
The course itself is different from ours. Less emphasis is placed on theory, a lot of work is done with examples and the material is repeated over and over again. What sounds good at first glance is a bit annoying after a few weeks. Instead of 2-3 hours of scheduled lessons, there are actually only 90 – 120 minutes maximum and after each hour the lecturers (who incidentally all come from industry and have no doctorate or similar) emphasize that today, “for once”, they finish earlier. Nevertheless, there are a lot of breaks and you are very slow, so that the requirements for lectures are really very low. For this you have to take 2 exams in each subject, namely a term paper and an exam or a project and a written elaboration. However, the schedules for homework and exams are very tight, so that you have to work a lot at home. In general, therefore, I had the feeling that the lecturers are trying to shift the work on to the students as much as possible, rather than preparing themselves. In addition, the lecturers were spoken to and addressed by first name, the atmosphere was more relaxed and open and the lectures were much more interactive than in Germany.
Everyone can think of what he or she wants, I myself felt a bit ripped for the money I paid, but the whole thing sometimes had its good points.
I attended 4 courses, one of which was taught twice a week. In this respect, I had little university, as already mentioned, officially 12 hours a week lectures. The whole thing is equivalent to 25 LP in Siegen, of which 18 can be credited to me. I only took a course out of interest and probably can’t get it credited to me. I was able to register for the courses in the introductory week using a form that had to be submitted to the International Office at the end of the week.
The GCD has poorly functioning open internet access that no one should rely on. According to my colleagues, the cafeteria was said to have been very good, but for me as a vegetarian there was little or hardly any choice other than salad and french fries and the prices were very high, which is why I never ate there. For media students there were tons of opportunities to work on well-equipped Macs or to book photo studios, but there was always something that didn’t work, as did the projectors in the lecture rooms. However, these problems were expressly not resolved, computers that had problems at the beginning of the year still had the same at the end and the projector in one subject was broken for the second half of the semester, so that we no longer had any transparencies on the wall.
Griffith College’s Student Union has several clubs, etc., so you can play sports, pool, poker, etc. I can’t say much about the individual clubs, but I can say that the SU has table tennis and pool tables, which are also used. If you are bored in a free period, you can definitely do something on campus, which was very pleasant.
- Everyday life and leisure
Dublin and Ireland are not what you traditionally find beautiful, at least not me. Dublin is gray during the day, you don’t see much color and it rains every other day anyway. At night, however, the whole thing looks different, you see a lot of colored lights, good-humored people and the atmosphere is just great. Also, Ireland has really great nature moving out of Dublin.
Culturally, Dublin is not particularly well-populated. You have a few museums, districts, churches and cliffs to look at, but after 2 weeks at the latest you have seen all of them. The variety of bars and pubs, on the other hand, is huge, you could go somewhere else every evening, but it would still be busy and noisy – the Irish like to go out, regardless of the day of the week. However, one has to say: There are many pubs and bars, but if you are looking for a huge club and disco landscape, you are in the wrong place here – at least when you compare Dublin with cities of similar size.
I would definitely recommend the comedy evenings that are everywhere in the city. The entrance fee is low and the people are very nice and funny. However, you should be in Dublin for at least a few days, otherwise it could be very difficult to understand the jokes. Even after 2 months I still didn’t fully understand 20% of the jokes. You can also travel well, to Cork, Belfast, Galway or maybe by plane to Scotland? There’s a lot to discover!
The people in Ireland are super nice and friendly and Dublin is full of international workers, students, etc. You can find many cosmopolitan, different people and the atmosphere is more tolerant and open-minded than in Germany. However, the economic crisis has left its mark. There are lots of homeless people and junkies on the street, heroin is the order of the day, people sleep on the street and don’t know what to do. Since there are also so few apartments, this seems like a vicious circle. After a few weeks you learn to deal with it, but at the beginning it was more of a shock. I was robbed 4 times in the first 3 months, sometimes larger and smaller things, but that perhaps shows the situation of the poorer people.
Ireland then has less to offer in culinary terms. Meat lovers get their money’s worth everywhere, but after a few weeks you are tired of fish & chips and burgers, and then you have to take a closer look. As I said, vegetarians have a hard time. Good restaurants are expensive, but supermarkets are quite affordable (maybe 15% more expensive than in Germany), and so I almost only cooked myself.
- Transport in Dublin
The next big problem besides the housing situation. So first of all the good thing: Taxis are just as expensive as in Germany. And the bad: everything else is expensive and unreliable.
Buses – Incredibly unreliable, you pay around € 2 for a card (a little more) and, as I said, the buses are unpunctual and run too rarely. If you have to change the bus because you don’t have a direct connection, you have to buy a ticket – which would be 4 euros for a trip. In addition, the buses only run until half past eleven at night, so you can only go home on foot or by taxi. Last but not least, the connections are bad too. You can really get into the city from anywhere – no problem, but there are almost no lines that connect the different parts of the city with each other, so sometimes you have to travel around 8 km by bus for a distance of 3 km as the crow flies, because you get to the city and has to get out again – that takes a lot of time.
Luas – The “trams” are much faster and more reliable than the buses – but they only run until 12 and there are no less than 2 whole lines that are not even connected to each other. If you are lucky enough to live next to a bus stop, you can count yourself lucky, the rest of it is of little use.
Bike – A very good option outside of the city center, there are plenty of bike lanes and Dublin is not too mountainous. Within the city center there are the Dublin bikes, bicycles that can be used for short distances, but there are hardly any bike paths, so that the first bike tour seems really dangerous. However, since drivers are used to this, they are more careful than in Germany, as a cyclist you just have to get used to it and drive carefully but firmly.
On foot – Dublin is not that huge, so everything important is easily accessible on foot if you don’t live too far away from the crowd. However, due to the rain you need a rain jacket and at least 2 pairs of good shoes – at the beginning I ran my 15-20km every day easily.
- Cost of Living
Life in Dublin is expensive, I’ve already touched on apartment prices and transport prices, here are a few guidelines for your stay. Basically everything is at least 20% more expensive.
While meat is quite cheap, vegetables and everything else in the supermarket are 20% more expensive. I myself have tried to always buy on offer, then it works. There are also Lidl and Aldi in Ireland, but they are also more expensive than in Germany.
A pint (approx. 0.6l) in the pub costs 4.50 – 6.50, with anything under 5 euros being cheap. In the supermarket, however, a can of beer costs at least 2 euros, a bottle of wine should not be bought for less than 10 euros and a bottle of schnapps costs at least 25-30 euros, even the supposedly cheaper one.
Culture and museums are not expensive and often free – cinema on the same level as in Germany, if not a little lower. Entry to nightlife, on the other hand, varies greatly, between free and 25 euros, but those who plan in 5-10 euros are on the safe side.
I liked or like Dublin a lot, because I am in Dublin while I am writing these lines. Worries that I have previously worried about my English or getting to know people are totally unfounded, as a German you speak better than 80% of other foreigners and you get to know a lot of people very quickly. What I would have done better, however, is clearly the search for an apartment, or rather I should have drawn up an emergency plan beforehand.
What I’ve also learned is that you shouldn’t necessarily trust strangers, which is reflected in the thefts, for example. I am still very open and see the good in people, but there is a certain basic caution now. In addition, the learning effect here was not quite as high as I had hoped, I would have liked a little more professional competence and, above all, preparation on the part of the lecturers.
Overall, as I said, it’s great here, not that I would want to live my life here, it’s too rainy for that, but I’ve had a lot of experiences that I’m proud of and that I will never forget. I got to know great people, experienced a culture, improved my English and became even more independent. Not all is gold in a semester abroad, but you grow immensely with the experiences you have and develop further – and I definitely achieved that here. I would advise anyone to break their comfort zone and give it a try. You will have difficulties, but it will be worth it, for your résumé and for yourself.
Over and out!