Essential advice for your Irish study abroad adventure
Stress is not a way of life in Ireland. Yet, as an anxious American arriving in Dublin, the saying “sure, it’ll be grand,” spoken with an Irish lilt (the equivalent in American English being roughly “ah, it will all work out”) was a mantra I was slow to adopt when searching for housing; finding the best bus route; or finalising my classes. Looking back however, I am struck by one fact: sure, it was grand! The uncertainty I felt at the prospect of moving countries pales now in comparison with the wealth of helpfulness and assistance I have found since my arrival.
From my experience so far, here are a few pieces of advice for your study abroad adventure ..
It is advisable to do research housing options ahead of time, but also to wait until arrival before finalising your search or transacting. I booked myself a temporary space for two weeks, to give myself time to look for housing in the city. It is difficult to find an ideal property to rent in Dublin, and your plans can and almost invariably do change, but not necessarily to your detriment. Nothing compares to being physically present to view the properties in person and to receive advice from people who live and work in the city. I am currently living in a neighbourhood that never entered my searches before I arrived in Dublin.
At the commencement of the school year, there were many students descending upon to city. The housing market can move swiftly, so I took up arms in the form of a cheap, pre-paid cellular phone and a coffee shop internet connection—reviewing advertisements in the morning, attending viewings in the afternoons—finding, at last, an apartment to call my own, within walking distance to the city centre.
Transportation is expensive but efficient in Dublin (averaging 2-3 euros for most rides.) Most bus stops have an automated time listing above them for all the lines that serve it, and you can find the same through the internet connection on your phone or the Dublin Bus website. Most buses feature free wi-fi as well.
Dubliners are incredibly helpful: the first time I asked the woman standing next to me with trepidation if I was along the correct bus route, she offered to give me the fare if I did not have it, and proceeded to chat with me until the bus arrived, offering all manner of useful advice.
Finally, as regards classes, registering with the university, and other administrative matters, the International Office at UCD is available to answer inquiries and help if there are difficulties registering. I was able register for classes online before I arrived in Dublin. With other matters relating to transportation, banking, and immigration, the office had ready-printed instructions.
One difficulty particular to American students for immigration is health insurance. The Immigration Bureau requires proof of health coverage up to a certain amount and it is difficult to obtain a letter stating this from an American health insurance company. It is wise to have the documentation in order before arrival, although you are given ample time to register with the Bureau. Irish health insurance coverage is available from most universities and colleges as well for a very reasonable fee.
Above all else, remember: Sure, it’ll be grand!
Do you want to study in Ireland? Check out the Education in Ireland website for all the info you need.