Life on campus at UCD
Calvin Wong, a Canadian student at University College Dublin, had a few adjustments to make upon moving to Ireland but UCD’s world-class facilities means he’s found everything he could need and more on his new campus…
In my previous blog, I wrote about my first impressions of Ireland, the weather, the people and the pace of life. For this entry, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the environment at University College Dublin (UCD) to help give you an insight into life as an international student here in Ireland.
UCD is about a 20 minute bus ride south of Dublin city centre in an area called Belfield. It’s the largest university in Ireland—around 30,000 students—and compared to the rest of historical Dublin, it has a distinctly bright and modern feel.
One thing I’ve had to become accustomed to in Dublin city is the historical architecture. Very few buildings are taller than three stories, and most are of an older design, built purely of stone, brick and concrete. There’s definitely a European charm to it all, but for a big city boy like me, whose preferences tend toward glass, steel, and the occasional skyscraper, I have to say that I prefer the environment at UCD with its new buildings, landscaping, and clean lines. But to each his own!
I spent my first year living in one of the student dorms called Roebuck Castle. It was a newly built, catered residence, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. As student residences go, I found them surprisingly clean and quiet. Also, the head chef Eddie and his kitchen staff served up some pretty amazing food. Student residences at UCD have 24/7 support staff and security to help with everything from noisy neighbours to accidentally locking yourself out of your room. Luckily, I never needed the help, but I certainly liked the peace of mind it offered.
Living on campus was fairly convenient. Since my residence was catered, and I’m not much of a cook anyway (to put it lightly), the three convenience stores, pharmacy, and two bank branches on campus offered all I really needed. But for those of you who are more inclined to the culinary arts, you’ll be happy to hear that several proper grocery stores can be found within a ten or fifteen minute walk from campus. There is also a large shopping complex (Stillorgan) with restaurants and grocery stores just a short bus trip up the road.
“UCD offers a wonderful environment in which to live, study, and try new things. It’s a beautiful, modern campus that has just about everything a student would need.”
UCD has a beautiful campus with many places to hang out. The lake at the center of campus is especially popular. Located right beside the main library, it’s the perfect place to sit down between study sessions or enjoy lunch with friends while the ducks and swans swim by (eagerly eyeing sandwiches!). Alternatively, you can visit the student bar, the small, but very nice theatre, or any number of the healthy cafes and restaurants dotted across campus. The great thing is that you’ll often stumble upon interesting things happening. The student clubs are always hosting events and activities on campus. If you’re lucky enough to be bored with nothing to do on a Tuesday night (lucky you), all you have to do look around campus. Maybe the UCD Law Society is hosting a debate tonight, or maybe the film society has decided to screen the Lord of the Rings trilogy (or Harry Potter, or both—whatever floats your boat), or maybe you happen to be feeling energetic and you want to head over to the sports centre for some badminton.
Truthfully, I was surprised and impressed by the number and variety of student clubs and societies at UCD. I did my undergraduate degree at an even larger institution back in Canada so I reasonably expected to find a smaller scale of student activity here compared to back home. But I was proved wrong. UCD has close to two hundred student clubs and societies covering everything from jazz to Ninjutsu (yes, you read that right), and it has the facilities to match—especially in regards to athletics.
“UCD has well-managed residences, world class sports facilities, and no shortage of entertainment and learning opportunities.”
Personally, I’m a big fan of hitting the gym. I also fence and occasionally play badminton with friends. As someone who frequently uses the facilities, I have nothing but praise to sing for UCD’s fitness centre. The centre is home to two large, very well equipped gyms, as well as a new, eight-lane, fifty meter pool, and a handful of studios that offer over one hundred fitness classes a week FREE to students. There are also more than enough courts and other non-sports venues that students and clubs are free to book for their own activities.
In summary, UCD offers a wonderful environment in which to live, study, and try new things. It’s a beautiful, modern campus that has just about everything a student would need. Anything else one might need is close by and easy to get to. UCD also has well-managed residences, world class sports facilities, and no shortage of entertainment and learning opportunities to be found from its great variety of clubs and societies. Depending on the type and level of degree, one’s focus may be on other areas such as access to academic journals, research funding, or IT support—topics I’ll return to in future entries. In short, UCD offers a great all-around student experience, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my time here so far!
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