Thinking of studying in Ireland? Student Ambassador Ha Lan (Summer) Ngo from Vietnam shares how Ireland has a lot more to offer than just studying. Take a look at some of Ha Lan’s adventures while being in Ireland.

I already talked about my college life in my first blog and vlog—both on-campus and online experiences. But for those who are not coming from Europe, deciding to come to a new and far-from-home country, and especially, to have higher living costs in Europe as well – you probably expect more than just to study, right? 

And yes, Ireland is a great country to study, but it’s also a gateway to explore the rest of Europe. In this blog, I will share with you some of my memorable trips during my time in Ireland, which helped me to gain more cultural knowledge as well as to be confident and independent. The first part is about my most favourite picturesque places in Ireland and the second part is about my trip to continental Europe. 

County Kerry 

One of my Irish friends told me before: “If you don’t travel to Kerry, you won’t know how beautiful Ireland is.” 

The Ring of Kerry – My peaceful sunny day! (photo: Ha Lan)

Yes, Kerry is far from Dublin, but it’s definitely worth a visit due to its spectacular landscapes. There are several ways to get to Kerry: the most exciting way is to drive by yourself to enjoy every single moment and stop whenever to capture the moments you love. Back then, we chose to take public transportation; from Dublin, you have loads of options. My suggestion is taking a direct coach (you can check the time schedules and prices here: Dublin Coach). If you travel from other counties, for example, like myself travelling from Galway, I chose to take a train to Limerick city and then another train to Killarney town (you should buy tickets online to get lower prices for students: Irish Rail).  

But if you haven’t got a driving license in Ireland yet or feel that taking public transportation is a bit complicated, no worries, you can book a trip to Kerry from Dublin (but it could be a more expensive option).  

For my three days, two night trip to Kerry, I spent two days exploring the County Kerry landscapes and the Dingle Peninsula (the farthest west of Ireland). After getting there by ourselves, we chose to book full-day tours to save time because there were so many places and things we wanted to visit, it took quite a lot of time, and there were some places that were hard to get to by using public transportations (I used: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Website (photo: Ha Lan)

Depending on the time you choose the tours, my personal recommendations would be Dingle Peninsula, Sneem, Killarney Lakes and National Park. Just search for the Ring of Kerry, and plenty of options are waiting for you. 

Sneem (photo: Ha Lan)

Northern Europe and Germany 

Having a chance to study in Ireland meant that we had opportunities to visit other European countries as well. However, please note here that Ireland is not a part of the Schengen Area (at the time I write this blog), so you might need to apply for a Schengen Visa if it’s required.  

At the beginning of 2020, I took a trip to five countries: Denmark – Sweden – Finland – Estonia and Germany during my placement time. During my time living in Ireland, I wanted to travel around Europe as much as possible. Firstly, I could save a greater amount of money on flight tickets if I travel from Ireland to other European destinations compared to travelling from my home country. From my personal experiences, Ryan Air (RyanAir)  could be an affordable airline for students. Secondly, my visa applications seem to be less complicated such as less required documents if I apply as a student studying in Ireland. 

Summer in Berlin – Germany (photo: Ha Lan)

One additional reason is how easy the currency exchange is. Yes, since The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro, and the same as most other countries in Europe, I just used my Irish bank card during my trip. For some countries like Sweden or Denmark, which prefer using their currency (Swedish Krona and Danish Krone), my suggestion is to use a ‘virtual’ account that holds your e-money and convert Euro to other currencies with good rates and cash-free, which are convenient when travelling. Back then, and until now, I have been using a Revolut card for money converting purposes (Revolut), and I think it’s flexible and pretty good.  

Summer in Tallinn – Estonia (photo: Ha Lan)

I hope my experiences above could help you in some ways. Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best and definitely hope that you can enjoy your time in Ireland and outside Ireland too.  

Ha Lan is studying International Hotel Management at NUI Galway