Maddie: University College Dublin (Semester 1, 2015) – Education Ireland MY

Maddie: University College Dublin (Semester 1, 2015)

Academic experiences

I’m a fourth year Business Management/Arts student and I chose to study only my Arts courses while on exchange.
At UCD I studied 6 courses (modules), which is the standard full-time load.
Though you have to study more courses, I found the workload to be similar (if not lighter) than my usual workload at UQ.
In my experience the grading system at UCD is also slightly more generous.
My classes at UCD consisted mainly of lectures, with few tutorials.
However, the class sizes were much smaller than those at UQ so it was not difficult to get to know the lecturers and seek their advice on the coursework.
I had some trouble signing on to my modules before I arrived in Dublin, and did not get into a few modules I needed as they were full.
The staff at the UCD International were a wonderful help in my first week on campus and signed me on to the modules I missed out on.
There were many other exchange students who were in the same situation and the staff were able to sign them on to their classes or find alternatives for them.

The Cliffs of Moher

Personal experiences

Going on exchange was such a unique and worthwhile experience.
I met amazing people from all around the world, and made close friendships with both Irish and International students (including some fellow Australians) who made my exchange even more rewarding.
I was able to travel all around Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout semester.
I also made it to Scotland, England, Portugal, Denmark and Iceland.
I completely fell in love with Ireland, and it didn’t take long for Dublin to feel like home.

University College Dublin


I lived on campus in the Glenomena residences.
In Glenomena you share an apartment with 5 other students, have your own bathroom, and share the kitchen/living room.
The apartments are very modern with enough space to live comfortably with 5 other people.
The kitchens are equipped with two small fridges, a microwave and a stovetop but no oven.
I got by fine without an oven (you may sometimes just have to get a bit creative with your cooking). When it comes to choosing a residence, you can’t really go wrong with any of the main campus residences.
It just comes down to your personal preferences for the number of housemates, shared or ensuite bathrooms, catered or non-catered, and the price.
They are all a short walk to all the buildings on campus, and the convenience store Centra.
I really enjoyed living in Glenomena and would definitely recommend it.
There is always security at the gate to the Glenomena/Merville residences at night, and other entrances are locked after a certain time at night.
This meant I always felt very safe being in the residences, even though the tight security was at times inconvenient.
It’s very easy to socialise while on the residences and there is a great sense of community, which is what I liked the most about living on campus.
I was lucky enough that all of my housemates were Irish students, I found that most exchange students I met lived with mostly (or exclusively) other International students.
This made it very easy for me to meet other Irish students and get to know Dublin and Ireland through their perspective.
Living with other International students gives you the opportunity to really get to know people from all around the world, and you’ll always have someone to go exploring with.
It just means you may have to make more of an effort to get to know Irish students, but there are plenty of opportunities to do so through classes, clubs and societies, and living on campus.

Phoenix Park


I found Dublin to be fairly similar to Brisbane in terms of expenses.
To live on campus you need to pay the residential fees upfront so there’s no rent or utility bills to worry about.
Make sure you have at least a rough budget for everyday expenses, entertainment etc, and travel. Little things like paying to use the laundromat on the residences, and topping up your Leap Card (Go-card equivalent) can add up very quickly so it’s important to keep that in mind.
I think the best thing to do is over-budget for most things, as there are always going to be unplanned opportunities, and unexpected expenses that pop up.
I took advantage of the OS-Help Loan, and was lucky enough to receive a travel grant for my exchange.
Ireland is a great base for traveling around Europe, and it’s very easy to get cheap flights with airlines like Ryanair an Aer Lingus.
Keep an eye out for special deals and sales with budget airlines.
Ryanair was offering 60 cent return tickets to Copenhagen during one sale while I was on exchange!


Academic development and employability

Going on exchange has made me a far more confident person.
You get thrown into the deep end in a way, so you learn how to be more independent and become far more capable of working through unexpected or difficult situations.


Being in Dublin city on St Patrick’s Day was absolute madness, and if you are at UCD in UQ’s semester one (their second semester) make sure you are in town that day!
The streets become flooded with people in green, and the atmosphere is electric.

Top tips

Take some time to learn about Irish history and culture, whether through your classes or on your own.
It will really enrich your experience.
Join the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) or ISS (International Student Society) to meet other exchange students, go on day/weekend trips around Ireland and enjoy heaps of social events throughout semester.
The International Office books appointments for international students at the Garda National Immigration Bureau to get the necessary GNIB card.
I’d recommend going to the office during one of these appointments or getting to the office before it opens to potentially avoid what can sometimes be a more than 6 hour wait.
Visit all the tourist spots in the city, and venture out to places like Howth, Dun Laoghaire, Killiney Hill and Bray just outside the city centre.
Outside of Dublin my personal favourite places were The Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Blarney Castle, Connemara, and The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Watch some live music: The Ruby Sessions at Doyles are great for undiscovered local talent, or Cobblestones if you want to see traditional Irish music sessions.
There are also some very talented buskers on Grafton Street!
It helps to really do your research early on not only the host uni and courses, but also the city and country you’ll be living in to make the whole process a bit smoother.
If you’re interested enough that you’re reading testimonials my advice is definitely follow through by going on exchange.
It takes a lot of organising, but it’s easier to participate in UQ Abroad than you might expect, and most definitely worth everything you put into it.