My semester in Dublin was definitely the most memorable of my time in college. IES kept in regular contact with us to make sure that everything was going well, gave us lots of information at orientation, and sent out activity & travel suggestions throughout the semester. They also led a few group outings for us. I was at Trinity, and the campus is beautiful (I was drawn to the program from seeing photos of the Old Library!) and right in city centre so you're exposed to local culture; I loved stopping at shops on the way home to get a hot chocolate or some fries with garlic sauce (they're the best). The apartment was nice and modern with plenty of space, privacy, and common areas to socialize, and was pretty close to campus. Most everyone in all of the IES Dublin programs lived in the same building, so we made a group chat and had a big extended group of friends to go out with.
Classes are a lot different than in the United States. Instead of multiple shorter classes a day on alternating days like at my home school, I had two one-hour sessions or one two-hour session of each class a week. Depending on the class (I took English modules), grades are based significantly or even 100% on the final exam. This was an adjustment in the sense that I felt a bit less engaged with school overall, since it was less in-class time and fewer assignments throughout the semester, until finals came and then it was a lot of work all at once. You just have to make sure to genuinely care about your studies and keep up with your work, though, and it’ll be fine. This is also a good thing to learn since plenty of other things in life require self-motivation and accountability. This more open schedule was a great way to have things structured during study abroad, however, because it left a LOT of time to explore locally and travel on long weekends! I definitely recommend joining a couple of clubs to truly feel connected to campus; they have a lot of fun events both on campus and at local venues.
Studying in Dublin was not only fun for a short time, but allowed me to realize how much I really want to live abroad long-term. You also learn so many things living in a new culture and how to adapt to them. Public transport is really convenient within the city, and trains are great for traveling across the country. You have to ask for the check at a restaurant, but tax is all included so the total is nice and even and easy to add up in your head. Even going to the grocery store at first is a whole experience on its own—a lot more people bring their own bags (which is great!), some "staple" foods are a bit different, and Irish dairy has a totally different taste. And when you finally leave, you feel a bit homesick in reverse, because what you consider "home" has been split into more pieces, both of them always in the back of your mind. Overall, my semester abroad in Dublin with IES really bridged that gap of apprehension between the expected and the unknown, and it helped prepare me to travel and live abroad once I graduate.