Lovingly referred to as the “real capital of Ireland” by locals, Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and one of the most beautiful, diverse, and unforgettable places in the world. Situated on the banks of the River Lee, Cork is filled with great restaurants, dynamic pubs, historic cathedrals, and awesome views.

It is no surprise that this small city was named the European Capital of Culture in 2005, as it offers limitless things to do and places to explore. Cork is the perfect blend of a contemporary lifestyle with a traditional Irish atmosphere, and students are sure to love studying here.

Cork Vision Centre

A former church on North Main Street, this is one of the top attractions in the city. Home to a large scale model of the city, it also hosts many art exhibits and plenty of free tourist information.

St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

One of the main cathedrals in Cork, this beautiful 19th century Gothic church is one of the most beautiful in Ireland.

Cork City Gaol

This heritage center slightly outside the city center is well worth the trip. Take a step back in time to see what 19th century prison life was like, complete with lifelike figures, furnished cells, and fascinating exhibits. They even offer night tours, so if you’re looking for something a bit spooky, definitely check this out.

The Lough Park
This park is famous for its freshwater limestone lake and numerous types of wildlife. Perfect for activities such as walking or jogging as well as relaxing by the shores with a book. The Lough was declared a Public Wildlife Refuge in 1881 and is one of Ireland’s oldest protected areas.

The great thing about study abroad in Ireland is that there are so many different program types and higher education options. 10% of university students in Ireland are from overseas, with over 80 countries represented by this large international student population. You can be sure there won’t be any lack of interesting people to meet and new things to learn!

Academic Life

Higher education in Cork is similar to that of the US: professors expect their students to work hard. Assignments and deadlines are all taken seriously, and there are consequences for those who do not perform well. With that said, most professors and local students are very approachable and understanding, so don’t be afraid to communicate when you need assistance. Many Irish students and professors have also studied/taught abroad, so most will be more than willing to help you adjust.


English is the first language of most Cork natives. However, the Cork take on English is much different than other parts of Ireland, with a higher tone to their accent and many words that are unique to this region. Some of these words come from Gaelic, while others were developed by combining English slang with Gaelic. Almost all courses in Cork are taught in English, so students should have no problem immersing into the local school setting.


Students in Cork have the option to live in student dormitories, apartments, or with a host family. Some programs require students to live in dorms while others recommend living with a local family to become more immersed in the local culture, so check with your program to see which they offer.

Student Visas

Similar to most countries in Europe, Ireland requires students from many non-EU countries (including the US) to obtain a student visa before arrival. Student visas are divided into two categories: degree programs at a higher education institution or English-language/non-degree course. For more information on how to apply for a visa, talk to your study abroad advisor or visit here.

Social Life and Student Culture

There are many opportunities for students to get involved in the local social life. Students are often found hanging out in Irish pubs, complete with traditional music, dancing, and even fiddle competitions. One of the most popular things for students to participate in is the Cork City Pub Crawl. A great way to see the city and make new friends, this is a definite must-do for anyone studying in Cork. Students here also love watching sports and going to various types of games, so put on your local apparel and go support one of Cork’s many teams.

There are many popular excursions for students to take from Cork, including Blarney Castle. Known for its beautiful gardens, views, and the opportunity to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, this is the perfect day trip for students. As if you needed more convincing, the castle usually offers discounts for students, too. Another popular adventure is to Cohb, which is a beautiful town formerly known as the port for Cork. Spend the day sitting by the docks and watching the boats come in or visit the town’s famous heritage center.


Even though Ireland is a small country, there are many scholarship opportunities for students studying here. Most scholarships are based on merit or diversity, with a few even offered to first generation college students. Two of the most popular abroad companies with scholarships are API and IFSA-Butler, both of which have programs in Cork.


With so much to see and do, it is no surprise that so many students flock to Cork every year. Chock full of quaint shops and pubs, stunning traditional and contemporary architecture, exciting adventure opportunities, and fascinating personalities, Cork is the perfect city to study abroad in. So, stop reading up on other study abroad locations. Cork is calling your name.

Contributed by Rebecca Murphy


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