Dublin is the capital of Ireland and is a thriving city of Old World habits and New World convenience. Castles and medieval archaeology sites sit side-by-side with Chinese take-away and boutiques in the city center. This is part if Dublin’s charm.
Thousands of students come to study in Dublin every year because of the history, the music and the architecture. The Guinness and ease of speaking English don’t hurt either. Ready to study abroad in Dublin? Tab through our expert guide and read reviews of study abroad programs in Dublin below!
Culture Shock and Support
Most students have very little culture shock when studying abroad in Dublin. Irish habits are not too far removed from English or American habits. If you are an American studying in Dublin, the only shocking thing might be some of the local cuisine. Forewarning: Pudding in Ireland is not the same as pudding in America and blood sausage is something to be considered before being ordered.
Some people will love the dishes, while others might be more hesitant, but there are plenty of delicious options available for every palate. Depending on where you are from originally, you might need to get used to the ideas of walking everywhere or taking the bus. Cabs can be expensive, so most students only take them if they are going home late and have a distance to go.
It is very rare to find a program or university/college without a fantastic support network for abroad students. If you find yourself needing help with anything or overwhelmed, they will almost always have an answer and someone you can talk to about it. Dublin is also home to a large number of expats, so you might want to check for expat hang-out spots in your neighborhood. Sometimes even sitting in a tourist spot, surrounded by the accents and habits of home can be comforting. Couch Surfers also have regular get-togethers at cafes or restaurants for anyone interested. If you aren’t familiar with Couch Surfers, couchsurfing.com is a travel website that allows you to bunk on someone’s couch for free when you travel.
Culture and Immersion
Ireland has a vibrant culture. Just set foot in any pub in Ireland and you have an idea of why people are so entranced with the Irish. The Irish are a very welcoming people, though they won’t stand fools or rudeness. The accents range from crystal clear to understand all the way to being practically a foreign language. Ireland is a great place to live and study especially if you have any interest in any art form. Irish culture is full of dance, music, art, and literature. And if you like history, any Irishman will be more than happy to tell you about it. Just be prepared: no one tells a story quite the way an Irishman tells a story. You’ll be there a while enjoying yourself.
Sights and Festivals
- Dublin Castle – Originally a medieval castle, Dublin Castle has been added on to for hundreds of years, culminating in a mix of old stonework and odd paint choices.
- The Book of Kells and the Old Library – The Book of Kells is a medieval Bible with some of the most beautiful Celtic artwork ever. It is housed in the (amazing) Old Library at Trinity College.
- O’Connell Street Upper – O’Connell Street is where you will find lots of shops, statues, and interesting sites.
- Any of the Dublin Literary Festivals – Available at almost any point of the year.
- The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl – It’s a normal pub crawl, but with actors pretending to be some of Dublin/Ireland’s greatest writers, reading their works aloud. It’s a great way to spend a night.
- Christchurch – Christchurch is the oldest church still standing in Dublin. It’s an amazing medieval structure.
- St Audeon’s Church – The oldest Catholic Church in Dublin. The staff here is so nice and the building is very interesting. One of the oldest sections is (still) missing its roof, ever since there was a tax put on roofs in the Middle Ages. Brilliant tax, until the locals decided just to pull the roof off the church and save the money.
- Pick a museum, any museum – They are all worth a stop, but that might not be possible for anyone time-wise. The National Museum of Archaeology or the National Gallery are favorites. There’s even a National Leprechaun Museum.
Food and Drink
- The Guinness Factory – Take a tour of the Guinness factory with a group of friends, then grab a pint in the bar afterwards. Nothing like having a Guinness with friends in Ireland.
- O’Donoghue’s Bar – This is a fantastic pub in the center of Dublin, within a couple minutes walk of Trinity College. It’s also where The Dubliners were formed (for those who don’t know, it’s an Irish band).
- Temple Bar – This is an area in the center of Dublin just west of Trinity College. The area has been cleaned up a lot over the past few years and is now a great area to grab a meal and drinks with friends. It’s a big party area some nights, so try to keep your head.
There are tons of sights to see and places to go in Dublin, enough to keep any student entertained for quite a while. Whether your interests lean toward history, cuisine, or the arts, there is plenty for you to do. You can’t go wrong on anything in Dublin. It’s all fascinating and it’s all delicious.
Helpful Hints / Insider Tips
- Please don’t forget when crossing the roads that they drive on the left in Ireland! Foreigners have almost been run over because they check the wrong way before crossing.
- Ignore the stereotype of Irish people and beer. They enjoy it, but they love tea even more. Ireland consumes more tea per capita than any other country. Every bar/pub/restaurant serves it (it’s the law actually).
- On the subject of beer, the Irish do drink on a fairly regular basis, but no one gets drunk in public. It’s considered very immature.
- The best way to see things in Dublin is walking or the buses (which are very good and the drivers are extremely helpful). If you’re headed out of Dublin, either take the buses (again very nice) or get a group together and rent a car. Buy an ordinance map, which will be marked with every site you might want, and go for it. Turn that 2.5 hour drive from Dublin to Galway into a 4-day weekend trip.
- If you’re in Temple Bar, try the Long Hall on St. George’s St., O’Donoghue’s on Merrion St, or the Library Bar (located in the Central Hotel on Exchequer St.) for a drink. If you’re looking for lunch, O’Neill’s makes a fantastic sandwich and has several cider options (try the blackberry-apple).
Dublin is full of beautiful sights and delicious treats to consume. If you decide to study abroad here, you might never want to leave. You’ll enjoy yourself too much.
If you prefer to study independently at a university or college, a small number of scholarships for international students are available from the higher education institutions in Ireland themselves; contact the institution of their choice directly to obtain further information.
Other scholarships are available to help offset your costs of study abroad. Apply early, and apply for many - you never know which will work out in your favor!
- The US-Ireland Alliance offers up to 12 George J. Mitchell Scholarships each year in an effort to further connect more Americans to Ireland.
- Each semester, AIFS Abroad offers 40 $1000 scholarships to students who demonstrate high academic achievement and write an essay addressing “How study abroad will impact my academic and personal growth.
- API offers a variety of scholarships for those participating in their programs - including a few great options in Ireland!
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Dublin is a fairly affordable city, though there is some additional expense. Ireland uses the euro like most of Europe, which makes travel easy. For the most part, people in Dublin use cash for everything. Sometimes a credit card might be used when they go out for dinner, but even then cash is more common. Prices in Dublin are a bit higher than in other spots in Ireland (or even Europe) because it is the largest city in Ireland and the capital, as well as the fact it is on an island. On the continent, a liter of orange juice costs around €1,10, but in Dublin it might cost up to €1,70.
Check with your university, especially your international office, about scholarships available for study abroad. There are plenty out there, especially if you are considering a research project (large or small). Most universities will have research grants for those traveling to different regions of the world. This article can help you in your search, and you can find information on scholarships specific to Ireland here.