I was pleasantly surprised with how interesting the courses were. The professors were really knowledgeable-- they absolutely knew their stuff. The best part of the classes are the academic trips you take to different parts of the country, and to Northern Ireland. They're really a blast, but also reinforce your learning.
The living accommodations are nice and spacious. Most of the rooms were singles, and one two-three people shared a bathroom. My apartment dorms were at Blackhall Place, which was an easy walk to class and to the social areas of Dublin. Blackhall is also close to the beautiful Phoenix Park, where I would go running, and which has a nice zoo.
I personally loved the way the Irish approach grocery shopping. The produce is really fresh and doesn't have as many preservatives as the food in the States, so you buy in smaller quantities. There's also a cost for plastic grocery bags, so I would use a reusable shopping bag and a backpack, which I found to be really progressive, and of course, eco-friendly. It was definitely more cost efficient to grocery shop-- most days I would cook breakfast and dinner, and pack lunch. I would buy things like a coffee, or a snack if we had a long day. Sometimes I went out to eat, but it was definitely helpful on my wallet to eat in. But we ate out at some really delicious restaurants- the food in Dublin is awesome, for sure.
I took advantage of my time in Ireland by trying to expose myself to the culture and people as much as people. The Irish people are incredibly friendly and are wonderful at making you feel welcome, so we would always make friends and ask around for advice on good places to go, or things to do. We spent a lot of time walking around, exploring, and making friends. Dublin also has a great art and music scene, we went to a lot of open mic nights and band performances, and there's also a lot of great street performers (you can brush up by watching the movie "Once").
Something I found great was that the Irish care a great deal about their politics and their country, which I found refreshing. Instead of the Kardashians, you could get into a lengthy debate about a political decision at the pub over a pint (and then maybe hash out about the Kardashians just a wee bit). I found that aspect to Irish life very enriching.
I've traveled to a few places in the world, and I always try to take a bit of each country home with me. Literally, I always take a few pebbles. But more deeply than that, from Dublin and Ireland in general I gained a great respect for friendliness and openness. As a straight-up New Yorker, I'm used to facing a very fast-paces and standoffish state of living. The Irish way is friendlier, it's kinder, it's welcoming. You could get into a friendly conversation with a stranger at the grocery store, or out at night, just for the sake of a friendly conversation.
The experiences I had are irreplaceable, everything from the friends I made, to Causey Farms, to that one club in Belfast. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested.