Breath-taking beaches, incredible architecture, small size, and a vibrant traditional Irish culture – Galway, Ireland is the the perfect study abroad destination for students who wish to experience a classic Irish city while avoiding overwhelmingly large cities like Dublin.
Galway is known as the centre of Irish culture as you can find traditional music, performance, and the Gaelic language all over the city. Aside from the amazing cultural experience, Galway is also home to the National University of Ireland, Galway, an institution which showcases modern and historic architecture and houses 50 sports clubs and 110 active societies.
Interested in studying abroad in Galway? Tab through our expert guide and read reviews of study abroad programs in Galway below!
- Galway is known as the cultural heart of Ireland.
- Population: 75,414 -- the fourth most populous city in Ireland
- Galway is the third largest city in Ireland
- Galway is home to the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) as well as two technical institutes.
How to Choose a Program
Given Galway's popularity as a study abroad destination in Ireland, you'll definitely have more than a few options to choose from. Here are three of the most common programs you're likely to encounter:
- Erasmus: If you are coming to Ireland from an EU country, then you may study abroad through Erasmus which NUI, Galway is associated with.
- Direct Exchange Programs: Most universities have their own study abroad programs with established relationships with universities overseas. The benefits usually include in-person advising, promised credit transfers, and pre-departure meetings with students who will also be traveling at the same time as you.
- Third Party Program Providers: If your university does not have a relationship set up with the university in Galway, there are third party programs that you can study through. Be sure to research the different options and pay close attention to credit transfers, fees, and support systems.
Must see attractions:
- The Prom: In the seaside area of Salthill, you can find the promenade – a beautiful walk and great escape from the city along Galway Bay. If you’re the adventurous type, there is a concrete diving board where you can plunge into the frigid Atlantic Ocean –hey, it will make an awesome story, right?!
- Shop Street: Along this pedestrian only street, visitors can enjoy tourist shops, pubs, and street performers.
- The Latin Quarter: Head here to enjoy some of the best pubs and bars, and possibly Galway's best nightlife scene.
- Galway Cathedral: This historical piece of religious architecture is one of Galway's best known, traditional tourist attractions.
- Galway City Museum: Galway is a hub of traditional Irish culture which is presented in this museum focusing on the history of Galway and Irish history in general.
- Connemara National Park: Oscar Wilde called this area “savage beauty” and with its mountains, bogs, forests, and ancient cemeteries, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss out on. Fresh air and exercise will be a much needed relief from all the Guinness and pub food you’ll be enjoying.
- Trad on the Prom: An amazing stage show performance including traditional Irish song and dance.
Have no fear – Galway’s university is part of Erasmus program which offers exchanges with other European countries, and international students make up about 13% of the population. You’ll have many equally apprehensive students arriving to share your experience with and discover all Galway has to offer together.
Culture Shock and Support:
Moving a million miles (or what seems like it) away from home is both an exciting and scary adventure. The Irish are generally friendly, especially in a university setting where there are many international students. Be sure to make the most of your time in Ireland and immerse yourself with the Irish students to learn and be a part of their culture. Also, try looking into programs that offer opportunities to meet other students who will be attending your university and programs that offer support in Ireland so you feel safe and secure if any incidents arise. Luckily, Ireland is similar to most Western cultures, and therefore the shock will not be too heavy. The most difficult thing will probably be the accent!
In terms of moving around the city, Galway’s centre is easily navigated by foot, and the city has numerous bus routes and taxi services (however note that taxis are more expensive and it is probably most practical to invest in a bus pass).
Why Study Abroad in Galway?
Overall, Galway is a magical city and perfect for any student wishing to explore Irish culture while broadening their academic horizons. It is small enough to not feel like you will be easily lost among the crowd, but large enough to have an active city and nightlife. For further research, take a look at NUI, Galway's a blog dedicated to international students interested in studying abroad.
Galway, as any major city, is relatively expensive, but it’s all about how you choose to live and how you budget. In general, it costs 11% more to live in Galway in comparison to Los Angeles, 30% less in comparison to New York City, and 7% more in comparison to Austin.
No matter what your financial situation is, you can make the city and your experience fit your budget. Eat out less, buy local groceries, look for student discounts, pre-drink at home, invest in a local bus pass, and as cute as that Urban Outfitters sweater is – don’t buy it. Most of your money will be spent on program fees, housing, and flights. To aide in these, compare programs costs, consider living off-campus, and search frequently and in advance for flights.
Galway’s form of currency is the Euro (€). The city is cash, bank card, and credit card friendly. ATM machines can easily distribute money from your home bank. If using a credit card, make sure it has a chip as well as a magnetic strip! Europe uses chips, and only some places allow magnetic strips to be used.