When people think of Ireland the image that comes to mind is one of green fields, castles and drinking Guinness! Well if you want to get to know the real Ireland then look no further than studying abroad in the city of Limerick.
Limerick city, situated on the west coast of Ireland at the mouth of the river Shannon, is the Republic of Ireland's third largest city. Limerick city was founded as a Viking fortress in the 10th century. Reminders of the city's eventful past include the 12th century King John's Castle, the medieval precinct and St. Mary's Cathedral. The population of Limerick city is just under 60,000 and with half of the city's population under 30 and three institutions of higher education, there is a vibrant student culture in the city!
Limerick offers many activities for students, including a variety of sports, historical, artistic, and theatrical activities. There is a lively pub music scene catering for a variety of musical tastes, from Irish traditional music to jazz. Ready to study abroad in Limerick?
Tab through our detailed expert guide, read reviews of study abroad programs in Limerick below and you'll be on your way!
Culture and Immersion
Immersing yourself into the culture of Limerick is really important as it will make your study abroad experience more authentic. Most universities will offer classes for study abroad students about Irish history and culture. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to learn about Ireland's turbulent history or embrace your inner Michael Flatery and try you hand and traditional Irish Dancing. Students tend to congregate around the student accommodation villages on campus to have parties so that’s where some of the fun is to be found. This can be a great way to meet other international and local students.
The student life in Limerick is rockin' with a large cohort of Irish and international students from all over the world. Wednesdays are the big social night with many students gathering to drink together before hitting some of the on and off-campus bars.
A big part of university life in Ireland is the on campus ‘Clubs and Societies’. Make sure you go along to the open days and join up to meet more local students and get involved in all sorts of activities you might not normally try at home. Clubs range from social justice clubs to sky diving and underground caving clubs. The local students are all about socializing so make sure you go out and enjoy some local live music and try a pint of Bulmer’s cider or a deep, dark Guinness.
Local Activities and Sights:
- King Johns Castle: Located in the heart of the city, this 13th Century castle is well worth a visit during your time in Limerick. With a brand new state-of-the-art interactive exhibition this is too fun not to miss (even if you're not a history fan!).
- Sporting Matches: Limerick is famous for its sport, so much so in fact that it was awarded the title of ‘European City of Sport’ in 2011. Thomond Park is the most famous sports stadium in Limerick and well worth a visit to watch a local rugby game. To get to know Ireland you need to get to know its sports, so take in a rugby, Gaelic football or hurling game. It will not disappoint!
- Dolans Pub: You are spoiled for choice in Limerick with pubs on literally every street corner but Dolans is a sure fire favorite. Dolans is a traditional Irish pub and you may feel like you have stepped back in time when you walk in. They feature traditional Irish music every night and is the best place to go and relax after a hard day of studying.
- Bunratty Castle: A great day trip idea from Limerick is a trip to the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Here you can explore the restored medieval castle from the 1400's and get a feel of what life was like for people back in that time period. The Folk Park attached to the castle features a traditional full scale working medieval village. As you go from one thatched roof cottage to the next you will begin to fully understand what life was like way back when in Ireland.
- The Hunt Museum: For art lovers the Hunt Museum is a must-see to get a better idea of not only Celtic history, but also world history through art. The museum features 2,000 pieces that have been collected from all over the world and Ireland.
- The Music: It would not be a proper Irish experience without some live music, and let's face it, the Irish know how to do it best! Stop in at any pub in the city and you will be guaranteed to hear from beautiful live Irish music. Dolans Pub has live music nightly. If in doubt, ask a local to point you in the right direction and you will sitting back and clicking your heels in no time.
- Elemental Festival: Held yearly in September this festival brings together the best of local art in all its different forms. This festival is a great way to get an up-close look at the best of the local arts scene.
Culture shock and Support System
The good news is that most people studying abroad in Limerick do not suffer too much culture shock. Ireland is similar to many other western countries like England, Australia and the U.S.A so the biggest shock might be trying to understand the local accents! The locals are super friendly and helpful people so making friends wont be a challenge.
For those coming from a warmer climate the biggest adjustment may be to the weather with cold and rain the norm. Irish universities are known for having really good study abroad programs for incoming exchange students. Not only will they be there is assist you with any problems that you are having, but they will arrange trips and excursions and social nights throughout the university semester.
Depending on your country of origin you may need to apply for an entry visa. Nationals from countries such as Australia, Canada or The United States of America do not need to apply for a visa before travelling to Ireland. Your university will supply you with a letter of acceptance that you may need to show to immigration but you will receive a 90 day entry permit. Your university will assist you with extending your permit for the length of your study abroad. Nationals from countries in the European Union do not need a visa. Make sure to double and triple check with with your local embassy's website before you leave, though.
Due to the country's small size, the local students tend to travel home on the weekends. This means that the weekend campus life is not as wild as you might think, in fact it's abnormally quiet. Take these weekend breaks to go out and explore the unique countryside and history of Ireland.
You will hear the word ‘craic’ used a lot by the Irish. No they are not referring to anything rude, the word in Irish means ‘fun’. So if you hear someone saying that the party last night was ’great craic’ it means that it was a great time!
The economic downturn hit Ireland hard in 2008 and the lingering evidence of it can be seen in Limerick today. But with the city being awarded the first ever Ireland's ‘City of Culture’ for the year 2014, you can be sure that this is a study abroad destination jam packed with the best of Irish culture and arts.
There is a good bus service that operates in Limerick connecting the main university campus with the city center. Taxis are available (although quite pricey) but they're often the only option late at night. To keep costs down, split a cab with a group of friends. Once in the city center, it is compact enough to get around by foot so take advantage of the fresh, clean Irish air and stroll around Limerick to get a better feel for the city. For venturing out of Limerick, buses are the easiest and cheapest way. Many buses will drop off and pick up at the university campuses. Note that Dublin is only a few hours drive so you can even visit the capital city for just a day trip.
Ireland is the perfect country destination for study abroad and Limerick is the perfect student city. Packed full of history and culture you will not be lacking in things to do in your spare time. With a large student population (and Ireland's third largest city) Limerick is a great place to study abroad ... and maybe even find the luck of the Irish!
Many universities have scholarships to encourage and support students to study abroad so approach your home office to find out more. Many governments also provide financial support to study overseas so have a look to see if yours does!
The US-Ireland Alliance offers up to 12 George J. Mitchell Scholarships each year in an effort to further connect more Americans to Ireland.
If you are a member of an EU state then you should check out the Erasmus program. Note: the University of Limerick is a member of the Erasmus organization.
Being the 4th largest city in Ireland, Limerick's cost of living is relatively high depending on how you want to live. Most students, both local and international, tend to live in the on-campus student accommodations. This is relatively affordable and allows you to really integrate into campus life in Ireland.
In Limerick there are also many other student ‘villages’ with clusters of apartment buildings located just near the main university campuses that are a great option, too. These can tend to be a little quieter than the on-campus accommodation. Almost all accommodation is in shared apartments and these can range from around 300 euros a month and up.
Some food items are surprisingly low, whilst other items such as cheese and meat can be extremely high. To keep costs down try shopping at a farmers market that is held every Tuesday at the University of Limerick.
Ireland's currency is the Euro (EU) and can fluctuate so be sure to check out the latest currency conversions. There are ATMs all throughout the city and the University of Limerick's campus even has its own bank! Your university will normally provide assistance in opening a local bank account and this can help to keep the cost of foreign ATM transaction fees down. Make sure that your card has a chip before you leave as most places in Europe only accept these types of bank or credit cards.