I decided to go to Trinity College for three reasons: firstly it was a historic institution (founded in 1592!), secondly I'd be able to easily visit other European countries, and finally, Irish accents. Maybe these are some of the reasons you're checking out reviews of Trinity for your exchange or study abroad experience but, with the wisdom of hindsight, I'd like to offer a few more.
Even before I landed at Dublin Airport, I received so much help and support from the college staff. I took part in the Semester Start-Up program, which is optional but which I HIGHLY recommend, so I had a full three week course packed full with helpful information about Trinity (and Irish art, history and culture) to set me up before the other thousands of Irish students arrived. Even if you don't choose to take part in that program though- I had to pay extra for mine- you will still have plenty of information and support before and after your arrival. Something that I really loved was the Trinity Greet Program, a free service where a Trinity student comes to pick you up at the airport and make sure you make it to your accommodation. My greeter was Cyndi and she gave me the loveliest welcome to Ireland, patiently waiting while I tried to track my lost luggage, and ensuring I got into a cab with a driver she trusted. That sort of concern and kindness was more or less characteristic of my Irish/Trinity experience. During the college semester, you can always go to what's called the Global Room, a space dedicated to international students, for guidance or just a place to study and meet other students in the same boat as you. As an exchange student I found that there are always plenty of people able and willing to help you at Trinity, but especially if you don't take part in the Semester Start Up Program, you have to be prepared to ask.
Another reason that I thanked my lucky stars I'd spontaneously chosen Trinity as my exchange destination is how darn nice almost everybody is. That goes for both Ireland generally and Trinity in particular. I don't mean to get your hopes up and say that literally everyone you meet will be a kindly leprechaun ready to make all your wishes come true: there were less than savoury characters, like everywhere in the world, and some snobby people, like every university in the world. But it does make a huge difference to an exchange student lost in a brand new country if you can be pretty sure that most people around you would be willing to help, and probably happy to chat as well. A MAJOR tip I have for a Trinity exchange, which you'll hear from everyone but should definitely take on board is to join a society or three. It's easy to end up only hanging out with other exchange students while on exchange, but the best way to burst out of that international student bubble and make friends with real Irish people with real Irish accents is to join the Phil (oldest debating society in the world just quietly), or the hiking club, or a Gaelic football team, or the chapel choir any of the other clubs, teams and societies. Auditioning for a play at Trinity was a big step for me, partly because I didn't know if I wasn't to commit to so much rehearsal time while I was supposed to be living it up on university exchange, but it would have to have been one of the best decisions I made while in Ireland. So go join a society and make lovely Irish friends!
One more reason to go to Trinity to study, before I sign of, is its great location right smack bang in the middle of a really cool city in a really beautiful country just hours away from a really interesting continent. On an hour-long break between two classes you could pop over for a visit to any of the National Gallery, the National Museum, Temple Bar, the Oscar Wilde House, the National Library, Grafton Street, the historic General Post Office or a great falafel place called Umi, and still make it back with time to spare. What's more it's so easy to take day or weekend trip to all sorts of lovely parts of Ireland: I recommend Howth and Galway and wish I could have gone to Killarney. I love Dublin for its great pubs and historic buildings but the Irish countryside is so beautiful it makes me want to either sing or cry. What's even MORE, if you have some savings to spare you can take an hour or two hour flight to one of the amazing nearby countries- Scotland and Hungary were my favourites. I know that I'm probably straying away from reviewing Trinity itself here but I really do think its location is a big plus.
Just a couple of other tips/ warnings:
- In the lead-up to exchange Trinity wasn't very clear about accommodation arrangements and I thought that I had to organise a place for me to live myself. Turns out they organise it for you- you just fill out a form once it's sent to you.
- Go to a pub called Flannery's if you want a fun night with friendly, rowdy people but no cover charge.
- Don't be dumb: I know I said Irish people are nice but that doesn't mean you don't need to be careful at night.
- The Trinity system of class registration is way old-fashioned, so just try to accept that's it's going to be a long and sometimes frustrating process of going to and fro between unknown professors' offices to get signatures. It'll be worth it!
- For European plane trips go for Ryanair for the cheapest flights, although you should check first how far away the destination airport is from the city you're aiming to get to. For flights to Paris for instance, it's worth paying the extra to go AirFrance and land right in Charles de Gaulle airport.
Hopefully I've been helpful, let me know any questions :)
- Make the class registration system easier, or at least explain it more clearly to international students before the process begins.