Ireland didn't earn the nickname 'Emerald Isle' by accident! No wonder students are flocking to Ireland for study abroad - and that's before we've even mentioned the beautiful natural landscapes, Riverdance, and countless pubs, castles, and potatoes to match. Home to Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and U2, among countless others, this small island nation packs a punch.
Don't let Ireland's relatively small size get you down - there are cities and sights-a plenty to explore during your stay (especially on your journey to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!) Ireland is chock full of remarkable ancient and medieval archaeological sites, making just about any study abroad destination a worthwhile and exciting decision.
Ireland's capital city is a study abroader's dream. The city's museums, zoos, art galleries, and botanical gardens challenge the vibrant and edgy night life. The local Guinness store house helps ease the transition from daytime to nighttime fun!
If you are interested in exploring the rest of your Europe during your stay in Ireland, Dublin would be an obvious choice given its proximity to Ireland's international airport.
Located on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is the third largest city in Ireland. Though a busy city center, it does retain its medieval charm - it is even surrounded by four city walls dating back to the 14th century! Galway is pedestrian friendly with its city center blocked off to vehicle traffic, and hosts many cultural events for entertainment, including many festivals. Dubbed the "festival capital of Ireland," this city celebrates just about everything - even oysters!
With waterways running amid the busy historic streets and shopping malls, this city offers something new and interesting around just about every corner.
Cork ranks in as the second largest city in Ireland, and can be found tucked away in the island's south coast. A busy seaport, this city has no shortage of international arts, cafes, restaurants, markets, and boutiques. The city is nestled in beautiful natural landscapes in just about every direction - from seaside views, to mountains, hills, river valleys, and the infamous Lakes of Killarney. Eye candy? I think so!
Cork is also the birthplace of tripe, a traditional dish made from animal stomachs (but we like that study abroaders will fall in love with this city with or without sampling this local food!)
Of course, Ireland has far more options than just Dublin, Cork, or Galway. To really go over all of your options, take a look at our article on where to study abroad in Ireland. Who knows, maybe your ideal destination isn't one of those three.
How to Choose a Program
While Ireland can be touted as a nation of rainfall, Celtic influences, and the occasional leprechaun - it really is much more than that. Ireland is the leading exporter of IT software in the entire world with tech-giants including IBM, Dell, and Google headquartered there. Ireland is a modern nation with the second largest GDP in the EU - providing a wealth of opportunities for international students seeking experiences in its diverse lands!
Don't sweat the foreign language learning curve (though the accents may be a bit thick!) If you wish to experience a culture who utilizes your language but still retains traditional customs and celebrates their long history, Ireland is the country for you. Let the landscapes inspire you as it did many other great thinkers throughout history (W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and a host of other nobel prize winning authors, saints, and scholars just to name a few!)
Making the plans to get to Ireland is the EASY part... but what will you do once you arrive? Be sure to plan your housing in advance - most study abroad companies will actually organize this component of your study abroad experience for an added cost.
What's more, most of said study abroad companies will give you a bunch of different options for your accommodation. For instance, API's study abroad program in Galway offers participants many different living environments with other students. Conversely, CEA's program in Dublin organizes only apartments for their students.
It is hard to say which living situation is better - be sure to find a program whose housing arrangements make you feel the most comfortable. Besides, no one wants to spend their amazing semester abroad feeling out of place in their new home!
Immersion and Cultural Activities
Many independent program providers will include small group trips in their program fees to complement students' learning experiences. These trips can range from a daily trip to a nearby sight or a longer venture out in the neck of the woods. Regardless of the excursion, most students find these activities to be a highlight of their study abroad experience (besides, there's really only so much you can learn in a classroom!)
CIS Abroad takes it a bit further with their semester program in Dublin by allowing students to choose two excursions out of many that they would like to participate in - thus giving students not only the option to have organized fun, but also to do the planning themselves for most of their free time!
Expecting a sunny day at the beach, however, is less of a certainty. From the one-of-a-kind social life to picturesque coastlines to the rigorous academic experience available at top universities, Ireland is filled with opportunities to gain a more global perspective. So, if you want to find your pot of gold, be sure to follow the rainbow and make the choice to study abroad in Ireland. Remember to ‘pay it forward’ and review your experience studying abroad in Ireland when your program has finished. May the luck of the Irish be with you!
Celebrate St. Patrick's day in Ireland to get a taste of the real Irish deal! Originally intended to honor its namesakes contributions to expanding Christianity, this public holiday is not just a day of wearing green, but instead a week-long festival!
Beyond its contributions to the literary world, Ireland also has an incredibly rich heritage in the music and arts scene, leading the Irish culture and history to travel far and wide. Take the Celtic tiger for a ride, and find out for yourself what else lies in the many green hills of Ireland!
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!
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships