Hannah Vose - 2013 Program Participant
Temple Bar (Dublin) on St. Patrick's Day, 2014
What drew you to study abroad?
I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, even in high school. The idea of getting to live outside of American culture, meet people internationally, and learn how to live on my own in a different environment was exciting to me, and something that I always wanted to try.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Ireland with IES Abroad?
When I went to Ireland in 2010, before my senior year in high school, I fell in love with it and always wanted to go back. I considered applying to Trinity College Dublin as a full-time student, but the financial aspects of it made that impossible. When I discovered through my university that IES had a program with Trinity, I knew I finally had the chance to make the dream of studying there a reality. I went for the full year because I wanted to be truly integrated with the academic and social community at the university, and doing the full year made me the equivalent of a one-year transfer student who had most of the same responsibilities as the full-time students there.
What was your favorite part about living in Dublin?
Dublin is amazing. It's a great capital city, and relatively safe for a capital city, with a vibrant culture and young, international population. It's also very easy to get out of the city for a day, if you want to. It's so easy to take a train or a bus out to the country or down to the seaside villages for a day out of hiking, shopping, touristy adventuring, anything.
How was studying abroad in Dublin for a full year different from short-term study abroad programs?
As a directly enrolled student at TCD, who lived in university housing, and didn't participate in the half-year orientation, I had very little contact with the IES center and other students in the Ireland programs. Aside from the support that the center staff provided to me in terms of getting through Trinity's red tape machine, I was pretty much left to my own devices for the duration of my time there. I think that the level of self-sufficiency which I sustained throughout my program was unique for IES, because my program isolated me from the rest of the people there through IES; I got a completely different experience from them. I knew very few Americans during my time in Ireland, which, based on what other people have told me, is pretty rare for a study abroad experience.
How did the local IES Abroad staff provide you with support during your stay?
The local staff helped me figure out how to set up a bank account and they acted as a go-between for myself and the university when there were misunderstandings with paperwork.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently during your time in Ireland?
I wish I would have traveled into the west of Ireland a bit more. I mostly stayed in the Dublin County area, with some brief day trips to Wexford, Cork, and a few days in Belfast. I would have loved to see the Aran Islands. Guess I'll just have to go back!
Describe what a typical day was like as a student in Dublin.
I took four classes a term at Trinity, and since each class only met once a day for an hour or two, I didn't always have class every day. But, on a day I did have class, it would go like this:
I'd wake up, go out to the kitchen and make toast for breakfast, then get dressed and leave the house. If the weather was nice, I would walk to the university (about a forty minute walk on main roads). If it wasn't I would take the LUAS (commuter tram) or the city bus. If I had a later class, I would get a coffee from Costa on the corner outside of the Arts Block entrance to campus and then head in to class. Classes lasted an hour for lower-level seminars, lectures, and recitations, two hours for upper level seminars.
After class, if I had another class later in the day, I might meet up with a friend for lunch before going back to the Arts Block and reading until my next class. Once all my classes were done for the day, I would either walk or take the bus or LUAS back to Rathmines, sometimes getting off in the town centre to get groceries, and then go back home. In the evenings, I would do my readings for class, and on Thursdays or Fridays, go into the city for a Soc. ("Society" like a student group) event or to see a movie or get drinks with friends.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time in Dublin?
One of the friends I met through a Soc. got me into "hiking." I say "hiking" because it's not so much “uphill through a thicket and forests” as it is “wandering down established paths in the countryside,” but she considers what I do hiking so I will as well. My favourite thing to do became to take the DART or the bus down to Bray on weekends and do the cliff-walk from Bray to Greystones and then back again. It's about an hour and a half each way, and it's along the cliff-faces toward the Irish sea. The views are incredible, the walk is freshening, but not exhausting, and Irish weather almost never gets bad enough to make it impossible.
What type of accommodation did you have in Dublin? How did you like it?
I lived in University accommodation with other international students. I was placed in Trinity Hall, which is a residence complex in the Rathmines suburb of Dublin devoted mostly to freshers (that is, first year students) that also houses some exchange, Erasmus, and graduate students. I lived in an apartment with five other women, all international students, with the exception of one grad student, all on exchange or Erasmus. All the bedrooms were singles with small, ensuite bathrooms, and we had a shared living room/kitchen area.
The thing I liked best was living with other international students. I learned a lot from my flatmates about their cultures, and I made great friends with them, as well (although I will say the ensuite bathrooms definitely did not hurt).
How has your time in Ireland changed you life?
I want to go back all the time. I loved Ireland intensely, despite the cost of living there. I miss the friends I made there, but I stay in contact with them often. I definitely feel that living in Ireland made me much more confident in my ability to be independent, and definitely reinforced to me that being adventurous is almost always for the best. But really, I'm trying to figure out how to move back. It's not too late to become a computer programmer, right?