Payton Hoff - 2015 Program Participant

Cliffs in Ireland

The cliffs around Ireland are BEAUTIFUL

Why did you decide to study abroad?

In high school whenever I visited colleges I always asked the tour guides if they had studied abroad. Everyone that answered no said they regretted it. Since then, I knew that study abroad was going to be an opportunity in college that I would not miss out on.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Dublin?

Ireland has been a country that has always interested me, and I actually considered applying to Trinity College Dublin when I was doing my college search. IES Abroad was the only program at my school that offered a direct enrollment to Trinity.

What was your favorite part about Ireland?

Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, and it's so easy to travel and see the whole country through weekend trips!

What made your coursework unique?

I loved being able to have classes with other Irish students. There were even some classes where I was the only international student! It was a humbling and interesting experience.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The people at the IES Abroad Dublin office were really helpful with cultural and city advice! We also got weekly emails about events happening around Dublin.

Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I could have found the time to travel more often! I have no idea when I'll return to Ireland or Europe and I wish I had the chance to see more of it!

What was a normal day like for you in Ireland?

Most days I would wake up, make breakfast, catch the bus to Trinity, go to class, meet some friends for lunch somewhere around campus, go to the fitness center after classes, walk home and eat dinner, catch up on some work or reading, then meet my friends at a pub later that night!

What did you enjoy doing on your freetime most?


What type of accommodation did you have? How did you like it?

I lived in an apartment with three other American students! It was my first time ever living somewhere that's not my house or a dorm room, so that was exciting!

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The most challenging part about studying abroad was missing events at home that I had been looking forward to. It was difficult seeing my teammates swimming in the championship swim meet at the end of the season while I was gone, as well as knowing that I was missing my older cousin’s wedding that I had been excited about for a long time. Missing stuff like this caused me to be a lot more homesick than I had anticipated.

To cope with this, I would check social media only one or two times a day, instead of constantly being glued to my phone. I also talked to my family and friends on a set schedule, as opposed to calling them only when I was lonely or homesick.

Ice cream along a pier in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Strolling on the pier in Dun Laoghaire, a beautiful spot just south of Dublin

What surprised you most about Ireland?

I had known that Ireland is a beautiful country, but WOW!! Everywhere I went in Ireland took my breath away. I couldn't believe that I was living in such a stunning, magical country. Another thing that surprised me was that even though Ireland isn't as conveniently located on the main continent, it is so easy to travel around Ireland and to the rest of Europe!

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Dublin?

I didn't realize that Dublin is a fairly expensive city to live in, especially since the exchange rate is not in the dollar's favor! Definitely budget for basic expenses, such as transportation, groceries, and school and cleaning supplies. If you budget right, then you'll have plenty of money for travel and souvenir expenses!

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Dublin?

Pack a long rain coat and comfortable shoes because you will be walking a lot in Dublin. Since it's a smaller city, a majority of the people walk but public transport is also available. Unless you use a very specific brands, save room in your suitcase and plan on buying shampoo, conditioner, body wash, makeup, and other toiletries in Dublin. The only thing I would recommend packing for sure is a few things of deodorant because in Ireland they use a spray!

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

Everyone who studies abroad has a unique experience that will stay with them forever. You learn so much about yourself and the world around you in only a few months, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I became more independent than I thought I could be and my desire to explore and discover new things has increased a good amount since I have returned to the U.S.

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad in Ireland impacted your life?

Studying abroad in Ireland was the experience of a lifetime! I grew so much as a person and I feel like I have a better understanding of myself and the world around me!

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would love to spend a semester in London. I visited there three times while I was studying abroad, and loved it almost as much as I loved Dublin! It was a very close second! London is a very vibrant, exciting city and it's a lot of fun to explore! However, it's HUGE and kind of overwhelming at times. Dublin is on the smaller side and it's really easy to navigate, which is one of the many reasons why I love it so much.