Hey there, My name’s Andrew Chwalik and
I’m an international student here at Trinity College Dublin. I’ve had a blast
during my studies here and I want to make sure you do as well
so I’m making a guide – How to Successfully Study Abroad in Ireland –
vlog style. Let’s jump right in.
Congratulations on studying abroad or getting accepted into one of the great
universities here in Ireland. But first things first.
Step one – know what to pack. I’m not going to go in detail about clothing. Just
remember this rule of thumb – plan your outfits out for one whole week. Once you
have all those outfits laid out, pack them all. Toss in a few extra underwear
and you are good to go. Plus, you’ll pick up a few other outfits throughout
the year. Now here are the things you’re really going to need. Your laptop, I mean
obviously. A pair of headphones. Your passport – always double check. Any
medications. Definitely an umbrella and maybe a rain jacket too. A journal to
document all your experiences. A nice sturdy backpack. And perhaps most
importantly, a converter. I’d say bring two or three unless you
have the cool kind and have the USB plugins on the top. This is the type you
need. Just to be sure, let me tell you a few things you do not need to bring. Your
entire shoe collection. A fanny pack, unless you’re into that.
Your Discover credit card. Virtually and no one here takes
Discover. Honestly, just pack as light as possible it will make your life so
much easier but now that you know what to pack let’s check out the living
situation. Step two – figure out where to live. If
your program has already set this up for you or you secure a place in campus
housing, nice work, you can skip to the next step. For those of us who are not so
lucky, turn your hats backward and let’s get
down to business. This is a map of the various districts that make up Dublin.
District 12’s very first volunteer. The City Center, where all the cool stuff
happens, is basically where Districts 1 and District 2 meet. That also happens
to be where Trinity is located. Since I’m a Trinity student, “opening my mind to the power of data”, I’ll use
TCD as my example. Living anywhere within a seven mile radius of your
school is ideal. If you can’t find anything in that area, Districts 4, 6 6W,
8, 7, & 3 are the next closest options. However, some places in these districts
can be pretty far so try to stay as close as you can to the City Center. At
the time of this video, the average rent in the Dublin area ranged anywhere from
500 euro to 1500 euro per month. Yeah Dublin is pretty expensive. Especially if you’re
from Ohio. Rates will vary depending on your living situation, like if you want a
shared apartment or an individual flat. Just know, typically the more people, the
lower the cost. Some places will have the prices of utilities – water, electric, Wi-Fi –
included and some will not. If not, just be aware that many Irish households run
on the top-up model. This is just simply where you top-up your electricity
balance when it starts to get low. My flat has Pinnergy. It took me almost a
week to figure out how to turn my lights on. all you need to do is hit up a
Centra store and buy some Pinnergy credit with your Pinnergy card. Then, you
just type your code in here and you’re good to go. You can also just manage
everything through the Pinnergy App – do that instead of climbing on your
counters. Last thing about housing, most landlords and letting agents will want
to meet you and show you the property in person. The best thing to do is set up
some viewings a couple weeks before you leave for
Ireland and then stay in an Airbnb or hostel while you finalize everything.
Worst case scenario, Trinity has an accommodation service to help
find a place so take full advantage of that. Good luck!
Step 3 – get an Irish phone plan. You’re going to want to get this stuff done as
soon as you get to Ireland. Not only so you can start Instagramming your
adventure but because if you’re looking for housing, calling landlords will
quickly become a priority. Thankfully, Ireland has a bunch of great carriers – Vodafone, 3, Meteor – as long as you go have some weird third party phone, you
can just walk into one of these stores, grab a SIM card, pop it in your phone, and
you’re good to go. I’ve been using 3 during my time
here in Ireland and I have no complaints. They have a 20 euro a month top-up plan,
same model as the Pinnergy top-up, that offers unlimited data. That’s right, I
said unlimited. I’m a snapchat addict so the unlimited data aspect sold me right
away. Quick disclaimer, each company offers different packages with different
benefits so look into all of them before making a choice. For example, if you plan
to travel around Europe, which you should, you may want a plan that has coverage in
a bunch of different countries. One more thing, certain plans require you to have
an Irish bank account. There are many big banks around, but the Bank of Ireland
offers some great deals for students so at least check them out. Just so you know
you’ll need to bring a letter of acceptance that you can get from your
university when you go in to set up your account; make sure to bring that with you
Step 4 – pick your preferred method of transport to get around the city. You’re
going to need to travel around Dublin whether it’s for school, events, going to
the club – you need a transportation method.
Thankfully, there’s a plethora of options. Dublin Bike. Dublin Bus. The Lewis. Secondhand bikes. Taking a taxi. Taking an Uber. Walking. A person with a carriage on the
back of the bike where you get in the back and they drive you around to
different places. You get the picture. My method of choice was to buy a
second-hand cycle. There are secondhand bike shops everywhere if you’re
interested. No matter the method you choose, you’ll probably want to ride the
bus at some point, especially during the rainy days. Head to House 6 to get your Student
LEAP Card. House 6 is on Trinity’s campus and be sure to get the Student
LEAP Card because it gets you some serious discounts. Not only is the card
good for buses, you can use it to get on the Lewis, the Dublin tram system, and on
trains all throughout Ireland. If that’s not enough, the your LEAP Card will get you discounts at different restaurants and stores including McDonald’s. You’re
welcome. Step number five – know where to get your groceries. This is not some
weird type of innuendo, you just need to know where to get your groceries because
there are so many options. If you’re on a student budget like me, I’d stay away
from Spar and Centra, they’re pretty pricey. You’ll be able to find Tesco’s
everywhere. They’re kind of in the middle in relation to the price range. Some
items would be a little too expensive while others will be cheaper than normal.
I’ll get my necessities here like bread and eggs. And the winner of the cheapest
grocery stores goes to Aldi and Lidl. In reality, these stores are
competitors but they both offer the exact same thing. Same inventory. Same low prices. One of these two stores is where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping. One
other little tip, grocery bags cost money here so be ready to pony up a few
cents or do what I do and you shove everything in your backpack. Step 6 – take
advantage of your student life. My mom always said that college would be some
of the best years of your life. She was right. Try new things. Meet new people. Go
out. Adventure. Join a club. Play a sport. This may be the last time you’re able to
try so many different things. Specifically, I have two things you need
to take advantage of. Number one, societies. During the beginning of the year, all of
the different society set up tents in the main square and try to entice you
to join by giving away a bunch of free stuff. If you can dream it, there’s a
society that does it. Seriously, Trinity even has a fly-fishing society. I
mean come on! Join as many as you want and be an active member. Trust me on this one, it will be 100% worth it. Number two, your student ID. There are so many places
around Dublin that offer a student discount so make sure you always ask. If
you’re a Trinity student, you get some serious benefits with your student ID.
it’s called the T Card. You can use it like a debit card and put money on it
online. If you plan to eat on campus, do this. Every time you pay with your T
Card, you get 10% off. You also get a discount at the Trinity Gift Shop where
you can pick up some nice Trinity swag. Perhaps the biggest benefit of your T
Card – getting into the Book of Kells and the Long Room for free and skipping the
line. Trust me, you want to skip the line. You can even take three guests in for
free but for real enjoy your time being a student because it only lasts so long.
Step 7 – travel around Europe. Unlike in the US, flights in Europe are super cheap.
I got a round-trip flight from Dublin to Scotland for five euro. How crazy is that?
A round-trip for six bucks! It was more expensive for me to get to the airport!
Ryanair will be your best friend. They are the no-frills airline company that
offers super crazy low prices. They don’t offer great service or awesome in-flight
experiences but hey, they got you where you needed to go on a college student
budget. Just so you know, if you’re not from an EU country you always have to
print out your boarding passes and bring them with you to the airport.
Hopefully, traveling was already part of your plan anyway. If not, add it. Who knows
how long it will be until you end up getting back to Europe. There are so many
spectacular places to check out. Here are a few recommendations for you – eat pasta in Rome, snag a baguette in Paris, and enjoy the hot springs in Budapest.
Don’t forget to also explore Ireland. You’ll want to check out the west coast
and hike around the Cliffs of Moher. Plus, imagine how strong your Instagram
game will be after all this travel. Step number eight – adventure around Dublin.
While you’re a resident of Dublin, there are some things you need to check out.
Hold on tight, we’re going on a quick little tour of Dublin. This is St.
Patrick’s Cathedral, the tallest Church in all of Ireland. It does cost a few
euro but if you’re about it, do the free tour inside. This is the Guinness
Storehouse. The entire experience is pretty cool but
I would only check it out when family and friends come to visit. Phoenix Park
is one of the largest parks in a European capital city. Pretty cool. Plus,
you can even feed deer here! It even has a zoo! This is Christ Church. I’d actually
recommend checking out the Dublina Tour if you’re interested in learning
about the history of Dublin. After the tour, you get to go across this bridge
and check out Christ Church. This is the Book of Kells and the Long Room here on
Trinity’s campus. Remember Trinity students, you get to go in here for free
with three of your friends and skip that line. There’s so many other cool things
to do here in Dublin. Just Google “stuff to do in Dublin” and you’ll get a pretty
nice list. Step 9 – eat traditional Irish food. Your time in Ireland will not be
complete without trying traditional Irish cuisine. My all-time favorite place
is O’Neill’s just across from Trinity. Not only is there great food, it’s a true Irish
atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for a savory pie, head over to Pieman where you can get a beef and Guinness pie with mushy peas. You are now officially ready
to study abroad in Ireland but before I go, I’m going to leave you with a few
tips. Call your credit card companies and let them know you’re traveling abroad.
It will stop them from freaking out and thinking your account has been hacked.
Have a letter of recommendation from a former landlord – it could really come in
handy. Download WhatsApp and make sure your friends and family do too – it’s the
easiest and free way to chat internationally. Amazon doesn’t have a
market here in Ireland so if you want to buy something from Amazon, be prepared to pay the UK import tax. Enjoy your time in Ireland. If you have any questions, drop
them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter. I’m more than happy to help. I
wish you all the best now high-five!