BCom International Business Student
Semester Exchange in the Second Semester, 2022 at the Trinity College Dublin
Before I left to travel abroad for my semester at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, I made a list of everything that I needed to prepare. Something that I did not need to think about, I am so grateful to say, was a visa. My grandfather was born in Dingle on the Southwest coast of Ireland and because of this, I was the last generation to receive an Irish passport in my family. Little did I know how valuable this would be. I therefore cannot advise anyone on the logistics of applying for a visa, but I do have other tips for those preparing to study abroad.
My biggest tip would be to apply for accommodation early. I left mine last minute (although I thought it was a reasonable time to start looking) only to find that most student accommodation rooms in Dublin had been booked and the only ones left were astronomically expensive. So, in order to find affordable, nice accommodation in a good location, start searching as soon as you get your placement from Stellenbosch (maybe even get yourself on a few waiting lists beforehand). Some good rooms in Dublin can be found at Kavanagh Court, Point Campus or any of the Yugo buildings. I was too late to secure a room at any of these places but was lucky enough to find a room in a lovely lady’s house in the suburbs of Dublin 7. The area is more relaxed than the city, I am a three-minute walk from the train station, my room is much cheaper than the student accommodations that my friends are in, and I have more amenities as well as free laundry while they have to pay for this. So, while student accommodation is fun, don’t rule out homestays if the things I listed sound more enticing to you.
Ireland, and most of Europe, is a lot more expensive than South Africa, to say the least. I recommend sitting down with your parents or guardians, whoever will be funding the majority of your time abroad and decide on a weekly or monthly budget for this time. Budget for items such as groceries, public transport, coffee and eating out, entertainment, shopping and travelling. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending when you get to your destination. My final pre-departure tip is to pack for the weather! I knew coming into this time that Ireland got quite chilly and was known to be rainy, but I didn’t take this information as seriously as I should have. Umbrellas do not last long here so a good-quality raincoat is essential. During the winter months, thermal clothing comes in handy to wear under your normal clothes and some durable, waterproof boots will do you well. Good luggage is crucial if you are planning to travel around Europe during your stay as you don’t want it to break after the first trip.