Nestled in the northwest corner of Europe, Ireland is known for its beauty, rich history, and breathtaking landscapes. Millions of tourists flock to the island each year to experience its unique and vibrant culture.
A popular destination is Dublin, Ireland’s capital. Know as the “City of Living Culture,” Dublin is home to over one thousand pubs. It also boasts a lively music and theater scene and a lavish literary history.
Last year, senior Hannah Vose had the opportunity to study abroad through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad). She chose to study in Dublin partly because she had previously visited Ireland while on a trip to visit relatives in England. She participated in the yearlong option and remained in Dublin for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Vose, an English major, was directly enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin. “My experience was enhanced by taking classes at the university with other Irish students and professors,” she said. She took part in courses on Irish history and literature alongside both Irish natives and other international students.
She noted many differences between Trinity College, Dublin and UR, including standardized college credits across the European Union and three terms per year at school. Final exams were also different.
“In classes there, your entire grade is based off of one paper or exam,” she explained. “My history class ended in December and I took the exam in May. It’s pretty terrifying.”
Despite the anxiety of exams, Vose enjoyed her academic experience and became involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. “At Trinity, they have societies, which are equivalent to clubs,” she explained, noting that she was a member of the Drama, Literature, and QSoc (Ireland’s oldest LGBT organization) Societies.
When Vose was not concentrating on her studies or involving herself in society activities, she could often be found exploring with other students from the college.
“I think the thing I liked best there was my friends,” she said. “I met people from all over the world. The full year helped build friendships that will last a long time.”
During her yearlong stay, she met German, Japanese, Slovakian, Italian, and English international students, to name a few. Vose was fascinated by all the cultures she was able to learn about, Irish and otherwise.
Throughout her many adventures with her friends, Vose learned through experience just how aggressive Irish drivers can be. “My friends and I think taxi drivers have a point system and get points for hitting people,” she notes with a laugh. “It’s very scary.”
Even though the drivers were intense on the road, Vose noted how relaxed Irish natives were in other respects. For instance, most shops closed at five or six at night and were not open at all on Sundays. “It encourages people to spend time with their family,” Vose explained. “There are a lot of Catholic traditions there.”
Vose identified language use as one of the most casual aspects of Irish culture. “They don’t censor themselves the way Americans do,” she said. “They are very talkative, friendly, and sweary.”
In her free time, Vose enjoyed visiting Bray, a coastal city a half-hour drive away from Dublin. Hiking the sea cliffs there provided great views and lots of fun.
While Vose described Dublin weather as “very grey,” she added that the Irish countryside is what the island is famous for. “It’s picturesque and very green with rolling hills and sheep – lots of sheep.”
Reflecting back on her trip, Vose was highly satisfied with her experience overseas. “Studying abroad was a lesson in living independently,” she said. “You really have to figure things out for yourself.” In Vose’s case, figuring things out for herself resulted in an unforgettable experience that she’s happy to say she would do all over again in a heartbeat.
Nason is a member of the class of 2018.