University College Dublin is a self-contained campus that was a real surprise for me when I first arrived. All classes, the libraries, gym and residences are walking distance across a pedestrianised campus all centred on The UCD Lake. Living on campus was really easy and fun, being able to go to cool cafes or find a quiet space to study if I needed it and I’d always see people I knew around. The campus accommodation was also really fantastic; I was less than 5 minutes from some of my classes and I made great friends with my flatmates. All students at the university also get a free gym membership to the exercise halls and fitness classes, and for only €4 you can have access to the pool and saunas too.
On campus there are dozens of clubs and societies that you can join which are all set up in a big marquee during Fresher’s week (which was weirdly actually week 3 of semester). For only €2 you can join any of them, from the faculty societies to ones for drama, classics, languages or whatever you can think of. And they all have a multitude of free stuff which definitely makes the price worth it. Of the ones I joined, the Engineering society, Study Abroad and Erasmus Student Societies were definitely the best. The Engineering society held pub crawl nights, had free coffee and tea during study break, organised site visits for us Civil Engineering nerds out there and to top it all off in the second last week of class they threw the Engineering Winter Formal. These were all hugely fun events where you could meet lots of people who weren’t just exchange students and who were studying similar things.
The Study Abroad Society and Erasmus Society hosted a heap of fun events at the beginning of the semester to get to know other exchange students such as networking (always with free food) to get to know people and campus tours. But they also hosted more exciting tours with discounted prices around iconic Dublin attractions like the Guinness Storehouse and Croke Park, and further afield to Glendalough, Belfast and Northern Ireland, or Galway. An added bonus was that as a member of the Erasmus Student Network you also got 15% off Ryanair flights and a free checked bag which made travelling further afield to Europe so much better too!
Considering Campus is 30 minutes by bus from the city centre you get to know the public transport system of Dublin really well. With a Student Leap card you get discounted fares on all buses, trains and the Luas tram across County Dublin. From UCD into the city there are buses regularly during the day and even more at peak times, with the 46A, 39A and 145 all taking you straight into town. If you’re up for a bit of exercise the DART commuter train station is a 20 minute walk away in Booterstown on the coast, or the Windy Arbour Luas stop is 30 minutes in the other direction. Dublin is just like Auckland though that when the traffic is bad enough, the walk and DART or Luas can actually be a faster way to get in and out of the city than being stuck on a bus.
Of course like any university there are heaps of other events to attend such as weekly law society debates or quiet spots to sit and study with a coffee. You’ll never be short of something to do!