If you’re studying abroad at Trinity College, more likely than not you’ll end up in a shared flat at Binary Hub. This purpose-built complex is run by Aparto, and is situated in Dublin 2, just off Thomas Street and in the depths of the Liberties. (Wikipedia – funnily enough – says more than I ever could on the location, and you can brush up on the history and the contemporary cultural and entertainment scene of the Liberties by skimming through that page.)
I’ve got a few important things to say before we get into the nitty gritty of the actual living situation. I won’t sugar-coat it, because I feel like you ought to be informed if you’re going to be going through a similar process.
- Once you indicate to Trinity that you’re interested in student accommodation (this is done by filling out a Google Form), you’ll wait a few days and then get your offer from Binary Hub. The deadline for acceptance and your first deposit is wicked fast – you have 48 hours, from memory – and the Aparto portal is… not the best. It’s an apparently one-stop shop to make the process easier, but you can’t go back and forth within the confirmation and payment screens, which makes life a little hard. (And you can’t repeat, apparently.) The portal was having issues when I was manically trying to navigate payment and a thirteen hour time difference. Just keep that in mind. (And if you’re having any issues – any at all – email someone. Email the staff, explain your issue, and even if they don’t respond immediately, you’ll have written proof that you’ve made the effort.)
- That said, you’ll feel a sense of relief once the deposit is all sorted. It’ll seem like you have ages to pay the rest – you’re asked to pay upfront, as opposed to the fortnightly payments in halls at home – but get on that. Immediately. I gave myself a week before the payment deadline (as the preceding month was full of Christmas celebrations and seeing family and filling out other exchange forms), and this was the most stressful time of my life. There are a few payment methods, but let me say that if you choose PayToStudy – don’t do it through your own internet banking. Go into a bank and have them do it. In order to reach Ireland, the money will have to be transferred through several different international banks, and the exchange rate may change as this happens, and what arrives at the PayToStudy end has to be right in order for them to pass it along to Aparto. I was emailing people morning, noon, and night, making several trips to the bank (cheers to my Dad, who works in international finance and knew what kind of questions needed to be asked) – and shout out to Mandy at BNZ; we had so many phone conversations. My stress levels, which function a little higher than the normal human just on average, were through the roof. While it got sorted out in the end – literally as I was flying through the air – it was the last thing I wanted before a big move by myself across the planet.
When you’re in Dublin:
- Google Maps says Binary Hub is a twenty-five- to thirty-minute walk to Trinity. The real length of the journey will depend on your stride. Take a bus, if you want, but the exercise is manageable – no hills (read: Wakefield Street, you mare). I can do it in twenty. I also end up sweating up a storm once I sit down in class, but that’s more due to the intensity of the Arts Building heaters than anything else.
- Everything you could ever need – theatres, museums, libraries, cinemas; restaurants, pubs, nightclubs – is extremely accessible from this location. Arthur’s Pub is a few steps down Thomas, and it’s an easy stop for the comfort of a hot, filling meal. The Guinness Storehouse is right next to Binary Hub, and one time it smelled like cat food, but most of the time it smells like what you get if you’ve ever put WeetBix in the microwave. Maybe an odd thing to say, but it always feels like a friendly nudge from home on a crisp morning walk to class. (Dublin in general smells like oranges and cigarette smoke and the air after fireworks, depending on where you are. It’s also just got that distinct smell of cold.)
- Because it’s accommodation primarily targeted to international students, you’re not likely to meet anyone who’s actually from Dublin. We’re all as disappointed as each other, but that’s what capitalising on societies and those little connections you can make in class is for. It can be nice to have somebody to talk to when they’re in the exact same boat, too. (Plus, loads of international friends means there’s always somewhere to stay if you find yourself in their neck of the woods.)
Where to shop –
- Groceries: Lidl on Thomas Street. I cannot sing its praises enough. A few people I know go instead to Tesco Express or to Marks & Spencer, but these are the people to whom the exchange rate isn’t quite so harsh. Lidl has all the essentials, and if you’re looking for something specific or a bit more high end, sure, make that trip to Tesco or M&S (or to an Asian grocer, of which there are a few tucked around the place), but on the whole, stick to Lidl.
- Crockery, cutlery, cookware: Two doors up from Lidl is Dealz. As the name suggests, the stuff you’ll get there is pretty cheap, but for the length of time you’ll be here, that’s all you need. The three-pack of proper black-handled knives my flat bought from there is possibly the sharpest selection of knives I’ve ever experienced (the little bit of fingernail I had to sacrifice while cutting lettuce one time can confirm). Also great is EuroGiant, bang in the middle between Dealz and Lidl. My friends swear by its frying pan. (I’ve been cooking everything out of a pot or on an oven tray, but, like, still.) Like I kind of touched on, buy these things as a flat. That can distribute cost and make things a lot easier. (Still annoying when people don’t clean up after themselves though.)
- Bedding: As I lamented in my last blog post, you’re not given anything except a mattress cover. Go to Penney’s on the other side of the river. (Penney’s is great, just in general.) In my desperation, I went to Dunnes, paid a bit more, and have the cosiest, loveliest duvet and throw and pillows, but I really could’ve just gone to Penney’s.
A couple of shots of my bedroom to help you get an idea!
Apologies for the information dump. At least it’s a somewhat comprehensive guide to Dublin! If you’d like to know what I’m up to in a less information-dump style, feel free to check out my Instagram, @tatefountain.
Until next time!