Accommodation Awards: Tim

There’s plenty of student accommodation around UCD, but I was still lucky enough to be able to get a room in the University residences on campus considering the sheer volume of people who applied. Of all of the residences though, my one is obviously the best with Ashfield Student Residence standing out in the category of student accommodation and being worthy of several awards this year in the Biannual 360 International Accommodation awards. So without further ado;

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Ashfield Student Residence
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The inner courtyard

The “Weirdest wall artwork” award
Each apartment in Ashfield is spacious with six bedrooms with ensuites and an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area. They’re arranged in four buildings around a central courtyard with about 20 apartments each and being brand new last year are modern, clean and kitted out with fancy appliances. However some interior designer must have gone mad at the cheap IKEA wall art as every room has mysterious artwork nailed to the wall. Every night I have to sleep under the watchful gaze of a Macaque monkey, while dinner is presided over by strange deer/people hybrids standing around a car. But I suppose you get used to it.

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The bedrooms are super spacious
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I’ve never had my own ensuite before!
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He watches while you sleep
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Even when you eat, you can’t escape the deer-people

 

The “You never know how much you miss an oven until you don’t have one” award
Yup this is a pretty big one. Toaster, kettle, microwave, stovetop all check but alas there is no oven. For a nice big modern kitchen that was a bit of a shock upon arrival, but aside from mum’s dearly missed lasagne recipe I found that you can still make a lot with just a stovetop. Rice, pasta, couscous, stir-fries, eggs, steak and more are all still on the menu, and anyway if I get really desperate I can always buy a microwave meal for one to get me through the cold winter nights to come.

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Lament of the lost oven

The “Most convenient convenience store” award
This is actually a shout out to one of the other residences on campus here; Merville Student Residence has a convenience store in it, like literally in the same building. Midnight snacks and emergency milk have never been so easy, and plus they do a mean chicken roll for lunch.

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It barely even counts as leaving the house, so pyjamas are totally acceptable in the store right?

The “However the nearest actual supermarket is a half an hour walk away with no direct bus” award
I mean Centra is great, but sometimes doesn’t quite cut it.
Although fantastic, it has to be said that even moving to the other side of the world has not allowed me to escape the housing crisis as Dublin has it even worse than Auckland, with rent for a semester (particularly on campus) costing up to €4000. Overall though I think it’s worth it. Being on campus means that you’re in the thick of everything that’s going on, and it’s an easy walk to any classes, the health centre or gym. My flatmates are awesome, we’re all exchange students so have become good friends and with 24 hour reception there’s no worry about if anything goes wrong and no concerns about security.  If I’m going to be stuck here for the next 10 weeks, I think I’ve got a pretty good deal.

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First Impressions: Tim

Well, after almost a year of planning and prepping and 7 weeks of travel through the UK and Europe I’ve finally made it to the other side of the world to University College Dublin in Ireland! I’ve been here a grand total of two weeks now and it’s been full on getting everything set up and launching back into classes. From having to last-minute change papers (or modules as they’re called here), visit the Immigration Office to approve my visa and the endless bureaucracy of setting up a bank account, to the excitement of being in a new city and country and exploring all of the things Dublin has to offer there has been a lot to take in!

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To start the story off, UCD is located about a 20 minute bus ride south of the centre of Dublin on a self-contained American-style campus, but it’s still super handy to get into town with a Student Leap card giving you discounted fares on public transport across the city. In the centre of the campus is a pond complete with fountains and swans, with the main axis of faculty buildings stretching away down either side. The campus is surrounded by sports fields, student accommodation and plenty of green space and trees to relax and read on a sunny day, and if you sit still for long enough an inquisitive squirrel might even come over to say hi! It’s a truly different experience to Auckland, the campus feels like a real community and it’s enjoyable to walk around the modern buildings between classes or grab lunch in the restaurant and you’re never far from something going on.

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Checking in to accommodation was easy, and kicked off orientation week which was packed with campus tours, welcome events, faculty orientations, a Céilí (traditional Irish dance), walking tour of the city, exploring the pubs and clubs in the evening, but most of all meeting so many people from around the world and Ireland too. There were too many events to be able to go to them all but the highlight for me was definitely trying my first pint of true Irish Guinness at the storehouse brewery in town, with grand views across the whole city.

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Weather in Ireland is a bit fickle though, and it was a shock to the system being back in the wind and rain most days (I even had to break out the hat and scarf on the first day of class), but there have been some stunning days thrown in and some adventures already. To cap off the first week I took a road trip to go camping with some new Irish friends to the Cliffs of Moher which tower 120m above the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. It was pouring with rain when we first got there but we got to wake up in our tent to stunning views along the coast and a brilliantly sunny day which all the more made up for it. Oh and castles. On the drive home we even stopped in a country pub to watch the All Ireland Gaelic Football final, which was louder and crazier than any rugby match I’ve ever seen. I could barely understand the rules or the other people in the pub shouting at the TV but it was a sure-fire way to launch into the full Irish cultural experience! I have a sneaking suspicion the next four months are going to be a lot of fun!

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Ireland

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at two partner universities in Ireland: University College Dublin (incl. Law) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music (Music only).

Let’s hear what our students have to say…Ireland_ConorCorrigan_UCD

“Dublin was an amazing place to be. The pub culture is great and provides an opportunity to experience Dublin from a local’s perspective. The people were so friendly and welcoming and the university provided so many great opportunities to see the rest of Ireland.” – Tara McAlpine, University College Dublin

“My advice to future students would be to not let any fears or worries prevent you from going on an exchange. It’s okay to be afraid, it’s a scary decision living in another country by yourself. But it is an unforgettable experience and as clichéd as it sounds you truly will not regret it.” – Tara McAlpine, University College Dublin

“Heading into Dublin is a very different than Auckland. Everybody is so friendly and curious about your foreign accent. They don’t call it the land of a thousand welcomes for nothing.” – Conor Corrigan, University College Dublin

“Immediately from stepping foot in the airport to getting off the bus on the UCD campus the people in Ireland were incredibly friendly and welcoming. Everyone I met was happy and willing to help me find my way and share a bit of ‘craic’.” – Jolene Muir, University College Dublin

“The Auckland 360 programme had not only given me the opportunity to experience a different way of living and a different way of learning, it also allowed me to travel to different countries, make life long friends, and countless unforgettable memories.” – Loretta Gerrard, University College Dublin

“Dublin is a magnificent place to be. Nominated as the friendliest city in the world, the Irish capital certainly lives up its expectation for providing a magical experience both day and night. Although it’s not always sunshine in Ireland, the Irish people have the warmest heart. If you feel lost, don’t be shy to talk to them because they are always eager to help you out.” – Chris Ding, University College Dublin

“Overall, Dublin was an amazing exchange destination and this whole journey was one I am so thankful for and will never forget. I have made life long friends from all over the world, have had some truly incredible experiences, and have been lucky enough to find another place to call home.” – Charlotte Vandervelde, University College Dublin

“A highlight was the wide range of extracurricular activities offered by both the University and student led clubs. These ranged from Irish cultural events such as traditional Irish dancing tutorials and free walking tours of Dublin, to Super Bowl parties and trips around Ireland.” – Phillip Phou, University College Dublin

“If you are feeling a bit down in life, a trip to Dublin could just be the perfect escape to spice things up.” – Chris Ding, University College Dublin

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On Culture
“Ireland in general is a beautiful country with so much to do. During my exchange, I managed to explore most of the country, as well as Northern Ireland. Each city/town has plenty of pride and their own quirks to share. From the Blarney Castle in Cork, to the Peace Walls in Belfast, there was always something unique and fun to do. The scenery across the country is stunning, with endless history embedded in the breathtaking views. Public transport between main cities is cheap and easy, and a friendly local is always willing to point out the best spots over a pint at the local pub! Dublin, itself, is such a fun and lively city. With a large population of students, especially international students, there is plenty going on at all times. In the city centre there is always live music, sporting games, themed parties and numerous other events, so there really is something for everyone. The Guinness factory as well as the whiskey museum are two definite must dos!” – Jolene Muir, University College Dublin

“Life in Ireland was relatively similar to life in Auckland. As they say ‘Ireland is the New Zealand of the Northern Hemisphere.’ The beautiful landscapes and green hills of the countryside, Ireland was everything I had expected and more.” – Loretta Gerrard, University College Dublin

“Arriving in Dublin was cold, yes, but more importantly, exciting. I had already heard great things about the people, but I didn’t realise how buzzing and lively it would really be. I fell in love with the city and how different it felt to Auckland. There was always something on and something to do, even if it was just going down to the pub to have a Guinness and a bit of ‘craic’ with the locals.” – Charlotte Vandervelde, University College Dublin

“Another highlight for me was that Dublin is a historical city, offering several free museums and galleries. Especially significant was that my exchange coincided with the centenary of the Easter Rising so not only did I get to celebrate a “typical” Irish St Patrick’s Day but I was also able to see several historic events and re-enactments.” – Phillip Phou, University College Dublin

“Finally the Irish themselves, for any kiwi you would recognize similar attitudes such as politeness and a general reluctance to speak to random strangers. However, one key difference is that the Irish do not share our dry or sarcastic humor, which took some time to get used to. In short, the Irish are Kiwis though they do not drink as much as you would think.” – Phillip Phou, University College Dublin

“Dublin is a beautiful and historic city with a fantastic number of interesting districts. It is packed full of pubs, to the extent that it’s very difficult to walk down any main road without encountering one every few minutes, and the quality of the Guinness fully lives up to expectations.” – Louis Whitcomb Cahill, University College Dublin

“The highlight of my time in Dublin was being exposed to the Irish people. Everybody that I met while I was there was warm, friendly and incredibly hospitable. As is also well known, the Irish have the best sense of humour going around.” – Marcus Playle, University College Dublin

“The Irish people also love to have ‘craic’, which involves drinking, dancing and sharing fun stories(or having a good banter as they call it). They are a great bunch of people to socialise with but please be aware that Auckland Abroad is not responsible for any broken hearts occurred during exchange.” – Chris Ding, University College Dublin

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On Orientation
“Orientation at the university was done in such a way that it was very easy to make friends and get the hang of things quickly. Like Auckland, UCD had many clubs and societies to join to help meet people. There was also a program in place for students living on campus to interact with fellow residents. I made so many great friends who I travelled around Ireland and Europe with and I’m still in contact with many of them.” – Tara McAlpine, University College Dublin

“Orientation and the student life at UCD was a bit overwhelming. There are so many clubs with have events all the time, and they’re generally welcoming to anybody to join in their events. Between club events, and RA events, we would often find ourselves at the Clubhouse, UCD’s student bar on campus for some of the cheapest pints anywhere in Dublin – sláinte (cheers in Irish).” – Conor Corrigan, University College Dublin

“As study abroad students, there was only one compulsory orientation event which covered the logistics for immigration and international students throughout the semester. During orientation week, though, there are numerous events held from speed dating to outdoor movies which gave plenty of opportunities to meet new people at UCD and get to know the campus.” – Jolene Muir, University College Dublin

“UCD offers a welcoming and activity packed integration programme for international exchange students, which provided a great opportunity to meet other local and international students. I was assigned a local student as a ‘buddy’ to show me around the campus and give some insights into student life at UCD in my first few weeks.” – Louis Whitcomb Cahill, University College Dublin

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On Housing
“I stayed on campus at UCD in the Ashfield residence. This was a newly opened residence which was incredibly nice, with each of us having our own room and en-suite bathroom. We had six people in total in our room – two Australians, two Americans, one Irish and myself. While, from memory, it wasn’t the cheapest of the residences on campus, it is, in my opinion, the best option in regards to quality, facilities and location.” – Jolene Muir, University College Dublin

“I stayed in on-campus accommodation with other international students. I thoroughly recommend this as UCD is about a 20-30 minute bus ride from Dublin’s city centre. Lots of the events held by the ISS take place on campus and their weekend trips start and end at UCD, thus living on campus makes attending these events/trips a lot easier. Furthermore, many of the friends I made lived in the same UCD residence as I did.” – Frances Steel, UCD

“I stayed on UCD campus in Merville residence (would recommend this residence over all others!) where I shared an apartment with three others. Particularly in the first few weeks, there are a range of things on for exchange students that aided in making friends, which I know at times can feel daunting when overseas alone.” – Charlotte Vandervelde, University College Dublin

“Throughout my time at UCD, I also had the benefit of living at the Merville Student Residence (a self-catered complex with apartments being shared between 4-5 students) which was almost adjacent to the Sutherland Law School where my classes took place. This was an added bonus and made getting to and from University the easiest it had been in my 5 years” – Marcus Playle, University College Dublin

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On Academics
“The architectural course at University College of Dublin was not what I had expected, but found myself capable enough of to adapt and understand the way the supervisors teach, their standards and amount of work produced.” – Loretta Gerrard, University College Dublin

“I stayed in on-campus accommodation with other international students. I thoroughly recommend this as UCD is about a 20-30 minute bus ride from Dublin’s city centre. Lots of the events held by the ISS take place on campus and their weekend trips start and end at UCD, thus living on campus makes attending these events/trips a lot easier. Furthermore, many of the friends I made lived in the same UCD residence as I did.” – Frances Steel, University College Dublin

“My Business classes were relatively similar to the ones at home, and the lecturers all very helpful if you had any concerns. I also took a paper outside of my degree, ‘Ireland Uncovered,’ which was interesting in that it gave me a deeper understanding of the culture in which I was living. Because UCD students do 6 papers a semester and UoA only 4, I was lucky enough to have a little more spare time during the week.” – Charlotte Vandervelde, University College Dublin

“The University College Dublin was a pretty laid back institution, similar in a lot of respects to the University of Auckland, while the lecturers at the UCD were really approachable like at Auckland class sizes for the law school were often much smaller and more personal compared to Auckland. Unfortunately, unlike in Auckland, all exams are closed book” – Phillip Phou, University College Dublin

“Academically, the exchange provided me with the opportunity to study courses not offered at the University of Auckland, including several courses on EU law. Beginning to understand how an interstate organisation, such as the EU, can impact the statutory and regulatory environment of individual states was one of the academic highlights of studying in Dublin, and something I would encourage law students considering an exchange at UCD to make the most of.” – Louis Whitcomb Cahill, University College Dublin

“The lecturers were, on the whole, very good and generally of comparable quality to the University of Auckland. The courses (at least as far as those at Law School were concerned) were similar both in terms of content and the way in which they were taught” – Marcus Playle, University College Dublin

Ireland_ChrisDing_UCD

On Travel
“Ireland (and Europe) is just full opportunities to travel. Everywhere is close together, yet the countries and cultures are so different. Dublin is the home of Ryanair, which means dirt cheap flights all over Europe. I was fortunate enough to get a €20 round trip ticket to Brussels, amongst other inexpensive adventures. If I wasn’t out travelling mainland Europe, I was exploring Ireland. Nowhere there is more than a few hours’ drive away, and its full of amazing sights such as the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry and Giant’s Causeway.” – Conor Corrigan, University College Dublin

“Whilst abroad I travelled around Ireland, going to places such as Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, Glendalough and Howth. I also travelled to Northern Island. There I visited Belfast, saw the Giant’s Causeway and the Dark Hedges (a filming area of Game of Thrones). I also managed a few overseas trips, going to Copenhagen, London and Edinburgh. Ryanair (a budget airline) is based in Dublin, thus making these overseas trips a very reasonable price.” – Frances Steel, University College Dublin

“You could also spend money on traveling around Europe as Dublin makes a great springboard for visiting the rest of Europe during the inter-semester break with cheap airlines like Ryanair and Aer Lingus” – Phillip Phou, University College Dublin

“Being based in Dublin also made travelling to other countries very easy and I managed to travel to Portugal, Denmark and Poland during the semester as well as travelling for a month after my exchange.” – Stephanie Toh, University College Dublin

“Perhaps the greatest aspect of studying at UCD, is the accessibility to mainland Europe. I was lucky enough to travel most weekends to other countries, as airlines like Ryanair often had airfares that were the same cost as train or bus tickets around Ireland. This is not to say use Ireland as solely a base, as travelling around the country was often more fascinating than travelling overseas.” – Lydia Taylor, University College Dublin

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Top Tips
“Go for it! I think it’s easy to hesitate and shy away due to nerves or fear, but realistically there’s nothing to lose. It offers so many opportunities – allows you to explore new parts of the world, form new friendships, expand your network, and, most of all, will hands down be one of the best experiences of your life!” – Jolene Muir, University College Dublin

“My main advice I’d give to students who are thinking about going on the exchange programme would be to think hard about what you want to get out of the exchange. What experiences you want to bring back to New Zealand. For me (being an architecture student) I wanted to do as much travelling as I can to see the beautiful historic architecture around Ireland and Europe.” – Loretta Gerrard, University College Dublin

“My advice for anyone considering going on an exchange is to be brave! You’ll be amazed at what happens when you decide to go for something rather then fear the outcome. That being said, planning before hand goes a long way.” – Rachel Rands, University College Dublin