The next instalment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!
I adore Dublin. I thought about moving to Dublin for a long time and had already started to make plans before things changed and I ended up moving to Spain and back to the UK! But it’s somewhere I could definitely return to again and again. I’m excited to share this interview with Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages, who moved to Dublin to study abroad.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a current college senior studying graphic design, media arts, and English in Boston, Massachusetts. I was born and raised in the Northeast, so the only times that I ever really got to travel were when my family would go on vacations. In the United States, I only ever have travelled to the northeast of the country, plus Tennessee, Florida, and California.
Up until last year, I had never even left the country! So, I guess I would say that I officially started travelling last year. Some interesting facts about me: I’m a dual-sport collegiate athlete, I started my blog when I was 14 (7 years ago!), and my favourite thing to do when I visit a new city is to try to see it from above.
What made you decide to study abroad in Dublin?
As a kid, I always loved reading and dreaming of faraway places. I wanted to be able to get out and explore on my own. So, when I applied to colleges a few years ago, I specifically only applied to schools that had strong study abroad programs with lots of location options.
The school that I ended up attending offered the option to study abroad at any school I wanted, though just last year they implemented a whole new payment option. The number of locations were cut down drastically with their new payment option, but I would only have to pay the regular tuition of my school to study abroad. At that point, I thought why the heck not? I’d be paying the same exact price to be in Boston for a semester… so why not go to Dublin?
It was really hard to whittle down my list of options for studying abroad. I was initially hooked on the idea of going to England, but I felt like that was so expected. Almost every college student seems to go to England or Italy, and I wanted to be different.
I knew that I wanted to at least study abroad in a country that spoke English, so I wouldn’t have to struggle with a language barrier in addition to a new culture and lifestyle. This is what led me to consider Dublin, Ireland. I had seen so many gorgeous photos of the country and it seemed well connected by airplane to the rest of Europe which allowed for easy travel. I applied and got in… and the rest is history!
Tell me about costs in Dublin
My housing was covered by my study abroad university, but I had to do my own grocery shopping every week. I will say that it really does not cost that much to go grocery shopping in Dublin compared to how much it is in Boston! I mostly did my shopping at Tesco, where you could buy a 4-pack of Kopparberg Cider for €9 and a loaf of bread for €0.69 if you bought Tesco’s own brand. There are other budget-friendly places to shop like Lidl and Centra as well. If you were to buy a beer at a pub, it usually costs anywhere from €7 to €9.
A big way to save money as a student studying abroad in Ireland is to invest in a Student Leap Card for transport. When I was there last year, it cost €10 to get the card initially but then you got capped for the day when you hit €5. Every time you ride one way it’s about €2, so this can really come in handy if you’re planning on riding the bus a lot or if you live off-campus. Plus, this card can get you lots of discounts around Ireland in places like Boots, McDonald’s, Milano, and more.
Do you need a visa to study abroad in Dublin?
I didn’t need a visa to study abroad in Ireland, but that’s because I’m a citizen of the United States. I know that EU and EEA citizens also do not need a visa. However, The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) does have information on which country’s citizens do require a visa to come to the country.
It is important to note that you should have €300 put away when you come to Ireland in order to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)! This €300 is to pay for an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) which you will need in order to stay in Ireland for over 3 months.
So, if you’re doing a summer study abroad, then you won’t need to apply for this. Since I was studying for my entire spring semester, I had to register. Getting an appointment with the GNIB can be quite difficult, so I’d suggest trying as soon as you possibly can. You don’t want to get kicked out of the country!
What’s the social scene like in Dublin? How easy is it to make friends?
There is, of course, a lively social scene in Dublin! Pub life is where it’s at if you’re looking to meet new people. Everyone in Ireland is incredibly friendly. As an American, I was almost taken aback by how kind everyone was at first! Being in Boston is very different than being in Dublin.
There will also be a lot of options to get involved at the school you’re studying abroad at. Participating in school events and joining different clubs or varsity sports is another great way to make friends. Most likely, your university will even have events just for study abroad students, which helps with making new friends!
What’s the best thing about living in Dublin?
THE FOOD! I’m not lying when I say that the food in Dublin and in Ireland, in general, is incredible. I loved frequenting Nando’s because their chicken is insanely good. It’s so un-American to have a fast-food chain that focuses on grilled chicken, not fried, so I loved it there. It’s also the place to go for bottomless fountain drinks.
There’s also a whole bunch of different Cadbury flavours and fun candy bars that we don’t have in the United States. I really loved Starbars… if you find yourself in Ireland or the UK, you definitely have to try one!
What’s the hardest thing about living in Dublin?
The hardest thing about living in Dublin can definitely be the buses. Public transport is fairly good, but sometimes I would have to wait ages for a bus that said it was supposed to be there already! It really made it hard sometimes to travel around the city. However, this was mostly during rush hour, so just keep that in mind.
How is Dublin different to Boston?
Though I briefly mentioned it earlier, I think that Dublin’s people are a lot different than Boston’s. In the Northeast in general, people keep to themselves and don’t really talk at all, especially to tourists (in my experience). But in Dublin, everyone is so eager to help you all the time. They will hear your accent and immediately ask you all about yourself. It was crazy to get used to, but now I miss it!
If we had just one day in Dublin, what should we not miss?
With one day in Dublin, you definitely can not miss the Guinness Storehouse. Though it seems crazy because it’s Ireland’s top tourist destination, it should be at the top of your Dublin bucket list. The entire experience is very interactive, plus you get a pint at the top of the Storehouse in the Gravity Bar. This bar gives you panoramic views of Dublin down below! I would suggest buying your tickets ahead of time because each ticket is for a certain entrance time.
When you think of Dublin, what comes to mind?
When I think of Dublin, I think of happiness. Being abroad was the first time in a while that I felt completely independent. I miss the food, the people, the incredible scenic views, and even the school I studied abroad at. There are just so many things I loved about life in Dublin! I would love to go back one day.
Can you share your best local tip about Dublin?
Everyone and their mother tries to go to the Temple Bar Pub at night. It’s super touristy too, so don’t fall for it. I think it’s worth it to eat there once, but only earlier in the day. Grab a pint and try one of their many sandwich options, and that’s all you really need to say you’ve experienced Temple Bar Pub. It’s a lot more worth it to go to other pubs at night that are a lot less rowdy! My personal recommendation is Quay’s which is a quick walk away from Temple Bar Pub.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to study abroad in Dublin, what would it be?
Really travel around the whole of Ireland while you’re in Dublin. Though you may not realize it, there’s a lot more to Ireland than Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher. Go out and experience it! You don’t even need to have a car to see a lot of these places. Bus tours are a great way to explore because they usually will pick you up right in downtown Dublin.