The moment I walked through the main gates of Trinity College during a summer vacation to Ireland, I knew I had found the place where I wanted to spend my semester abroad.
I gazed around, open-mouthed, at the stone architecture and the tall columns of the white buildings that surrounded me. Students hurried across the cobble-stoned square, talking excitedly to each other in their Irish accents, and I desperately wanted to be one of them. Now I am one of them as a visiting student at Trinity College, Dublin.
I have been here for two weeks and I can already comfortably call Dublin my new home. It no longer seems weird that they drive on the left side of the road, and I almost always look in the correct direction when I’m trying to cross the street (people here completely disregard crossing signals).
Mailboxes here are green, not blue, and paper money comes in all different sizes and colors (or “colours,” as they spell it here).
Being at Trinity is absolutely nothing like being at St. Mary’s. I live in an apartment building located about a 25-minute walk from campus.
There is no such thing as a meal plan, and the dining hall is more like a café.
Trinity is situated directly in the city center of Dublin and is one of its main tourist attractions. A few blocks from campus is Grafton Street, the nicest place to shop in the city.
Not only is the atmosphere here different, but also the academic system is completely the opposite of St. Mary’s. Most classes only meet once a week for fifty minutes and there are no specific homework assignments.
Students are expected to study and read about the topics of their lectures on their own time as they see fit. Grades for the semester are usually based entirely on an essay due at the end of term and then a final exam after lectures are over. Everything here is an independent study type of experience.
Living in Ireland gives me opportunities that I have never had before and probably will never have again. The rest of Europe feels so close to me now. I have already began talking to the new friends I have made here about taking weekend trips to places like Rome, Madrid, and Paris.
A plane ticket from Dublin to London can be as low as €10 (about $13.60)! Traveling within Ireland is simple as well: an Irish Rail station right next to campus can take me anywhere in Ireland with as little hassle as the D.C. metro system.
It is definitely sad being away from St. Mary’s for a semester, and I cannot wait until I get back next semester full of stories to share with all my friends. But, for now, I am excited about sharing my experiences and stories about Ireland with you and telling you all about what study abroad in Europe is like.
This semester promises to be full of new experiences, plenty of mistakes, a little bit of culture shock, and, most of all, a ton of fun.