University: Griffith College Dublin
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Planning a semester abroad
You should be clear very early on whether you want to do a semester abroad or not, since this project takes more preparation time than you might initially expect. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to deal with this question at the beginning of the bachelor’s degree. Thinking about it early on is not only an advantage for planning and organization, but is also important in order to consider whether a stay abroad for several months is more or less far away from home, but certainly completely far away from everything familiar, is actually something for you. Check toppharmacyschools.org to see Dublin Business School study abroad opportunities.
If you are determined to take this step, it is also advisable to think carefully about the country and location in which you want to study. Of course you want to experience something new, but you should still try to find something that you think you can arrange with. It is important to keep in mind that this is not a vacation, but you actually have to establish a regular daily life there. So you should know where you think you can find your way. Here the horse might put the reins on more easily from behind and you first determine what is out of the question.
In order to be able to make a decision, it is advisable to do a lot of research on the internet about the country and its people, culture, sights, but in the end the university, courses, requirements, costs and application deadlines play a very important role.
Personally, I recommend reading as many testimonials as possible, as these are usually written very honestly and you learn a lot from people who have been there themselves and whose experiences you will probably share if you should choose this country, this city and this university decide.
Of course, it’s great when there are partnerships between your own university and universities abroad and students from higher semesters can be interviewed. Often your own university also offers information events that should be attended early, starting in the first semester.
From all the information that one receives in this way, the tendency for a specific university abroad is finally formed. One of the most important tips I would like to pass on here is that you should definitely pay attention to the extent to which the level of the university and the courses is comparable to that at home. Because the most tempting city, nature, culture is of no use if you sink into the workload.
In order to come to my personal experiences on this point, I would like to point out the possibility of using one of the many agencies that can be found on the Internet.
Since at my university it is only possible to apply for a partner university and I was rejected by them, the only option left was to apply to a university abroad as a freemover. Clicking through numerous university homepages in any country that I found appealing quickly turned out to be very tedious, so I decided relatively quickly to look at what MicroEdu had to offer, who operate a partnership with my university. There and also on other sites of placement agencies, many partner universities are presented very clearly and in detail, so that you quickly get a good overview and so I quickly found a suitable university: Griffith College in Dublin.
At this point I would like to point out once again that you should definitely pay attention to the application deadlines and the semester dates abroad when searching, as these can easily collide with the semester times at home.
In any case, it makes sense to get in touch with the respective contact person for a possible university without obligation and to ask all possible questions before starting the application process.
Finally, it is very important to clarify your choice with the department at your own university and to make sure that the semester abroad is credited accordingly to your studies. In my case, I had to make a Learning Agreement with a faculty member in charge of pre-approved department-approved courses I wanted to take.
It often happens that the home university requires that the courses abroad expand the knowledge of the students and not take courses that were already part of the studies at home. The courses offered by the university abroad can therefore be a decisive aspect in the selection. However, language and cultural courses are also welcome.
Since I applied as a free mover, I had to apply myselfat the university of my choice. Thanks to MicroEdu this was not a problem at all. After an initial contact, in which I expressed interest in the university of my choice, I was immediately assigned to the responsible employee at Griffith College and received intensive support from that point on. I received a zip file containing all the important information about Griffith College, which also included detailed instructions on the application process, which gave me step-by-step instructions on what I had to do. Every question, no matter how stupid, was answered as quickly as possible by e-mail by the employee in charge, every problem was solved reliably and quickly, so that we were in lively e-mail contact. I was particularly pleased that a very friendly relationship developed directly,
In the end, the application process for me was just collecting a bunch of documents and forwarding them to MicroEdu, who then took care of everything else.
I had to submit the following:
- Application form
- Proof of English
This shows again that a longer preparation phase is beneficial if, for example, a TOEFL or other English or language test has to be taken in advance
- Transcript of Records
- Letter of motivation and CV in English
If possible, this should be worked out in cooperation with an English lecturer, as there are differences to the German letter and CV. In any case, it should at least be proofread.
- Certified copy of high school diploma, if possible in English
- Copy of identity card/passport
- Contact form for the agency
Since the MicroEdu employees work closely with those responsible at the partner university, the application process ran smoothly and a corresponding acceptance was not long in coming.
However, the acceptance of the desired university then leads to other important applications:
If the university has a dormitory, you should apply there as soon as possible, because places are rare and quickly assigned.
I myself could not get a place there and had to find accommodation on my own. Luckily, I was able to find an accommodation guide for Dublin through another MicroEdu partner university and have checked through all the possible accommodation options. Under no circumstances should you lose any time here, preferably even pick up the phone directly instead of sending e-mails to the contact persons, because safe accommodation is one of the most important things for a stay abroad. Personally, I would never have dared to search locally and I know from reports and friends from Dublin that this is extremely difficult and, above all, expensive, since you first have to stay in hostels and/or hotels.
However, since there are several colleges and universities in Dublin, some of which do not have halls of residence themselves, there are numerous student accommodations spread throughout the city that only accommodate students and are therefore just as good as student halls of residence on campus, possibly even cheaper. are.
Furthermore, you should take care of the financing of your stay abroad at an early stage. Those who cannot bear the costs themselves should submit an application for foreign BAföG to the responsible authority at least six months in advance, which is easy to find on the Internet. Otherwise there is a risk of receiving the permit and thus the payments very late if you are already abroad and having to keep your head above water until then, which is not necessarily recommended.
I would also like to point out that mostly high costs have to be paid in advance. I myself had to pay the full tuition fees for the freemover application and also the entire rent for the accommodation in advance, which amounted to around €6500 in one go.
In such cases, I can highly recommend the KfW student or education loan, which not only grants monthly payments, but also immediate one-off payments, which enabled me to bear the high costs.
Fortunately, these are BAföG-independent and can therefore also be used by everyone. However, you should also apply for this at an early stage, as it can take a few weeks for the application to be approved.
The most important aspects of your stay, namely a place to study, financing and accommodation, should already be certain before you travel.
It is also important to be adequately insured and cared for during your stay. This means clarifying with the health insurance company to what extent the current protection covers the stay abroad. It may be necessary to take out additional insurance, which I do not consider absolutely necessary, unless there is an increased risk of illness. With my existing health insurance, I was covered throughout Europe, which was perfectly adequate. The College in Dublin also had an emergency service whose cooperating doctor took into account that most of the students are from abroad and therefore there is no complicated procedure to be faced in a given case.
Staying on this topic, it is necessary to get all the necessary medicines for the period in advance. These include important medicines such as asthma spray or allergy tablets, but also the pill or emergency medicine for flu, gastrointestinal complaints, etc.
Unfortunately, I myself became very ill once and found that the Irish medicines only contained weaker doses of the active ingredients that we are used to at home in stronger doses, so my recovery process took a very long time.
Basically, it is better to bring your usual medication from home, since you never know how you will react to another medication.
As with all trips, all current vaccinations should still be effective.
A point that is often forgotten, but is noticed at the latest when booking the flights, is the validity of the identity card or passport. Since an application can sometimes take several weeks, you should check beforehand.
The same applies to everything that needs to be done during your stay at home. Be it subletting the apartment, redirecting the post office, taking care of the car, paying the semester fee or accommodating the pet.
In any case, someone should be found who will take care of everything in your absence and keep you up to date.
Finally, you should think carefully about what you want to take with you, especially since the amount of luggage is often very limited due to the chosen airline.
Some “cheap” airlines fly to Dublin with smaller machines, so you should find out beforehand what luggage sizes are allowed.
I myself read through a lot of packing lists on the internet, especially from au pairs and other students, which was very helpful.
After my stay, I can now recommend a few particularly important items:
- Several (!) socket adapters and multiple plugs
- EU mobile phone tariff (would have been more convenient, especially to be able to use the Internet on the go, but there is WiFi almost everywhere)
- medicines from home
- Weatherproof clothing (in Ireland the weather is quite unpredictable and I was freezing most of the time)
- Laptop (essential for studying and also an advantage for communicating with family and friends)
- Good camera with enough memory cards and reader to keep friends and family back home up to date
- Backpack for trips
Basically, I would also like to recommend not to assume that you can buy everything there that you don’t bring with you and that you don’t know from home.
Ireland is a small island that has to import a lot, so many things are either not available at all or are very expensive to buy. Hence my tip: what is dear and important to you should be in your suitcase or you can have family and friends send you a package.
This leads to the next point, namely to write down all important contacts, addresses and other important data, such as passwords or access data, for yourself or the family at home before you leave. Above all, contact persons and arrival dates should be agreed with the university and the accommodation.
Finally arriving in Dublin, it is very easy to get to the property from the airport. There are two different shuttle bus services to the city center and from there a well-developed bus and tram network. Because of all the luggage, I chose the taxi option and had myself driven to the front door for about €30, which is perhaps the most stress-free way to get to the accommodation on time.
Living in Dublin
As mentioned, I did not get a place on campus, but was able to stay at Herberton Appartments, a 20-minute walk away.
Up to 6 people live there in a shared flat. The apartment is fully equipped and furnished. There is a large living and dining room with TV, a kitchen with ceramic hob, oven, microwave, kettle, toaster, dishwasher and washer/dryer combination. The bedrooms, on the other hand, are quite small and are occupied by two people, there are 2 bathrooms. A small office in the entrance area is manned during the day and a night watchman is available at night. Electricity, water, internet, garbage collection and stairwell cleaning are included.
As for the accommodation, I would like to say that it was well equipped and you were well looked after by the staff there.
The apartment was quite large, but sharing the bedrooms with two people was very cramped. This is common in all Dublin residences however except at extra cost.
You should therefore think carefully about whether you can share a small room with a stranger for several months. I know from my shared apartment that very close friendships can develop here. Nevertheless, I was glad that I could share the room with one of my fellow students who I already knew well, which doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a change of habit either. We too had to arrange ourselves in the small space and set things up first, which meant paying a visit to the well-known Swedish furniture store, as did our flatmates. Because despite the full equipment and furniture, there was a lot missing that made the rooms and the apartment suitable for everyday use. You should definitely reckon with this and budget for financial resources to make it comfortable.
Overall, you should be aware that a flat share consisting of different nationalities can demand a lot from you at certain times. Different worlds collide there and you have to get used to each other. Especially as a German, you can quickly offend with his typically orderly and disciplined manner, because these qualities are not necessarily widespread worldwide. Nevertheless, this offers the opportunity to establish close intercultural contacts, to gain experience in dealing with other nationalities and customs and to make friends.
In my shared apartment we often sat together and talked about similarities and differences in our home countries and sometimes cooked together.
Living together was incredibly helpful, above all to improve my “everyday English” and I could always count on help when it came to my work during my studies, for example proofreading my homework and presentations.
Location/ Getting around/ Shopping
The Herberton Apartments are about a 30 minute walk from the city center which I didn’t find negative. In fact, living in the very center of the city is not recommended, as it can get very noisy there at times due to the large number of people, especially tourists, and the traffic, which I know from a friend who lived there. The surrounding districts are also well connected to the transport network. So there was a tram station right outside our front door that took about 20 minutes to get downtown. You could also use this line to reach the nearest train station in 10 minutes, from which the shuttle buses to the airport also depart. There was also a bus stop nearby that served some of the main lines going to Griffith College and downtown, among other places.
All in all, Dublin has a lot of options for getting around, the bus and tram network is sufficiently developed, but all the important points of interest are also easy to reach on foot. You can also rent bicycles, there are cycle rickshaws from the city center and the taxi service is affordable.
At night you can walk home without worrying, in the end I always felt very safe and I never got into an uncomfortable or threatening situation.
However, one should always keep in mind that Dublin is a large city with a lot of people moving around. Due to the pronounced pub culture, you will also find very drunk people there at any time of the day, which you should not be impressed by.
The city offers countless shopping opportunities for groceries. Personally, I mostly shopped at the Lidl around the corner, that was the cheapest and you could get many of the usual items from home there. However, the big chains like Tesco and Spar are also widely spread there, in the big markets there is a diverse selection and, albeit for a steep price, the beloved Milka bar.
Cost of living
In terms of price, life in Dublin is above the German level. How far the range moves is very different. Going to the pub or to the restaurant seems very expensive at first. However, I can console you with the fact that it is definitely worth the visit. The Irish food is really very good and the incomparable atmosphere in the pub makes you quickly forget the proud price of 6 € for a pint.
When shopping, you can decide for yourself whether you prefer the cheaper Aldi or Lidl option or the more expensive Spar option. A tip from me: The Tesco markets always had a lot of goods on offer at great prices.
As a student at Trinity College, you can use your student ID to get a so-called Leap Card for public transport, which gives you a 20% discount on all journeys. The practical thing about it is that you can top it up with a larger amount at the machine, so you don’t always have to have the right change with you.
In the end, I have to say that I was always very careful about money and tried not to spend too much on groceries in order to be able to afford other pleasures such as sightseeing, weekend trips or even going to restaurants or pubs.
Here is a small list of the approximate costs you can expect:
- Groceries: around 200 euros/month
- public Transport: approx. 40 euros/month
- Dinner in the restaurant: about 30 euros
- Pint in the pub: around 6 euros
- Day trip by bus: approx. 30-60 euros (depending on the distance)
- Sights: between 4 and 15 euros
As already mentioned, the workload of the courses abroad often differs from that at home, so I was very busy during the semester.
Nevertheless, I – and I would recommend it to everyone – spent every free minute to see something of the city or the country.
As the capital of Ireland, Dublin itself naturally offers numerous leisure activities. There are a lot of interesting historical sights, I especially liked the tour of the old prison. On the other hand, the famous Book of Kells is rather unspectacular, but I would say that is a matter of taste. There are two large shopping streets that offer everything a shopping heart desires.
Nature lovers don’t miss out either, as there are some landscaped green spaces downtown, as well as the expansive Phoenix Park, which houses the zoo and even wild deer to admire. You can do sports there or take a bike ride.
There’s something going on in the city center almost every night, especially in the famous Temple Bar area, which is full of pubs and restaurants. So many, in fact, that in four months I didn’t manage to try all of my still small selection. The atmosphere in the pub, especially the live music, is second to none and one of the fondest memories of my stay, along with the incredibly good Irish food.It is one of the best experiences during a stay abroad to simply mingle with people and experience something completely different. In any case, it is guaranteed never to be boring in Dublin. But you can also just go to one of the big cinemas and see a film before everyone else in Germany. An insider tip from me is definitely the charming little café Queen of Tarts in Temple Bar, which is particularly cozy on the many rainy days and serves a huge selection of small delicacies from morning to night.
In addition, I also signed a student contract for 3 months in a fitness center right around the corner, which was a great balance to the often stressful studies.
But there is also plenty to see outside of Dublin. Ireland is characterized above all by its nature, so there are many beautiful landscapes to admire. The best way to see them, as I did, is on bus tours across the country. There are many providers on the Internet and also in the city center who offer everything from day trips to multi-day tours.
At this point I can recommend the provider Paddywagon, with whom I have done all the tours. It is easy to book online and the tours are affordable for students. The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway are definitely worth a tour, the Black Taxi Tour in Belfast is also very impressive and the English Market in Cork is an experience.
Before the trip, I myself read two different travel guides and travel reports from backpackers and thought about what I definitely wanted to see in Ireland. I know from my roommates that self-planned tours usually turn out to be difficult. Train tickets are very expensive, renting a car under 25 is hardly possible. So I can only recommend the bus tours, you can relax and look out of the window, you are taken to great stops, the drivers always have good recommendations, especially for lunch, and there was also WiFi on the bus.
What definitely offers itself and should be used is a detour to nearby England or Scotland. The Irish low-cost airline makes it possible. I myself finally traveled to Scotland for a few days, where I went on a 3-day tour of the Highlands from Edinburgh, which will really remain unforgettable.
I would definitely advise everyone to take the time and the opportunity, because the semester abroad is definitely the time to see and experience as much as possible before returning to the daily grind at home.
Finally, one thing to consider is the Irish weather, which tends to spoil the fun. In Ireland it is, or at least it was for me, mostly quite cold. Even if the weather app promises a sunny 17° Celsius, it usually feels much colder. You have to remember that Dublin is right on the sea and therefore there is always a very cool sea breeze. It also shares Britain’s destiny to be very rainy. You should not let your plans be thwarted by this, but rather be well prepared. The onion look and a sturdy umbrella are always reliable companions and you should pay particular attention to weatherproof shoes and a jacket when packing. I myself still wore my winter parka partly until May. Seasons are not really noticeable there. From January to early June I haven’t noticed any significant weather change other than the wind temperature improving from freezing to cold.
As soon as I was accepted, I was given my student number and a password to log into the college’s online platform. There I was able to click through all the areas before I left, familiarize myself and also upload a photo for my student ID. I was pleasantly surprised by this, as everything happened so quickly.
As a college, Griffith College is rather small, in contrast to the Universities, but hosts approx. 80% foreign students and therefore offers an international climate.
Coincidentally, there were only French and a handful of Germans in my courses, which probably had more to do with my course choice. The campus consists of some very old buildings and a modern main building where the canteen is located. There is also a well-stocked library and several computer and printer rooms. In order to take advantage of the college’s offer, it was possible to load a sum of money onto his student card, which was handed over relatively quickly. Overall, the campus is very clear and is very centrally located, about 15 minutes’ walk from the city center.
At the beginning I was in close contact with the International Office, which initially took care of everything. There was a welcome meeting for foreign students and an introductory event in which the most important things, but above all the choice of course, were explained. A student handbook that was given to us was very helpful and contained all the necessary information about the entire college, including contacts and a map of the campus.
Overall, there is a very good and helpful atmosphere there, you could always come to the International Office with any questions or write an e-mail, which was answered quickly.
Choosing a course turned out to be more complicated than originally thought.
Armed with nothing more than a course overview sheet for international students, I had to inform myself about all the lecture times. This was sometimes very confusing and stressful, since the courses were assigned to different departments, where the lecture times were posted, but were constantly changing and so many courses naturally overlapped.
It quickly turned out that courses that I had previously agreed on through the Learning Agreement either did not take place or were not designed as expected in terms of content. So I had to rethink everything from scratch and attend all eligible courses, which meant I sat in courses all day for about a week trying to figure out what they were about and what their requirements were.
Finally I made my choice and signed up for International Marketing, E-Business Development and Public Relations.
At this point I had already learned a lot, because my timetable at my home university is largely predetermined, so the times are coordinated and I only have to register for the exams.
The courses I chose turned out to be good choices, and I particularly appreciated the fact that the department at home had asked me not to choose anything that had already been taken, as I would have been terribly bored. I would therefore recommend everyone to dare something new, because otherwise it will be a rather torturous semester. Nevertheless, one should not overestimate oneself. Like me, you should try to get a taste of as many courses as possible and find out directly from the lecturer what to expect.
In Ireland, this primarily means strict attendance and course work, which counts for up to 40% of the grade. For the first time in my student life I had to write a term paper, three of them and of course in English, which was quite a challenge, but I grew up with it. There are also a number of presentations to be held.
One of our teachers often did group work and presented it at the end of the lesson. In any case, you do a lot for your spoken English.
I was pleased by the relaxed atmosphere, because the groups were quite small and the Irish are very open. This was underlined by the fact that in the English language the first name is always used. You could also speak to the lecturers at any time or write an e-mail if there were problems or questions. One is not necessarily used to this kind of treatment at German universities, which made the difficult situation of finding one’s way in English lectures much easier.
Overall, however, the language is a smaller obstacle than assumed. You get used to it incredibly quickly and understand a lot from the context, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to start a semester abroad even if you don’t have good language skills.
At the end of the semester, exams were written that were very similar in type and scope to the German exams that I am used to from the business administration area. There were therefore no problems with the preparation or during the exam phase.
In the end I passed the course quite successfully. Of course, I also put a lot of work into it, but I didn’t expect it before the start of the semester because of the change, especially in terms of language. Again a positive experience and good to know for all those who hesitate in this regard.
In summary, I would not like to appease that a semester abroad is sometimes a very big hurdle. You have to get used to a completely new environment and face many challenges. For most of them it is the first time away from home for a long time and I myself was often very homesick, although I had stayed abroad before.
On the other hand – and this side prevails in any case – it is worth climbing the hurdles and surpassing yourself. You develop a lot personally, in particular you become much more independent, gain a lot of great experience and make interesting contacts. Personally, I think that, above all, nobody can take away the journeys and the impressions that you get there. It’s definitely a time you’ll never forget.
As a final comment, I would like to add that in retrospect I think that a stay abroad via the ERASMUS program might have been easier and more pleasant for the first semester abroad in the Bachelor’s degree. ERASMUS has a lot of experience in organization and support. I spoke to many friends who had a great time. It is particularly positive that you are there with many other ERASMUS students. You are not so much on your own as you can be part of a large group and take part in many organized events. Unfortunately, as a freemover, I was not able to benefit from this and know that I had to rely a little more on myself as a result.
Finally, I would like to recommend everyone to decide to spend a semester abroad and make their own experiences. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ireland and would be happy if my words would encourage some others to have a good time there as well.