University: Griffith College Dublin
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
I am a student at the Koblenz University of Applied Sciences and am studying business administration. In the 5th semester, students have the opportunity to choose between a semester abroad or project work. During my studies, information events regarding a semester abroad often took place, which aroused my interest in doing a semester in another country. Since I really wanted to improve my English, it quickly became clear to me that only an English-speaking country would come into question for me. Unfortunately, the Faculty of Economics at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences did not have any partner universities in the UK and Ireland at the time of application, but only cooperation with universities overseas, which would have exceeded my financial framework. That’s why I decided, together with a fellow student, to apply as a free mover to a university in Ireland. Check toppharmacyschools.org to see Universidad Regiomontana study abroad opportunities.
Planning and preparation
Since as a freemover you have to take care of everything organizational yourself and get no support from the university, we turned to MicroEdu for advice and support in our project. Our contact person there helped us very quickly and was always available to answer our questions throughout the entire planning process.
Despite good planning, there were a few organizational problems at the beginning of the semester abroad because the semester at the GCD started in mid-January with an introductory event and a 2-week orientation phase. However, my last exam date at the HS Koblenz was set for the end of January. As a result, I was unable to attend the introductory course at the foreign university and missed the first week of the orientation phase at the GCD. The orientation phase enables students to take part in lectures from various departments in order to get a first impression of the teaching content and at the same time to find out about the examination conditions for the respective subjects. Unlike at my home university, the examinations for the individual subjects did not consist of an exam at the end of the semester, but of homework and presentations during the semester and, if necessary,
It was therefore very important to get an overview of the respective requirements at the beginning of the semester. After the 2-week orientation phase, you had to register for the exams.
Since all examinations had to be taken in English, I think it was very important, especially as an international student, to get an overview of this so that you could organize your time during the semester. The deadlines for homework in different subjects were often very close together and if you wanted to see something of the country on the weekends, then it made sense to think about the choice of course at the beginning.
In addition, the introductory event and the orientation weeks served as an ideal time to get to know other international students at the college and to make initial contacts. So it’s a pity that I missed the introduction.
I could have flown to Dublin for the introductory course with prior consultation with my university, but only on condition that I make up the missed exams when I return from Dublin. My suggestion to write the exams on the fixed date under the supervision of a teacher at the GCD at the same time as my fellow students in Germany was rejected by my home university.
Since my fellow student’s exams were earlier, she had the opportunity to fly to Dublin earlier to find out everything and was able to explain everything that was important to me.
However, we had imagined the beginning of our semester abroad to be a little different and less stressful. However, due to the early start of the semester at the GCD and the exam dates at the home university, there was no other choice. Two days after my last exam I came to Dublin and only had one day to pack my bags and say goodbye to my family and friends before I went to Dublin and started the new semester there seamlessly.
Arrival is by plane. The airport in Dublin is quite manageable and the way to the city is not very long. Directly at the arrivals hall at the airport you can take 3 bus lines (AirCoach, AirLink and normal buses) to the city for about 6€ or take a taxi to the city for about 20€.
There are several student accommodations in Dublin. After receiving the confirmation of admission at the GCD in November 2014, we applied directly for the dormitory on the GCD campus. However, in order for the application to be considered, a fee of €300 had to be paid in advance by credit card. After paying, we received an e-mail that the dormitory was already fully booked. The fee has been reversed. We then went on our own to look for other accommodation options on the Internetfor students and found what they were looking for on the Herberton Apartments website (http: //www.herbertonapartments.com/). Again, a fee had to be paid in advance for the request to be honored. We then received a confirmation by e-mail asking us to pay the rental costs of just under €3,000. However, I only received the lease when I arrived at the apartment.
Located less than 20 minutes’ walk from Griffith College, the accommodation caters mainly to international students who have come to Dublin for a semester at various colleges and universities. Each apartment accommodates 6 people in which 2 people share a bedroom. My fellow student and I were accommodated in one room by prior request. However, the rooms are not of the exact size and amenities. The room of our roommates from Canada had, for example, a bathroom with a shower integrated into the room. The other four of us had to share a bathroom, which was accessible from the hallway. Since our roommates had arrived earlier than us, we were allocated the smallest room for which we had to pay the same amount.
After unpacking the suitcases, it quickly became clear that some purchases had to be made in order to be able to cope there for the next 4 months. Our room had 2 beds, 2 bedside tables and a small closet with no hangers. Despite the internet description, there was no desk. So the day after my arrival we took the bus to Ikea to equip ourselves with clothes hangers, a drying rack, an ironing board, towels, kitchen utensils, a mirror and a shelf, because there was no accommodation or storage space for our hair dryers, cosmetic utensils, school supplies, etc.
In each apartment there is an open kitchen and an adjoining living area with a dining table for 6 people, as well as a 2-piece suite, a small TV and a large roof terrace (our apartment was on the 3rd floor). However, the kitchen was sparsely furnished and we had to share a small refrigerator with 6 people. This meant that each person had to fit their groceries in just one half of a refrigerator shelf. There were also space problems for bread, pasta and other foods that did not need to be refrigerated, so that even the kitchen counter always had to be used as storage space.
Due to the lack of desks in our room, we were only able to do our homework and other college paperwork at our kitchen table. The closer we all got to the homework deadlines, the closer and more sociable it became at the kitchen table. In the evenings, when the first had started cooking and the television was switched on, it became difficult to concentrate any longer. You had to retreat to your room and sit on the bed with your laptop to continue working. Which wasn’t always easy.
Living in Dublin
Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland with over 500,000 inhabitants. The city is relatively clear and after a short time you can find your way around there. Public transport consists mainly of bus routes, the DART train and the tram (LUAS), which however only has two routes, so not all of Dublin can be reached with them. Therefore, you often have to use the bus, which you can use to get almost anywhere in Dublin for around €2-3.
The best place to go shopping is Lidl, which can be reached on foot in about 5 minutes from the Herberton Apartments, because the cost of living is higher than in Germany. However, there are also smaller grocery stores all over the city (Tesco, Spar), where the prices are quite high and it is best to only buy there when there are offers.
Despite the high prices, the city is very lively and attracts many tourists. There are numerous pubs, clubs and restaurants and there is always something going on in the streets. I especially liked the food in the numerous restaurants. My absolute favorite restaurant in Dublin is Gallagher’s Boxty House (http: //boxtyhouse.ie/) in Temple Bar and if you’re in a hurry I can recommend the burgers at Rick’s Burgers on Dame Street. Here you can get fresh burgers with fries at fair prices.
In the later hours, the well-known “Temple Bar” district attracts many locals and tourists with its beautiful atmosphere and live music in the pubs. The Irish are a fun-loving people who like to party and often go out at night several times a week. But Dublin and its surroundings also have a lot of sights to offer.
In order to get a small overview of the sights and history of Dublin at the beginning of your stay in Dublin, many city tours are offered by different organizers. I can highly recommend the city tours from http: //www.newdublintours.com/. The tours always last 3 hours, in which young people from the city tell the history of Dublin in a funny and interesting way, so that you don’t get bored during the entire tour. In addition, the tour is free. However, a small tip is requested at the end of the tour, which I think is perfectly acceptable given the quality of the tour.
Sights in Ireland
Many tour operators offer day trips from Dublin to the most beautiful places in the country. With the tour operator Paddywagon, the day tours cost about €25-60 and the tour guides explain a lot about the history, landscapes and sights that you drive past during the tour. At the various stops during the tours, however, you are on your own and can explore the places and landscapes on your own. I personally found that a bit unfortunate. Despite all this, I have taken part in many tours with this tour operator because the price-performance ratio was just right here. I did the following tours from Dublin:
- Blarney Day Tour
- Kilkenny and Wicklow Day Tour
- Glendalough/Wicklow Day Tour
- Cliffs of Moher Day Tour
- 3 Day Tour of Northern Ireland (Belfast, Derry and Giants Causeway)
The trip to Belfast was very interesting, where you could get an insight into the Northern Ireland conflict on a 1.5 hour black taxi tour.
Due to the very variable weather in Ireland, however, you should plan the tours well. It’s not uncommon to be strolling through the city in bright sunshine one minute and the next minute it’s raining heavily. So it happened to me once that I had booked a day trip with Paddywagon to the Cliffs of Moher – the main attraction in Ireland – together with a fellow student and after about 4 hours bus ride stood in front of a fog bank. We didn’t see much of the cliffs that day.
Griffith College Dublin
Griffith College is one of many colleges in Dublin and also has campuses in Cork and Limerick. The Dublin campus is quite small and is about a 30 minute walk from the city centre. From the outside, the college looks very nice at first glance. It is an old but very well maintained building. However, the inside of the rooms are in need of renovation and the library and computer room in particular were always very stuffy and way too crowded. Since at home in Germany I like to sit in the library for a few hours to study, the condition of the library at the GCD bothered me the most.
The canteen, on the other hand, is very nice because it has been newly renovated and, unlike the canteen at my home university, does not offer ordinary “canteen food”, but delicious and freshly prepared meals. However, you had to reckon with about €5-7 per meal here. Since that was too expensive for me personally, I always packed something to eat in the morning for lunch. There is also a Starbucks in the canteen, which I personally really liked.
There is a student union on campus that organizes various events as the college is attended by a large number of international students.
With regard to the courses to be attended, different rules apply at the GCD than at the home university. At the university in Koblenz, all courses, with the exception of the specializations, are specified and the timetable is precisely planned by the university. At the GCD, on the other hand, you are responsible for planning your own timetable. The 2-week orientation phase gives students the opportunity to attend the individual lectures in order to get an overview of the teaching content and the examination requirements. After these 2 weeks you have to register for the exams. We then discarded the first selection of subjects that we had made before we arrived and replaced them with subjects whose lectures we found more interesting.
Since lectures often overlap, it was very tight to get an overview of all subjects in the given 2 weeks, to commit to the subjects and to coordinate this with the department at the home university. We then finally decided on the subjects International Marketing, Public Relations and E-Business for 10 credit points each.
Attendance at the GCD was compulsory for all events. They were split into lectures and tutorials, so despite the 3 subjects we had compulsory attendance at the college every day of the week.
However, the lectures were not comparable to those at our home university in Germany. The lessons, as well as the size of the premises, were more reminiscent of school days at that time. There were about 20-30 students in the courses we attended. The professors wanted the students to actively participate, and in the tutorials, given topics were worked on in groups and the results, if necessary, presented to the class.
International Marketing (Mark Dowling)
For the International Marketing subject, a 2,500-word term paper on the subject of “Mc Donald’s – Think global, Act local” had to be written during the semester. In addition, we worked a lot in groups, the results of which had to be presented to the class by all group participants. However, the course content was not very demanding and was repeated over and over again by the professor, so that I got along well despite my intermediate knowledge of English. At the end of the semester, a 3-hour exam was written. You had to choose 4 of the 6 questions you wanted to answer. The answers were to be formulated in “essay style”, ie in a kind of small essay with an introduction, main part and conclusion. English-English dictionaries were provided when needed.
E-Business Development (Michael Franklin)
In the e-business development subject, a website about a fictitious company had to be created during the semester. A bit of creativity was needed here, because the fictitious company for which the website was to be created was not allowed to exist on the market and had a unique selling point. In the tutorials, the professor always gave us the opportunity to work on our websites and helped us with questions. In addition to the website, each student should present their website to the class using a PowerPoint presentation. As a further examination, there was also a 3-hour exam at the end of the semester, in which you could also cross out any two questions.
Public Relations (Robbie Smyth)
In the third subject I took – Public Relations – there was no exam at the end of the semester. Instead, 2 assignments of 2,500 words each had to be written during the semester. In addition, everyone was assigned a topic by the professor, which they could find out about with uploaded information material in the study portal. On set dates, everyone taking the subject had to create a PowerPoint presentation on their assigned topic and present it to the professor, as well as be prepared for questions about the topic.
In summary, the semester abroad in Dublin was a great experience. I chose Dublin as it is an English speaking country and not too far from home. So you could quickly visit your family in Germany with RyanAir over the weekend. Nevertheless, the standards are a little below those that we are used to in Germany. But you can arrange that quickly. Anyone planning a semester abroad in Dublin should also be prepared for changeable, cold, windy and rainy weather and not let this spoil their mood.