University: Griffith College Dublin
Field of study: business administration
Study type: Other courses
Application phase & organization:
At the beginning of 2008 I started looking after a semester abroad as a free mover. Ireland, Dublin to be precise, was already set as the location. But which university should it be? And who do you contact as a free mover? Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Auckland University of Technology.
Luckily I came across the MicroEdu website on the internet. The staff immediately answered my 1,000 questions and advised me to go to Griffith College for a semester. They also gave me help and advice when filling out the application documents (many thanks again!).
After I had all the documents together, I sent them to MicroEdu and they forwarded the documents to Dublin. Now the long wait began. Because although I sent my application in early February, it took until May before I got my confirmation after asking. Now I had to transfer the tuition fees (strangely 3100 instead of 2800 euros, probably because of health insurance, unfortunately I didn’t get any further information). I was able to submit my choice of course. Again, MicroEdu was very helpful and sent me the necessary course descriptions.
However, Griffith College took its time with the confirmation of the course – I only had it after a full two months – not even a month before departure for Ireland, which was pretty tight because I’m still talking to my chairs in Germany about the crediting had to.
The organization was no better on site: when I was at Griffith College with a few applicants at the time specified by MicroEdu, we first spent an hour looking for the person responsible for us. After we found the coordinator of the International Office, he was amazed to see us: he hadn’t expected to see us until the following week… Despite the surprise, he spontaneously showed us around the university and spent the next few days organizing a few things with us things gone through.
The real introductory days were the following week – and pretty pointless in my opinion. Most things, such as a speech by the President about how dangerous part-time work alongside your studies is, and a city rally, you can confidently give up. The days were more intended for “real” freshmen and not for people who have been studying for 2 years or more.
After a long wait, when I finally received confirmation of the five courses I could do, I found that only 2 of them were on my wish list, the other 3 were simply added by the college. After several emails, it was then explained that the courses were by no means final and that a lot could be clarified on site.
I then made my final choice of course in Dublin. The coordinator from the International Office was a bit overwhelmed with the whole organization, sometimes didn’t know which courses were offered in which semester (to be fair: it was his first year as a coordinator), but in the end I was able to do four of my five desired courses Select. The fifth course failed because there were a lot of overlapping lessons, as I chose courses from different programs (Graduate Business School, Hospitality Management, Bachelor Business).
When choosing a course, you have to make sure that you meet the necessary requirements. If you want to take courses from higher years (e.g. last bachelor year), you have to be able to prove the basics. So if you want to do financing, for example, you have to have done 1-2 courses in accounting in Germany beforehand.
Griffith College offers a wide range of business courses. In the semester program you can choose from courses from the degree programs Accounting and Finance, Business and Hospitality Management, and if you have the right requirements, you can also choose from courses from the Graduate Business School.
Overall, the course sizes are very manageable: one of my courses had around 70 students, the others were around 25. This has the advantage that you can always turn to the lecturer if you have questions, but the disadvantage is that you have to participate in class, which most business people from Germany will not be used to.
Course level, lecturers and fellow students
The level of the course is very dependent on the lecturer. Two of my subjects were significantly easier than in Germany, above all the amount of material was smaller and the pace slower. The level of the other two subjects was roughly comparable to that of my Mannheim university.
Overall, however, the amount of work should not be underestimated. On the one hand, I had to be at the university every day because I usually had 5 hours per week per subject. On the other hand, the load during the semester with the assignments is quite high. As a German business graduate, you are usually not used to this.
The lecturers were all very nice and always helpful and open to questions. Most of them also gave lectures of very good quality, both from a didactic and from a technical point of view. However, I was unlucky with one lecturer – on the one hand he had a very bad teaching pace (he was very slow with easy topics, he rushed through the difficult ones without explanations), on the other hand he simply explained certain things to us incorrectly (e.g.: Dead Weight Loss = When pharmaceutical companies invest in research and know that some drugs will never make it to market). I find it very questionable to teach wrong material – but fortunately that was the exception, the other lecturers were really very good.
My fellow students accepted me very openly. The least students in my courses were Irish, only about 1-2 per course. Very many came from Asia, mainly South Korea, India and China, many from France or Spain, some from the USA or Brazil. So they knew what it was like to be in a foreign country and immediately integrated me into the group.
I had to hand in an assignment (homework) in all my subjects and had to write a test at the end of the semester. My assignments were all “individual”, but there are also group assignments.
All in all, both the assignments and the final tests were very feasible and fair. I am satisfied with my grades so far.
Incidentally, the college was very accommodating when it came to my tests: Since I had to do an internship in Germany in January, I was able to bring all the tests forward. Without exception, the lecturers went to the trouble of setting up an extra exam for me and a few other “early leavers”.
You shouldn’t underestimate the length of the assignments: mine were mostly 3000 words – doesn’t sound like much, but you can quickly get to 15 pages.
Without beating around the bush, the facilities at Griffith College are just plain bad. The premises are not nice, many courses take place in temporary containers that are cold in winter. The library is very sparsely stocked and very small. Most places are already full at the beginning of the semester, and towards the end of the semester you hardly have a chance of getting a place.
The PC equipment is almost even worse: the half dozen PCs in the library can be used for a maximum of 30 minutes, the approx. 20-30 PCs in the computer room for a maximum of 120 minutes. There is also a reason for this, because the PCs are in great demand, at weddings you have almost no chance of getting one.
As far as printers are concerned, the equipment is okay – but printing is very expensive: you have to buy a copy card, which costs over 3 euros for 50 pages.
The small canteen that the college has is cozy but very expensive. A lunch costs 5-6 euros – more than double the German canteen prices. Even croissants, etc. are cheaper at the shop across the street.
Dubliners speak with an unmistakably Irish accent (the ‘u’ is pronounced ‘u’, e.g. in much, not ‘a’, a proper ‘th’ doesn’t exist), but it’s easy to get used to and usually doesn’t have one problems understanding them. So it was not difficult for me to follow my lecturers. Communicating with my fellow students is sometimes more problematic – many had such a strong accent and poor English that I could hardly understand them.
Housing and living in Dublin:
Ireland, and Dublin in particular, has experienced enormous economic growth in recent years. This is reflected in the housing prices. It is not uncommon to find a 20sqm apartment for 850 euros. If you go a bit away from the city center and look for a room in a shared apartment, you can also get cheaper. However, you have to calculate with 500-600 euros per month.
One can also take a room in the Halls at Griffith College. As far as I know, this costs 3000 euros per semester. The advantage: you live directly on campus. The downside: you usually share the bedroom with someone you don’t know.
I can recommend the homepage daft.ie for looking for an apartment. Here you can find new ads every minute. Flats sell out fast, so it’s best to call the landlord right away. You can usually view the room on the same day and often move in the next day. You should have the deposit (usually one month’s rent) with you in cash, because whoever pays the deposit first has the apartment.
Dublin as a city is quite hectic and disorganized. There are only 2 tram lines, but they are not connected to each other. The bus system is more than chaotic, schedules should not be relied upon under any circumstances. The best thing to do is to walk, which is also easy to do, since everything in the city center is very central and it is easy to reach from the GCD (about 20 minutes on foot).
If you take the bus when the weather is bad, it is important to have the right money in coins: the bus driver does not take bills and you do not get change – only a voucher that you can redeem at the bus station.
When it comes to shopping, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl are on the rise. The food here is quite cheap by Irish standards, and you can also find a few familiar products. Otherwise I can recommend Dunnes and Tesco – if you buy the house brands you have reasonable prices here too.
Dunnes is also recommended for home furnishing – if you still need a pot, cutlery and the like.
Incidentally, the people in Ireland are the friendliest I have ever met, even if they are often unorganized. They almost always meet you with a smile, if you unpack a map on the street, you are often asked where you want to go and they show you the way. Even when leaving the pub, the atmosphere is unbeatable.
Irish weather is better than its reputation suggests. It doesn’t rain all the time. However, it is very changeable – if the sun is shining, you can have the heaviest downpour in 20 minutes. So never leave the house without an umbrella!
In addition, it is usually very windy, and it is not uncommon to see umbrellas in garbage cans on the street. So it’s best to buy an umbrella that is as stable as possible!
Travel is about the only thing relatively cheap in Ireland.
With the Dart, a kind of regional train, you can travel to many picturesque coastal towns north and south of Dublin. Recommended here is Howth, Malahide, Bray and Wicklow. The trips are not long (20-60 minutes) and are very suitable for a small day trip.
Larger trips can be made inexpensively with Bus Eireann (www.buseireann.ie). Thanks to the manageable size of Ireland, you can be practically anywhere in about 3 hours.
There are many beautiful destinations for weekend trips.
I spent a weekend in Belfast, sightseeing for a day and a day tour of the north east coast to the Giant’s Causeway, which I highly recommend.
Another weekend I was in the South West and saw the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park – gorgeous scenery.
Of course there are many other destinations, but listing them all would go beyond the scope!
Departing from Ireland, flights to London are very cheap, so a trip there is also cheap and worthwhile.
My six months in Ireland was definitely worth it. The landscape of the island is fantastic and the people are unbeatably friendly.
However, you have to be prepared for a lot in terms of organization – even if the staff at Griffith College are very helpful, you need nerves of steel and patience until the course selection is made. Also, don’t expect to have much contact with Irish people, as most of the students are foreigners themselves.
No matter which country you apply to, I can highly recommend MicroEdu. I’m sure your questions will be answered as quickly and informatively as was the case with me.