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Philly to Dublin: Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

A sunny day at Trinity College Dublin!

Diaduit! That’s Irish for “hiya!” 🙂

With the one-month mark of my study abroad experience at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in Dublin, Ireland, I am reflecting on changes I experienced at the start of this study abroad chapter. As expected with a long-term visit to a new place or country, I did experience a culture shock in changing my accustomed-to routine from Philly to Dublin. A new city, new forms of transportation, new academic and social expectations. Change is super exciting, and I am definitely enjoying the day-to-day Dublin lifestyle. However, there are some things I wish I knew to prepare for before my first couple of weeks living in Dublin and studying at TCD.

If you are looking to study abroad at Trinity or any other university, here are some tips to starting off this new chapter right!

1. Study and Experience Balance

With the overwhelming excitement of being in a new city and country, there is a drastic pull to get out there and explore everything in sight. Walking the city, heading to every local coffee shop or pub, and socializing with new groups of people. During my first week, I definitely logged about 15,000+ steps a day, while learning the routes of the city and trying out local food places. With the start of classes, the switch between my exploring mindset to a more academic mindset was a bit challenging. When socializing or wandering around the city, I had anxiety about the work I should be in the library doing. When working on lectures or assignments, I was always afraid of missing out of experiencing something new in the city. The crucial balance between experience and studying was an adaptation I had to implement. I overcame these conflicting ideas with balancing my time, splitting the schoolwork between weekdays, and taking daytrips and exploring on the weekends. I started exploring new cafes and coffeeshops based on the best places to sit and be productive.

2. Adapting and facing the unexpected

Just as I adapted to the study and work balance, there were many changes I had to get used to. Something as simple as a plug converter for charging my laptop, suddenly became such an essential item. Especially with taking day trips to other cities in Ireland and getting used to public transportations, I had to be ready for the unexpected and be vigilant on a system that I was not used to taking. Ireland’s own weather is unexpected and ranges the whole four seasons in one day! The unexpected is just a part of the Irish lifestyle.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

In a new country, school and housing arrangement, there are a billion questions that come up. At first, in fear of being seen as “just a tourist”, I was afraid to ask questions because I thought it was just common sense. I was totally wrong! It’s so normal to have questions in a new place and asking them will just get you more accustomed to the area and the way things are usually run. People are generally very helpful and cheery in answering any questions. Especially with academic registration, I had many unexpected issues with the system and questions about certain modules. The professors and faculty were very helpful in these questions, and I definitely wasn’t alone!

Study abroad is a chance to broaden your horizons, so asking questions, adapting, and balancing all the aspects is crucial part of the process!

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