Americans have unique experience in Ireland through study abroad programs

UCD Village serves as a student hub with food and drink options as well as areas to study and interact with other students. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh

By Clara Lincicome | Guest Contributor

During the summer term, University College Dublin becomes a mecca for students studying abroad from all over the United States, Europe and Asia.

Despite being from the same country, American students studying in Dublin have expressed that their time at UCD has ranged from being drastically different than their home universities to being quite similar.

Summer at UCD — UCD’s summer study abroad program — includes merchandise, daily trips around Ireland and an active Instagram account for students to enjoy. The program allows students to stay in apartment-style dorms and have access to classrooms, and campus is only a quick bus ride away from downtown Dublin.

The campus has a unique culture during the summer months because of its wide range of on-campus students. A walk around campus is sure to include encounters with countless students in college merchandise from all over. Aside from Baylor, American universities with cohorts at UCD currently include Tulane University, Southern Methodist University and Michigan State University, to name a few.

UCLA students enjoy a stroll through UCD campus together. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh Roberts
UCLA students enjoy a stroll through UCD campus together. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh

Ashley Kadleck, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, has found similarities between Dublin and her home base of Austin.

“I do find both similar where it has a good combination of nature and an urban area,” Kadleck said. “I also find them both walkable cities. Where we are located in Dublin, it is a little bit more based on transportation to get around rather than walking.”

Although the campuses may have a similar feel, Kadleck said UT Austin and UCD are different in the way students utilize campus.

The Summer at UCD program hosts events on campus daily, and students often read in the grass areas or hang out in recreational buildings. To name a few amenities, UCD has a movie theater, sauna and olympic-sized swimming pool. Additionally, there is a clubhouse on campus where students go for karaoke nights and are often found meeting other students.

“I don’t think a lot of people hang out on the UT campus at night; it’s more for studying, not so much for recreation,” Kadleck said. “In my experience at UCD so far, that hasn’t been the case. It’s a lot more versatile in that way.”

While campus has the ability to keep students busy and interacting with each other, UCD is a 15-minute bus ride to downtown Dublin, where there is a wider variety of opportunities for engaging with the Irish culture.

Study abroad student studies outside on a sunny day on UCD campus. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh Roberts
Study abroad student studies outside on a sunny day on UCD campus. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh

Jane Macaulay, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, said UCD’s location in Dublin has felt very different than the University of Michigan’s location in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“Dublin as a city in general is a lot bigger, but because UCD is farther from downtown, it feels a lot more disconnected to the city than the University of Michigan does to Ann Arbor,” Macaulay said. “It’s harder to go out to explore, and you have to make a more conscious effort to do so.”

Macaulay said her favorite part of studying abroad in Ireland is the excursions and trips that Summer at UCD has taken her cohort on.

“A few days ago, we went cliff jumping at the 40 foot, and we’ve also been to Galway, and we are going to Belfast soon,” Macaulay said. “Being able to see the different sides of the country has been really cool.”

Macaulay said she has a unique perspective because she is a dual citizen of both the United States and Ireland.

“I wouldn’t say too much surprised me because I’ve come here a lot growing up,” Macaulay said. “I’ve just really liked being able to explore on my own.”

When comparing the people of Dublin to the citizens and students of Ann Arbor, Macaulay said she has found them to be similar in their hospitable and outgoing nature toward outsiders.

Students from all over the country come together on UCD campus with a shared knowledge of pickup basketball. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh Roberts
Students from all over the country come together on UCD campus with a shared knowledge of pickup basketball. Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh

“It’s the Midwest kind of mindset to be nice and outgoing and friendly to people, and Irish people are very willing to help people as well,” Macaulay said. “There’s just a lot of people going out of their way to work with others and make sure that you have everything you need in both places, so that’s been very similar.”

Kadleck said she has had the same experience with the people in Dublin, which is contrary to the people in Austin.

“The people in Dublin are a lot less worried about status than they are in Austin,” Kadleck said. “They don’t care so much about what other people think, which I think is really refreshing.”

One thing that rings true, no matter who you ask, is that Irish people are some of the nicest, most accommodating humans to interact with.

“UT and Austin is a very competitive place to be, where everyone is climbing on top of each other trying to outdo one another,” Kadleck said. “I feel like in Dublin, they’re more so hyping each other up, supporting each other and at the same time minding their own business.”