By Anna McAlpine (Visiting Student, Study Abroad Blogger)
Whilst it is great (and encouraged) to explore Dublin, and the beautiful country that is Ireland, whilst you are studying abroad here, it is worth bearing in mind that Dublin makes for a great base from which to see the rest of Europe. Ryanair always has some cheap flight deals on trips to the well known capitals of Europe which is something you might want to take advantage of whilst you are here. Hailing from Europe myself this was not one of the factors I took into account when deciding to apply to study in Ireland – however, I know that a lot of study abroad friends I have made here, particularly those from America have taken full advantage of Ireland’s great location within the world by using it as a springboard to see other cultures and countries. I think then that this is definitely worth bearing in mind if you are thinking about studying abroad in Ireland.
Although I have not used Ireland for its position within Europe for leisure activities as such, I have been making use of the closeness of its proximity to England when thinking about future job prospects. As I move ever closer towards my graduation date next year it has got me thinking more frequently about my plans after university. I think that time spent abroad is a great time to capitalise on gaining new experiences that will help in landing you with your dream job. By being situated so close to central Europe and with flight prices so cheap it is a great time to think about gaining work experience abroad or reaching out to companies that you may not normally have access to.
With this in mind I can say that I spent the majority of last week travelling. The airport has become a very familiar place to me – in fact I am really referring to London Stansted and Dublin airports. It has (surprisingly) helped with my studies in my ‘Reading the Irish City’ class where we discuss the concepts of place and non – place – a distinction that is very apparent in the anonymity of an airport. It is also a great place to catch up on school work before you jetset – the airport in Dublin is relatively compact (at least in terminal one) so there is not too many distractions if you want to hit the books before you holiday.
As my goal is to pursue a career in law in London I have been taking full advantage of Dublin’s fifty minute flight time into the capital. I spent one day last week taking part in a workshop in a top city firm. This was an invaluable experience which has substantially aided my understanding of work in a top city firm. There are plenty of opportunities such as this available that run throughout this time of year in London firms. Although competition for places is tough, it has been great to get the opportunity to experience life in the firm – especially handy when I currently live so close. In fact I am attending a second workshop day next month too – it is great to be able to take advantage of these opportunities to travel abroad whilst also enhancing my career prospects.
After attending my open day at the London law firm I was then straight on a train to Cambridge University. The news that led me here came a couple of weeks prior to travelling whilst sitting checking my emails on our ten minute break in my class on ‘The English Estate Novel’. I could not contain my excitement when I found out that a paper I had wrote had been accepted for publication in the ‘British Undergraduate Philosophy Society Journal’ and that I had been invited to give a lecture on my paper at the society’s bi – annual conference at Cambridge. That is how I found myself travelling on the train from London to Cambridge, still in my suit from the law office and furiously cramming in more prep time for my presentation the following morning. It was a great experience and one that has further developed my communicating and presentation skills as well as getting to take in the beautiful city of Cambridge. I would urge future study abroad students to seriously consider applying for opportunities such as this ahead of your arrival date in Ireland – you never know where the next adventure may take you!
Whilst I have recently spent a lot of time travelling for work, I have also managed to squeeze in a couple of trips home to my beautiful motherland, Scotland. Remember that Britain has more to offer than just the sights of London – a trip North of the border has plenty to offer. I would recommend spending a few days taking in the two main cities at the heart of Scotland – Glasgow and Edinburgh – there will be lots of tourists but these cities have so much to offer, especially by way of musical entertainment in Glasgow and theatre experiences in Edinburgh. After you have exhausted yourself in the humdrum of city life ,you must visit (and yes a shameless plug here from myself) St Andrews, my university town. It may centre around three streets but the coastal views and historic buildings of the university could entertain you for weeks (but a couple of days could suffice if you’re on a time-limited tour). On the sliding scale of rural-ness your next stop may as well be a venture up to the Highlands to get a sense of the true Scottish, rugged landscape. Whilst you’re at it, you could whip on a kilt and drink some whiskey – just please do not expect any locals to be doing the same.
Wherever you choose to visit, with the airport being a short thirty-minute bus ride from Trinity and cheap flights available to most destinations in Europe, it would be madness not to take advantage of that in your time abroad at Trinity. You have already taken the first step in your travels by choosing to study abroad… so you may as well explore a little more whilst you’re at it!