Tag Archives: Exchange

How to Explore Outside of Dublin

By Sarada Symonds, Visiting Student Blogger

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The Cliffs of Moher are definitely a must-see if you’re visiting Ireland.

Dublin is one of those cities that is steeped in history and culture, and Trinity College is right at the heart of it. However, Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle for a reason, and you should definitely plan to get out of the city and explore the rest of the island. Ireland has plenty of sites to see, and you’ll probably recognize some of those sites from movies and tv. However, while some of these sites are relatively close to Dublin, others require several hours of driving to reach. Other times, you may want to leave for a few days and see what the rest of Europe has to offer. Here’s some of the best ways to make sure you take advantage of your time here in Ireland.

Continue reading How to Explore Outside of Dublin

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Blowing into Dublin

Ariane has come to Trinity from Aberdeen for an exchange semester, she is originally from Germany. 

Dublin is windy. I learned this when I was bouncing at 20,000-15,000 feet for a little over an hour (yes, in a plane). As soon as we landed, everybody took out their mobile phones and immediately called their loved ones. I called my dad. “I have landed.” I told him, “I proudly announce that I have just started my exchange semester in Dublin!”

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Trinity’s architecture conjured up figures like Queen Elizabeth the first and Harry Potter in my mind. It sounded like a new adventure. While I couldn’t realise my childhood dream of feeling like Hermione when studying in the library (I thought the Long Room was a study area!), I could do a lot more things than I would ever have dreamed about.

My second encounter with the wind happened on the day I had to hand my essay in to the politics department, which is in the lucky position of being situated between Starbucks and Costa. I proudly printed off my essay (with the credit I had just successfully added online, thanks to the Datapac help desk in the library) and started my trip to my lecturer’s office, when it suddenly started to rain. In a nutshell: I had to print off my essay again (it got wet, it fell in a puddle and eventually, I had to let it go with the wind). From that day on, an umbrella got a special place in my handbag, just next to my extra jumper and leap card.

Getting a leap card is like getting Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, except the stunningly beautiful Irish landscape beats every chocolate river and candy flower. Where I’m from, it takes me ten hours to reach the sea. Here, I could reach the seaside within a few minutes.

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One thing that took me a few minutes to understand was the Irish accent. Oh, you didn’t ask me if I could take the garbage outside, but you said it is gorgeous that the sun does shine? Grant! Oh, you didn’t want a carrot cake but a carrier bag? These misunderstandings are the stories you will tell your grandchildren one day. One thing you learn when you live abroad is to laugh about yourself.

Here is the thing about going on an exchange semester – we may be a little selfish in our motivations. “Exchange Semester at Trinity College” definitely makes every employer have his eyes on sticks. Your friends’  plan to visit you before you even set foot on Irish ground suddenly makes you the coolest person alive. You’re the number one conversation topic at your grandmother’s tea time table. “Oh she is going to Iceland, isn’t she?” (not really, but close). Still, that doesn’t stop your pride from putting a huge smile on your face.

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The truth is – going abroad is the least selfish thing you can do and could be the most honourable decision you have ever taken. Let me warn you – you will not be the same when you come back. You will sit at the dinner table telling your younger brother that it is okay to eat close to midnight and ignore the 6-sharp-German-dinner time, because after all, that is what people in Spain do. You will tell your sister that you know someone in Hong Kong who could help her with her Chinese homework. You will urge your mother to take her own bags to go shopping and please not buy the cheapest peanut butter because it contains palm oil which is the main reason for the extinction of the rain forest. You’ll tell your dad that it is fine, you can change the light bulb on your own and yes, you can fix your bike as well!

My semester abroad will not stop once this term ends. All the memories, the friendships and the experiences I made will last for a lifetime. Yes, it has had its up and downs, but I was warned at the very beginning – Dublin is windy. And if it hadn’t been for the wind, I would never have been so appreciative to land safely on Irish ground!

Welcome home event for students returning from international exchange

Last week Trinity students returning from a year on international exchange were welcomed back with a wine reception. It was a great chance to chat about our time away from Dublin and compare experiences; there were also speakers from the Careers Advisory Service, and a storytelling workshop from writer and performer Catherine Brophy.

Having recently returned from Canada, after a year at the University of Toronto, I found it incredible the amount I had in common with people who had spent their year in countries across the globe. From those who had travelled as far as Australia, to those who participated in the Erasmus program, we all shared a common understanding of what it means to go somewhere new.

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On arrival we were given a list of potential exchange experiences (including ‘having a holiday romance’ and ‘climbing a mountain’) and were invited to find as many people as we could who could claim to have done them. This was a great ice-breaker, and sparked some amazing stories of trips and adventures. Around the room were boards where we could write advice to future students and treasured memories, some which made you smile and some which made you laugh. The Global Room was abuzz with stories and anecdotes, and everyone had experiences they were eager to share.

Later in the evening, once everyone had sampled the refreshments and met one-another, a speaker from the Careers Advisory Service spoke to us about how to capitalise upon our experiences when applying for jobs. The independence and global awareness which going abroad to study gives you can really set you apart when looking for a job, so discovering the best way to present this on LinkedIn  and at interview was invaluable.

Catherine Brophy, professional storyteller
Catherine Brophy, professional storyteller

As the evening wound down there was just enough time for a storytelling workshop led by writer and performer Catherine Brophy. She spoke to us about the best ways to shape a story for the listener, something we could all use capitalise on our international anecdotes. When I came back from my year on exchange I was brimming with stories and memories to share, however after a week or so the excitement of my return had waned and no one was interested in hearing about the ice and snow anymore. Hopefully the pointers Catherine has given me on retelling my experiences will help me communicate my memories in a way which as exciting as I remember them.

It can be strange returning after a year away, although everything is the same you’ve changed and it’s not always easy to fit straight back in. It was great to meet fellow students who felt the same way, and who were as passionate about their year as I was. I hope that next year’s exchange students will get the same opportunity to meet up and discuss their experiences, as it was the perfect way to round off a year abroad.

Jess is a Student Ambassador in the Global Room in her final year of a degree in English. 

A CsF student reflects on his experiences at Trinity

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Andre Stern studied at Trinity College Dublin with the CsF programme from 2013 – 2014.

Fazer o Ciência sem Fronteiras na Trinity foi um sonho, porque eu já tinha visitado Dublin em 2008, fui ao campus e fiquei apaixonado. Na época, imaginei que nunca estudaria lá. Quando fui aceito, nem acreditei. Então além de todo o sentimento de realização óbvio – estar na melhor Universidade de um país europeu, estudar com gente que sai da sala de aula e é absorvida imediatamente pelas melhores empresas do mundo – o programa teve para mim esse caráter extra de conquista de algo que achava impossível.

A Irlanda, em si, é outro sonho. Procurei me integrar o máximo que pude com a cultura e o pessoal local, e acho que fiz um bom trabalho. Em poucos meses, meus melhores amigos eram irlandeses, passei o Natal com uma família irlandesa, virei o ano em Londres com um grande amigo de Tipperary (interior da Irlanda), fazia trabalhos em grupo com o pessoal de lá mesmo. E entendi muito bem a obsessão que o mundo tem com o povo irlandês. Já ouviu alguém falar que não gosta de irlandês? Porque não tem de quê não gostar mesmo. Uma comunidade extremamente receptiva, amigável, disposta, divertida. Em algumas semanas, você se sente em casa. O difícil depois é voltar.

English translation:

Doing the Science without Borders program at Trinity was a dream come true, because I had already been to Dublin in 2008, when I went to their campus and fell in love with it. At the time, I imagined I would never study there. When I was accepted to Trinity I couldn’t even believe it. So besides the whole obvious ‘accomplishment’ feeling – being in the best university in Europe, studying with people who walk out of the classroom and are immediately taken on by the best companies in the world – the program had that extra feeling of accomplishing something I considered impossible.

Ireland, in itself, is another dream. I tried to integrate as much as I could with the local culture and people, and I think I did a good job. In a few months, my best friends were Irish; I spent Christmas with an Irish family; I spent New Year’s in London with a great friend from Tipperary; I did all team assignments with people from Ireland. And I came to understand the world’s obsession with Irish people very well. Have you ever heard someone say they don’t really like the Irish? Because there’s really nothing not to like. They’re an extremely receptive, friendly, willing, fun community. In a few weeks, you’ll feel right at home. The tough part actually is coming back to Brazil.

How best to capture your adventures abroad

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Going abroad for any space of time can be as overwhelming as it is enriching sometimes. New cultures, tastes, and sensations assault us, and it can be hard to take stock until you’re back home carefully choosing which photos to upload to Facebook. Reflecting on your experience for the first time once you’ve returned home can mean you miss out on some of the ‘Eureka!’ moments travel offers. For instance, forgetting you were homesick at the start of your year abroad can mean that you forget how you got over homesickness, and how cool it is that you could.

Whether you’re studying abroad for a semester, a year, or four years, it’s important to reflect as you go, rather than only when your (current) adventure is coming to a close.

In order to capture your own personal story from your time abroad, and really get the most out of it, we’ve put together a list of brilliant online tools that can help you.


1 Second Everyday

For those of you who prefer the visual to the written account, 1 Second Everyday is perfect. You film one second every day for however long you are spending abroad (you can set the timeframe). At the end, a beautiful timelapse-style video is put together for you to keep / share / remember as you see fit.

1 Second Everyday


Maptia

The world is full of stunning destinations, and stunning stories from fellow travellers. Maptia is a beautiful way to capture and share your experiences. On Maptia you can share stories about the places you’ve been to or come from, or really any place that’s meaningful to you. The layout is gorgeous, and some of the stories already captured will give you itchy feet!

Maptia


OhLife

This is a completely private method of reflection, perfect for anyone who would find the daily prospect of writing a diary or a blog a little too structured. OhLife send you an email (you can choose how regularly) asking you some simple questions, like how are you feeling? What’s new? And you simply reply to the email. Your response goes into a temporary vault, and after a while you will start to receive older emails from Yesterday You (it’s all very Marty McFly…). The beauty of OhLife is in seeing how far you’ve come. You’ll be surprised at what seemed scary or nerve-wracking to you in the past, and comforted by how you’re coping with new challenges. Think of this one as writing letters to yourself! OhLife’s basic package is completely free, and includes all that you would likely need to reflect.

OhLife


Your Six Word Memoir

Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a full story in only six words. His response was “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Six-word memoirs have become a popular way to succinctly tell your story, or to inspire conversation or debate. It’s also a great way to break the ice. This one’s great to play around with.

Six Word Memoirs


10Q

You answer one question per day in your own private 10Q space. You can make your answers silly, salacious, sarcastic – whatever you wish, it’s your 10Q. When you’re finished answering, hit the ‘magic button’ and your answers get sent securely to 10Q where they’re held. A year later, you will be emailed your answers to see how far you’ve come since last year.

10Q


Have a play around with all of these tools, choose your favourite and get going!

Coming Back to Dublin from a Year on Exchange

It’s over, I’m back! Now where’s the fun fair, the balloons, the parade? It’s as if the people I pass on the streets as I come from the airport don’t know where I’ve been, what I’ve done. My memories of a year the other side of the Atlantic (in Toronto) still echo within my head, yet no one around is aware of the journey I’ve taken.

Instead of the maze of narrow winding streets that map across Dublin, I am used to straight ordered lines that stretch for miles in every direction. Toronto’s sports bars filled with photos of hockey legends have been replaced by Dublin’s warm cozy pubs. Ice becomes rain, and I have lost my status as an exotic European (darn!)

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Nothing has changed, and yet everything feels foreign. Being back in Dublin is a weird mix of relief and nostalgia; I’m home again, and it’s like I never left. The same buskers line Grafton Street; the same faces smile at me as I cross Front Square. The only real difference is me. Going on exchange has made me view everything from a fresh perspective. The various Irish accents that buzz around me feel heightened and enhanced; and the buildings feel older and more special after a year surrounded by Toronto’s futuristic skyscrapers.

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Soon I will meet my friends in the pub and recount stories of surviving a freezing winter, and of the people I met. They’ll giggle when I tell them about how my hair froze and snow frosted my scarf. I’ll tell them of the differences and the similarities, the people and the food. Yet I know they can’t understand the feeling of Toronto, won’t know the people that I’ve met. One day I know that the memories of my year on exchange will merge and melt until only a few remain clear enough to fully relive. But today Toronto feels as present as the streets that surround me.

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I’ve missed my friends, the unique atmosphere of an Irish pub. In many ways I’m glad that I’m back where I know I belong. Going away has given me a fresh perspective on everything about university and I am so happy that I can go into my final year excited to be back, instead of dreading the inevitable hard work.

When I came to Trinity, I wanted to experience everything I could. I tried out loads of different societies until I knew where I fit; if there was an event or a party, I was there. So when the opportunity came to try out the challenge of a new university, I had to take it. Going on exchange has given me more than memories or a new line on my CV; it has affected the way in which I view my surroundings. I can now appreciate the best bits of Dublin and remember the best bits of Toronto, and that is invaluable.

Erasmus Experience: A Year in Paris

I started university knowing that I wanted to take part in the Erasmus programme. Everything about it appealed to me; the chance to immerse myself in a new culture, to meet people from a variety of different countries, and of course, to improve my French. I also wanted to get out of my comfort zone. One of the reasons I chose Trinity was because it was close to home. One of the reasons I chose my course, TSM French and Art History, was because they were subjects I already knew I enjoyed. I thought Erasmus would give me the push I needed to get out of my comfort zone and challenge what I thought about myself and the world.

And it did, it really did. I lived in this tiny apartment in the Marais in the heart of the city with neighbours who often choreographed synchronised dances to the tune of Aqua’s Barbie Girl and Doctor Jones.  My district was made up of quirky boutiques, outdoor cafés and gay bars. The best falafel in Paris was sold just down the street and four of the city’s best vintage stores were all within a five minute walk. I studied at the Université Paris-Sorbonne with a timetable that was divided between two separate schools on opposite sides of the Seine. My courses varied from modern art to journalism, to the history of Ancient Egypt. And although I was desperately dependent on my French classmates for help, I did love trying classes that wouldn’t have necessarily been available to me in Trinity. And I made friends with people from across the globe with various backgrounds and life experiences. Friends who invited me into their lives to celebrate birthdays with their families, who cooked me Irish-themed meals to help me feel more at home, who brought me to festivals to dance through the streets of the city, who made Erasmus the experience it was. Spending the year abroad also reminded me of the great friendships I already had, the ones I had left behind in Ireland. Despite being in another country their emails, calls and visits not only gave me a connection to home but also gave me the courage to keep living abroad.

Because it does take courage to live abroad and leave behind the comforts of home. And although it was one of the best years of my life it was also one of the most challenging.

Unsurprisingly, French bureaucracy has a reputation for a reason. Everything is an uphill battle and nothing is ever straight-forward. Hours were spent bouncing from office to office in pursuit of that particular form, or that essential signature. But I learned to be persistent and persuasive, and I suppose having a streak of stubbornness never hurt anyone. University there tends to focus on academic development, rather than the development of the student as a whole. So while Trinity prides itself on its numerous and varied student societies they were often quite difficult to find in Paris. And although this didn’t stop me from making friends it did make it slightly more difficult to meet people. However, homesickness is possibly what intimidates people the most about Erasmus. It’s distressing and disheartening and sneaks up on you when you least expect it. But even though homesickness can be uncomfortable, it’s only ever a fleeting feeling. A phone call home, a coffee with a friend or exploring a new district reminds you of why you chose to move there in the first place.

What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. And I chose to do Erasmus because change was exactly what I wanted. Given the chance I’d do it all over again.

-Aoife