Living Abroad in Ireland

Sonja Sjogren
Sonja Sjogren
Sonja is a Journalism student at Dublin City University, from Helsinki, Finland.

Almost three years ago I moved to Ireland to study journalism and I’ve had the time of my life over here. I can’t say that I never looked back or that I never regretted my decision because that would be a lie, but I can say these years have probably been the best ones of my life yet. While I can’t wait to graduate and get started with my professional life, I’m going to miss living and studying here when it’s over.

Studying abroad can be easy

I have talked about living abroad with a lot of people from all over Europe and nowadays many seem to dream about living in a foreign country but are too scared or too comfortable to take the final step and start a new life abroad. Studying abroad genuinely is your best and easiest chance of living abroad and I would recommend anyone who has the dream to do it.

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I can’t stress enough how easy moving abroad to study is in the EU. If you’re an EU citizen moving to an EU country you’re already pretty much sorted as visas and such are not needed and possible tuition or registration fees are generally cheaper for EU citizens. However, the main reason why I think studying abroad is your best chance at settling abroad is that once you’re accepted into a college, you have a reason to be there and the chances of failure at living abroad are so much smaller.

Moving to Dublin

Once I got accepted to Dublin City University (DCU), the preparations to move to Dublin were surprisingly easy. I pretty much just moved out from my old flat and stored most of my stuff, applied for the European Health Insurance Card and a Personal Public Service Number from Ireland and bought flights to the Emerald Isle. The reality hit me once I got to looking for a place to live in: there’s a massive housing crisis in Dublin and it’s only getting worse.

For the first month of my life in Dublin, I stayed in B&B’s and was ready to flunk out every day out of desperation, anger and homesickness. However, I didn’t give up and I kept looking and calling people. I finally got a room from a student residence near my college. In that kind of a situation, there are two options: whether you give up and move back home or you keep going and eventually find your way out of the mess.

Back then I wanted to drop out but I didn’t let myself do it and I couldn’t be happier about it now. If I would have given up two and a half years ago, I wouldn’t have met the most amazing people and had all the incredible adventures that I’ve had since.

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Sonja and friends dressed to impress

Studying abroad in Ireland is cheap

If you’re looking to study abroad in Ireland, I’d say go for it! Education is fairly cheap here: the yearly registration fee is about €3,000 to Irish and EU citizens and if you’re eligible, you can apply for a grant from SUSI – the Student Universal Support Ireland – and they might just cover your fees. For EU citizens the application process is fairly simple too, just apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Foreign applicants do have to send in documents, but overall, it’s a very simple process.

Accommodation-wise I advise you to book a room as soon as possible and to save up for the rent. While the acceptance letters from CAO don’t usually arrive before July or August, most student residences are booked out around March or April and any available houses or apartments are snatched away in hours. The situation is definitely worse in Dublin, where many jobs are and where three major universities are located too. As far as I’m concerned, it’s way easier to find accommodation in other cities like Galway and Cork.

While moving abroad can be a daunting experience at first, it is so much fun in the end. If you’re persistent enough and really want to make it work you can if you just work through the difficulties. Living abroad is an experience like no other and it’s especially amazing when you’re still young. Being a student is hard work but at the same time it is so much fun and I would advise everyone to make the most of it. Talk to people, join clubs and societies, and go out with your course mates who you barely know because, in time, those people will be your best friends.

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O’Connell Bridge, Dublin