Studying Abroad in Ireland

By Darby O'Hara
Published October 1, 2013

There's something very idyllic and dreamlike about the idea of studying abroad in Ireland. Maybe it has something to do with what happens when Hollywood goes to Ireland, like in P.S. I Love You, where the main character's study abroad adventure is just the beginning of her tangled love story. If you are looking to mix with the Irish and explore the Emerald Isle with its 40 shades of green, you too might be among the many to fall in love while studying abroad in Ireland.

Whether you’re looking to do some soul searching and trace your Irish roots or you're seeking some good craic (pronounced "crack" - and that means fun), there is plenty for you to see and explore while studying abroad in Ireland. Whatever it is that has you intrigued by the idea of studying abroad in Ireland, go with it!

Exploring the Emerald Isle

If you can imagine, the whole of Ireland is about the size of the state of Indiana with a whopping twenty six counties to roam. For a relatively small country, you will never run out of places to see.

Think of it this way: if you've ever dreamt of completing a cross country road trip, the coast to coast trip would take around three hours from Dublin to Galway (two of Ireland's most vibrant cities). For that matter, why not take a tour around the whole of Ireland and cover every coast and the country in between.

Not only are there endless sites to ogle at in Ireland, but how about country hopping through Europe. Ireland is centrally located in Europe which means you're just a short, cheap flight away from a long list of countries that may already be on your destination wish list. Travel with the locals and they may just take you over to France for a ski trip or maybe Portugal for a warmer weekend away. The opportunities are endless!

Learn from the Locals

If it's cultural immersion you're looking for, it's as easy as walking down to the local pub.  A comforting thing about Ireland is that you can never feel alone for too long. If you are, go sit at the bar and you'll be guaranteed to make a few new friends. While you're at it, get a free history lesson. The Irish tend to be a talkative bunch and would be very eager to pass on their Irish wisdom to an outsider.

History aside, they'll sure show you some good craic!

Cities of Ireland

Trying to decide where in the world to study abroad is difficult enough. Now that you may have narrowed the field to the beautiful country of Ireland, let's see if we can break it down even further.

The Republic of Ireland has three main cities: Dublin, Cork & Galway. Here's a bit about each that might help you make a more informed decision on which study abroad base city is right for you.

You'll learn very quickly that the Irish determine the size of a village, town or city based on its pub count. Even some of the smallest villages won't have less than two pubs.

Study Abroad in Dublin

Dublin city is Ireland's largest city located on the east coast of the country. This city, wrapped around the River Liffey, is overflowing with history. If it's craic you're looking for, you won't have to look too far. During the day, be sure to wander down Grafton Street for endless entertainment by the local buskers. And for nightlife, the Temple Bar area should suite for a pint and a dance. This area, although geared at tourism, will never disappoint to deliver a night of good craic.

Study Abroad in Cork

Although Cork is typically known as Ireland’s second city next to the capital Dublin, you’ll quickly learn from Cork natives that their city is “the real capital.” And while you’re there, make sure to replace your Guinness order at the bar with the local Murphy’s Irish Stout. If you call yourself a foodie, you have to check out Cork's English Market where you can find top quality food from around the world. There is plenty to back up the local pride of the “Rebel City,” right along the beautiful River Lee.

Study Abroad in Galway

Galway is known as Ireland's "party capital." Of course, there is also plenty of history to explore in the area. For example, have you seen or heard of the iconic Claddagh ring? Maybe you're wearing one. Well, it's here in Galway that the famous ring originates in the neighboring area by the same name: Claddagh. And if it's the traditional music you're listening for, Galway is famous for its trad sessions. Wander into any pub downtown and you'll likely be whisked away by a stranger for a dance; consider it your initiation.

Culture, Pride & Good Craic

The culture and pride that envelopes Ireland is contagious. There's a lot to fall in love with from coast to coast, along the countryside and even in the big cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway.

One bit of advice, remember that the best way to experience Ireland is through the people. They'll teach you everything you need to know, they'll entertain you with nonsensical stories and jokes, grab you a pint in the best local pubs, and introduce you to some real Irish craic. You'll be well taken care of!

Whatever it is you're looking to get out of your study abroad experience, you could get it in Ireland; just don't forget to bring your raincoat!


Learn more about studying abroad in Ireland.

Darby O'Hara traveled to Ireland in Fall 2013.