Author: Yonca Kaya
Welcome to another Minor Monday! This article depicts Lucca’s experience who went to Dublin, Ireland, for her minor abroad. Everyone who knows Lucca, knows that she had an unforgettable time there, and up until today, can’t stop talking about it. This is why I decided to interview her, to let her share her genuine enthusiasm about the country and her experience.
What university did you go to for your minor abroad?
I went to the Technological University in Dublin.
What did you base your decision on going there on?
I, funnily enough, looked at the courses that all the partner universities offered. Which now, looking back, I think courses aren’t a big part of your Erasmus. But I really thought “If I have the chance to do a minor abroad, I want to take courses that I can’t take here in the Netherlands”. The university in Dublin offers Film and Broadcasting courses, so that is why I initially chose to go there.
My next question is: What was your first impression of the country, the people, and the culture?
My first impression was that everyone was just horribly nice! Like everyone was almost too nice! Even when I got on the bus the first time. The bus driver was like “Hey, I hope you’re having a great day”. And me, obviously not sounding Irish, they knew that I was from abroad, so everyone was super helpful. Also, when I met people for instance, even their parents offered their help. My study coordinator in Dublin was very chaotic but extremely nice. So, I think that was my first impression.
Interesting! Since you also lived in the US before, how would you compare that kindness?
I think people are more genuine, without saying that Americans aren’t! But maybe because they are such a small country and such a small nation. Especially in the smaller towns, everyone knows everyone, and the feeling of community is very strong. When I was in the US I lived in Florida, and everything is spread out and so many people are living there, and comparing that to Ireland, and to Dublin even, everyone has that small-town mentality.
That sounds great! What were the main differences in the way of teaching, the teachers, but also the University, and the assignments?
I was lucky that I had courses in small classes, most courses were only with 9 or even just 5 other people. My largest class only consisted of 23 students. So pretty much the same size as the classes at home. And that was really nice, since that made it easier to connect with people. I think in the way of teaching, it included more of the teacher talking and us following and taking notes, whereas here at the HU, it is more applied and it is more based on group work. The assignments, I had multiple group assignments, which no one really cared about, so the mentality was very different. But maybe that was also just dependent on the teacher I had for that class. I feel like the requirements were way lower than the ones here.
So overall it was a lot more chill you would say?
Yes, but again I think that is based on the Irish mentality, they are just a bit more chill. Especially compared to me, a German perfectionist. The assignments did remind me of our assignments here in the Netherlands. We had two group presentations and I had to create a Photoshop portfolio, which was also applied as well as creative. I also had to write three different creative text for my other class, so it was still very applied I would say.
How did you meet other people? Did your university organize events or did Erasmus organize any?
The first people I met were other Erasmus students, because the University offered different events specifically for Erasmus students. Then they also have many student societies at that university. In my second or third week there, they had a Society Fair, and every society had their own little stand and you could talk to them and sign up. They had everything from photography to fashion, to climbing and hiking and canoeing. Even skiing which is ridiculous because you can’t ski in Ireland. So yeah, they have lots of societies and I signed up for three of them. But then I also met people through my study program, because I was very lucky to have the small classes so it was quite easy to connect with people.
Did you also meet locals in those societies?
Yes! I was part of ESN but I think I was initially more interested in meeting locals. So, after the first introduction events I kind of pulled away from ESN and wanted to be more involved in the societies a lot of Irish people were part of. I was part of the mountaineering society and we had climbing practice once a week and I really tried to talk to people there. I was also part of the Christian Society but I didn’t really connect with the people there.
What did you do in your free time?
I feel like I didn’t have a very typical Erasmus experience, because I actually didn’t travel that much which is really weird now looking back at it. However, I was so keen on making connections in Dublin that I didn’t really go on those ESN trips because I was friends with a lot of locals who have obviously seen all that already. Anyway, my week was quite packed: I lived about an hour outside of the city so Monday to Friday I was just in the city all day. I went to uni in the morning until the afternoon, and then I would either go to one of the societies or, other students also lived outside the city, so we would just spend time in the city, or go to someone’s place and hang there. And then on the weekends it was a very normal student life. I was hanging out at home, hang with my roomies or meet up with my friends. With the mountaineering society we went on a trip to the west coast, and I also visited two of my friends in their home cities.
What did you learn from your time there?
I think I learned something that I already had learned from past experiences though: I don’t have a problem with being by myself. I think that is also why I didn’t have a problem with pulling away from that ESN community. I have been abroad before, so I didn’t have the feeling of having to find a group there. Obviously, I wanted to connect with people but I was also fine with it taking me a while.
That definitely took off the pressure. I also learned from the Irish people that it’s really nice to go with the flow and I am trying to apply that more to my life now. Because I am quite…
Yeah, German haha. So that really made an impression on me, how they handle life a bit differently and they are a bit more chill. And I also realized that everyone is looking for human contact, so, make the first step and talk to people. If that doesn’t end up with a great friendship that is also okay, but at least you tried. But usually my experience was quite positive.
That is some great advice already! Do you have any other advice for students who still have to do their minor abroad?
I think my biggest advice would be to approach people. Don’t be afraid to be the person to initiate the contact or a conversation. I think we often think that we might make a fool of ourselves if we are the ones first talking to others, so just keep an open mind and try to make the first step! And also, be open to a change in your mindset. I still went to a western European country, so it wasn’t completely different and I didn’t experience a culture shock. However, there are differences in how they approach life and how they life their lives, so be open to not only be a part of it but also to learning something from it. Because maybe the way you did things before, there is always something to learn to improve, and to eventually grow from it.
And do you have any advice for people who are going to Dublin specifically?
Embrace the welcoming nature of the people there! Dublin is really big, don’t let that set you off! About the university specifically: Don’t stress about uni too much! I approached this definitely too German at the beginning, and I was a bit too focused on that initially. Obviously, you are also there to learn from your courses, but your focus shouldn’t lay solely on that. Also, the lecturers, if they know that you are an Erasmus student, they don’t expect as much from you as they do from others. They know that this is a special time for you.
After the official part of the interview Lucca couldn’t stop talking about her time there. She added some more advice she would give other students who will be going on their minor abroad in the future: Try to find friends based on your interests. Common interests connect like nothing else, since you have something to talk about, things to do, and probably other similarities as well! Furthermore, always try to speak in the language that is spoken in that country, even if you meet people from your home country. That helps you either improving it or simply makes you seem a lot more open to others. Besides that, she has made some great friends, whom she is still in regular contact with today. She also added that it is really up to the people you meet there, less even about the location or other circumstances. The most important aspect however is, that you are open to make those connections and memories that you will certainly cherish for the rest of your life!
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