The Ultimate Guide to Your First Month in Ireland

Emily Sakowski is a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dublin, Ireland.

I’ve been abroad in Ireland for almost a month now, and there have already been so many things I have seen and learned. I found that my first month of studying abroad was made worthwhile by listening to the advice of others and taking 10 recommendations that, in turn, I’d like to pass off to you! Without further ado, here are 10 helpful tips to make your first month abroad in Ireland a solid one.

1) Know where you’re studying. Put in that extra effort to get to know the place you’re calling home for the semester. Learn the history of your school and the town or city it’s in, and discover the historic places on your campus. Odds are, you’ll unearth some really cool history about the place. At my host university, there’s a special lantern hanging in one of the corridors, marking where Pope John Paul II stopped to pray when he visited the campus.
2) Explore. Take a long walk one day with a friend and check out the neighborhood around you. Don’t be afraid to explore because there is always something new to see, and the landscape of Ireland is absolutely breathtaking. My second week here, my friend and I found a cattle farm and the most beautiful golf course I’ve ever seen, just down a bike path by our campus.

Golf Course, Maynooth, Ireland - Sakowski - Photo 4
The insanely beautiful golf course we found right by Maynooth University, my host university!

3) Take tips from the locals. Local Dubliners truly know best. For example, you might consider grabbing a pint and a bite to eat in Temple Bar one evening. Locals will warn you, however, (and I can confirm) that Temple Bar is insanely expensive, and while it’s definitely worth seeing, you could save a few euro by eating and drinking elsewhere.

Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland - Sakowski - Photo 1
The lovely and bustling Temple Bar.

4) Treat yourself. Studying abroad is the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s also a major adjustment and a step out of your comfort zone. When you’re first getting settled, distract yourself by being busy. Go out to dinner, splurge a little bit on sightseeing or maybe even on some shopping. Decorate your room with a vase of fresh flowers. Whatever you do, make yourself feel at home.
5) Book outside travel early. You have the the rest of Europe at your doorstep and are probably going to want to do some outside travel. Prices skyrocket the closer you get to your excursion dates, though, even for discount airlines like Ryanair. You can of course book last minute trips, but to save big-time, look to book about a month in advance.
6) Go to your lectures! You never know what you’ll learn, and you might discover a new passion or interest.
7) Do all the free stuff. Dublin museums, movies, culture nights, shows – it’s all waiting for you. Besides, what else were you really going to do on a Tuesday night?
8) Take a day trip on a lazy day. When you don’t have any plans for the day, grab a couple of friends and take a ride to a nearby destination, like Howth or Glendalough. They’re both so beautiful, and Howth has amazing fish and chips!

Glendalough, Dublin, Ireland - Sakowski - Photo 3
A picture from when I was in Glendalough with ISA!
Howth, Dublin, Ireland - Sakowski - Photo 2
The breathtaking fishing village of Howth.

9) Eat the local food. A country’s cuisine is one of the things that makes it distinguishable from any other. Immerse yourself in the Irish culture by trying the food the country is known for. Some good dishes to try are Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, and (really delicious) seafood chowder. And if you like, you can pair any of these with a Guinness.
10) Be a little bit of a tourist. There’s a reason certain city sights are dubbed “touristy,” and it’s because a lot of them are worth seeing! Do some research on which tourist sites interest you most in Dublin, and definitely visit them for the books. My favorites (so far) have been the Book of Kells, the Brazen Head, and St. Stephen’s Green!

St Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland - Sakowski - Photo 5
One of my favorite places in the heart of Dublin, St. Stephen’s Green.

Want to experience the Wild West of Ireland? Check out “The Art of Adventure — Galway”