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Kategorie: ‘Ireland’

Research Stay in Dublin

January 19th, 2024 | by
  • Chemistry M.Sc.
  • Ireland, Dublin
  • University College Dublin
  • 11/2023 – 01/2024
  1. Application/Finding an internship

My experience in this department might be less useful, as I received an offer from my professor in Ireland, rather than looking for an internship myself. However, I have understood from the other visiting students there that finding an internship was not the hard part about planning their stay in Ireland – generally, they have researched the groups with topics aligning with their interests and applied directly to the head professors of those groups. Afterwards, the process ran smoothly through the school manager, who explained how I should sign as a visiting Erasmus student on the UCD website and I received a student number and card, testifying my status as a visiting student. That also meant I got access to all the facilities and privileges a student would.

  1. Accomodation & Living expenses

Finding accomodation might be the most difficult aspect of planning an internship in Ireland. Dublin suffers from a veritable housing crisis, which makes finding a place, especially for a short stay of under one year, extremely difficult. Aside from that, prices are high, and average around 900 to 1000 Euros a month if you don’t want to share a room. Probably one of the best options is finding a host and living in their house – not only is this option cheaper, but it also allows for deeper, personal connections with your host and the possibility of getting tips from them on the best things to visit/experience in Ireland.

This was, in fact, the option that I chose. I met my host through a previous Airbnb visit in Dublin and contacted her again for this internship. Airbnb is a safe option to find accomodation for a short-term stay, and I highly encourage you to reach out to Airbnb hosts and ask them whether they can offer longer stays. It’s a great opportunity, since you do not have to pay any deposit this way, and much more secure than many other apartment-finding websites. In fact, a fellow visiting student got scammed with his first apartment, so contacting your professor to check the validity of your apartment offer is something you should do if you have the chance to.

This entire segment might seem rather disheartening, but I assure you that the hassle is worth it. Apart from the housing expenses, which the Erasmus scholarship mostly covers, the other living expenses are very much comparable to Germany. ALDI and LIDL are readily available, and even the restaurants in the city center are very much affordable. Once you clear the hurdle of finding a place, the rest is smooth sailing.

  1. Everyday life/The internship

One cannot forget that Dublin is capital, and, as such, is accordingly crowded. Taking the bus at peak hours can mean your commute might be as long as two hours – thankfully, the universities are also aware of this conundrum, for which reason the PhD students start at 10 o’clock to avoid the insane morning rush. That also means, however, that your work is done around 18 o’clock, by which time you get to experience the city lit up for the night.

In my experience, everyday life is comfortable – the bus connections are fairly good and frequent, and a 90min bus ride totals up to one euro if you order the youth card online (note that it must be ordered to an Irish address). There’s something quite rewarding about watching the city from the upper level of a double decker, like you’re about to conquer the day or you’re being rewarded for your hard work. Supermarkets are always close by and offer a wide variety of semi-cooked meals that you can easily bring into work for lunch. All in all, the daily needs are met with no problem – provided that, of course, you don’t forget to bring a power outlet adaptor, just as you would if you were to visit UK.

The university staff at UCD and the students I came in contact with were another highlight of my stay in Dublin. They’ve all been exceedingly nice and friendly, and any question, whether personal or science-related, was met with a helpful response. In one word, I would describe the people as warm – as soon as my first day, lunch discussions drifted towards restaurant recommendations and folk stories, so it’s fair to say that I have felt accepted into the group very fast.

In fact, my entire research felt like a collaboration. There was a constant exchange of ideas with the other students, and they were always ready and happy to help. I must, however, note that the scientific department was in the middle of reorganizing, so some of the facilities were harder or slower to access.

Another thing to notice is the clear difference between a PhD in Germany versus Ireland. In Ireland, the PhD is a four-year endeavor and no more – you are considered a student, and as such have a contract for only these four years. Regardless of the results you’ve obtained or how much progress you’ve made, your project time is up after four years, and there’s not much pressure to publish scientific papers. This, I’ve come to understand, is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and much less competitive than other academic experiences I’ve had. On the other hand, there’s not a general drive to improve, which may shackle you down if you do not have the support of your professor.

  1. Free time/Tips

Dublin is truly a charming city. Just taking a walk through the city center reveals centuries of history in its layered architecture, from the Middle Ages to the beloved pubs and more modern bubble tea shops. It’s fascinating to experience – as soon as you step into the city, everything is red bricks and old, authentic facades. It might be one of the most beautiful capitals I’ve seen so far, and one that offers much to do in your free time.

If you’re inclined to visit museums, there’s no shortage to choose from. From Dublina, which explains the relationship between Dublin and Vikings, to The Little Museum of Dublin, which takes you on a time travel back to the Irish war of independence and, most importantly, the Whiskey Museum – Ireland is so culturally diverse that you have no chance of getting bored. There’s a particularly strong drinking culture in Ireland, so apart from the Whiskey Museum, which serves as an entrance guide, there are more Whiskey Distilleries to visit than you can count. I ended up at Teeling, and absolutely loved the tour and the complementary whiskey plus cocktail.

If there is one word often associated with Dublin, however, that is beer – they are more than proud of the Guinness Brewery, and it is worth a visit just for its impressive size if panoramic view from the top restaurant, even if you aren’t much of a beer enjoyer. If you are, however, you’re in luck, because Dublin is bustling with dozens of pubs, where you can enjoy a pint of beer while listening to live music and eating an Irish roast.

Another must is enjoying a cup of tea and a scone – it doesn’t matter where, because you’ll find them everywhere. Just like mince pies, these are remnants of the 800-year long British occupation. If you go to the port, Howth, you’ll be able to not only enjoy the amazing hikes, but also fresh fish and chips. Despite this strong British influence, Ireland is the very definition of a multicultural city – people from so many walks of life have settled here that you can find virtually any cuisine you’re craving, be it Japanese, Mexican, Greek, Korean or Italian.

Ireland is also known for its nature – if you rent a bike, it’s worth taking it outside of the city to see the beautiful landscape. If you don’t, however, you can still rent one in Phoenix Park, another must-visit on your list, if only to see the deer. You might have to search a little for them, and the park is extremely big, but definitely worth a visit.

  1. Conclusions

All in all, I would rate my experience at UCD, and in Dublin, in general, as positive. UCD was well-equipped from a scientific point of view, and depending on the research field that you want to deepen your understanding of, it might make a great experience to add to your resume. The people were very helpful, even though the general level of research-motivation was below what I was expecting.

The city itself was wonderful. I was lucky enough to be there around Christmas and enjoyed Dublin in all of its festive glory. The atmosphere pulls you right in, and it makes it easy to forget that you’re far away from home. The people were very warm and friendly, and I was lucky enough to have a pair of wonderful hosts that I would engage in many a conversation with. The openness to foreign visitors and the ease with which I was accommodate made it so that Dublin is now one of my favorite places in Europe, and I can’t wait to return as a tourist.

Research Internship in Dublin

October 20th, 2023 | by
  • Chemistry M.Sc
  • Ireland, Dublin
  • Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI)
  • 04/2023 – 09/2023

Application and Preparation

I have thought about completing part of my studies abroad during my master’s degree in chemistry ever since the first semesters of my bachelor’s degree, and because Ireland has always been a very fascinating country to me that I have planned on visiting anyway, I chose Dublin as the place where I wanted to do a research internship. Additionally to the beautiful landscape and the friendly people I envisioned to encounter, Ireland has the advantage of being an English-speaking country with many excellent universities to choose from. During the master’s in chemistry at RWTH Aachen University, students are required to do several research internships in different groups and fields of chemistry, but we are free to select the location and the group, so I decided to do an internship in Ireland instead of a semester abroad where I have to take courses. Therefore, I began applying to different groups about six months before I wanted to start the internship, which is quite late in hindsight, and I would definitely recommend starting earlier. Unfortunately I had the experience that most professors did not answer when I directly applied with a CV and a letter of motivation via e‑mail, which is why I asked a professor from Aachen to help me out in this regard, and that ended up bei

The Trinity Biomedical Science Institute – my workplace.
© Hannah Höche

ng the solution to my problems. After finding a group where I could complete my research internship and agreeing on the duration of the internship and the topic I would be working on, I started applying for Erasmus funding and filling out all necessary documents like the Traineeship Certificate. In addition, I applied for a leave of absence during that semester, which has to be done during the registration period for the following semester.

 

Accommodation and Living Situation in Dublin

Before I start explaining how I found an apartment in Dublin, I want to mention that this city is very, very expensive compared to Aachen and it is a real struggle to find an accommodation, which I was aware of before moving to Dublin, but the rent and the general cost of living is even higher than I would have expected. I would recommend starting to look for an accommodation as soon as possible, since a lot of apartments and rooms are listed for up to a year in advance, so even though I was searching for apartments where I could move in in April 2023, I saw a lot of offers for the following year. I used the popular websites daft.ie and let.ie, where you can also filter options like the number of rooms, the price or the duration of the rent. A lot of apartments and rooms can unfortunately only be rented for at least one year. I also looked up the location of the building I would be working in so I could find an accommodation reasonably near to be able to walk everywhere. In contrast to Germany, where you can use your semester ticket for public transportation, in Ireland you have to pay for every trip, but more on that later.

The Temple Bar.
© Hannah Höche

When finding a suitable apartment, I wrote to the landlord, but the reality is that they rarely answer, especially when the apartments have been uploaded to the websites for a few days. Therefore, I adapted my strategy and I searched for several times during a day to be able to immediately message the landlord when an apartment was uploaded – and I messaged a lot of people. It also helps to have a pre-written text where you only change the address. Sometimes they also offer online tours of the apartment, which is helpful when looking for apartments when still in Germany, but generally I had the experience that tours are in person. I also strongly advise to not just get an accommodation and transferring the money without having seen it and signing a contract, because there are rental scams in Dublin and even the websites of the different universities warn students to be careful. To be able to actually look for apartments and rooms, I would suggest to come to Ireland about one to two weeks before starting the internship or semester and then to actively go to apartment tours. I also prepared all the necessary documents so I could immediately express my interest in the accommodation. Generally, Dublin is divided into two areas by the river Liffey, and the south side is considered to be the “better” and safer area of Dublin. There are student accommodations, but they are also very expensive and generally hard to get, and my professor actually advised against trying to apply for the housing

Howth, a peninsular village and outer suburb of Dublin.
© Hannah Höche

program and instead look for apartments.

 

In addition to the high rent, groceries and other necessities are more expensive than in Germany, so definitely try to save up beforehand. The public transportation also has to be considered, but you can save some money by getting the so-called TFI Leap Card, or the Leap Card for young adults in particular (aged 19 to 23). Although you can get pretty much everywhere by bus or the Luas, especially busses tend to be late and unreliable (at least outside of the city center). In this context, it has to be mentioned that tickets for the busses have to be bought from the bus driver when not using the Leap Card, and only coins are accepted.

Furthermore, I suggest checking with your insurance company whether you are insured for a stay abroad. Regarding phone calls, I just used my existing contract, there was no need to get a new one. Getting Wi-Fi for the apartment was a bit more tricky, because most internet contracts are only for at least a year, so I had to get a “pay as you go contract”, where you pay a certain amount every four weeks before you can use the internet, and I also had to buy a mobile router for that. You generally do not need to carry cash in Ireland (except for the bus as mentioned above), debit cards are widely accepted – if not everywhere. A lot of people also use Revolut (or sometimes PayPal). What I highly recommend is getting a credit card, because a lot of the tours I booked or sights I wanted to see could only be paid using a credit card. The bus companies that are driving to the airport (like Dublin Express or Aircoach) also only accept a credit card.

 

The Internship

I can honestly say that my research internship was one of the best experiences I had so far in a group. My professor Mathias Senge was a wonderful mentor and supervisor, who gave me my own project to work on and I learned a lot of skills that are useful and transferrable to any lab I will be working in in the future. My work day usually began at 9 am and ended at 5 or 6 pm and consisted of synthesizing my target compounds and purifying them, as well as literature research and the usual lab work. We also had regular meetings where we either presented our own research or papers from the literature we found interesting and helpful. I even got the opportunity to visit a conference and present some of my work in the form of a scientific poster. My colleagues in the lab were all incredibly nice and welcoming and helped me with any questions and problems. As for the requirements of the internship, I had to give an introductory talk and a final presentation for both my professor in Dublin and the professor supervising my internship from RWTH Aachen University, and I had to turn in a research report. In addition, I had to write monthly progress reports, but that was expected from my professor in Dublin and may not be a general requirement.

 

Free Time and Tips for Ireland

A lot of the Irish people I met told me that I have not really experienced Ireland if I only visit Dublin, and I can absolutely confirm that, Nevertheless, I want to start with some of the sights of the capital that I really enjoyed. Some of the museums in Dublin (The Dead Zoo, The National Gallery, The Archaeological Museum) are free of charge and definitely worth a visit. There are also several beautiful parks (Phoenix Park, St. Stephen’s Green, …) to enjoy, as well as distilleries that offer tours and tastings. Of course the popular tourist attractions like the Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral or the

The Giant’s Causeway.
© Hannah Höche

Guinness Storehouse are also to mention, but they do cost money. A stroll through Temple Bar and along the river Liffey is also nice and free of cost. One of my favorite things was a visit to the Kilmainham Gaol, where I learned a lot about the history of Ireland – but tickets are very limited, so plan a visit 28 days beforehand to be able to get one (although there are sometimes returned tickets you might be able to get spontaneously). Lastly, a visit to any pub is pretty much a requirement and a lot of them have live music on the weekends, which makes a trip even more enjoyable.

 

Ireland has to offer such a wide variety of landscapes and nature spots, it is difficult to pick only a few. Not far from Dublin and reachable by the DART are Howth and Bray, where you can enjoy Cliff Walks and hiking trails. In order to comfortably travel, I recommend either the Irish Rail, bus services or booking trips from the popular tour operators, whereby the latter are quite expensive. Travelling by train is fairly straightforward and discounted tickets for students (a Young Adult Leap Card is necessary) are offered. The tickets can be bought online, but they have to be printed at the ticket machines at the train station (e.g. Heuston Station). Cities like Cork, Waterford and Killarney are easily reached via the train. Also, as a tip when visiting Cork, a little trip to Cobh, a seaport town and the last departure point of the Titanic, is absolutely recommended.

Cobh, a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork.
© Hannah Höche

In general, trips to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny, Glendalough or even to Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland are an absolute highlight. The latter has to be one of the most beautiful spots I have seen, even though it is hard to pick a favorite. Even though a lot can be travelled by train or bus, some hiking trails or even cities and counties are unfortunately best reached by car.

 

Conclusion

I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a whole semester abroad completing a research internship. Not only could I acquire skills and knowledge in the laboratory and grow as a person and chemist, I got to make wonderful friends and see and visit the most beautiful spots I could imagine. My research internship taught me to work independently on my own project, which is very helpful as a preparation for both my master’s thesis and my aspiration to do a PhD. The only negative aspect about my stay abroad is the cost of living in Dublin, which would probably not have been possible for me to pay if I would not have had savings. Otherwise, I think it is an incredible experience to spend some time in another country and get to know the culture, and I would of course recommend Ireland as I really enjoyed my time there.

Practical year in Kilkenny

September 28th, 2023 | by
  • Medicine
  • Ireland, Kilkenny
  • St. Luke’s General Hospital
  • 07/2023 – 09/2023

My time in Kilkenny was an outstanding experience that combined enhancing medical skills with
personal enrichment. This report reflects about different aspects of my stay, such as the
application process, finding an accommodation, my everyday routine during the internship, and
my explorations of Ireland’s stunning landscapes.

1. Application/Finding an internship
I discovered St. Luke’s General hospital during an online search on the webpage PJ-ranking. This
webpage is used for writing reviews about the internships throughout the practical year and
students may leave contact addresses to facilitate connections between medical students and
healthcare institutions. The webpage featured positive reviews about the hospital in Kilkenny,
indicating its reputation for providing valuable learning experiences and exposure to various
medical specialties. The opportunity to rotate through multiple wards, including gastroenterology,
cardiology, and the emergency department, was a significant factor that aroused my interest.
The application process for the practical year internship in Internal Medicine was initiated by
applying via email to St. Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny, Ireland. The application included a
comprehensive CV, a cover letter detailing the applicant’s motivations, relevant experiences, and
aspirations for the internship. After a few days I received a positive answer and was accepted. It
was well-organised and I received a letter of acceptance stating necessities which had to be
fulfilled. One of the primary requirements for participation was the submission of proof of
vaccination against common infectious diseases. In addition to vaccination, the acceptance letter
outlined the necessity of obtaining comprehensive insurance coverage. This insurance was
specifically aimed at covering any potential accidents that might occur during the intern’s work
hours, especially those linked to medical errors. After submitting all necessary documents, I
booked my flight ticket and the journey could begin.

2. Accommodation & Living Expenses
While the hospital lacked on-campus accommodation, they provided valuable support by sharing
contact details of two landlords offering shared housing. I found myself settled into a cosy
residence just a 25-minute bike ride from the heart of the city and an even shorter ride of 15
minutes to the hospital. The landlord provided the bicycles, which facilitate transport a lot.
Kilkenny is connected to various cities through buses and has a train station. With the rent
amounting to a reasonable 165 Euro per week, the accommodation proved to be a good option
regarding prices in Ireland. The landlady’s kind demeanour and willingness to assist with any
concerns enhanced my stay. Living standard in Ireland is higher compared to Germany. There are
two cards that reduce prices on public transport and for visiting cultural sights. I would highly
recommend buying both cards. The leap card is for public transport and the heritage card for
attractions.

3. Everyday Life/The Internship
My daily routine during the internship typically started at 9 am with ward rounds or in the
outpatient department. Ireland does not have the concept of resident physician. Therefore,
patients attend their GP when facing a medical issue and will then be transferred to a doctor in
hospital as an ambulant patient. During my time I started working in the hepatology unit. Common
diseases with whom patients presented with were viral hepatitis, alcoholic steatohepatitis and
autoimmune liver disease. Later, I got the chance to follow the gastro team on the wards. What
truly set this experience apart was the hands-on involvement. Although students in their practical
year cannot work as much practical as in Germany, but the more my colleagues knew about my
skills, the more they allowed me to help them. My tasks varied between inserting i.v. lines, taking
histories, writing prescriptions and discharge letters. My work has always been supervised by an
intern, so I have never experienced feeling overwhelmed or being left alone. By mid-August, the
Irish students returned after their summer break. This was a great experience because we got in
contact quite quickly and did activities together. Moreover, by the time they came back they
established daily teaching sessions twice a day, enhancing my understanding of medical practices.
Kilkenny is a charming city located in the heart of Ireland with a rich history, vibrant culture, and
plenty of attractions to explore. After work, I had the chance to explore most of its cultural
heritage. Kilkenny Castle is a magnificent medieval building that offers an insight to Ireland’s past.
Second, there is St. Canice’s Cathedral. This historic cathedral features a round tower with
breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside. Not to forget about the traditional
pubs with live music. They really convey the typical image of Irish culture and tradition.

4. Free Time/Tips
Ireland’s nature is stunning! You have never seen 1000 different varieties of green? In Ireland you
will! Its rainy days must be mentioned as well, but the moment you bought rain trousers and
wellies you are prepared; the journey can start. My exploration led me to places like Kenmare,
Ring of Kerry, Limerick, Killarney, Cork, Tramore, and Dunmore East’s stunning cliff walk. My
favourite trips were the Ring of Kerry and walking along the beach in Tramore. The Ring of Kerry
is a marvellous road leading you through the coastal region in the southwest.
And then there is Dublin. Dublin, with its iconic attractions, including Trinity College and Temple
Bar. Dublin, a digital hub, a vivid city with its rough north side and dignified south side. Dublin,
being a cultural centre with the national gallery of Ireland, Dublin castle and much more to be
discovered.
I would recommend having a car in Ireland, because it facilitated journeys to remote countryside
locations that public transport often couldn’t access. Luckily, one of the other German students
brought his car with him. From time to time, we took trips together.

5. Conclusion
In retrospect, my stay in Kilkenny was an experience I don’t want to miss. The combination of
getting to know a different healthcare system, learning medical work in another country and being
warmly welcomed made my stay unforgettable. It has enriched me in so many ways, being it
personal or professional. Therefore, I am grateful for this experience.

Internship in Dublin

June 6th, 2023 | by
  • Applied Geography B.Sc.
  • Ireland, Dublin
  • University College Dublin
  • 11/2022 – 02/2023

Application and Preparations

I first started considering an internship abroad in spring 2023, roughly 10 months before I left. Looking back, this period turned out to be exactly the right amount of time to prepare. I decided to visit Ireland because I was curious about the culture and the landscape as well as the fact that besides German, I am only fluent in English. I got in contact with the international office of University college Dublin who advised me to simply reach out to a staff member whose work interested me. After securing the position I went on to apply for Erasmus funding. The next step after that was looking for accommodations which turned out to be very difficult, but more on that later.

The Internship itself

I was very nervous about my internship as I had never been alone abroad before and while I do study geology as a minor it is not my area of expertise. However, I am very happy that I decided to take the leap, as it turned out that I was greeted very kindly and got all the support I could have ever asked for. I got a research project to work on for the duration of my stay and plan to continue to foster the relationships that I have built.  A typical workday for me lasted from 9-5, and consisted of meetings with colleges to discuss results and exchange ideas, as well as working on my tasks in my shared office. Without going into too much detail, my project was mainly focused on the dynamics of sinkhole development at the dead sea in Jordan. Besides that however, I was also invited to join fieldtrips to beautiful beaches in the south of Dublin and help the PhD Students wherever I could.

Living in Dublin

Before coming to Dublin, I had heard people talk about the city being shockingly expensive, but I underestimated how much I would end up spending on basic necessities. In the last few years, Dublin has experienced a major housing crisis, leading to very few flats available and horrendous prices. A small room that’s barely furnished can easily cost you up to 1000 EURO a month, even if it is far out from the city centre. In addition to that, groceries are much more expensive than in Germany, which is important to keep in mind when planning finances ahead of time. Therefore, if you do not have savings or a sufficient income during your stay, it is really not possible to afford the city

During my stay, I have been told that I visited during the wrong time of the year a bunch of times, and I unfortunately must agree with that. While the windy weather didn’t fade my enthusiasm, the short dark days that tainted the city into a grey boring mush did. While Celtic influences in the city are hard to miss and Trinity College is stunning, it still feels like a typical European city that doesn’t really offer anything new. Good coffee is generally also somewhat hard to come by, but I strongly recommend paying Vice a visit for their specialty coffee.

When it comes to Public Transportation, applying online for a leap card can save you a lot of money. Generally, inside of Dublin the best form of transport is the bus. 90 Minutes and unlimited transfers will cost students only 1 EURO. Bus services are rather unreliable however, and as in every major city tend to be very cramped.

What I loved most, was Irelands open culture that made it easy to connect with my colleges and lead to the formation of great friendships. Drinks after work on a Friday are a common and welcoming occurrence in Dublin, so be prepared.

Conclusion and advice for other people seeking out adventures.

I would always recommend people to go on and move abroad, even if it is just for a short period of time. I meet great people and saw many new placed. Staying abroad while also working is a very intense period of time and can definitely be exhausting. Homesickness will most likely occur, but in the end the benefits overweight by far. I have been granted many opportunities during my stay that are extremely beneficial towards my career, and I am beyond grateful for that privilege.

Creating countless memories in Dublin, Ireland

March 31st, 2022 | by
  • Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, PhD
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • University College Dublin
  • 01.09.20221 – 28.02.2022

 

Preparation/Internship Search:

Since my early bachelor’s days, the prospect of studying abroad has been tempting and fascinating to me. However, during my undergraduate, I couldn’t find the right time to study abroad. With the start of my PhD at RWTH Aachen University, I approached my professor with the idea of a research visit. He liked the idea and initially suggested a research visit in the latter half of 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic eventually bringing everything to a stand-still, we postponed further preparation to early 2021. Despite the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we went on with my professor getting in touch with a colleague of his at University College Dublin who works on similar topics as my chair back at RWTH Aachen University. The professor at University College Dublin was quickly convinced of such a research visit, mutually benefiting both institutions with the prospect of closer collaboration and exchange in the future. The general timeline was set from this point in time, and we entered the second stage of planning my visit. Luckily my stay as a visiting researcher was independent of any undergraduate curricular or requirements (e.g., proof of English, certain average GPA, etc.). Thus, the only thing that University College Dublin required was to fill out one form to register as a visiting researcher officially and have these documents signed by my professor. As such, any kind of tuition fees, which are common to be paid at Irish universities, were waived. At RWTH Aachen University, a little bit more preparation was involved. Firstly, we had to officially apply for a leave from my duties as a scientific assistant. Secondly, we contacted the International Office and prepared all documents for the ERASMUS+ Internship application. Closer to the start of the research visit, I was eventually able to register myself with University College Dublin. The process itself was very smooth and didn’t take much time.

Apartment search in Dublin:

Being used to the “cheap” cost of living in Germany, searching for apartments in Dublin might come as a shock. The average price for renting is much higher than in Germany (typically two to three times higher for a shared living), with landlords typically renting for one year or more. In the case of private dorms renting is based on a trimester basis (meaning only for four or eight months). Hence, finding a cheap place for just half a year is quite challenging. Despite University College Dublin offering a housing program, the prices rank on the same level as renting from private landlords/companies. Furthermore, due to my somewhat late application, I could not get a place in the housing program at University College Dublin. Eventually, I settled with a mixed approach, living in an expensive private dorm for the first four months in the city center before moving in with a few colleagues for the last two months close to University College Dublin. Usually, it is required to pay the whole renting sum (>several thousand) in a student dorm before moving in as monthly payment rates are only offered for long-term rents.

Commuting/Travelling in or around Dublin:

© Alexander Meyer

Transportation in and around Dublin is mainly limited to bus service only. There exist two metro lines called the Luas, respectively the green and the red line serving some parts of the city. Nonetheless, typically buses are the go-to option. To commute to University College Dublin, only buses are available with frequent schedules along the major routes. Especially during the morning and the evening, delays and disruptions in the rush hours are to be expected as most traffic is funneled through the highly congested city center. The Google Maps app proved to be the most reliable for accurate prediction of bus arrival times. Worth mentioning is the leap card used for all transportation in Ireland, as typically only a leap card is accepted as a form of payment. These can be bought at many shops and charged via NFC using an app on your smartphone. Additionally, students are entitled to get a Student Leap Card, offering lower fares for daily commuting. Nonetheless, even the reduced student fares for transportation/commuting to and from university/somewhere are much higher than in Germany. Besides public transport, many taxis exist that can be conveniently called and paid using the FreeNow app. Typically, taxis can be called via the app in less than five minutes, even outside the city center. Also, taxi rates are fixed and much lower compared to Germany, making it a favorable option, especially late at night. However, during the closing hours of bars and pubs during the weekend, getting a taxi can be tricky with the FreeNow app malfunctioning or taxi drivers picking up people on the street directly without relying on the app.

Daily Life:

Daily life in Dublin is not much different from any major city in Germany. Shopping for groceries/daily necessities is very convenient with various supermarkets/local shops such as Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, SuperValu, Centra, or Spar, to name a few, to be found everywhere in Dublin. Prices are not much different from Germany and can be generally categorized on the same level. Only ordering products online might take more days for delivery as most are brought in via the United Kingdom or France. Also, ordering food from all cuisines is very convenient, with a large variety to choose from with prices typically lower than dining in restaurants.

Health Insurance/Telephone/Banking:

My health insurance covered me during my visit at no extra cost. With the newly introduced regulations on roaming charges for mobile carriers by the European Union, I simply continued using my existing contract. However, with extra costs imposed on regular phone calls, I generally placed calls via Whatsapp or FaceTime to avoid being charged extra. Finally, I also continued using my bank account at no extra charges for banking. Contrary to Germany, a debit/visa card is typically accepted, so there is no need to carry cash in Ireland. To transfer money between friends, generally, Revolut or Paypal are the preferred go-to-apps.

Research:

During early talks with my professor/supervisor at University College Dublin, we had only agreed on a general outline for the research visit. Upon starting my research here at University College Dublin, I was offered various opportunities to work on exciting projects within the scope of the initial agreement. As there was no mandatory coursework to complete, I could solely focus on research, enjoying a high degree of autonomy and freedom. Whereas my work was primarily focused on simulation and developing models, now and then, measurements in the lab needed to be conducted. Also, publication and revision of the latest results were a significant part of my work, where I could benefit from the extensive knowledge existing in the group already. To keep in touch with my supervisors, there was a group meeting held every week in which the latest results/news about the chair and each PhD’s work were discussed, and a short report was submitted to the professor. Additional meetings were held whenever necessary. At University College Dublin, I had my own cubicle space, sharing a large office with all my fellow PhDs in the same group. There I was provided with all the resources required to conduct my research. Additionally, due to the open workspace culture, it was straightforward to get in touch with my colleagues and make new friends at work. With PhDs joining from across the globe, the group was very international, with people of various backgrounds, cultures, and an open-minded orientation. Consequently, besides working together on inspiring projects, we bonded over various social events on the weekends.

Leisure in Dublin:

With some restrictions on pubs and restaurants eased at the beginning of my stay, I got a chance to enjoy Dublin’s extensive pub and restaurant culture. Wherever you wander in Dublin, one can be sure to find a cozy place offering a pint of Guinness or some proper, triple-distilled Irish whiskey and some Irish band playing traditional music in the background. Generally, pubs and bars close around 2 am to 3 am, so somewhat earlier compared to Germany with bookings for large groups required for most places partly due to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place. Nonetheless, the nightlife in Dublin is truly unique, where countless memories have been made. Besides the high congestion of pubs, bars, and restaurants, Dublin offers many places to visit. Among these, the most touristic ones are the Guinness Store House, telling you the origin story of Ireland’s most famous beer while enjoying an incredible view across Dublin in the rooftop bar. Or the many distilleries that offer tours and tastings such as the Teeling, Jameson, or Roe & Co distillery. Also, from a cultural point of view, Dublin has many theaters, museums, or galleries to offer. Being the capital of the Republic of Ireland, also many government buildings can be found throughout the city.

Exploring Ireland:

© Alexander Meyer

Besides working on my research during the weekdays, I tried to travel across Ireland/Dublin as much as possible. These travels were attainable despite the ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which were eventually lifted entirely to the end of my research visit. During these trips, I encountered a beautiful country with very friendly people along the way. Around Dublin, countless opportunities for hikes exist, which can be easily reached using public transport. Various trips lead me to Howth, Bull Island, or Phoenix Park in the north of Dublin or Dun Laoghaire, Killiney, Bray, or Greystones in the south of Dublin. All beautiful places which can be easily explored during on a day trip accompanied by many lovely restaurants and cafés at every spot. The most beautiful spot I encountered during my travels was the hike in the Glendalough Mountains in Dublin’s neighboring Wicklow County. Located in a natural reserve, one can truly experience and appreciate Ireland’s nature. Furthermore, trips to, e.g., Galway, Limerick, or Cork are highly recommended and can be easily reached using Irish Rail.

Conclusion:

Summing up, I genuinely enjoyed my time in Ireland. While working on exciting projects during the weekdays, the weekends were left for many exciting activities, and I enjoyed plenty of nights wandering Dublin’s nightlife with friends. Throughout my stay, I have made many new friends from across the globe, both at work and in my student dorm. Despite the high cost of rents, I would highly recommend staying at shared living at one of the plenty dorms, at least at the beginning, simply to meet many new people from all over the world. New friendships have been made, which I hope will last a lifetime. The Irish are very friendly people surrounded by a beautiful landscape that invites for countless hikes and trips in the greater Dublin area or beyond.