Studying Abroad in Dublin, Ireland: A Survivor’s Guide

So you’re either thinking about, or are currently studying abroad in The Republic of Ireland’s beautiful capital. Congratulations!

Here are some key takeaways from my experience to ensure that you have a “grand” time!

desk, water bottle, white board, window, cityscape, blue skies street, skyscrapers, people, bus, sunshine

Packing Essentials

  (Pack like you’re only going for 2 weeks)

If you’re like me, you’re an over-packer stuffing 12 sweaters and 8 pairs of shoes into your suitcase when we both know the chances of wearing all of them is very slim.

Pack only the items that you love to wear as you will most likely have very minimal closet space. It will also give you an excuse to pick up some Irish fashion staples while you’re in Dublin!

Urban Outfitters in Temple Bar Dublin
Urban Outfitters in Temple Bar

So what should you pack then?

  • A good pair of sneakers: Hopefully you’ll be doing a lot of exploring both in and around Dublin, and hopefully throughout Ireland! Athletic sneakers are an absolute must.
  • Boots: One pair will do. Ideally a pair with little-to-no heel that you feel comfortable walking in. Great for cold days with spouts of Irish rain.
  • A light-weight raincoat and umbrella: There’s no telling when Dublin will be showered with rain, so these items will help keep you from wandering around in damp clothing! Dublin weather has a mind of its own.
  • Leggings, leggings, leggings: Not to throw your trusty jeans under the bus, (bring them too, of course), but a good pair of leggings are an essential! Especially if you’re walking everywhere. Comfort is key! I wore leggings ten times more than jeans. But that’s just me.
  • A trusty cardigan: Ireland doesn’t actually get that cold until late October-November, so don’t pack a heavy jacket! Start with a cardigan that you can wear on cooler days and buy a heavier jacket once the weather gets cooler.
  • Necessary toiletries and medications: Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste. These are all items that you can buy once settled in Dublin. BUT prescription medications, your trusted hair styling products, contact solution, even feminine products, you should be sure to pack.
  • Do NOT pack hair straighteners/curlers/ blow dryers! For whatever reason, even with the help of an adaptor, foreign heat tools will cause all kinds of trouble if plugged into an Irish outlet, that goes for anywhere really. Purchase them at Primark once you have arrived!
  • The right plug adapter: To be sure you can charge your phone and your laptop, an adapter is an absolute necessity. It’s not an expensive purchase either. You can get one once you’re in Dublin, or, on Amazon by clicking here.

SIM Cards & Phone Plans

I used an international phone plan when I went to Dublin. It gave me a certain number of minutes and data that I could use per month, however, I strongly recommend purchasing a SIM card either before you leave for Ireland or once you’ve arrived. It’s a lot cheaper and its easier than you’d think!

You can purchase a SIM card before leaving for Ireland as long as you make sure to activate it while you’re still in America!

Pick up an International SIM card at Walmart.

Places to buy SIM Cards in Dublin:
  • Tesco: Yup, the popular grocery chain carries SIM Cards! All you need to do is select an option that works for you.
  • Spar: Another grocery chain, you can also purchase a SIM card here, and there is one in Dublin Airport!
  • Vodafone: The best way I can describe Vodafone is that it’s the Irish equivalent to Verizon, (don’t quote me on that). There are locations all over Dublin and you can purchase international SIM cards here.

Once you have purchased a SIM card, (I recommend going for unlimited data), you can open the compartment on the side of your phone and change out the SIM cards. (See helpful video on how to do that here). Make sure you save your old SIM card for when you head back across the pond!!!

It may seem daunting, but it really is easier to go the SIM card route!

*** Side note!*** make sure you download WhatsApp!  It’s a must for communicating both with people in Dublin, and with those across the pond.

Groceries & Takeaway

Costa Coffee run Dublin
(Costa Coffee run)

Once you’re settled in Dublin, You’ll need to find your local grocer. Here are some tips on buying groceries and good “takeaway” (takeout) options!

Below I’ve listed my go-to-grocery list while in Dublin:

  • Sandwich-makings (bread, peanut butter & jam)
  • Thompson’s Irish Breakfast Tea
  • Granola Bars (They have Nature Valley bars over there!)
  • Cereal/Milk
  • Carrots & Hummus
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Frozen meals
  • Digestives (sounds weird but really good cookies)
  • Sandwich bags (For lunches and day trips).

You’ll most likely be sharing a “flat” and kitchen space. So unless you plan on cooking and eating meals together, I would highly suggest buying things that you can make easily without a lot of kitchen prep. You’ll also want to buy a lot of “grab-and-go” food to take on day trips.

*** A must-get app for takeaway meals!***

If you’re looking to eat out more than grocery shop, I recommend getting Deliveroo. It’s an app that’s a lot like Uber Eats and DoorDash. There are a bunch of options to order from and they deliver right to your flat.

My favorite takeaway spots:

Tolteca: It’s literally Chipotle with a different name.

Umi Falafel: Delicious falafels, hummus, and quinoa salads.

-Subway: Yep, Ireland has Subway!

Chopped: the Chipotle of salads, and they really chop them up, too.

                     Student Perks:

Everyone says to take advantage of student deals while you’re a student. The same goes for when you’re studying abroad!

Dublin
Tea by the window
  • Heritage Cards:  Heritage cards by Heritage Ireland are super helpful, especially if you plan on visiting historical sites. You pay a one-time fee for your heritage card and you can get free admission to historical sites! What would cost 40.00 Euros is just 10.00 Euros for students! So its well worth the purchase!
  • Food & Shopping:  With Trinity College located in the heart of Dublin, student deals are all over the place! From takeaway deals to clothing discounts, check out dublintown’s top picks for student deals.

     Which leads us to:

       Great Day Trips from Dublin:

  • Wicklow Mountains & Glendalough: I visited here not once but twice during my time in Dublin. Glendalough is an ancient monastic site located in the Wicklow Mountains. There are picturesque walking paths with a lovely lake at the end!
Glendalough walking path Dublin
Glendalough walking path
  • Howth:  You can take the train to the seaside village of Howth. It sits on the outskirts of Dublin and there is a lovely Cliffside walk.
Howth cliff walk Dublin
Howth cliff walk
  • Kilkenny: A beautiful town filled with history, corner markets, quaint café’s, and a castle! It’s a wonderful place to get away from the city.
Kilkenny Castle Dublin
Kilkenny Castle
  • Blarney Castle and Rock of Cashel: You can visit both of these beautiful sites in one day! Both will leave you in awe of Ireland’s treacherous past. You can also stop for lunch in Cork. I went to all three in a day via Irish Day Tours!
  • Trim Castle: If you’re a Braveheart fan then this one’s a must! I’ve never seen the movie and I still thought the castle was absolutely stunning! Not to mention there’s a quaint place to stop for coffee and a hillside path that provides you with spectacular views.
Trim Castle Dublin
Trim Castle

With all of these tips in mind, I hope you have wonderful time exploring the beauty that is Ireland!

For more tips on Ireland, visit : https://www.amandaweirtravel.com/

– Slainte!

About the Author

Amanda Weir
Amanda Weir
Probably plotting the whereabouts of my next cup of coffee.