Student life at Irish universities is usually quite a bit of fun. Students often play a large role in the services and amenities offered on campus, from travel offices to bookstores to cafeterias to pubs. The amount of social integration you experience as a visiting student will depend on the size of the university where you will study and the initiative you show in meeting Irish students and making friends.
Many Irish students tend to go home during the weekend. To get to know them and join their circle of friends, it helps to participate in some structured activities on campus.
The “Greek system” of fraternities and sororities doesn’t really exist in Ireland. Neither does intercollegiate sports, in the sense that we think of it. (There is nothing remotely like the “BCS National Championship Game” in Ireland.)
What the Irish do have are “clubs and societies,” open to all students regardless of skill level. Clubs are often oriented toward sports or other competitive or fitness-related activities (although competing isn’t the object, really – having fun is usually the main purpose). Societies are what we would normally think of as “clubs” here. One university website puts it this way: As Societies are student run and student based they represent all areas of interest from our diverse student body. For example, our societies range from politically and environmentally active groups to those concerned with cultural and artistic development or educational and religious support. These are further complimented by an array of societies that develop student’s hobbies.
At the beginning of the academic year, there is usually a day or two set aside during “fresher’s week” when clubs and societies recruit new members. It is a riotous, fun time, but don’t worry, if you study abroad during the spring semester you can still join a club or society.