City mouse or country mouse?
For many students, a basic question is whether to study in Dublin or somewhere else in Ireland. Dublin has magnetic appeal. While it may be the quintessential Irish city, this does not mean Dublin is typical of Ireland. In the same way that an international student might be drawn to New York City for a study abroad program, American students often think Dublin is the place to be. But just as New York is the quintessential American city, it is not typical of the United States.
The greater Dublin area is home to approximately 1.7 million people, and covers about 44 square miles. Students who wish to study abroad in Dublin need to be prepared for an urban lifestyle. It is an exciting European capitol city, full of activity and excitement, from music festivals to cozy pubs, and is home to several excellent universities and colleges. On the other hand, precisely because it is so large and famous, Dublin is an expensive city. It requires time to commute from place to place, and the cost of living is higher than average for Ireland. Housing, in particular, is very expensive.
Students opting to study abroad outside of Dublin will find a number of excellent colleges & universities from which to choose. They are located in the major county capitols and, although somewhat smaller than the Dublin universities, still feature comprehensive academic offerings (Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering, Business, etc.) The Irish countryside is famously idyllic, and deservedly so. There is ample opportunity to meet Irish students at these universities, and outdoor recreational pursuits are common, such as water sports, hill and cliff-walks, and rock climbing.
When deciding where to study in the Ireland, it is wise to consider what experience you already have living in an urban environment. Doing so suits some students very well; others may find that adapting to big city life is just one more stressor to overcome, akin to cultural adjustment and studying in a new academic system.
Overview of colleges and universities
A clearninghouse of information on Irish higher education:
A directory of majors and courses offered at Irish universities:
Qualifax National Learners Database