Ronan Nelson is a UCEAP student that you may recognise from our previous articles on his experiences in Dublin and at Trinity this past semester. He is a third year Global Studies major at his home campus UCLA and not long ago he gave me a little overview of his time in Dublin as a Student Representative. Read on for some of his reflections on advice he would give to future UCEAP students!
“My favourite experience so far has to be St Patrick’s week. My high school friends came over from San Diego and we went to Amsterdam for three days and returned for St Patrick’s weekend. Getting to see what St Patrick’s Day is like was amazing because I always heard from my mom that saint Patrick’s day wasn’t really a big thing for the Irish growing up but now since it’s been commercialised you get a bunch of tourists and then the Irish guys and girls are like “You know what? We might as well go out and celebrate it ourselves”. So it is one big festival for 24 hours straight, it’s amazing. It was an absolutely amazing cultural experience.
The most rewarding part of going to school here in Dublin is actually getting to experience what busy city life in Ireland is like. Because it is the biggest city in Ireland and there aren’t many big cities here, you get to see how all sorts of people from all over the country live so everyone has their own separate stories living here in Dublin and they get to take in their own experiences so it’s really cool to get to be in the melting pot of Irish culture as it gains European influence with more and more people moving here because of Brexit as their companies move to Ireland.
After the Trinity Ball I went down to Dunleary which is the south harbor here on Dublin bay and it was the first time I’d seen the beach in six weeks but it was beautiful, a stunning day, one of the only sunny days we’ve had in the last couple of weeks. I’m cold now but I’ve made a pact with myself that I’m going to wear shorts because I’m going to be back home soon enough and I need to get back into the swing of things.”
What has been the most challenging aspect of studying abroad?
“I’d say the hardest part about doing study abroad for me is trying to figure out accessibility in Dublin. I’d say that 60% of the stores here I can’t access because there’s a step up into them so if I’m planning to go somewhere I have to make sure in advance that there’s a way to get up there in my wheelchair. That being said I’d say that the most challenging part of study abroad that I’ve heard students here talk about is getting used to being around people with so many different cultures and trying to figure out what other cultures find fun to do. Sometimes when we’re in a group there are a couple of people who wouldn’t be having the greatest time because they’re from a different background and don’t appreciate it quite as much. That’s just a consensus among my peers, I don’t find it difficult to have fun here considering most of the activities are things that I’ve grown up with anyway.”
If you could go backwards would you still choose to study in Dublin?
“An emphatic “yes” because Ireland is the best country in the world and I have dreamed since I was a little kid of living here for at least a couple of months. If I had to re-pick then I would do it again because it has always been the goal. Thinking from a point of me not being injured, I’d pick Dublin because its where ‘everything goes down’, now in my wheelchair, I’d pick it from a point where it’s the most accessible city in the country that seems to not take accessibility into consideration.”
What advice would you give to future students studying abroad at Trinity?
“Plan ahead a little bit. I think there were some people who went head first into the deep end and got lost within the first couple of weeks. This means they had to struggle with getting their classes sorted because at Trinity you need to go up to the department heads and having them sign off on your papers so you have to be very on top of everything that you do and make sure that all of the classes that you have link up with the ones that you’re doing over at the UCs. Because the classes aren’t as mandatory as the ones back at home on the quarter system, we have a whole month and a half of revision, some people feel that they can skip a few classes and they get behind quickly, once you’re lost you may have a really hard time with your exams if you choose not to attend your courses. Prioritise your academics but find a balance between them and your social life.”