When I thought about studying a semester abroad, my main concern was to spend it in English-speaking countries in order to improve my English skills. I decided to take a semester off so that I could concentrate more on the language.
I’m studying communication design, so I looked around for universities that offer my degree. Unfortunately, most universities require proof of language proficiency, for example TOEFL or IELTS, with a sufficient language level. Since my language level was insufficient and I was rejected by the universities, I had to look for a university where it was still possible to study.
When I found out on toppharmacyschools that Griffith College Dublin (GCD) does not require proof of language proficiency, I asked MicroEDU about the requirements for studying at GCD.
Unfortunately, the GCD does not offer a degree in communication design or graphic design, but the journalism & media department offered me the opportunity to take photography courses, which also fall into the field of communication design.
The application process was easy thanks to MicroEDU. I got all the support I could think of and my questions were answered promptly. The International Office of the GCD also tried very hard to accommodate me in the courses I wanted and kept me up to date through MicroEDU. After submitting all the required papers, the GCD received the approval after a few weeks.
I had already made my choice of course in Germany. It is still possible to change courses on site or take a look at other courses, as the orientation weeks take place in the first two weeks of the lecture period. After these two weeks, the final course choice decision will be made.
Right at the beginning there was an English placement test according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (GER (S)) for the exchange students who had not submitted proof of language proficiency.
Through the placement test, the English language skills of each individual student were classified into the following language levels: A – Elementary use of language (A1 and A2), B – Independent use of language (B1 and B2), C – Proficient use of language (C1: advanced level of competence, C2: almost native speaker Language skills).
The grading divided the students into different English courses. The students who had achieved language levels A1 and A2 could not take courses of their own choosing, but only beginners’ English courses in the morning and afternoon. Those who achieved B1 were also only allowed to attend advanced English courses in the morning and afternoon. With language level B2 it was possible to attend your own chosen courses plus an English course for advanced learners in the morning. With a language level of C1 and C2, no additional English courses have to be taken.
I reached language level B1 and should therefore only take the English courses in the morning and afternoon. At first I wasn’t very happy about it because I didn’t expect to be able to take any of my chosen courses. After a conversation with the head of the Language Institute, I was able, like some others, to take my chosen courses in addition to the advanced English course in the morning.
Despite the initial horror of not being able to take my chosen courses, I think it’s great that the GCD offers you the opportunity to study at college despite your lack of English skills. By combining English lessons in addition to the general courses, as a student you are not only supported in your language skills, but also, as in my case, are often given the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in English-speaking countries.
I really enjoyed the courses, English and photography. The course groups are kept small so that you don’t get lost in the group and can have more in-depth discussions within the course.
Reside and live
As soon as I held the GCD’s acceptance in my hands, I immediately applied for a place in the student residence in the Griffith Halls of Residence. The student residence is located directly on the GCD campus and is therefore only a few seconds away from the individual GCD buildings.
I decided on the student dormitory because I wanted to save myself the initial search for a room. In retrospect, however, I think that it is not too difficult to find a room in a shared apartment. I got to know some students who were looking for a room on the spot, from the hostel. Most of them found a suitable room within just a few days. Often this is also the cheaper variant of the student residence, as it is very overpriced.
Still, my life in the dormitory was very nice.
The dormitory consists of individual apartments, each with two rooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen-living room. Most of the rooms are used by two people, but it is also possible to rent a single room. The arrangement of the rooms, in individual apartments, creates a communal atmosphere and you quickly become friends with students from other apartments.
I shared a room and was very lucky with my roommate. If you do not want to live with roommates of the same nationality, it is important to inform the Griffith Halls of Residence office. In most cases, the office tries to accommodate the same nationalities in one room or apartment.
The GCD campus is located in the beautiful south of Dublin, right next to the Grand Canal, which always invites you to take a stroll along its banks.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the campus to the city center. The bus is a bit faster and the bus stop is right in front of the campus. Unfortunately, as a student you don’t get a student ticket and you have to pay the full price for the bus trip. Alternatives to the normal bus ticket are 30-day tickets or savings tickets (Leap-Card), which are available at almost every small supermarket (Spar, Lundis, Dunnes).
If you want to buy groceries, the small Spar supermarket opposite the campus can help with small items. It’s not that cheap, but it’s very useful. For bulk purchases, it is better to go to one of the larger supermarkets. Not too far away and easily accessible on foot are ALDI and LIDL.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
Dublin is a great city that has a lot to offer. Whether water sports or hiking, because on the one hand the Irish Sea opens up in the east of the city and behind the city in the south, the Wicklow Mountains protrude.
Inside the city there are some cozy parks where you can have a good time, or at the harbor and along the river Liffey.
Culturally, Dublin has many museums that are freely accessible to the public, as well as some historic places. There are many small cinemas and theaters with individual programs.
Due to the early closure, the pubs fill up with locals and tourists early in the evening, especially in the famous Temple Bar district. Here one pub after the other is lined up and almost everyone has live music.
There are plenty of excursion destinations around Dublin or in other counties of Ireland. My favorite place was on the Aran Islands. These islands are on the west coast of Ireland, County Galway.
Another wonderful excursion was to County Kerry. This excursion was organized by the Student Union (SU) of the GCD. Around 150 GCD students took part in this three-day excursion.
The SU plans one to two weekend trips to the most beautiful regions of Ireland every semester. These excursions are inexpensive and a lot of fun.
For me, Dublin / Ireland was a wonderful experience. The country with its rough, beautiful conditions and the nice locals, with whom you always get to talk to. Also the many and nice encounters with students from different countries that I had during my studies.