My Experience Studying Abroad in Ireland

My Experience Studying Abroad in Ireland

Like many of my fellow juniors at Trinity, I have decided to study abroad this semester, so hello from Ireland! Since I’ve been in this new country for almost three months, I thought I’d reflect a bit on my time here so far. I’ve learned a lot about navigating a new country, a university environment, and how to make the most of my travel budget.

Life While Studying Abroad in Ireland

The School

The university I’m currently studying at is University College Dublin, or UCD. UCD is about 15 times the size of Trinity in terms of student population. So that’s something I have definitely been having to get used to. There’s people everywhere all the time! At Trinity I really only feel crowded on campus when classes end and people make their way to their next class or the library or Mather or wherever. Here, there’s 30,000 people who study here so there’s always a crowd of people around. UCD also isn’t directly in the city center like Trinity College Dublin (no affiliation) is, which is nice because it doesn’t feel like a tourist destination. We get a lot of the benefits of living in a city without a lot of the downsides.

The Classes

Irish classes are different than American, or at least Trinity, classes. First off we have to take 6 classes per semester. The normal class load at Trin is 4-5 classes. And there are different amounts of class time in each class (which are called modules) here. Usually most classes will have 1 lecture and 1 seminar/tutorial per week. Lectures can be huge, with up to 200 people. Seminars (also known as tutorials) are much smaller, usually around 15-25 people. But not all classes follow these rules. I have classes that have 2 lectures and 1 seminar, 3 seminars and no lectures, or just 1 seminar and no lectures per week. At Trinity, there are either seminars or lectures, and they meet 2-3 times a week, at the same time. The 3 seminars a week class meets at different times on different days; the two lectures and a seminar class has different meeting times and places for the lectures. This might sound really complicated, but trust me, you do get used to it. Nearly all classes here are 50 minutes and almost no one has class on Fridays, which leaves lots of time for weekend travel to different parts of Europe.

The City

Exploring Dublin
Exploring Dublin

I feel like Hartford has prepared me pretty well for living in Dublin and UCD is kind of like Trinity because it’s not located quite downtown but is still close enough to go into the city very easily. Dublin is obvious much larger than Hartford but it’s not as big as other cities like London or Paris. It’s very easy to get around with the bus and tram system (called the LUAS but pronounced like Lewis) and suburbs like the coastal town of Howth and Blackrock are just a short ride away. I didn’t know much about Irish history before coming here but taking classes on this subject and just living in Dublin has taught me a ton about medieval Ireland, colonized Ireland, and modern Ireland.

How to Study Abroad on a Budget: Travelling

Like many students studying abroad, I want to get the most of my time here and travel all over the country and across Europe. However, even on this continent, those things cost money (Euros specifically). I quickly realized this and, three months in, thought I’d share some things I find useful to get the most of your time here without spending the most.

Save save save!

I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to save up, even just for a semester abroad. I’d recommend saving as soon as you know you want to study away. For me, I have had quite a few jobs on campus and a paid internship this past semester, so I was able to save up a sizeable amount. I also cut a few things out while I was still on campus in the fall that would I know I would be grateful for in the long run. For example, I often told myself I could either get a coffee from Goldbergs in Vernon Social now or a coffee from a local vendor in Paris in a few months.

Make a list of your top places to visit

This semester is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go tons of places I probably won’t be able to see again, at least not for a long time. My friends and I wanted to go everywhere in Europe but quickly realized we only have a certain number of weekends. So we made a list of everyone’s top place to visit and narrowed in down to a few, plausible cities and started planning from there. It’s not possible to go everywhere you want to but make a point of going to your most dreamed about

Shop around

It’s good to have a general idea of when you want to go to certain cities but be open to change. Some weekends are much cheaper than others (for example, the last Sunday of each month, the Vatican Museum in Rome is free) so start planning early to get the cheapest flights possible. Also be aware than the more popular the season, the more expensive—and crowded—a city is going to be. Look on sites that compare multiple vendors, like Kayak or Sky Scanner for flights and Hostelworld for hostels.

Get creative

Maybe late Thursday evening is the cheapest flight you can find but also be aware the extra night you’d have to spend on a hostel. Sometimes the cheapest options turn out to cost you more money. You don’t have to fly home with the same airline you initially flew with. Different airlines have different prices! Also don’t rely on hostel to be the cheapest places to stay. Generally, they will be but you’d be surprised at the prices of some Airbnb rentals and even some hotels (although do your homework if you want to stay at an Airbnb!).

Postcards!

Postcards are a super, super cheap souvenir that are easy to carry and show where you’ve been. Most postcards are less than 80 cent and much smaller than a t-shirt or snowglobe and can be mailed home easily.

Travel within the country

Yeah, Amsterdam and London are cool but have you seen the Peace Wall in Belfast? Or the Cliffs of Moher and Galway? One of the first things my program here stressed was the beauty of Ireland and suggested we not spend every weekend on the continent. We haven’t and I’m glad we did. The Irish countryside is stunning and Dublin is a bustling city full of a vibrant culture. I love learning about Irish history through experience and it’s much cheaper to spend a day in Cork and kiss the Blarney Stone than flying for three days to Prague and spend money on a hostels and nice meals. There must be a reason you chose to study in a certain country so go explore it!

Of course, I’m writing from the point of view of a European study abroad experience. Different countries have different exchange rates and different prices, so I’d highly recommend researching as much as possible ways to save money in the country you’d like to study in but I hope these few tips have helped at least a bit.

How I’m Breaking Barriers with My Hockey Internship

How I’m Breaking Barriers with My Hockey Internship

I don’t think there’s ever been a better example of how Trinity gets internships for students than my experience. I currently have an internship with the minor league hockey team downtown called the Wolf Pack. I’m doing PR and Media Relations with them, and though I’ve only been on the job for a few weeks, I’m loving it. But let me start from the beginning and walk you through how I got this amazing opportunity.

I’ve been writing for years and knew I wanted to major in English when coming to college. I loved that Trinity had a creative writing concentration within the English major so I knew I could really pursue what I wanted to do. I’ve also been going to hockey games since I was about seven, starting with the Lowell Lock Monsters, a minor league affiliate of various NHL teams over the years. So it was only natural that I would start writing for Trinity’s newspaper The Tripod my first semester here.

I loved covering for the hockey team and getting my stories in the paper, even if it was just a college newspaper.

Fast forward a year and a half to my sophomore year. I had been writing for the Tripod for almost four semesters and looking for internships.

I wanted to do something in the PR,  Communications, or Marketing field so I looked on the Trinity College Career Development Center website and found internship and job postings. Alums and local businesses, who have hired Trinity students in the past, tend to advertise there. One of the internships listed was with the Wolf Pack, who has different interns each semester, all of them from Trinity (and, unbeknownst to me, all of them male, but we’ll get back to that point in a minute). So I applied for the PR and Media Relations internship. I sent over my writing samples, and I went downtown to the XL Center for an interview. I aced the interview and during this time, my future boss told me that I was the first female to apply (and eventually be hired) for this job. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about myself. It’s a good feeling to achieve something you’ve really wanted, but it feels even better to be the first female to do so and to start breaking down that barrier.

So now, I have this amazing internship this semester where I’m writing game stories, interviewing players, and learning about what it takes to make it in this industry. Not only is my work getting regularly published, it’s an incredible experience and I’m so thankful I am the first woman to do so.

On Moving to a City

On Moving to a City

For 18 years of my life I lived in a town with a population of about 10,000. My high school had about 200 kids per grade, kids that I had gone to kindergarten with and graduated high school with. It is a “quaint New England town”. And the one thing I knew I wanted when looking at college was to be in a city. I wanted to experience city living for a while and see what I was missing.

Riverfront Recapture connects Hartford business and organizations to the community.
Riverfront Recapture connects Hartford business and organizations to the community.

Hartford is about twelve times the size of my town, in terms of population. There’s a public transportation system, there’s more than just two restaurant, and the city has so much stuff to do. Connecticut has a rich history dating back beyond the Revolutionary War with many historical sites dedicated to different parts of history. Bushnell Park, the center of the city, is beautiful, especially the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial arch, which I got to go up in my first week on campus. Being from Massachusetts my only real experience with city halls was the Boston City Hall, which isn’t the prettiest. Hartford’s on the other hand is magnificent. When I round the bend on the highway coming back to school and see the stunning golden dome rising above everything else, I know I’m home.

One thing that I didn’t expect was the noise level. I knew it wouldn’t silent living in a city. It took a little while to get used to cars driving around all the time but I grew accustom to it and it doesn’t bother me now anymore. It’s almost like white noise. But when I went home for the first time after living in the city for a few months, it seemed like it was deafeningly quiet. At night the only sounds were the cicadas and the occasional call of a bird. I found myself missing my noisy city.

Another aspect of city life that I really love is not having a car. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving probably more than the average person, but living a city, you don’t need a car. In my town if you didn’t have a car, you didn’t have a life because the closest anything was always a 10 minute car ride away. In Hartford I can walk really anywhere I want to go. First-years aren’t allowed to have cars on campus but even as a sophomore, I don’t feel the need to bring a car down. Getting off campus is easy without a car and like most cities, it’s difficult to find parking.

Sometimes I do miss home and the simpler “country” living but I wouldn’t trade my city school for anything and I can’t wait to keep living here for at least a few more years.

Double Major, Double Trouble?

Double Major, Double Trouble?

Like most sophomores at Trinity, I am in the midst of deciding on a major to declare. Or in my case, majors. Many people are a little shocked when I tell them I’m planning on double majoring in both English and Psychology. The top responses I get are “I guess you aren’t going abroad,” “Don’t you want to leave room for other classes?,” and the classic “WHY?”.

From the moment I left high school I knew I was interested in English and psych. Many schools I looked at had minors in both but I just couldn’t see myself devoting less time to one of my passions. Psychology fascinates me, especially developmental and social psych, particularly the psychology of schools. English is a subject I’ve thrived in, passionately loved, and can’t imagine not focusing my life around it. I couldn’t choose just one. So I decided, when entering Trinity as a first year, to double major.

At Trinity, students cannot declare their major until sophomore year. This gives them time to explore their options of majors by taking a variety of classes. Of course if students know exactly what they want as a major, or majors, like me, they can get started on their major classes right away. This is especially essential for double majors, because they will end up with twice the required classes. And if students kind of know they might want to double major but aren’t entirely sure, taking foundation classes is always a smart move.

When students are considering double majoring, many are deterred from the thought because they think they might not have time to go abroad, due to the influx of requirements. But as I said, getting started as early as possible is one of the best things a potential double major can do. This allows for some wiggle room to go abroad. Plus, depending on the department and where you want to go, you might be able to fulfill requirements while away.

You don’t just have to take classes focused around your majors. I’ve taken an Arabic class every semester in addition others like music and film while still taking psych and English classes. Chances are not every required class will fit into your schedule so there’s always opportunities to take classes that just sounds interesting. And who knows? Maybe that class will end up counting towards your major. I took a class my first semester in college just because it sounded really cool, and it ended up fulfilling a major requirement. And the class was really fun!

So if there’s anything to take away from this is if you really, truly want to major in more than one area, start planning right away. If down the line, you decide you want to focus on just one major, that’s totally fine. But above all find a major you’re happy with and want to study and stick with it. You never know where it’s going to take you.

Coffee Shops Around Hartford

Coffee Shops Around Hartford

Over the past few years, Hartford has come to garner a reputation of being a tough little city with nothing but insurance companies downtown. I thought this same thing when I first came to Trinity but after venturing out beyond campus, I came to find this was certainly not the case. Hartford is a vibrant, thriving city in which you don’t have to look far for fun things to do and cool places to check out. And one of the best things about living in a city, especially Hartford, is the numerous, wonderful coffee houses.

Blue House Coffee has locations across New England, including in downtown Hartford.
Blue State Coffee has locations across New England, including in downtown Hartford.

Café Sophia, 984 Farmington Ave, West Hartford

Located in the heart of Blue Back Square, this popular coffee shop is right across the street from Bar Taco, Max Burger, the Elbow Room and tons of other places to shop and eat. It’s a small place but always welcoming with great coffee, tea, and crepes and waffles anyway you want. Plus it’s not very expensive, something every college student values.

Blue State Coffee, 777 Main St, Hartford

Not only does this place have a small town vibe, it gives back to the surrounding city and the places they get their products. Right across the street from the Old State House, Blue State lists where in Connecticut it gets its coffee, eggs, dairy, and other produce from. It also gives 2% of all profits to local charities. Plus the coffee is really good! If you go to a different city, but still crave Blue State, they have other locations including three in New Haven, two in Boston, and two in Providence.

Tisane Euro Asian Café, 537 Farmington Ave, Hartford

Just a little up the road from Café Sophia is Tisane, which is a coffee shop and restaurant. In addition to the outdoor seating, with a fire pit, there are tons of beautiful chandeliers above you and art around you. You can get dinner, brunch, lunch, or just a drink here. They specialize in all different types of tea, hot or iced, with a fusion of Asian and European styles mixed in. And every time I’ve been the staff is beyond friendly and the music is great.

Sarah’s Coffee House, 257 Asylum St, Hartford

In the heart of downtown Hartford, next to the XL Center, is Sarah’s, a small time coffee house that occasionally has music and art. With a lot of natural lighting and a Gilmore Girls vibe, it’s very good place to get work done or just chill and drink some good coffee. It often has local musicians come and perform that can add to your Instagram-worthy cappuccino or chai and pastry.

Tea Break, 994 Farmington Ave, West Hartford

Also on Farmington Ave, a stone’s throw away from Café Sophia, Tea Break boasts mainly authentic bubble tea, and are one of the best places in the state. Their coffee bubble tea is to die for. And if you’re going with someone who doesn’t like coffee, they have a variety of different flavors of bubble, range from ‘coco love’ to ‘plum green tea’. Like many of the other places on this list, it’s a great spot to study but it has more room to spread out, unlike the previously mentioned coffee shops.

Why We Love Division III

Why We Love Division III

One factor of college life that can be an important point when deciding which college is best for you is athletics. Whether you’re into them or couldn’t care less, athletics are an important part of any college experience. When I was deciding which school to go to, I really didn’t take into consideration the sports that were offered because I knew I wasn’t going to be playing. When I was on a tour of Trinity, one thing that stuck out to me was the camaraderie that comes with watching a sports event.

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Being from Massachusetts, I grew up watching the Red Sox, the Patriots and the Bruins, and going to live events was even better than watching on TV. When I came to Trinity, I thought I wouldn’t like going to a college sports game, especially at a D3 school, where there’s not as much emphasis on athletics. Then I went to a hockey game.

Last year, our men’s hockey team was amazing, scoring an average of 3 goals a games and when the finals came to Trinity, every student wanted to go to the ice rink to see them play. I covered them quite a bit for the Trinity Tripod, our school newspaper and I even convinced my non-athletic friends to come along. They were skeptical at first but they grew to love the sport and even came with me to the NESCAC championship, held in our very own Koeppel Community Sports rink. Trinity men ended up dominating and won the championship last year and it was really fun to go and watch.

A great thing about Trinity is that you can play a sport and be an athlete but be other things too. The captain of the women’s soccer team isn’t just a soccer player; she’s an engineering major with an interest in education. The third line men’s hockey forward isn’t just a hockey player but also an English major with a Hispanic studies minor. Sports do not dictate how other students perceive athletes and that’s one of the reasons I love Trinity. You can have many identities and one is not stronger than the other.

People may think that because we are D3 in all og our sports (expect for D1 squash!), we don’t care as much about athletics. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are as excited for our soccer teams as Notre Dame is about their football. And we don’t put our focus on athletics. Trinity knows that getting an education and a college degree is just as, if not more, important than winning that one game. That’s why I’m proud to be a Bantam.

A Guide to Coffee at Trinity

A Guide to Coffee at Trinity

Like many college students, coffee is my life. I work at a coffee shop back home, I always have some type of it in my room, and I always know what and where to get coffee when at Trinity. Thankfully, my college has a great variety of coffee and coffee shop options.

Peter B’s

There are a few stories about how Peter B’s got it’s name but there’s really only one reliable one. There used to be a student named Peter B. in the 80s at Trinity who loved coffee. He traveled the county in order to learn more about the perfect espresso and when he came back, Trinity was looking to put a coffee shop in the library. Rather than go with the typical Starbucks, Peter got his coffee shop set up at his Alma Mater, and the rest is history.

Located right in the heart of campus, Peter B’s not only has great coffee but pastries and sandwiches as well (from First and Last, located down the street in Hartford). In the fall, the apple cider always goes fast, as does the pumpkin bread. It’s an open place with plenty of seating and natural light that’s perfect for a group project or meeting with a professor.

My go-to order from there is small hot chai, which warms you on snowy New England winter days.

Goldberg’s

Goldberg’s isn’t technically a coffee shop because it’s main industry is sandwiches, bagels, and salads, but it does have pretty good coffee. There are a variety of iced coffee flavors that’s always changing (the pumpkin and hazelnut are really good). It’s great for a late night or early morning snack. Plus the people who work there are extremely nice. It’s one of the perk of living on the North side of campus, especially around finals when you don’t want to lug all your book to the library. Twice now during finals, I’ve stopped in and order a small iced coffee, but the employees were so nice and understanding that they bumped me up to a large iced coffee, for free.

I would definitely recommend either the Fire Breathing Dragon sandwich or small iced coffee with an everything bagel.

The Underground

You can’t get much more of a small liberal arts college vibe than when in the Underground. From the huge chalk logo drawing on one end of the room to the numerous leather couches, it’s the perfect place to talk with friends or professors, do homework, or even take a nap (nobody judges). There’s always great music playing, and the heat is a welcome sensation during the winter. This is one of my favorite spots on campus and someplace I always show my friends and family when they visit. For many people at Trinity, you’re either a Peter B’s person or an Underground person, but for me, my loyalties lie where ever there is a good cup of coffee, and trust me there’s plenty of that.

They have a new drink called The Straw-Biscus, and it’s amazing. They also make traditional coffees, teas, and lattes as well as drinks like Nutella smoothies.

Questions to Ask Your College Tour Guide

Questions to Ask Your College Tour Guide

The average high school senior applies to five to ten colleges before they commit. This can be number can be overwhelming when sorting through which college is the best fit for you. As a tour guide for Trinity, I’m trained to handle pretty much what ever question comes my way from parents or students, and through this as well as my own experience applying to colleges, I’ve come across a few questions that are the most important to ask your college tour guide.

What classes are you taking/what is your favorite class?

It gives parents and students a good was to gage how many classes are being taken, what the variety is, and what is the most interesting class, in the tour guide’s opinion. I always say my favorite class so far has been Psychology of Music because the professor was awesome, it covered two of my requirements, and it was just really interesting too.

Does the college have any traditions?

This could be either superstitions, events that happen every year or every month, or anything else. One of Trinity’s traditions of course that Roosevelt plaque no students dares to step on out of fear they won’t gradate in time, and something about a lemon squeezer being stolen.

What kind of internships do students get?

Sometimes colleges get student’s internships but they are just running off copies and getting coffee but Trinity’s alumni network and relations with various companies enables its students to get the best possible internship. When CT Senator Chris Murphy talked at Trinity he said that he likes to have Trinity students in his office because he knows all about Trinity’s respected reputation. And because we are one of the only colleges in the city, there is not the competition for internships you would find in other cities.

Do students get off campus for nonacademic reasons?

Internships can be a way to get off campus but not everyone has one. Students going downtown shows how active we are in our community and are not limited to just our campus. Museums and parks are perks of living in a city and Trinity students know this. Not only do students get discounts at the Wadsworth Museum, the XL Center right in the middle of the city. Plus there are so many restaurants downtown. And speaking of restaurants…

What are good restaurants around campus?

I love giving tours around 11:30 because I can tell families all the great restaurants that are around Trinity. If you ask 10 students what their favorite places are around campus, you will get 10 different answers. Bartaco, El Sarape, and Bears are always good choices but King and I Thai has to be my favorite place. Before coming here, the most diverse places to eat in my hometown were Mexican restaurants and now I can have Thai, BBQ, Peruvian, and Middle Eastern each weekend.

How many students live on campus?

Living in a dorm creates a sense of community, which is something you get quite often when you go to a small liberal art college. About 90% of Trinity students live on campus and the 10% that live “off campus” live in Greek or themed houses on campus grounds or just across the street. Even though we are in a city, housing is guaranteed for all four years here, unlike other colleges in other cities.

How many students study abroad?

Studying abroad isn’t always a major topic for some colleges but it’s definitely important here. 60% of Trinity students study abroad, many of whom are athletes and STEM majors. Even if you can’t fit studying abroad during academic year, there are so many summer abroad programs that allow you to experience a different part of the world.

What has been your favorite thing you have done while at college?

One of my favorite memories is either making Nutella pancakes with my friends at 11pm on a Wednesday or writing about the men’s hockey team winning the NESCAC championships and getting my story on the front page of the Tripod.