Flying into Dublin’s airport I was immediately struck by how green it was. In one direction was the sea, gray and solemn, frothing with whitecaps as the freezing Irish wind gusted over it, and in the other the famous verdant hills of the Emerald Isle stretched endlessly. It made me more eager than ever to explore Ireland’s beautiful countryside, but for the next week I would be busy with orientations. 

UCEAP Orientation 

Orientation with UCEAP lasts 3 days, although the bulk of the content is on the middle day. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in the city center which was very comfortable and had a great buffet breakfast every morning. 

Day 1 

After a 2 PM check-in, we gathered in the lobby at 3 PM to meet with Hilary Noyce, director of UCEAP in the UK and Ireland, who was kind and welcoming. 

We immediately walked to a conference room in another hotel close by to begin with the essential information we needed for our time abroad. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, covering information on health insurance, emergency protocols, and other essentials. 

The day ended with a fun dinner in an Irish pub. We were able to just relax and enjoy some traditional Irish food in the center of Dublin, although we had been warned that tomorrow would be a much busier day. 

Day 2 

Our second day began with breakfast and a return to the other conference room down the road. Today’s meeting focused more on academic and cultural differences (which I’ll explain another time), and everything we needed to know for day-to-day survival. 

After several hours of continuous information, we were given three hours to break for lunch and relax. At 3 PM we regrouped and set off on a hop-off hop-on tour bus that showed us many of Dublin’s main attractions. It gave me a great idea of what I wanted to go back and see more in depth, including the images featured below. 

Top three: St. Patricks Cathedral. (Apparently Sir Benjamin Lee didn’t just creatte Ireland’s unofficial national beer, but also invested heavily into Dublin’s devlopment, including restoring St. Patrick’s Cathedral). Middle two: Dublin Castle. Bottom two: St. Stephen’s Green

Our evening consisted of a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and a delicious meal at Pizza Milano. Afterward, most students ventured out to explore, while those still adjusting to the time difference happily went back to sleep. 

Day 3 

Our final day consisted only of check-out and our final buffet breakfast. We were given ten euro to assist with cab fare to our accommodations and reminded about the check-up meeting we would attend less than a month later. 

Trinity Orientation 

Trinity’s orientation followed a very similar format to UCEAP’s– three days with the bulk of content on the middle day. 

Day 1 

The first day there were no academic events. Instead, the evening was geared toward relationship building and included both a coffee afternoon and a game night. 

Day 2 

This was the day that was packed with information and meetings. I’ve included the itinerary below so you can see the exact agenda. 

It was a long day, but they inform you about everything from IT support to class registration to the perks of the school gym. As you can see, the orientation halls were often so packed that students lined the stairs. 

My favorite part of the orientation was the tour of the school grounds. The campus is an interesting mix of old and new since the school was founded in 1592, but has had to expand dramatically to cater to a rising student population. Below is one of Trinity’s newest buildings alongside the classic Campanile. I’ll give you a more thorough campus tour on another post. 

Day 3 

The third day was supposed to focus on any lingering questions and give us an opportunity to enroll in our classes. It was a busy, difficult day because the process of enrolling is frankly archaic at Trinity. It involves running around between departments getting staff consent for every class you want to take which. Again, I’ll write more on enrollment and academic differences later to hopefully make this process easier for you. 

In Conclusion: Dos and Don’ts 


  • Arrive a day or two early to Dublin to give yourself time to adjust. Several students that arrived the day of were just exhausted during orientation. 
  • Make an effort to make friends. Orientation is a lot and having friends makes the whole process more fun. A good way to do this is to attend the game nights, coffee mornings, etc. and not just the academic meetings. 


  • Stay out too late during orientation. There is plenty of time to have fun and explore the city later. Do enjoy yourself, but remember your responsibilities. Some people get a little too excited. 
  • Delay on getting classes. Get a head start even before the official enrollment day. Figure out what you want beforehand and go to office hours. 

Alexis Harmon studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland during Spring 2019: