Ireland | Study Techniques


So by now I think I’ve pretty much nailed down my study techniques for this physics program. I do realize that everyone learns differently so some of these techniques might not work for everyone, but I will try to keep it general enough to apply to a wide variety of learners, yet specific enough to give you ideas of how I learned a year of physics in eight weeks.


I know it’s easy to go to 9am lecture and sit on your phone or let the material go right over your head, but paying attention will make learning the material and studying later a million times easier. Do what you need to keep yourself awake and attentive during lecture. Bring snacks, drink some coffee, etc. You will sit through two hours of lecture every day, so be sure to pay attention. I use highlighters and pens to take notes and keep track of important information.


You will have two hours of tutorial twice a week in which you work through a problem set in a group of three. I feel like I learned everything during tutorial (in terms of learning to do the actual problems). Please please please don’t just use Chegg to get all the answers down and leave as fast as you can. You’re only hurting yourself this way because while you may get good scores on tutorials and get out faster, you are not actually learning the material that you will need to know for tests. Staying late is more than worth it if you understand how to do the problems that will be very similar to test problems.


If possible, try to take notes on each lecture the day that it is given. This will help you stay on top of the material, ensuring that you understand it as you go along. The material does build on itself so it just makes it more and more difficult to understand if you are further behind. I found that color coding and highlighting worked really well for my learning style. This is especially useful when you get to the light unit. You’ll have a bunch of light rays all over the page, so color coding will help you keep everything in check. More than anything it just looks really nice and makes it a bit more pleasant to go back and review you’re notes when they are easy to read. The professor typically does several example problems in class so go back and redo those problems on your own as well to ensure your own understanding.


The tutorial problems are very similar to the test problems, so I would recommend going back and redoing the tutorial problems on your own a second time. It should be significantly easier the second time and then if it’s not, you know you need to study that material a bit more.


Crash course was a lifesaver. Do not use this alone to learn the material, but I usually watched crash course during the break between lecture and lunch to recap what we learned in a short video that didn’t take too much brain power. There is an entire crash course physics playlist that pretty much covers every topic in the course.


This man knows everything there is to know about physics so just check out his videos if you need any extra help.

Not gonna lie, the course will be challenging and stressful, but I promise you are going to be ok. There will probably be times when you feel like you’re going to fail, but you will be fine. They do everything they can to help you succeed so please don’t let the stress ruin your time in Ireland or prevent you from having fun on the weekends. Good luck studying!!

Grace Heart studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in Summer 2017:

Ireland | A Day in the Life at UCD Summer Physics


6:30AM – WAKE UP! I typically wake up around 6:30am and check social media for about ten minutes before rolling out of bed. It always seems like you miss a lot when you’re asleep for half of your friends’ days across the world.

6:45AM – RUN! By 6:45am, I’m ready to run. I love going for runs in the morning because it helps me wake up and it’s also just a really great way to explore the city. I typically run towards city centre and explore different neighborhoods along the way.

7:30AM – SHOWER! After I get back from my run and stretch, I’m shower and get ready for the day.

8:15AM – LEAVE ROOM! I leave my room around 8:15am every morning. It’s about a 10-15 minute leisurely walk to the science building from Merville (dorms) so you get to breakfast around 8:30am.

8:30AM – BREAKFAST! Breakfast is at the Pi Restaurant in the science building. There’s normally some sort of hot dish as well as fruit, oatmeal, croissants, yogurt, and granola to choose from.

9:00AM – LECTURE! We have lecture Monday-Friday from 9am to 11am. The professor usually gives us a short, ten-minute break around 10am so we can get water, go to the restroom, or take a quick power nap.

11:00AM – BREAK! After lecture, we have an hour long break until lunch. A lot of people study during this time, go to the gym, or just relax for a bit.

12:00PM – LUNCH! Lunch is served in the Pi Restaurant again (cafeteria-style). They normally have about three options for a hot dish and are very accommodating to different dietary needs. Salad and bread are available as well.

1:00PM – LAB/TUTORIAL! After lunch, you will either have lab or tutorial. My group has labs on Monday and Wednesday and tutorial on Tuesday and Thursday. Labs last about three hours and  tutorials last about two hours depending on the efficiency of your group. In lab, we do hands-on experiments that apply the information we have learned in lecture. In tutorial, we are given a set of five practice problems to work on in groups of three. Both labs and tutorials are turned in and make up about 40% of your grade together.

4:00PM – GYM TIME! After lab or tutorial, I’ll typically go to the gym and do strength or one of the workout classes. The gym is free to the physics students and there are several free workout classes. These classes last about an hour and are a great way to stay in shape while abroad!

5:00PM – DINNER! – After the gym, we head over to dinner back at the science building. Again, there are usually three options for hot dishes plus a dessert for dinner.

The rest of the evening usually consists of studying/taking notes/doing practice problems or exploring the city. It stays light until about 10:30pm so you’ll have plenty of daylight for exploring if you choose to do so during the week. I would recommend trying to do most of your Dublin adventures during the week so that you can take longer trips on the weekend!

Grace Heart studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in Summer 2017:

Ireland | Hiking Howth


Last weekend, we made our way over to Howth, a village just outside Dublin. Most of the village lies on a peninsula. Its coastal feel reflects its history as a fishing village. The village is only about a 30 minute train ride from Dublin City Centre, making it very manageable as a weekend day trip!


It is a bit of a process to actually get to Howth, but I promise its so worth it. I would recommend taking the DART, the Irish train system, from Dublin City Centre to Howth. We left UCD at about 11:00am and took the 39A into town to get brunch in Dublin. At about 1:00pm, we made our way to the DART station in Dublin. A round trip ticket to Howth is only about €5. Buy your ticket just outside the station and make your way to the platform. The station is extremely easy to navigate so you should have no problem finding your way. Once you’re on the train, it takes about 30 minutes to get to Howth.


Just across the street from the DART station is a small market with a few food stands and some souvenir stands as well. We picked up a few pastries from one of the stands and a Chow Mein from a noodle stand. Not kidding, the Chow Mein took about three hours for 3 of us to eat, so maybe get one to share with the group.


Once you’ve walked through the market, take your food and hike the Lower Cliff Loop and have a picnic on the cliffs! The hike was so incredibly beautiful and a must-do if you’re in Howth. The entire hike is about 4 miles and takes about 2 hours if you take it at a leisurely pace. The map below shows the path you will be taking, but it starts right in Howth Village and ends there as well. On the trail you’ll be able to see Ireland’s Eye, an island just off the coast of Howth. Baily Lighthouse and Howth Castle are a few other points on the trail to look out for. Our favorite part of the hike was just the beautiful scenery off the cliffs – one of the most incredible views I’ve seen while in Ireland. To end the hike, we walked down a sort of boardwalk/street with restaurants and docks along the side of the water. We were surprised to see seals and jellyfish swimming around in the water below us too!


We didn’t go straight home, but instead stopped by Dun Laoghaire! Dun Laoghaire is on the opposite side of Dublin City Centre from Howth so it took about 45 minutes on the DART to get there. We had already been to Dun Laoghaire a few times, but it’s another beautiful coastal town. It is somewhat bigger than Howth with more restaurants, shopping, and activities than Howth. Maybe I’ll do another post just dedicated to Dun Laoghaire because it is very beautiful and much easier to get to than Howth, but Howth is definitely worth the journey and you do get more beautiful views than in Dun Laoghaire. Take the 46A home from Dun Laoghaire and your perfect “beach” day is complete!

Thanks for coming along on another day trip with me and stay tuned for a “Day in the Life” post next week that will give you an inside look into what a day at UCD Summer Physics is really like!

Grace Heart studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in Summer 2017: