Ireland – Athlone

Hello everyone! I am Dilasa. I am a senior student in Mathematical Engineering at YTU. Last year I was in Ireland for my Erasmus programme. I studied Computer Engineering at Athlone Institute of Technology and I would like to give some information about Erasmus life in Ireland and share my experiences.

Why Did I Chose Ireland For My Erasmus Year?

I had so many options,actually. But, I wanted to experience somewhere different. As far as I remember, our faculty was the only faculty that had an agreement with a school in Ireland within the whole university. When I saw Ireland among the options I knew it was the most interesting choice. However it was the most interesting one, if I didn’t consider this option right then, I didn’t think I would go to Ireland anytime soon. Obviously it was a stupid idea, I realized it as soon as I arrived in Ireland.

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(Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland)

Life in Athlone

Athole is a small city with nearly 25.000 population. It is one and a half hours away from Dublin. Athlone is a very calm and quiet place. Sometimes it is so quiet that when we were first walking in the city center we thought shops were closed. Later we understand that this was the usual situation of the city. So we called it “dead city”.

However it’s so quiet and calm, the city is so colorful that it gives you so much joy while walking around the streets.

People are composed but very friendly. You can find yourself chatting with a total stranger about how technology is evolving. Since Athlone is close to Dublin, it has quite diversive population.You can even encounter a couple of Turkish people in a busy hour.

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(Athlone)

At The Heart Of It

The city’s slogan is “at the heart of it”. Because the city is right in the middle of Ireland. The most important river of the country, Shannon, passes through the middle of the city. The walks and picnics near the river are very comforting.

There are two shopping centers, one movie theatre, so many supermarket options and various pubs and bars including the oldest pub in the world.

We couldn’t pass this section without mentioning the rain. The weather is, yes, rainy. 🙂 But don’t worry it’s generally just showers. At first I thought rainy weather was going to make me feel depressed but after some point, you just don’t care.

Athlone may seem boring at first but if you are not a fan of big, crowded cities,like myself, you will enjoy the trafficless, calm, peaceful time it will bring.

Accomodation in Athlone

Before we go, the college sent some options for the accomodation. You don’t have to stick to them. But most of the students prefer these options. There is no dormitory in Athlone. You have to stay either with a family or choose between different kinds of aparts.

I stayed at Wellmount Student Village which is 20 minutes away from the college by foot. My first options were Croi Oige Student Accommodation Village and Glen Abhainn Student Village, as they were very close to the college. But I couldn’t find the suitable options for me because I was a little late to apply. But I was pleased with my apart except some problems. My apart  was in the middle of the city center and the college. So that was a big advantage.

The rents were approximately similar. It depends on the room kinds.  For example where I stay, there were no shared bedrooms. Also my apart has three bedrooms,one shared bathroom and a living room with a kitchen. The rent was 360 Euros monthly for normal bedrooms. My bedroom was an en-suite, so my rent was 380 Euros.

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(Kilkenny Castle)

Expenses

I am sorry to say this but unfortunately, your grant is not going to be enough for Ireland. You should be aware of this before you decide to go to Ireland. We hardly afford the accomodation with the grant because the accommodation was really expensive compared to other European countries. Erasmus Ireland Athlone

Other expenses like gas or electricity differ from places you stay. For example, in my apart there were no bills, I had to top up. I top up approximately 120 Euros every month but this is not an ideal example because I stayed with two Irish girls, they were leaving for the weekend and in my apart everything was working with electricity. My other friends split the bills with their international flatmates.

Market shopping was pretty cheap and there were lots of options. Also if you are in a small city like Athlone and live close to the college you don’t have to worry about transportation expenses because you can go anywhere by walking. But buses are also cheap.

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(Galway)

AIT and Education

AIT is a small college with its students close to 6000, great academic staff and really helpful international office. It has so many course options and student societies. Also there are so many international students.

I had a great year at AIT, loved my friends and my teachers. Maybe its not the highest ranking universities in Ireland but I had a pretty beneficial education. I learned so many things and I improved myself quite a lot. Because most of the classes were in the labs with the computers. There were approximately 20 students in the classrooms. The lecturers were so kind and helpful. There are no midterms but there are always homeworks and projects.So, you have to study most the time. The finals were much easier to prepare compared to YTU. If you study enough, you can pass with high marks without any doubt.

(Engineering Building, AIT)

Being a Wanderer in Ireland

First things first. Unfortunately Ireland is not a Schengen country so you will need a Ireland Visa.

If you want to travel across Europe or the UK, you have to apply for their visa. So it’s another visa process. However traveling to different countries from Ireland is not that easy compared to a person in Germany, if you have a visa you can find so many cheap flights. Erasmus Ireland Athlone

If you don’t consider applying for a visa, don’t worry. Ireland is a whole new world. There are so many splendid places to see like Cliffs of Moher, Dublin, Galway, Wicklow Mountains, Connemara National Park,Dingle… and so many different things to experience like spending time with deers in Phoenix Park, going back in time in Blarney Castle, having fun with Irish music at the oldest pub in the world, driving on narrow paths between tons of shades of green, living four seasons in one day or visiting some locations where Game of Thrones filmed in Northern Ireland… Actually you need a UK visa to go to Northern Ireland but generally nobody checks your passport at the Dublin-Belfast coaches.

Although Ireland is a small county, intercity travel is not that cheap. I advise you to not to miss student vouchers and stick to a travel plan. In any case see as much as you can. Erasmus Ireland Athlone

I prefered to stay in Ireland most of  the time but Christmas time students were going to their homes so I decided to go to London instead of going back to Turkey. I applied for a six month tourist visa. The process was a little bit challenging but I got my visa in 15 days without any problem. Visiting the UK was also a nice experience while I was in Ireland.

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(Phoenix Park, Dublin)

Every Good Thing Has an End But…

Wherever you go, it will be the one of the best times you can not forget. But if you go to Ireland, remember to buy a raincoat, rent a bicycle and do some research about their gripping history. Raise your expectations, The Emerald Isle won’t let you down. Erasmus Ireland Athlone

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(Glenadalough, Wicklow)


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