Learn English Abroad - Dublin

A hugely popular destination for international students, Dublin is a city boasting a diverse population and an eventful history.


A hugely popular destination for international students, Dublin is a city boasting a diverse population and an eventful history. From its 9th century Viking heritage to its more recent role in the uprising against British rule, you won't be disappointed if you're a history buff as there are plenty of museums, monuments and noted landmarks to see in Dublin. There are also countless pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and coffee shops, so you won't be bored if you enjoy socialising and nightlife; and remember, getting out and meeting the locals is the best way to learn any language. You will undoubtedly meet lots of other students and travellers in Dublin City, so it won't be long before you've made plenty of new friends.

In Dublin City itself, you can visit Trinity College and see the world famous Book of Kells; or you can get some recent Irish history on Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced 'jail'), or a much older experience in Christchurch Cathedral or the Viking display at Dublinia. Travel to the North of Ireland to visit the locations for the worldwide phenomenon Game of Thrones, or south to see Skellig Michael, used as a location in the recent Star Wars movies.

The west of Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty, and if you enjoy hiking and exploring, the wilds of Connemara could be the place for you. Check out lonelyplanet or failteireland or even visitdublin for lots more ideas on attractions and journeys in or around Dublin, or further beyond the city.

Things to Look out for

People in Ireland will most often complain about

  1. the weather
  2. the drinking culture
  3. the expensive rent in the cities

Being an island, Ireland is surrounded by sea, which is great if you love surfing, windsurfing or swimming; but it also means temperatures in Ireland are often not very high. Cold wind and rain are common, even in the Summer months. The Romans didn't call it Hibernia for nothing!

If you are not a drinker or you don't consume alcohol, Ireland can be a difficult place to socialise - particularly at night-time. Most social events take place in pubs or bars, and cafes usually close around 6 p.m. Ireland does have a very lively drinking culture and this can be problematic for people who are not used to it; who are uncomfortable around drunk people; or who are trying to avoid being around alcohol.

The cost of living in Dublin is one of the highest in Europe and it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

The cost of renting an apartment in the city centre averages €2,962 per month so it is not affordable for most people to live alone, and shared houses and apartments are common. Monthly travel tickets are around €125, an average lunch out will cost around €15, with dinner for two in a normal restaurant costing around €60.

There are some student deals and value to be had in different areas, but Dublin is not a good place to live if you are trying to save money!

Travel within and from Ireland

As the capital of Ireland, Dublin is connected to the major cities and regions of the country by a reliable bus and rail network (check out the websites for Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, and Irish Rail). Be aware, however, that public transport is relatively expensive, so look out for discount offers and travel cards and remember to book in advance to get the best deals. Dublin city is also serviced by a regular and reliable tram service, called the Luas, and this is a great way of moving from place to place around the city and the suburbs.

Dublin airport is also a great base for exploring other European destinations with many budget airlines operating from Dublin airport direct to major European cities.

Getting a Visa

Applications for student visas need to be made online before your travel to Ireland.

If you have received an admission letter from the school in which you have chosen to learn English, it is important for you to have it with you as you will be expected to produce it at the immigration checkpoint.

Here are some of the documents you require to support your visa application:

  • a letter of acceptance from a recognized institution of learning where you are expected to study for a minimum of 15 hours per week
  • payment receipt showing you have paid the required tuition fees in full
  • evidence that you can afford to live and study in Ireland. You should show that you have at least €7,000 for the initial period of your stay
  • evidence of medical insurance
  • a passport that will remain valid for at least six months following the completion of your course

There are two main types of study visas in Ireland

If you are not from an EEA Country you must be in a full-time course (15 hours a week for one year) in order to receive one.

You can apply for a three-month visa (C study visa) or a visa for longer than 3 months (D study visa).

if your course is on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) you are permitted to work up to 20 hours part-time during your study days or 40 hours per week during college holidays. This makes Ireland an attractive place to study versus the UK where non-EEA students are not permitted to work.

There are more specific documentary requirements, and this link covers all of the information you will need to make your application.

English Learning Institutions

There are plenty of schools in Dublin in which to learn English, and most people will stay for approximately 8 months, attending classes for 6 months at a rate of 15-20 hours per week (15 is the minimum required for visa application). This can vary, so make sure you check out your minimum requirements for attendance.

Dublin has a huge number of different language schools offering courses in business English, social English, specialised training, academic English and cultural experiences, to name a few.

It's important to research your school carefully as some offer accredited training and recognised certificates at the end of your course, and others simply provide an in-house certificate which means nothing in the real world. Be clear about what you want out of the course when you are signing up. Many schools in the city centre offer free trial classes taught by teachers who are still in training. This is a good way to get a feel for the school and to see if you like it. Most schools will offer excursions and trips at the evenings or weekends and this can be a great way to make friends.

Be careful about the school's location: although Dublin city is very small, the county of Dublin is quite large. Schools that are located in Dublin can be miles outside the city and might be expensive to commute to - Dublin doesn't have an underground system.

Accommodation and Living Expenses

There is no way around the fact that Dublin is an expensive city. Its rental prices have soared, with the average rent for a house in Dublin standing (at the time of writing) at €2,200 per month! Of course, you don't need to rent a house, and there are other options. You might be travelling with friends, or maybe you have arranged to meet people in Dublin. A room share, for example, might cost you in the region of €600-€850 per month, depending on the area. As with any city in the world, the closer you are to all the amenities, the more expensive the property. Daft.ie website is the most popular for researching accommodation costs and keeping up to date with availability.

Working in Dublin

Dublin is a busy and vibrant city, with lots of opportunities for students looking for temporary work in hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops. In order to work in Ireland while you are staying and studying, you must be attending a learning institution featured on this list.

Look out for businesses looking for waiters, cleaners, baristas, bartenders or retail staff. Make sure your Resume or CV is up to date and checked by a native English speaker or an English teacher. A popular option is to consider being an Au Pair (living with a host family, minding their children and bringing them to school). This is often a good solution to living in Dublin and avoiding the high rents!

Check out our write-ups and comics covering interview skills and job-searching. Bring whatever references you might have from home.

Keep in mind that your own language could be valuable, so keep an eye out for teaching or translating jobs, or perhaps even providing your own lessons to Irish people thinking of travelling abroad. The same applies for other skills or talents you might have, so if you play the guitar, for example, you might like to give lessons to local people to earn some extra cash.

Categories: : Learn English abroad