Overall, Ireland is a safe country. Friendly people, small cities, and abhorrence for violence make this a worry-free study abroad destination. Many remember the sometimes violent political and social problems (referred to as the Troubles) in Ireland. However, rest assured that dramatic steps have been taken by the divided political parties to secure peace in Northern Ireland. In Ireland there are not any general health risks beyond those found in the US. While health insurance coverage is not required for visitors by the Irish government, CIS includes a comprehensive medical and accident insurance plan with all of our programs.
With the exception of the University of Limerick, undergraduate degrees take three years to complete in Ireland (Limerick has a four-year system similar to the US). Students specialize in a field and pursue all of their courses in only a couple of departments. For example, at Dublin City University, a three-year institution, it is safe to say that first year courses will be equivalent to sophomore level coursework in the US.
Don’t be surprised if learning at an Irish university is quite different from what you’re used to in the US. More responsibility is placed upon you for learning the course material. During the school week, you’ll attend large lectures followed by more intimate tutorials and labs where the information is studied in detail. The expectation is that you will read and research without much formal structure (no weekly assignments or exams) and that you will spend much of your time independently preparing outside of the classroom. The academic calendar in Ireland has a fall semester that starts later than traditional US universities and extends into January and the spring semester starts shortly after and runs until early June.
Official name of country: Republic of Ireland
Population: 4.2 million
Capital City: Dublin
Time Difference: Ireland is +1 GMT, so it is 5 hours ahead of the east coast and 8 hours ahead of the west coast.
National Anthem: The Soldier’s Song
National Animal: Irish Setter
National Food: Irish stew
National Sport: Gaelic Football
Geography: The island of Ireland is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Channel, and the Irish Sea. Along the coastlines, especially the western coast, the terrain is made up of cliffs, hills, and low mountain ranges. If exploration leads you more inland, you will find many rivers and lakes, or loch as the locals call them, scattered throughout the flatlands. Many know that the climate in Ireland can be described in one word: wet! No matter what time of year you choose to visit Ireland, an umbrella and light waterproof jacket are always recommended. However, don’t let the rain scare you away as temperatures are generally mild and pleasant. It is never too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter!
Languages: While all locals speak English, Irish (Gaelic) is the true language of the country. Throughout the country, it is common to find signs written in both languages and Gaelic symbols are also seen around. You won’t have to worry about a language barrier when meeting locals, but feel free to try your hand at learning some common Irish phrases! Immigrants have also brought other languages to the country, with Polish being the third most widely-spoken language.
Famous People: Pierce Brosnan (actor), Bono (lead singer of U2), The Cranberries (musical group), C. S. Lewis (author), and Arthur Guinness (brewer).
Great Movies: The Informer; The Quiet Man; The Secret of Roan Inish; Bloody Sunday; The Wind that Shakes the Barley.