My Experience in Galway

Published by Jake Entwistle — 5 years ago

2 Tags: Erasmus experiences Galway, Galway, Ireland


Why did you choose to do an Erasmus year abroad in Galway, Ireland?

I chose Ireland as I study English Studies and wanted to go to a country that spoke English so I could practice. I could have gone to the UK or Malta for example, (or any of the other places UGR offered me as most classes are in English), but I decided to go to Ireland as it uses the Euro and I looked for the place with the most difficult accent to understand (like Irish or Scottish) so that I would find it easier to understand other accents.

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How long was the grant? How much money did you get?

The grant lasted 9 months, or the whole academic year. Being Andalusian and having got the MEC grant the year before, the grant I got this year went up to about 900€/month. The problem is that they don't pay you every month. I got the first payment in January, another in February and then another in April (and I was still waiting for the last payment even though I had gone home) so I'd advise you to take some savings for the first part of your Erasmus (about 3, 000€ would be good, especially if it's an expensive country).

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What's the student atmosphere like in Galway?

Well, I loved it. Galway is a student city, full of students from NUIG. You can go out whenever you want, there's always students going out to the city centre (although on Saturdays its usually older people going out as the students go home for the weekend). The university is really important there and you realise it straight away as there are students discounts in most of the shops, if you know where to look, and there's loads of things to do for students and young people in general.

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Would you recommend Galway and the University to other students?

Of course! The system there was a little different to what I'm used to in Granada. For example, the classes start in the first/second week of September and finish in November for the exams in December. You then go back from January to April when you finish for exams again. The year ends in May. It's just a case of getting used to it.

I think there they use the Bologna plan (for my course at least) as there were very few contact hours, so you got a lot of free time, and they examined the Erasmus students through essays, not exams. Although I think that's just in English Studies as I know that for Economics, Law and Psychology they had exams.

My classes were formed of mass lectures, sometimes there weren't even any seats left (200 people each lecture), and seminars, the only things you had to go to, which had 20 people max. and the style of teaching was more personal.

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What's the country's food like?

The truth is I didn't try much Irish food, only a lamb stew that tasted pretty much exactly the same as the veal stew my mum makes. I guess that Galway is famous for its salmon, but I didn't try any. So really, I can't give you much advice in terms of local dishes.

One thing I did find strange is that they don't have sweet shops like they do here, you've got to buy them in the supermarkets. And milk, for example, didn't last more than 2 or 3 days in the fridge, it goes off really quickly, just like all the other food. If they expiry date is X, then you can be pretty sure that it will be completely inedible by that day (it happened to us with loaves of bread, whereas here in Spain we're used to being able to eat it a week after the expiry date). Colacao is hard to find, and if there is it's Turbo, but they do have Nesquik (someone asked me about it). And yeah, the food in Ireland is expensive.

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How did you find accommodation?

Looking on the university website. I wanted to live in student halls, and the site had links to all the halls and where you need to go to reserve a place. You can ask to be put with your friends or with foreigners, up to you.

The problem is that I lived in halls that were really far away from the uni and the city centre (half an hour walk) and it was an industrial zone (you could hear all the lorries unloading at 4am). So in the end we moved house.

You can find houses on the internet. I moved to Laurel Park, which is next to Hazel Park where there are usually some students (and it's close to Corrib Village, another uni hall), but another one of the 'neighbourhoods' where there's usually a bunch of students is Gleann Dara, which is next to the Dunnaras halls.

I know a lot of people that came to Ireland without having looked for anything, they just had a hotel and then asked the Uni's Accommodation Office who put them in touch with landlords looking to rent houses or with the student halls (and they were able to go and look at them before deciding).

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What are the prices for accommodation like? And the prices in general?

I paid 200€/month, and most people that lived in houses I spoke to paid roughly the same (it depends on the size of the room, the bed, if it has a study, etc. ). The uni halls are usually slightly more expensive, but again it depends where you go. In the house, from what I've seen, you have to pay for bin collection (I didn't have to as the landlord did), and you have to pay for heating and electricity between you as well. In the halls, you pay for a set amount of electricity, and if you go over you have to pay at the end.

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How is the language? Did you do a course at the Uni?

I know the university offered free English courses, for all levels, but I didn't go to any. The only problem with English in Ireland is the accent and the expressions or words you've never heard of due to the Gaelic origin. We definitely struggled more with that language. From what I saw they only speak it in some parts and in Galway pretty much no one spoke it (and if they did, only what they learnt at school), but most buildings and streets have their name in Gaelic and at the start you don't know how to pronounce them and get a little bit lost.

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What's the most economic way to get to Galway from your city?

From Granada the best way is to go from Málaga to Shannon, which is an hour and a half bus journey away. You could also do Madrid to Dublin (although it's at least a 3 hour journey to Galway from here) or to Shannon. Galway has an airport, but almost never has any commercial flights, so don't bother trying. The best option is Shannon, even more so considering it's a small airport so it's impossible to get lost.

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What places do you recommend for going out in Galway?

Cellar, Roisin Dubh, King's Head, Cubaa, Coyote's Bar, 903, Karma, Skeff, Spanish Arch, College Bar (yeah, the uni bar), Massimo... and I don't remember anymore.

Some of them are just pubs and close at 12, others are clubs and close at 3AM (everything closes an hour later at the weekends). To get into clubs you have to pay from 00:30 onwards, but I've had to pay 6€ for most, although usually it's about 3€ or 4€. There are usually offers every day or some sort of Erasmus party.

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And eating out in Galway? Can you give us some of your favourite places?

McDonald's, hahaha. They have their own fast food chain called SuperMac's and it wasn't bad at all. There's also a takeaway pizza chain called Papa John's (warning: the pizzas are usually quite expensive, like an actual pizzeria). There's not many restaurants, but you can order food in the pubs(that's where I tried the lamb stew). There are also kebabs.

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And what about culturally?

You can see all there is to see in Galway in an hour. It's a small city. The best things to see are the Spanish Arch, the cathedral and Trafalgar Square (that I know anyway). But if you want to do some travelling (away from Galway), I recommend going to the Cliffs of Moher (amazing), Connemara and the Aran Islands for a bike ride.

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Any advice you want to give to future students going to Galway?

  • Prepare to get wet, very wet. I went the year there was a drought and even then when it rained, it poured. Buy a good raincoat, although even then it won't be enough, it rained so much I had to wear my raincoat and an extra coat. Umbrellas are almost useless as the city is on the coast so there's usually a strong wind and most umbrellas can't handle it. Most places have heating so I recommend just one good coat rather than piling on the layers. Although it's not that cold there, the temperature is usually quite consistent throughout the year.
  • The sun sets really early in Winter. At 16:00 it's already dark (I got used to going to bed and waking up in the dark), but in May the sun rises between 3 and 4 am. It felt weird waiting until night to go out and even then at 22:30 it was still light.
  • Don't be scared of the locals just because the Irish like to drink (yes, even more than Erasmus students) or because they walk around in shorts and short sleeves.
  • Make sure you visit the rest of Europe as the Ryanair flights are really cheap going from Ireland.
  • They don't have blinds, so you've got to either get used to the light or buy a sleep mask.
  • Don't bring your favourite shoes as the ground there will eat them up. The shoemaker there told me it's because the roads and pavements need to have more grip as it rains all the time, and as a result your shoes take quite a beating.
  • There are buses, but I didn't use them. Instead, for travelling to different cities, I recommend Citylink. They have offers on their website for tickets (buses to Dublin, for example) for 1€, or 5€ if you buy it on the day.
  • The Irish are usually very kind and very very polite. They say 'sorry' and 'thank you' for everything. I recommend you do the same.

So yeah, I don't know what else to say, enjoy the experience and enjoy this unique city, make the most of your time, make Erasmus friends (and Irish ones if you can) and practice your English. It will be hard at the start, but after a while you won't want to come back and you'll miss it all when you're back home, it's a unique experience.

For me, the best year of my life, without a doubt! :)

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Comments (2 comments)

  • Dani Garcia Perez 5 years ago

    Hey!!! I was wondering if you could tell me where you found the accommodation you talked about. I will be doing my erasmus next year and I cannot find any "cheap" accommodation as yours. If you could provide me some information about how to get in contact with the owner of the flat you stayed in, I would appreciate. Thnks!

  • mari leyva 4 years ago

    hola!!! me gustaria ponerme en contacto contigo porque yo tambien estudio Estudios Ingleses en la UGR y tengo algunas dudas que me podrias responder. Thankssss.


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