Three Weeks in Dublin Vs. A Semester in Sydney

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Alyssa Burlison
June 26, 2024

If you’ve been following along with my posts, you know that I’ve spent the past semester studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. What you may not know, is last Summer I took a three-week IES course through my home university, TCU in Ireland. Although I now have an intense love for both places, it goes without saying both were very different experiences. In case you are struggling to decide whether a three-week course abroad or an entire semester abroad is for you, here is a list of some of the biggest differences between the two programs. 

  1. Free Time 

    This one might come as a little obvious, but we were given a lot more free time during my direct enrollment in Australia compared to the class in Ireland. In Dublin, we only had three weeks to learn an entire course load. This meant everything was very structured and most activities were done as a class as part of the course content. We only had two days where we could do whatever we wanted and that doesn’t give you a lot of time to go outside of Dublin.  Meanwhile, a semester abroad puts you in charge of your schedule. This gave me and my friends time to travel outside of Sydney and see more of Australia, which is important in such a large country. 

  2. IES / Study Abroad Group

    One of the biggest differences between a three-week class and a direct enrollment is the time you spend with your study abroad group. In Ireland, we did almost everything together. Tours, meals, and classes were all done as a big group. This allowed us to get close despite the short amount of time together. When the class was given freetime, sometimes we would opt to stay in a group rather than split up. One of my favorite parts was that every morning we would meet in the lobby at the same time to make sure everyone got on the same lightrail. 

    In comparison,  during my direct enrollment in Australia, our IES group was mainly together for the first week and a half. After that, we would only be required to meet about once a month. That isn’t to say I didn’t make amazing friends with other people in IES. The big difference is we didn’t see each other every day. Also, since we weren’t in the same classes I was able to make friends that weren’t all from the U.S. like I did in Ireland. 

  3. Home Sickness 

    Irony is a funny thing. One of my biggest struggles in Australia was missing my friends back home. Most of those friends, I met in Ireland. After our trip, a few of us bonded together like glue. We continued going on adventures and enjoyed reminiscing about our time in Ireland. So leaving them hurt a lot. On top of that, I was away from my family and dogs for longer than I ever had before. With that being said it was so worth it. I made more new friends in Australia and I can’t wait for them to meet the people from my study abroad group in Ireland. In the end, the thought of leaving home for an entire semester might seem daunting. So much so a three-week class might feel safer. However, I believe that the amazing weeks in Australia made up for the few days I would feel homesick. 

  4. Expenses 

    This might be another obvious example, but it does cost more to do a semester abroad instead of three weeks. Most of my friends are scrabbling to get summer jobs set up to make up for the money they spent. But, with more free time and a longer visa, it could be possible to get a job during your semester abroad. Friends from my IES group did this to help pay for any extra expenses they ran into during the trip. So although a semester abroad is more expensive, you might be able to get a job that will help pay for it. 

To conclude, I loved both experiences and each came with their unique ups and downs. A three-week program will grant you less time in a place, you might not fully settle in or find a deep connection with the place you're traveling at. But it allows for a few weeks jam-packed with activities and you’ll be able to get really close really fast with new friends. On the other hand, direct enrollment, might be more expensive and keep you away from your family and friends for a longer amount of time. But you’ll be able to make friends from all around the world and be able to fully immerse yourself in your home country. 

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Alyssa Burlison

Hi! My name is Alyssa Burlison and I'm a writing and film double major at Texas Christian University.  I love to write and am working on a romantic comedy inspired by Jimmy Buffet's music. I'm a foodie and I love hiking and stand up paddle boarding! 

2024 Spring
Home University:
Texas Christian University
Creative Writing
Film Studies
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