A year at Griffith College – How did that go?

I’ve written a Portuguese version of this article, focused on the Brazilian audience.

My documentary – Griffith College Creative Show 2018

First things first: I love Griffith College from the bottom of my heart. Is it something super cheesy to say about a college? Yes, but I don’t mind. That’s the truth, and I’ll keep on saying it.

I’m not writing this to share my love from this over 40 years old college, nor its tradition of welcoming international students from all over the world. I am writing this because of a lot of people (seriously, I’m not bragging or anything) found me to ask me the same couple of questions. How was the experience of studying abroad? How did you found Griffith College? How was the experience of pursuing a Masters Degree in Ireland? How did you find the programme? Well, I can’t blame you, I guess people from Griffith College helped you finding me after this, so, that’s my time to return the favour and give you some answers. Ready? Set… Go!

1 – How was the experience of studying abroad?
It was life-changing. There’s no way I can describe that wording it differently. I arrived in Dublin in September 2017, thinking that I had what it takes to do it. I had the experience and the knowledge required by the programme. Still, I’ve learned so much and developed so many different skills during my course and way after it finishes, that it would be possible to write a book on those adventures. Don’t you worry: this post won’t be that long.

Ah, the Graduation Day… It was worth it! (And everyone loves Ruairí!)

2 – How did you found Griffith College?
I wasn’t necessarily looking for it, it just happened, really.

I was trying to find a Post Graduate or a Masters Degree course that had marketing, journalism, graphic design and maybe a bit of coding on it. My idea was to mix up different areas of knowledge, having some areas in which I felt safe and others to learn from scratch and develop new skills. Their MSc in Applied Digital Media was perfect. For several days, I’d stare at the programme on the website, thinking that someone was obviously playing jokes on me. Everything was there: skills that I wanted to develop, mixed with areas of knowledge that I already had some experience upon and new and exciting subjects. It looked like a dream, but it was real. Sooner than I expected, I started to save money, get informed about their scholarship offers and everything that I could to get closer to them. Until I finally get it there.

Of course we had some pints together! The craic!

3 – How is the college overall? Which facilities do they offer?

As a Harry Potter fan, the first thing that I noticed about Griffith College was that some areas look like Hogwarts, which for me was a great win. During my year there, they were refurbishing a series of areas, building new classrooms and students accommodations, but in general, is a very cool place to be. They have a big campus with separated areas for each faculty, but also loads of lecturer areas. A vast library, film, photo and design/editing labs with mostly brand new computers; cameras, lenses, video cameras, microphones and all equipment you need to any sort of activity/assignment. All of that is part of the deal.

Griffith College also offers a good-sized cafeteria and a student union area with a canteen, a game room and convenience spaces. A grand auditorium that hosts a variety of internal and external events throughout the year and diverse areas to people hang-out together. Isn’t this everything that a good college can offer? Ah: they also provide accommodation, if you are willing to pay the price (not the cheapest option in Dublin) and an international office dedicated to making your life easier. Thanks so much, Griffith College International Office, you are doing it right! You guys are great!

Tension building up before the dissertation…

2 – How’s Griffith College reputation in Ireland?

In general, everything that I heard about it before and after being a student at Griffth was very positive. As a private institution, they have loads of internationally recognised undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. They are also one of the longest established private third-level colleges in Ireland.

I did my research, finding out the goods and the bads. Because of the programme and their excellent reputation related to computer science courses (and the Computing Faculty itself!), I took the risk. Their reputation doesn’t go only to the computing courses. In fact, Griffith College maintains a good name in technology, law and communication courses and, by experience, I can tell that they know what they are doing. It was worth it!

My experience with the college is limited to Dublin Main Campus, but they also have other campuses in Cork and in Limerick. I would definitely check it out those two, and they also opened a second campus in Dublin (that I haven’t visited yet, but I will! Wait for me!).

3 – How was your course, specifically? It was more like a practical thing, or it was theoretical-based?

I’d say that all modules had both theoretical and practical lectures, but most of them were more practical-focused. If you’re up to start in September and willing to go for Applied Digital Media, there are options for both full-time and part-time schedules. Both are a bit heavy in content. If you don’t have any knowledge on a specific area, you’ll get the material, the lectures with introductions, content and the resources to go and learn more. As expected from a Masters student, you won’t have all content given to you on classes. Still, all lectures were extremely open to giving extra orientations any time I needed, including other sources, tips, materials and recommendations.

For modules with both theoretical and practical modes, we would have the theoric lectures on a room or auditorium and the practical on labs. The Mac Labs are mostly used to all Visual Communication and Video Production practical lectures and any lectures that involved design and edition. There’s also the Video and Audio labs, used on video production classes, the photography lab, some computer labs for the Game Design, 3D Modelling and Multimedia Programming classes, among others.

I took this picture from the Library front door in one of the millions of nights I spend at those warm and silent facilities.

4 – Is it possible to get a part-time job while studying?

If you are thinking of enrolling the full-time course starting in September and get a part-time job, think again. In my experience, it was tough to follow up with all assignments and also administrate 20 hours of work per week. You’ll have classes both on mornings and afternoons for most of the days in the week and the weekends will be full of assignments too. If you’re starting in February, your life will be a bit less complicated, so, a part-time job is manageable.

5 – Did you have any research paper to be done during your studies?
Yes, and this is an essential part of the course that some students (me included) didn’t take to seriously initially, but that shown to be very important afterwards. We have a specific module called “Research Methods” and, well… by the name of it you can tell it is not the most fun of all the lectures you will have. But it’s undoubtedly important to get yourself in the mindset to do the dissertation and to get things organised accordingly. Another advice: don’t be like me and try to learn as much as possible from the first class onwards. I had to catch up at the end of the semester and, well, I did not have holidays in 2018! 

6 – How is the market in Ireland for that kind of course?
Sort of competitive and with a high demand for professionals. It doesn’t really matter if you want to pursue a career in Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Web Development, Content Production or a bit of it all. You will find out shortly that Ireland is a place full of opportunities. There are loads of job fairs during the year, we receive job offers every day on LinkedIn and all other job search platforms, it’s gigantic. I’m not even talking only about Dublin. The demand for professionals in those fields is increasing all across the country.

Griffith also helps in that area. They have a career advisor (thank you, Emma, you are awesome!) that can help you reviewing your CV, checking on doubts that you might have about the market, giving tips and even simulating interviews and organising meetings in between you and alumni from your course. Ah, they also have a full platform for you to interact with colleagues and students from previous years. It”s the Griffith Alumni Network (and I know, I should be using this more often!).

Guess where I took this pic? A tip: it’s in Ireland, but it’s not Dublin.

7 – What do you have to say about the experience of living in Dublin?

Well… The highest temperature I have ever seen in this place was 25 °. During summer. On a very unusual occasion. That said, this city is generally cold. The average temperature is 8 ° to 12 ° throughout the year. Winter can be quite intense and wind storms are part of everyday life. So, if you are from a warm country, you might need to pack some extra layers, buy new clothing upon arrival, and get used to the cold.

We are also facing a huge housing crisis. Dublin itself has a lot more people than houses or apartments, which makes prices very high. There are landlords who take advantage of the situation and accommodate students in places that do not offer enough structure, charging exquisite prices. If you like to work hard and play even harder, alcohol, in general, costs more here than in many other countries in Europe. There you go, these are all the negative points (in my humble point of view!).

First time seeing snow!

Dublin is a very safe city, flat in most places, small enough to allow you to do a lot or almost everything walking and big enough that you don’t get bored. There are parks, museums, churches and art galleries to visit, most of them free or on very affordable prices and restaurants specialised in cuisines from all over the world. You can also find the most different types of pubs, a trade market that appreciates enough local products and groceries with imported products from all corners of the world. For me, another vital advantage is that Dublin has bike lanes that get respect from most drivers and are safe enough for you to ride your bike around the city. Last but not least, the world most famous beer is from here. It also tastes better at home (of course I’m talking about Guinness). I think the positives outweigh – and a lot – the negatives.

I can say that this is all. I think I answered the vast majority of questions. So, did you like it? Leave your comment and let me know if I managed to answer all your questions or send me a message/email telling me if I forgot anything! Really hope this helps!