The 5 Biggest Differences Between Burlington and Dublin

My study abroad semester in Dublin has been going along swimmingly thus far. I’m having a blast, seeing tons of wonderful places all around Ireland with plans to see more of Europe super soon. I can already tell my time here is going to go by way faster than I’m currently willing to accept.

A map of Dublin
A map of Dublin

However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any adjustment troubles upon my arrival here in Dublin. Some things were bound to be different between here and back in the States. For all of you back home or thinking of studying abroad in the future, here are the five biggest differences between Burlington and Dublin that I have found:

1. Connectivity


The 4G connection on your smart phone that you’ve grown so accustomed to back home will not transfer over internationally. Plus, far fewer places offer free public Wi-Fi. Which means no Google searching while you’re out and about. This can be a bit nerve-racking if, like me, you’re prone to getting lost.

However, with some forward planning, taking some screenshots of maps while you’re in your apartment to have access to once you’re on the go. Also, don’t forget that good old-fashioned maps are your friends.

2. Accents

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From the monthly Champlain Dublin Newsletter

Okay, yes, the people of Ireland speak English, but not an English that you’re at all used to hearing. The most interesting thing I’ve found about the Irish accents is just how many variations there are.

Just like there isn’t a single defining American accent, Irish dialects can vary. However, Dublin alone has about three or four accents, each of which is a totally different way of speaking the English language.

Plus there are a whole bunch of fun words that we don’t have or don’t use in the same way in American English. Like trash is rubbish and it goes in the bin not a can. French fires are called chips and potato chips are called crisps.

However, my favorite has to be the word “craic” (pronounced crack). This word refers to recreation or fun and has a ton of great uses. The phrase “Dublin is great craic” is particularly apt, though hilarious to hear the first time.

3. Money

Euro bills and coins

Okay there are really two facets to this.

The first is budgeting. You will need to do this. Because there are a million fun things to do and only a finite amount of money to do it with, so it’ll pay to start budgeting out your money early. Especially because the last thing you want is to get to the end of the semester and realize you’re totally out of money and can’t do anything else recreational at all.

The other is the actual currency of Ireland itself. The euro has some notable differences to the dollar, most specifically the denominations. In bills, the euro has 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. These bills get steadily larger with the amount they are worth. There are also 1 and 2-euro coins, as well as a 50-cent piece. If you’re like me, then I hardly ever carry any coins in my pocket back home. Yet, in Dublin I find my pocket heavy and jingling with coins.

4. Groceries

Back with groceries in my apartment

Many Champlain students in Burlington live in the dorms for most, if not all, of their college careers. So coming to Dublin may very well be your first time having to procure all of your own groceries. That’s a huge step towards adulthood, and can be a hard one to take in a brand new place.

It also doesn’t help that Irish supermarkets simply aren’t set up in the same way American ones are. There are very similar products in very similar places in the store, but there all just slightly askew.

One of the biggest differences that has been hard for me is the peanut butter. You can get the stuff, but none of the brands you’re used to and definitely not in the quantity American stores offer it. The jars I buy here are all small, labeled “American style!” and made 100% in the UK. It’s not bad in any way, just slightly different from what I’m used to.

5. The City

The biggest difference I have found between Burlington and Dublin is Dublin itself.

Burlington tries its best to imitate big cities, but Dublin is the genuine article. It has the pedestrian traffic and crazy traffic laws to prove it. While it is also a very manageable city – you can easily walk from one end of the city to the other in a few hours – it is a huge jump from the very small feel of Burlington.

Everything on this list is 100% manageable. However, being aware of them could also prove a valuable asset and help make a smooth transition to any student coming to Dublin in the future.

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