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Alumni Profile: Life at Trinity

The following article by Alli Dixon ’21 about her experiences at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland appears in the newest issue of the Saint George’s Magazine, which will mail out later this week:

On the Saturday before spring break of my senior year, I woke up at 7am to an email from Columbia University. I opened the email without much thought, skimmed its contents and promptly went back to sleep.

Around 11:30am, when I finally woke up and looked at my phone, I saw a text message from a fellow classmate asking me if my admission decision from the Dual BA Program between Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin had arrived. I quickly reread the email I had received earlier that morning and texted back an excited “omg I got in”.

For spring break, I had already booked a ticket to stay with some family friends in New York for the week and visit my top choice at the time, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Upon learning of my decision from Columbia, it was clear that I should at least visit the campus while I was in the area. After visiting Columbia, I knew that the opportunity to study not only in New York but also Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and receive two degrees in only four years, was such a unique and intriguing path that I could not pass it up.

This year I began the first half of the Dual BA program studying Middle Eastern and European Languages and Cultures at Trinity College, Dublin. Since moving to Dublin in September, my life has changed immeasurably. My classes at Trinity range in subject from the Ancient History of the Mesopotamian Region to current affairs between Europe and the Middle East. Classes at Trinity are usually delivered twice a week in lecture format, with an additional once-a-week small group discussion with the professor to cover the nuances of class material in a more focused setting.

This academic structure is different from what I was used to in high school, having six to eight classes a day from 8:10-3:20. Now my days can look very different, some days having five classes starting at 11am and ending at 7pm and some days with only one class at 3pm.

Although the structure of college life is different, I have found it to be consistent with the pace of life in a large city like Dublin. Often, I will go to class in the morning, take public transportation across town to attend crew practice, then go back to campus and study in the library until my last class in the evening.

Living in a European city has been a large change of pace from Spokane, trading my car for busses and weekend road trips to Seattle for cheap flights to Brussels. I am constantly amazed at the convenience and affordability of public transportation in Europe. I take the train every day in Dublin to commute to class, and when I visited Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany in October I found public transportation to be extremely easy to use.

I have also found it fascinating to be surrounded by so much history. Most buildings on my college campus have been around longer than America has been a country. The age is reflected in centuries-old architecture that tells the unique story of every city back to the Roman Empire.

Though my academic experience at Trinity is very different than my experience at Saint George’s, I have found that the International Baccalaureate thoroughly prepared me for the expectations of an international education. I found the parts of the IB that prepared me the most for college were writing the Extended Essay and Internal Assessments. The in-depth research and lengthy writing process required when undertaking those assignments are very similar to the papers I now write in college.

Especially through the EE class, I learned to confidently choose and research a topic before writing about it with critical thought and analysis. I have found I am used to easily writing and researching college level papers, where my American peers who took the AP still struggle. Overall, I feel that the IB education I received at Saint George’s prepared me to learn with confidence internationally at Trinity and at a high intellectual level at Columbia.

Most of all, I am so lucky to have found such a welcoming and supportive community here in Ireland. Irish people are some of the kindest and most genuine on earth, and I am so grateful to call many of them my friends. I am constantly surprised and overjoyed by the level of kindness I am shown in Ireland, and I look forward to what the next three-and-a-half years will bring.

  • Alli Dixon, SGS Class of 2021