I will divide this topic into 2: one on the experience and another on the academic aspect (topics). So yeah, I passed this exam, making it 4 passes out of 4 attempts but taking 5 years, which is much longer than desired (but the way the journey had to be due to various circumstances).
I flew with Emirates. My process was to initially screen the flights available via Expedia (for available times and general price range), then I individually booked the flights and hotel separately via their respective websites (to get the best discount). Being someone who lifts weights, not sitting in the aisle was not an option (to give me the best sitting space for comfort). I spent some extra money ensuring I’d get those seats, and I did not regret it. The food was definitely good.
From a colleague’s recommendation, I decided to stay at Kildare Street Hotel, which was definitely the right choice. The price was cheap, the room has WiFi, and close to the important places (Dublin Bus Airlink bus stop, exam venue, college, and shops).
To get to Dublin from the airport, I rode the previously mentioned Airlink bus by Dublin Bus. By buying the ticket online, I was able to get a € 1 discount on the € 12 2 way ticket.
I tried to survive without turning on roaming and succeeded. With WiFi being ubiquitous for the most part (airports, some restaurants, and even on a couple of the flights), there was no need for cellular data. For navigation, I’d turn it on before leaving the hotel (to load the needed directions and locations of additional nearby places) , then allow the phone’s GPS to handle the rest.
The main place where I would have my meals was The Cedar Tree, with it’s fulfilling portions, WiFi and nice ambience. On my final day in Dublin, they even served some Baklava and Turkish coffee, on the house. I’d highly recommend this place. In between, I’d have yogurt and milk to minimize hunger and focus on last minute studying.
The exam itself was held at the Chartered Accountants of Ireland building, which was around a 10 minute walk at most and near the College. The place itself didn’t have free WiFi, but it wasn’t needed.
I brought my pre-ground coffee and cold brew bottle, but in the end it was not needed. Coffee is everywhere in Dublin, including the hotel, in more than enough supply. The coffee wasn’t weak unlike the standard stuff in Malaysia. Even during the exam, there was free flowing coffee, tea, and milk. In the end, I had to “force” myself to finish my cold brew coffee before going back.
There was a major problem on the flight back: there would be only a small gap in between the flights from Dublin and Dubai. This gap became non-existent when the former flight departed late. On arrival a group of Emirates’ staff was already ready to hand us new tickets for the connecting flights; the problem was that the flight would be delayed by 12 hours.
To solve that, the new tickets also included a stay at their airport hotel with free meals. By the time we got there via the shuttling coach it would be around 11 am Dubai time, with an eight hour gap before the shuttle back to the airport. Lunch and dinner buffets were available on the house, and thoroughly enjoyed.
In general, typical of me, this was a “business trip”; study, exams, rest, go back. No sight-seeing/any meaningful shopping. Like the inspirational Snakes and Bosses: get in, destroy the objectives, get out (except with Hideo Kojima there’s a lot of drama that comes along with that).