Ireland has a very unique system for picking classes. And not just for the international students, but for everyone. Ireland is a very laid back country which is a bit of a shock because we all live in a very organized and time conscious country. They are no different when it comes to how they run the college.
Before I came a lot of my friends that were studying abroad had already picked classes. This made me nervous because not only had I not picked, but I didn’t even know the options of classes that would be offered. You should really not worry about this. Through this experience I can tell you, just get as many classes on your preapproved sheet as you can and don’t stress. I am taking two classes that were not on my sheet and I am not taking some that I had planned to take for sure. St. Norbert’s new system change where they save the courses that have been preapproved by previous students is very helpful for when things change anyway. So do not worry that you have not picked and you do not know. Another thing that stressed me out about not knowing my classes was what my class schedule would be. I wanted to plan a trip with a friend but didn’t because I didn’t know. Well turns out I could have and I should have just done it. Now you still have to be conscious of when you are planning it. Don’t take a trip mid-week or anything when you don’t know. But it is pretty safe to plan a trip sometime between Friday and Monday or Thursday and Sunday. The majority of students do not have class on these days. But yes, some do only have off one day or none.
When you first get to Ireland you will be taking an Early Start Class (they are all amazing! But I took Folklore and got to go to an Aran Island which is something you probably won’t do if you are not in the class). It will be about two weeks into your Early Start Class when the modules come out. They are quite tricky but if you need help just go to the international office. You have to use the course number to figure out what time the class is offered (Ctrl-F is very helpful for this). Then you will have a day where you will go to talk with a professor from each area. If there is not a department represented here feel free to visit the department on your own. That is what I did and it was very beneficial for me. This may end up turning your schedule upside down but don’t worry, this happened to me at least three times throughout the course of a week. Picking classes sounds really stressful and it kind of is because we are not use to the relaxed way that it is done. But don’t worry. After you think you have your classes you have a week to go and check these classes out. I ended up going to only one of classes I actually ended up taking that week! But then I figured out my schedule and the next week I was all set to go!
In Ireland it is key to just go with the flow. And the same goes for class schedules and even the classes. Here we write a lot of papers, or at least the classes I am taking. And the professors do not care if I use Calibri, Times New Roman, or Batang. They are indifferent about what font size I choose to use or if it is double-spaced or single. The only directions they give are you need a Works Cited. It is very interesting and kind of fun to be able to pick how you want to write your paper. Even in the Works Cited sometimes you are allowed to pick what style you would like to use! I have yet to get a paper back, and frankly I am curious if I even will, but I am really intrigued by what there grading style is and if it reflects the laid back nature of the rest of the country.
Claire Hephner is studying abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.