What up homework?! Nice of you to show up. (Laura Riley, originally posted on March 13, 2013)

So let me rewind a bit and take back all I said about not having homework. I guess it’s true that I haven’t really had “typical” homework (like what I’m use to at SNC), but I definitely have work. That needs to be done. That I’m procrastinating. But I’m only procrastinating in terms of my own deadlines. A lot of my papers are not actually due until the end of April, but seeing as I will be on a backpacking trip April 8th-May 4th, everything has to be done pretty soon!

Let me just give you an update on each of my classes…so you know that I truly do attend class. And in case you think I’m trying to fit in with the Irish (by simply not going to class), you’ll be happy to know that I have only skipped two classes. One to go to Dublin and the other to write a paper for a different class (that is not due until April 30th)…and because it was down-pouring. Yay! It was relatively easy for me to write the paper though, because in order to justify skipping I had to be super productive.

I’ll start with “MG2201: International Management and Marketing Practise with a Special Focus on the EU“. Even though I get pretty winded when I say the title of the class, I like it. It’s basically a general overview of marketing and management. We’ve had a different lecturer almost every week, so that has been interesting! Two weeks ago we had a lecturer who talked a lot about the culture of India in relation to the business environment. Crazy interesting! He has visited India multiple times and showed us a video that he took one time of him visiting a one-room house essentially. And while we would perceive it to be near 3rd-world living conditions, they had a Whirlpool washing machine and a flat screen tv among their non air-conditioned, cement-floored house. Really intriguing.

Then this week Monday I was laying in my bed, my alarm had already gone off approximately 3 times…needless to say I really liked the snooze button. And I got a text saying, “Meet you downstairs in 15?” So I figured I should probably get up and get ready for class. We got to class 2 minutes early, which is like 15 minutes early in the Irish world and we were literally the only 2 in the room. I was really hoping I didn’t get out of bed just to walk back home, but then people started filtering in. After about 10 minutes, someone came in and told us our lecturer had called in sick and they were figuring something else out. They told us to go get coffee etc., rounded up a replacement lecturer, and we started class around 9:40. That’s the casualness of Ireland for ye! But it was a great lecture nonetheless.

Other than lectures and our two field trips, we have a Learning Log (1500-2000 word paper) due, a Marketing Project, and an exam the last week of March. The marketing project is cruising along quite smoothly and I love my group. The Learning Log, that’s another story. And the study has not yet commenced for the exam…but it will soon enough!
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This was our Field trip to Jameson where my professor said to us (the last people to get our complimentary drinks), “If you guys could knock those back real quick, we’re kind of short on time.” Yeah, not a problem. When in Ireland.

Food Choice Analysis. This is my marketing class and it’s my favorite class for sure. It’s the most organized and the most consistent. This is the only class that I have a PowerPoint in every week and the structure of it is the most similar to what I am use to back home. My professor is a bit sarcastic…and who doesn’t appreciate a good sense of sarcasm?? The information is incredibly interesting and I’m learning a ton. I literally don’t have any homework or assignments in this one, just an exam on May 24th. But it’s getting me very interested in not only the marketing of food, but the marketing of Gluten-Free foods, foods for the elderly, and cosmetic foods. And the overall ideas of innovation and market-orientation.

Intro to Music in Modern Ireland. This one has been different than I expected. It’s more of a discussion group than a class. Our classes usually consist of discussing live music we have seen in Ireland, what we think of Irish music, or sometimes we watch a film and discuss it briefly. A few weeks ago we got to class and she handed out white printer paper and we each got a marker. Our prompt was to draw our culture…it didn’t even have to be music related. So we did that and then went around and presented it to the class. Not what I expected to be doing for the week, but I wasn’t complaining! Then today we showed up to class and she sprung it on us that it was our last class. Ever. Apparently music courses are only 10 weeks long because the last two weeks are reserved for instrumental/vocal performance exams. Good to know! But all in all, I have learned a lot about the musical culture of Ireland and have been informed of the many musical opportunities available in Cork and on campus. I already turned in one essay for this class and just have one left. No exam though!

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Here’s my culture in a brown & white sketch!

People, Place, Politics, Ireland. This one is definitely tricky. It was based much less on People, Places, and Politics than I expected and more based on Religion and History. Which is a toughie! History has never been my strong suit, so it’s a bit challenging. Also, our professor specializes in knowing the history of South Tipperary (a location in Ireland), so a lot of what we learn is focused on that area. His name is David J. Butler. I decided to sit down and begin reading the chapters and when I came across the words “Butler Dynasty” all the light bulbs switched on. I still haven’t gotten past the shock stage. He also is an avid writer and has written articles and a book, so all of what we read is his work. The reading workload is quite heavy to say the least and a bit tricky to catch on to. History is one of those things that you need a lot of background information to completely understand, but I’m catching on slowly! We have a multiple choice quiz/test the last week of March and  paper due at the end of April.

The best part of this class has been the two walking field trips around Cork City! I have been able to see hidden little gems that I never would have seen had I not taken this class. A fort in the middle of the city and a Huguenot Burial Ground in the city centre to mention a couple! We have to write 4-5 page papers on each of our field trips, so that’s convenient. The field trips have also given me a better feel for the city…just having the opportunity to be toured around and told not only the building and street names, but their significance as well.
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The picture on the left was taken is inside Cork County Courthouse and the picture on the right is a model of Cork City in a building that we have walked by nearly every day and have always wondered what it was. Now we know. And it’s pretty awesome.

Aspects of Irish Folklore. This is another one of my favorites. And I’m lucky enough to have it two times a week. I have found the fairy tales the most interesting by far. Some of the fairy legends are literally the most disturbing things I have read. They are actually scary. I was reading some of the tales before bed…good idea I know. I debated whether they’d give me nightmares or not, but seriously. They aren’t fairies like we think of back home. They are not the Tinkerbells, but are rather spirits. They aren’t ghosts either. They use to be humans, but they have been swept from our world to the “other world”. Apparently a lot of people don’t “believe” in them, but there’s kind of this general consensus, at least for the older generation, that, “I don’t believe in fairies, but they’re there alright.”

We had a one of the best (if not the best) Irish authors and storytellers come into our class and tell us a few stories. Check him out for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpXnIs57678.

For this class we have an essay to complete and exam on May 15th. I started preparing to write my essay last night, so I’m getting there!

Tin Whistle. Last, but not least, tin whistle. Tin whistle is definitely tricky. It’s tricky for me because while I can pick up music quickly by reading it, it’s a whole other story when it comes to learning by ear. And Irish music is based on oral tradition. So the format of the class is for our teacher to play a portion of the song and have us imitate her. Sometimes she will say the notes after she plays them, which then allows me to picture them on the staff and play it more easily, but often we just watch and learn. Our class is made up of 7 students, so there’s no hiding either. She goes around the table and has each of us play it back to her. After she teaches us the song, or 1/2 of the song if it’s a long one, she hands out copies of the music that she has written down by hand.

It is definitely a new challenge, but I can appreciate it knowing that it is the tradition of Ireland to learn orally. Plus, it’s always satisfying when it’s my turn to repeat what she just played (and even though I feel as though I have absolutely no idea what she just played) I play it back decently. There’s also those times where I say, “How does it start again?”, but all in all, I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity to learn tin whistle in Ireland. I mean, you can’t do that every day. For this class we have to choose two songs to memorize and play during the last week of March. It’s like solo and ensemble all over again.

And that’s that. Believe it or not, I only have 2 and 1/2 weeks of class left! That’s insane. And then my friend Katie from home is coming to visit March 30th-April 5th!! And then we are leaving for our 27-day backpacking trip on April 8th! The next month and a half will be crazy, but absolutely wonderful at the same time.

Cheers. To a productive Wednesday and Thursday.

Laura Riley was studying at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.

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