Midterm Season: Jany’s Take on College Classes in Cork, Ireland

Hello to everyone reading this week’s blog post! I hope you are doing well!

10/29/2021 I know I have been a bit absent–classes picked up really quickly and seemingly out of nowhere! I have also been very busy being present in Ireland and taking amazing trips around Ireland/Europe (cue: next blog post). Midterm season has officially come and gone and luckily…I only had one midterm! It was a paper for my Of Monsters and Men: Old and Early English Literature class. I will go through all of my thoughts and what classes are like here at UCC below! I hope you are all enjoying these blog posts / learning something new.

10/22/2021 I can officially say that classes are about halfway through and it honestly feels like time has flown by. Since I am a senior studying abroad, I am just about to finish up my major requirements and my common area requirements–which is so super exciting! Being a visiting student at University College Cork has been an amazing experience for many reasons; first and foremost, typically students enrolled at UCC have to take modules (this is what classes are called in Ireland) specifically within their field of study (for example: if a student is majoring in Archeology they are only allowed to take modules within that department). Considering that both of my majors (International Studies and Health Studies) are interdisciplinary, meaning I take classes in several different disciplines/departments, it is integral to my academic plan to be able to choose classes in different departments. UCC allows all visiting students to take modules in ALL departments (of course, there are certain exceptions and perhaps approval needed by department chairs); they even created an entire system called SPIKE to accommodate for visiting students picking modules in any and all departments. 

There were so many interesting modules to choose from so it was certainly difficult to narrow it down to 6 modules. Here is a list of the modules that I ultimately chose:

  • Psychology of Childhood and Adolescence (meets once a week for two hours)
  • Forensic Psychology (meets once a week for two hours)
  • Of Monsters and Men: Old & Early English Literature (meets twice a week for one hour each class) 
  • Sustainable Development: Environment, Economy, and Society (meets once a week for two hours)
  • Social Movements and Health (meets once a week for two hours)
  • Housing and Homelessness (meets once a week for two hours)

The reason I am taking six modules is because six classes in Ireland are the equivalent to the Holy Cross four course-load semester. Although six classes does sound like a lot, it has honestly been quite manageable. The required course readings can be intense and often require quite some time to dissect and truly understand (in my experience) but typically there are between 2-3 readings per class per week which is why I said it is a manageable course load since most of my classes meet once a week. It all comes down to time management—I find that scheduling my days to the hour is what works for me (in doing so, I set aside time for academics which are my main priority while abroad but I also recognize that a big part of being abroad is exploring, learning about the local culture, adventuring, and taking trips so I make sure to also schedule fun adventures into my day). As I mentioned in my previous blog, I do live in an apartment meaning I also have to set time aside to cook 2-3 meals a day (help, I am running out of recipes to make)! I try to eat out about 1-2 times a week and cook the rest of the time for a more budget-friendly experience. Side note: big shoutout to my study abroad experience for helping me become a significantly better cook. Anyways, I am telling you all of this to emphasize the importance of time management; I have always believed that if there is a will, there is a way. There is enough time to do all the things I love/want to do while also prioritizing my academics. 

Next, I want to chat a little bit about the class structure at UCC. Something that shocked me the most was that in terms of assignments, my specific classes have very few assignments—most classes have 1-2 major assignments that we should be working on throughout the entirety of the semester which is why it is pertinent to keep up with the readings and class lectures. For my classes, I have mostly final papers with the exception of two classes that have in-person exams. At this point in the semester, I have officially chosen my final paper topics and started the research portion. As for my exams, I have started prepping “study guides” which will be a huge help in December when I am scrambling to study, write papers, all whilst getting ready to go back home. Furthermore, as I am sure you are all aware, we are still living through a pandemic that has impacted schooling/education in Ireland as well. At UCC, classes, which are much much larger than a typical Holy Cross class have a capacity limit meaning that most classes took to a cohort format where certain students attend one week and other students attend the alternate week. Some of my professors reached out to me and told me that since I traveled quite far to be at UCC, I am more than welcome to attend class in person every week, which I am very grateful for. All classes are recorded and held live in-person as well as live online which I think is a format that accommodates all students and their different circumstances. 

As for class locations, all the buildings are fairly close to my apartment—the farthest building is perhaps 30 minutes away walking where the closest classes are about a 10-15 minute walk (located on the main campus). In all honesty, a 30-minute walk is a norm in Cork—I walk everywhere! If I want to go into the City Centre (about a 25-minute walk), I walk! The first couple of weeks in Cork definitely prepared me for all the walking I do every day. Overall, I really feel like I’m learning a lot and building on the knowledge I have. I also love that a lot of my classes connect in one way or another which helps a lot when writing papers and studying for exams. I also appreciate that I get to learn about the Ireland justice system, housing system, and much more. I genuinely enjoy the classes I am taking and feel very thankful for the opportunity to learn about a different country whilst living there!

Here are some pictures of the main campus where I have three classes: 

This picture was taken on September 13th, 2021–the first day of class! Fun fact: shortly after this picture it started down pouring and my first class of the day was in a building that was about a 15-20 minute walk from campus…in short, when I finally reached my lecture hall, I was just about completely drenched. Lovely memories of my last first day!
A pretty picture of campus during an early summer morning!
This picture is actually quite funny. Another UCC legend says that if you walk through the Quad, you will not pass your exams. My friends and I decided to take pictures ON the Quad during our first few days on campus–we were clueless and did not know! The picture you see above is of me standing on the Quad…do not do what I did. Anyways, after we found out that this is bad luck, we never again stepped foot ON the Quad.
This is a statue of George Boole. UCC legend says that if you rub his nose, it will bring you great academic luck!

Thank you all for reading this blog post! The next blog post is already in the works and it’s a very exciting one–stay tuned and see you soon!

Take care x

-JMG (:


Hello! A Three Week Recap: Early Start Course + Getting Settled in Ireland

Hello, world!

I would like to welcome you all to my study abroad blog–I am currently studying abroad in Cork, Ireland for the Fall 2021 semester. I will utilize this blog as a keep-all for all my adventures (past and present) here in Ireland. I will update this blog as often as I can in hopes of giving you all my rawest experience studying abroad.

I will start this blog with a super-duper quick recap of my travel experience coming to Ireland: I am a Rhode Island native so my quickest route to Europe was leaving out of Logan Airport in Boston–and I did just that! At 7:25 PM on Monday, August 16th, 2021, I said my heartfelt goodbyes to my family and boarded my flight to Amsterdam. I had a four-hour layover in Amsterdam (yes, I did take a nap) and then finally got on the smallest plane I have ever been on to Cork, Ireland at 12:05 PM. At 12:55 PM on August 17th, 2021, I landed in Ireland (fun fact: there is a one-hour difference between the Netherlands and Ireland despite their close proximity to one another…okay fine, it might not be that fun of a fact but I did not know…I only figured this out on the plane when I realized my flight was actually two hours long…not one…good times!) Below are two pictures: the first one I took somewhere over the Atlantic while the sun was setting; the second picture I captured upon arriving in Ireland! Stunning right? Other than that, arrival in Ireland went quite smoothly–if only you had seen me dragging my two (very large) suitcases around the airport (it was a workout if I do say so myself). Anyways, there was a taxi waiting for me at the exit and my student accommodation was only about a 15-minute drive–I had a great conversation with the taxi driver who gave me a SparkNotes version of all that there is to do in Ireland!

I was warmly welcomed to my student accommodation (it is an apartment that I share with four amazing girls–we each have our own bedroom/bathroom and share the kitchen/common area) by one of our security wardens who was incredibly nice, welcoming, and helpful! He told me where I can buy some groceries and other necessities. I was the first one in the apartment to move in so it was definitely a bit lonely but I phoned my mother as soon as I arrived and gave her a little tour of my apartment. I was incredibly exhausted and trying to beat the jet lag so I unpacked, decorated my room a bit, and crashed. For the next few days after that, I was getting settled going into the City Centre to buy necessities (buying an Irish SIM card for my phone was 100% the best purchase I made). Enjoy these pictures below of Cork City! 

The River Lee
The River Lee (again!)
Cork City Views
Cork City
Alleyways turned outdoor seating for restaurants!









NOW to chat about what the title of this blog states: part of the study abroad program in Cork, Ireland through Holy Cross is the Early Start program. Essentially, the Early Start program consists of picking a class (they have a variety to pick from) that lasts three weeks. The class that I chose was Early Start in Irish Archeology (The Archeology of Prehistoric and Historic Ireland). Throughout those three weeks, we attended daily three-hour lectures, went on field trips, took an exam, and wrote two papers. The class was incredibly helpful as we got to learn the foundation of the Irish collegiate system (grading, assignments, what lectures look like, what professors expect, and so much more) in addition to getting to know the country of Ireland. The two concepts intersect in that we were lucky enough to go on field trips that directly correlated with the themes that we were learning in class. I learned a great deal about the country of Ireland and its rich history. I will highlight the field trips through photos so that you can all see the true beauty that Ireland holds.

First up was a field trip to the Dingle Peninsula (westernmost point in Ireland!) located in County Kerry on August 27th, 2021; here, we saw the Gallarus oratory and Kilmalkedar (church of the Early Medieval period). Here are some of my favorite pictures:

The Gallarus oratory (stone church)
The countryside of the📍Dingle Peninsula
The archeology class got to spend some time in Dingle (a super cute seaside town)
Holy Cross group in Dingle! Quick storytime: the dolphin statue in the picture is the Dingle Dolphin whose name is Fungie! He is loved by many as he would come into close contact with the humans of Dingle–how cute! Sadly, Fungie has been missing since 2020 which left many concerned for his welfare. Most people believe that he either moved on to new waters or passed on.
SO. MANY. SHEEP. You gotta love Ireland!
More sheep because why not!
View from a Kilmalkedar church window!
The stunning archeological remains of the Kilmalkedar church

The next field trip on the roster was to North Cork and the Rock of Cashel on Wednesday, September, 1st! The three stops on this trip were to the Labbacallee Wedge Tomb (one of the biggest wedge tombs in Ireland), we then visited Mitchelstown Caves and made our final stop at the Rock of Cashel located in County Tipperary. Here are some of my favorite pictures from each site:

Labacalle Wedge Tomb

Mitchelstown Caves

My first authentic Irish lunch in Cashel! Vegetarian quiche with veggies and mashies!
Selfie in the Mitchelstown Caves!
All the below pictures are of the Mitchelstown Caves and honestly, these pictures don’t do it justice–the cave systems were massive and so interesting–just to get down into the caves we had to walk down a steep, manmade staircase! Such a cool experience

Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary 

One of my favorite pictures: world from the door!
Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel
Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel

Next up, we have a field trip to Dublin on Friday, September 3rd! In Dublin, we visited the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street and the Christ Church Cathedral–in both places we got to explore Viking Dublin! Here are the pictures from both sites!

The National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street 

Gold Lunulas at the National Museum
National Museum of Ireland
I am very fond of floor art/tile panels–this one is so beautiful; also located at the National Museum of Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

City views in Dublin
More floor art–this is at the Christ Church Cathedral!
Holy Cross group at the Christ Church Cathedral
Picture of me outside of the Cathedral!
This is THE Christ Church Cathedral (view from the outside)
This picture and all the rest that follow are of all the things that caught my eye while exploring the Cathedral and the 12th-century crypt that lies underneath the Cathedral

Alrighty, to continue on, the following field trip was to West Cork on Monday, September, 6th, where we saw quite a few important sites including, Garranes Ringfort, Ballinacarriga Tower House, Coppinger’s Court, and Dromberg: Stone Circle and Fulachta Fiadh. All of these sites hold a lot of significant value to Ireland’s history–I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to visit all these sites and learn from each place. Here are my favorite captured moments:

Garranes Ringfort 

To get to the ringfort, we had to walk through tall grass (literally up to my waist)–it was an adventure
Jany + nature (in moderation) = happiness

Ballinacarriga Tower House 

We had to walk up a very old and steep staircase to get to the very top of the Tower House; the Tower House holds a lot of well-preserved historical treasures!
This is the Tower House from the outside

Coppinger’s Court 

Unfortunately, we were not able to get any closer to the fortified house as it is not stable nor safe enough but this is Coppinger’s Court, built in the year 1616
Cute cows that live next to Coppinger’s Court!

Dromberg: Stone Circle and Fulachta Fiadh 

We have officially made it to the last field trip of the class: on Thursday, September 9th, 2021, we headed off to The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher–an iconic attraction in Ireland. In the region known as the Burren we got to see Corcomroe Abbey (a Cistercian monastery) and Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. Here are some pictures from all of the last sites we saw in the archeology class!

Corcomroe Abbey 

As we can see by this image, modern-day burials have become popular at the Corcomroe Abbey
Lily-of-the-valley carving on a pillar at the Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey ruins

Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

This picture of me shows just how unique the landschape of the Burren is!
In front of the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb!
Poulnabrone Portal Tomb
Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

The Cliffs of Moher

It was a cloudy and foggy day near the Cliffs but increadibly beautiful nonetheless!

Overall, as you all can see, the Early Start Program was such an incredible experience. I am so thankful that I was able to be part of an amazing program. It was quite literally the best possible introduction to Ireland I could have asked for–to see so many places and learn so much in a short period of time is a dream!

Alright everyone, that about wraps everything up for this blog. When you see this blog I would have already started classes (stay tuned for the next blog)–and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience thus far at University College Cork! See you soon!

Take care!

-JMG (: