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 (: