U.S. vs. Ireland
Here at the University of Limerick (UL), full time students are given a timetable (a class schedule), where as the international students have the first two weeks to figure out their timetables. This is a stressful process. We as international students are allowed to and encouraged to attend as many lectures as we can during the first two weeks. It’s like a sampler platter. We are able to get a little taste of everything that might even slightly peak our interest. I like this process in part, but I it’s also chaos and you have a lot of Irish students staring at you wondering why you are there. I’m not trying to make the Irish sound not as welcoming because they are SO friendly, but it’s just the feeling you get walking into a room knowing no one and seeing that everyone else knows each other. There have been plenty of times when I have stopped random Irish students to ask where a classroom is our how to log into the computer and other questions like that. They’ve always been so happy to help me, so they are quite welcoming people, which I love.
How modules work
Students take modules at UL. A module is more than just a class; it’s lectures, labs, and/or tutorials. Almost all modules have lectures, which you are required to attend. Then there are typically choices of labs and tutorials for you to attend. But, you only have to attend one of the tutorials offered and one of the labs. So, all of your lectures might fit together in your schedule, but then when you look at the labs and tutorials, your schedule can turn into a mess. Also, they refer to weeks quite frequently here, so dates aren’t used as frequently. Tutorials and labs typically don’t start until the Week 3 (third week of classes).
My timetable experience
One may think it wouldn’t be too difficult to get 5 modules to fit together in one timetable with no overlap. Wrong. I had a list of 10 modules I thought sounded very interesting (writing for the web to project management to architectural drawing), but every single one of them over lapped. Well, that means going back to the drawing board and searching for more modules that sounded interesting. Maybe I could do some journalism modules to help with my writing skills? I want to take an Irish culture module of some sort, but I definitely can’t dance. Are there any other media arts modules that I have the prerequisites for? By Sunday evening, hours before the first day of classes, I finally was able to come across classes that sounded interesting and fit together in my schedule.
It was Monday morning and I woke up, got breakfast, and went to wander around this massive campus to find SG21A for my 9am tutorial in Irish Folklore (that supposedly started Week 1). I found the classroom and a few other international students came and we waited. It was 9am and there were still only 7 international students and no lecturer. We had been told the Irish aren’t the most timely people, so we decided to wait until 15 after. Still no sign of a lecturer. So, we left. I had no other lectures that day, so I was my first day of classes in Ireland.
Tuesday morning came and I was very excited for the classes that day: Digital Media Software & Systems and Writing for the Web. I attend the Digital Media lab and realize as the lecturer began that I had already done everything in this class. It was an intro to Photoshop and Illustrator. Well, classes are going “great” at UL… Afterwards, I talked to the lecturer and he gave me a list of modules that would potentially work well for me based on my current knowledge, which was really helpful! I went to the Writing for the Web class, again excited (I have design and coding skills, but when it comes to writing, sometimes I struggle to be condense in my wording), to find out it would be another review for me. In that class they make a WordPress Blog, a Google Site, and talk a very tiny bit about writing for the web, but not much. So, I had to rework my schedule. Again. I looked at the classes the Digital Media lecturer suggested and found a couple that would fit in my schedule. Yay!
Wednesday I finally attended a couple classes that I am very excited about! In the morning, we had the Irish Folklore lecture; it was filled with international students and 1 lone Irish student. In that class we will have a video research project we will do with a partner and an in class essay for our final. During out first tutorial (which she said starts week 3), we are doing an art project, so that’s exciting! Afterwards I went to a Creative Coding class. I wasn’t sure what exactly it was about, but I left being very excited. This class focuses on using code to make art. We have a unit on live coding (there are many different types of live coding; not all create music), which seems very difficult but also really cool! The lecturer said many live coders will DJ at bars and joked that maybe the class will have to go to a bar to experience a live coder as a DJ. After that class, I had 10 minutes to book it to the other side of campus (and find the classroom) for the magazine journalism class. This class sounds very interesting, but unfortunately there is probably not room for me because of the number of students and computers. Katie and I then went and had lunch before attending Current Issues in Irish Media — Not taking that class. It’s way too much work and pretty much requires that you have a background in journalism, which I definitely don’t have…
I got accepted to the UL Practicum, the civic engagement related class I discussed in a previous post!!!! 🙂 I’m working with a girl named Emma (she’s from Wisconsin) at St. Gabriels School in Limerick. We got to visit our site advisor at St. Gabriels this morning. It’s a really cool place. Youth between the ages of 4 and 18 who have any type of disability can attend this school and get specialized services they may require. Kate, our site supervisor, is the fundraising coordinator and is very passionate about the non-profit, which is wonderful. But, she loves to talk and so the amount of information she told us was a little overwhelming. Emma and I both left not knowing exactly what she wanted us to do in the long run, but we’ll figure it out. We do know that she wants to promote the new Children’s Respite Centre that is being built in 2018. There are going to be 5 bedrooms plus hang out spaces so parents can send their children on “vacation” and have a break at home. They still need donations in order to have the funding, so Emma and I will probably be doing marketing brochures/flyers for Kate to take to events at which she speaks.
That afternoon, I attended my Creative Coding lab (it’s from 4-6pm… that’s when I need food… so I left on the verge of being hangry. Oops! I’ll bring food next time). We got down to work, so we worked with OpenFrameworks to learn the basics of how they work. I understood most of what was going on, but some was a little unclear to me. I’m pretty sure I will take this class and it will be fine, but I’ll have to confirm with the lecturer.
No classes! Three day weekend every week! 🙂 (presuming my timetable stays how it is; I think it will). There are a couple lectures I will attend on Monday and Tuesday before finalizing my timetable and turning in my registration form, but my Fridays will probably stay open! Yay!
There is a bouldering wall on campus! It is open from 7-10pm Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, so Tailor and I plan to go all three days every week (presuming we have the time). It was an adventure to find it because it’s in a storage building hiding behind some bushes across from the athletic center. Tailor and I had to ask a security guard for directions because no one knew where it was…
We went in and met some people from the Outdoor Pursuits Club (OPC) and introduced ourselves. They started chuckling and told us Ireland’s famous boxer is named Katie Taylor, so we always have to come together otherwise they won’t remember our names.
It has been fun being able to climb on campus! I can already feel my strength increasing after only 3 days of climbing (Monday I felt so weak…)! And, we’ve been able to meet so many OPC members, so it’s nice beginning to feel like we are part of the group (and they all love that our names are Katy and Tailor).
The bouldering wall was constructed by an architect that knows nothing about climbing, so it makes for some very creative boulder problems. Also, it’s wayyyyy sturdier (aka outrageously expensive to build) than any climbing wall needs to be. But, with that being said, it’s better that it is overly sturdy rather than not sturdy enough.
I found peanut butter and it’s delicious! No more panicking that I would need to survive a semester without peanut butter.
Tailor and I are going on an OPC hike on Sunday, so stay tuned for weekend adventure stories (and pictures!). Also, keep posted for my finalized timetable. I’m also planning on posting about Irish slang and living in Ireland (stories of me failing to operate the stove and things like that). Comment with suggestions! Which topics do you want to hear about first!