Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paige M. - Cork, Ireland - Spring 2011

Greetings from Ireland, future study abroad-ers!  I hope your spring semester is treating you well so far, and if it’s not, don’t worry!  You have something very exciting to look forward to.
My name is Paige and I’ve been in Ireland for almost eight weeks now.  I am studying at University College Cork and I’m having the best time.  I am quickly setting into the local way of thinking, in that I believe that Cork is Ireland’s real capital.  Go Rebels! It is the second largest city in Ireland and I’ve been told it is the last true Irish city.  Whatever your opinion is, one cannot deny that Cork is one cool place.  Very active, it caters to college students and older adults as well.  It’s a nice co-mingling and there is rarely a dull moment, unless it’s Saturday or Sunday morning.  The city doesn’t wake up on the weekends until about noon. 

When you get to where ever it is you are going, you may find some cultural differences harder to get over than others.  I think the hardest one for me, and most of my American friends here, is the time.  Everyone in Ireland is “late.”  And I mean everyone.  It is how their society is run.  Take classes for example.  The lecturer (professor) is never in the room at the time class is supposed to start.  In fact, the lecturer is often one of the last one’s in the room, walking in at 5, maybe 10 minutes past.  I’ve been to pubs where live music gigs start a half hour after what it says on the poster.  I’m getting much better at not anxiously watching the clock to make sure I’ve not been stood up by my friends.  You just have to recognize it as a cultural difference.  (These terms you learn in class actually do apply to real life situations! And they can help!)

I have been traveling a lot around Ireland on the weekends.  The fact that I have no class on Fridays helps.  Another cultural difference: lecturers don’t want to teach on Fridays just as much as students don’t want to learn on Fridays.  Or early in the morning for that matter. No class starts before 9 AM here.  And it is rare to get a Friday class.  I am in love with my class schedule! But, as I mentioned, traveling.  It is so easy! I have been to Blarney, Connemara, the Aran Islands, Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and the Cliffs of Moher.  I have plans to go to Northern Ireland and the Ring of Kerry in the next few weeks.  I have the entire month of April off, so I’ll be doing continental Europe traveling then.  It sounds like vacation, but trust me it’s not. I’ve got three or four essays that need to be done before that, so my weeks are spent doing work.  If you manage your time properly, you can get plenty of work done during the day, and still be able to go out at night and on weekends.  It’s all great craic (irish slang term for fun, pronounced like “crack”).

I live with two other Americans, and two Irish girls.  It has helped so much in integrating myself into the culture a bit more.  They’ve been so nice, and have even invited us to stay in their homes for a weekend.  We’ve become really close friends, and if I weren’t living with them, I know I would have a harder time dealing with cultural differences.  A piece of advice: get involved in something.  It sounds cheesy but it’s one of the only ways you’ll meet fellow students at your university.  You don’t even need to technically sign up for anything, just go to a few events and see who’s there.  It works.

Let me end with this. You are in good company and very trustworthy hands.  If you pay attention, listen to Alice, and take the time to properly prepare yourself for this experience, you will be grateful.  Enjoy getting ready and get excited! It’s going to be great.



Anonymous Renee Altosino said...

Wow, Ireland looks beautiful and sounds amazing! I think it's interesting how you mentioned the pace of things in Ireland,and how it is very different from the fast pace in America. It sounds like the people and the environment is very laid back and relaxing! Thanks for sharing!

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the things that Elmhurst College emphasizes is getting involved, and I find it interesting that you also place importance on getting involved. While I plan on going to Scotland instead of Ireland, I still plan on taking your advice and getting involved on campus.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Paige said...

It is so relaxed here, and it took a while to get used to it! It seems odd but it was a bit difficult to tell myself that it was okay to relax and take my time. Especially since I was surrounded by a group of Americans. We were all on edge trying to get to places on time, and we didn't need to be. We were actually extremely early for everything for the first few weeks.

Definitely get involved! You will be so grateful. You meet people with similar interests, and it's a super easy conversation starter! Plus, you come back with experiences. It's much better than sitting in your room all day. I've heard Scotland is gorgeous (I'm going for a quick visit in May and I'm pretty excited).

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Jessica Thompson said...

Reading your blog makes me even more excited for my study abroad trip than I already am! I'm going to be studying in Galway this coming fall and have heard a lot of great things about it so far. Reading about your personal experience really adds though! I like how you are getting to travel all around Ireland and can see more than just the city you are staying at. I'll definitely take your advice of managing my time and get my work done so I can take the opportunity to explore!

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you had 2 or 3 tips for registering for classes in a foreign country. I am a sophmore and will be nearly done with most of the coursework for my major (economics) when I study in Scotland, but I still have 2 gen eds left that I can take.

-Matt Rohde

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Jessica T. said...

I've read a lot of blogs from people who are studying in Ireland just trying to prepare myself for my own study abroad trip. I know you mentioned how the different views towards time was hard to get used to, was there any other kind of major culture shock you went through? I sometimes think Ireland is a civilized, English speaking country, how much culture shock could there be? However, I know this is a very wrong interpretation so I was wondering what your personal experience with the new culture was?

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you tell me a little bit more about your own experiences with culture shock? You mentioned everyone being late, but is there anything else you noticed?

-Matt Rohde

9:23 AM  

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