By: Madison Tucky (Visiting Student – Trinity Department: English – Home University: University of Southern California, English and Narrative Studies Major)
One of the things that I was most nervous about when deciding to study abroad was the difference in academics between Trinity and my home university. I spent a long time before arriving in Ireland pouring over the classes that I could take and trying to figure out what the best schedule would be. Normally I’m used to registering for classes online, but visiting students at Trinity register in person on paper, and that idea made me worry a little bit. I wasn’t sure exactly what the procedure would be or how hard it would be to get the classes that I wanted, but luckily I am just studying English here and so only had to go to the English Department information session to figure out exactly what I needed to do. From there it was pretty easy to get into the classes that I had picked out for myself. From there it was just time to actually start attending classes.
Being from the United States, Trinity’s policies are quite different from what I’ve known. For example, I’m used to having several tests and essays throughout the year that count towards my grade, and then once classes end I have a little less than a week of study days before a week of finals. Here however I have two classes that have two graded assignments, and two classes that only have one assignment. At Trinity, classes end earlier than in the U.S. and then there are three weeks of study days and three weeks of finals. It’s been strange adjusting to this, since it means that I have less work to do during the term. I don’t have to work on projects or essays every week to be turned in soon; I just have deadlines that exist in the distant future. I’m pretty used to doing things at the last minute, so realizing that I needed to think ahead and plan out time to work throughout the term on my final papers, as they encompass basically my whole grade, was definitely an adjustment, but I’ve figured out a system that works for me.
As for the classes themselves, I’m really enjoying them. I’m sure how your term will go depends on what you’re taking, but I’ve found myself very interested in my readings, and due to the small class sizes, I’ve been really engaged in the discussions. My favorite class has been Contemporary Irish Fiction with Professor Paul Delaney. He’s a fascinating lecturer who really, really loves talking about Irish literature and you can tell that he knows exactly what he’s talking about. I’ve really enjoyed this class because we’re reading books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but are on subjects that I’m very interested in. They’re also helpful in learning about Irish culture, so I come out of class feeling like I have a better understanding of the country that I’m living in. My favorite book has been The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, which is heartbreaking to read but is just a masterful story that Professor Delaney really loved discussing with the class. It’s a book I’m definitely going to reread once the term is over, and that’s not something I say about the majority of school books that I have to read. I would definitely recommend both the class and the professor.
I’m also really enjoying my class on Gothic Fiction with Amy Prendergast. Again, the books are ones I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up on my own, and Gothic Fiction is definitely not a topic that I knew a lot about before starting the class. I feel like I’m learning a lot from Amy and that I can participate every class even without being super familiar with the subject area. I’m also taking a class on Irish Writing from 1890 to 1945, which has definitely been helpful as this year is the centennial celebration of the 1916 rising and the works that we are reading almost all have to do with the rising, whether it’s leading up to it or the adjustment of society afterwards. I feel like I’m really getting a lot of historical context from my classes that helps me understand Ireland better, whereas in America I would not be learning as much history in English classes. The rigor of the classes seems relatively the same so far, but the lack of assignments has definitely been an adjustment I’ve had to figure out. Luckily it hasn’t been too difficult and I’ve found that I’m really enjoying going to class and learning without having to stress about the mountain of work I have due every week. We’ll see how I feel at the end of the term I guess!