The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is exactly 4053.95 miles away from Trinity College Dublin. I distinctly remember the excitement and giddiness that coursed through my veins at the time of my acceptance because I had dreamed of studying abroad at Trinity College since the beginning of my college experience. Trinity is a world-renowned institution and I knew I wanted to challenge my own views and grow as a global citizen here. Throughout the application process, I repeatedly read and heard about how different the American educational system is to Ireland, however, I did not fully grasp how different it would be until I was sitting in an auditorium at orientation thousands of miles away from home.
Back home, I attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which is a large land-grant university home to 20,000 undergraduate students that spans across three campuses around the city. Since the first day of freshman year back home, I remember being overwhelmed by the size of the campus itself and the number of students. However, I quickly adjusted to the large class sizes, the vast campus, and being away from home for the first time (even though it is only 45 minutes from my hometown). After 2.5 years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I felt as though I had finally found my balance between my academics, work, and extra-curricular activities. However, I decided that I needed a change of pace and I wanted to challenge myself academically and made the decision to attend Trinity College Dublin for a semester abroad, which had ended up being one of the best decisions I have made for myself.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, academics are structured differently than Trinity College Dublin. Back home, there are countless assessments such as response papers, presentations, midterms, research papers, and finals scattered across the length of the entire semester. In addition, if the lecture is assigned a tutorial, or otherwise known as a recitation back home it is every single week, unlike Trinity where they are every other week. Therefore, one of the biggest adjustments thus far to Trinity has been how different the academics are to back home.
Trinity offers a wide variety of challenging courses for students and involves a significant amount of independent work. Professors assign numerous articles and readings throughout the week. At first, it was difficult to keep up with the readings because of the amount that was assigned. The steps I took to adjust to the environment was to find a routine, which was vital for me and my academic success. I found comfort and relaxation in the library and the Arts Building. I have spent time preparing for my lectures and catching up with friends in those buildings on campus. In addition, I have utilized my planner more and have begun creating a schedule for myself and goals throughout the week to make sure I am staying on track and completing everything that is due in a timely manner. This has given me more flexibility on the weekends for I can spend more time exploring Dublin and traveling as well.
Yet, my academic experience at Trinity has been worthwhile. I have interacted with students and professors who are from around the world, the content being learned is enriching, and I have made friends with a diverse number of students. This experience is more than I could have asked for. As with any new environment, it is essential to ask for help when needed, create a schedule that works for you, and treat yourself every now and then to a cup of coffee.