HI AGAIN! I saw another study abroad student who did a question/answer thing in her blog, and I thought it was a really good idea, because when people talk to me about my experience they usually ask the same several questions. Plus I have literally nothing to do right now and I’m super antsy so this is a good way to entertain myself.

Q: What are your classes like?

A: Classes here are structured pretty differently. Lectures meet once a week for two hours at a time with a ten minute break in the middle. Sitting through a two-hour lecture is as painfully boring as it sounds. Luckily, all of my classes transfer back to U of I directly. I’m in a BADM 323 equivalent, BADM 374 equivalent, a starred marketing elective (services marketing), and an international business elective (Irish history). Yay! Another main difference is that the final is worth a ton of your final grade, which will be very stressful in about two weeks. Finally, the grading scale is extremely different. Getting a 70% or above is considered an A, yet an A is supposedly still pretty difficult to obtain, which is unfortunate. Interestingly, the Irish students all seem pretty content with simply passing the class, which you only need a 50% to do. Consequently, all the study abroad students come across as type A psychos, which maybe we are.

Q: What’s your living situation?

A: I live in a house off-campus with 5 other girls: 2 are from U of I, 2 are from Tulane, and 1 is from George Washington. Living off-campus is fun because we’re close to the city center, groceries, and it’s easier to go out. However, we have to rely on the horrible Dublin Bus system to get to class, which is annoying and unreliable. It also is slightly obnoxious when we have to stay on campus all day sometimes to do group projects, use the library, etc., because we end up buying food on campus and being gone all day. Finally, if you’ve never gotten to hear me rant about this, the house’s WiFi is THE WORST EVER. It goes out at least twice an hour, and half the time if we’re all home my computer won’t even connect. Can’t deal. This is also an issue because most cafes close early, by 7pm, and our school library/buildings close at 10. Clearly the Irish are not supporters of late night studying?

Q: Were you friends with your roommates/people from your program before coming here?

A: Nope! I had met some of the U of I kids at our orientation/meetings last semester before leaving, but I didn’t actually know any of them. My friend Medha and I learned we have like a million mutual friends and would run into each other every Thursday night, so we were pretty excited to spend a semester together, but I didn’t actually know anyone really well before coming. However, most of the U of I kids have become pretty good friends, and we’re planning LOTSSSS of reunion activities over the summer and back at U of I 😉 yay!

Q: Do you go to class or do any work, ever?

A: This question annoys me. I’m still taking 4 upper-level courses in my major, I still go to class, and I still do work. Additionally, I took 19 credit hours my spring sophomore semester and will be taking 18 when I get back to make up for a lighter course load this semester. The difference is that I get to take awesome trips every weekend, but during the week I still have quite a bit to do. This was especially true earlier in the semester when I was doing 1-2 group projects a week. Yes, my life is incredibly awesome, but I still do obnoxious homework just like everyone else. God.

Q: Do people ever think you’re Irish?

Lol no. Never. I fit in okay because I’m super pale and have light hair and features, but once I open my mouth people can tell I’m from America, and the really smart ones can tell I’m from Chicago. Additionally, the Irish tend to dress up and look nicer for life in general, so when I do things like wear leggings and a noodie to class it becomes pretty obvious. Also, Irish girls look extremely “done up” to go to class… full make up, straightened and teased hair, fake tan, the works. I don’t get it… it’s 9am; what time did you get up to start this process, and was it really worth it?

Q: What are the biggest differences between Ireland and America?

A: Luckily, Ireland is not a dramatically different place than home, because people speak English and many of the products we would use at home are more available here than they would be in other parts of Europe. The biggest and nicest difference is that every single Irish person is super friendly and kind, and they seem to enjoy Americans, which is great. The Irish spend less time working and more time enjoying life. Actually, from what I can tell, this is true in all of Europe. The most difficult difference is that those convenient, one-stop superstores we have like Target and Walmart simply do not exist here or in Europe in general. There’s a grocery store, a pharmacy, and oddly specific specialty stores, but I’m still not sure where I would go to get stuff for a kitchen, or a nice set of sheets, or something like that… luckily our house came with all that or I’d probably still be without. I REALLY MISS TARGET.

On a similar note, studying abroad creates a different college experience in general. Despite taking a normal-ish course load, I only spend 9 hours a week in class, and I have no chapter, exec, sorority events, etc. to keep me busy, so I have WAY more time on my hands than I’m used to during the week when I’m not traveling. So once my homework is done I usually don’t know what to do with myself. For entertainment, I have been watching Modern Family on Netflix UK when my internet works, and reading for fun when it doesn’t. I think I’ve read like 10 books this semester, which is not usually something I would do during the school year.

Q: Are you homesick?

A: Despite my track record in my youth as being the child who would get homesick at sleepovers and have to go home early, I was never really that homesick. I had some brief culture shock that was exacerbated by the fact that I was jet lagged for a week, but as Ireland is not overly different from home, that wasn’t really wasn’t an issue once I got on a real sleep schedule. I have brief flashes of extreme homesickness at random times, like when all my besties are at Thursday Night Bro’s, Unofficial, the Indiana buzzer beater, the snow day, random things that would have been really fun to be at… but then I remember I’m traveling the world and I feel better. I do really really miss my family, friends, and the convenience of life in the States, though.

Q: Are you ready to go home?

A: I briefly mentioned this in my last point, but the answer is no, not really. I have brief moments where I’m like OMG I MISS AMERICA like when my wifi won’t connect and I need to do something or when I realize how none of our kitchen appliances actually work. But, my dad and grandma will be here this weekend, I’m going to Barcelona the following weekend, and I’ll be in Portugal for a few days the following week. Then I have a few more things in Dublin I want to see. But once finals are over and I’m totally drained from them I think I’ll be ready to get home! Though I already know I’ll miss Ireland and being abroad a ton next year/forever.

Q: Why did you pick Ireland?

A: I used to want to study in Barcelona, but then I learned they speak Catalan and only let three students in, so I let go of that dream pretty quick. But then I saw there was a program in Ireland and I was like… yes. I’m super Irish and thought it would be amazing to spend the country in the homeland, and I was right 🙂 It would have been nice to study on the continent of Europe for some easier travel, but I honestly have no real complaints about my location. Ireland is amazing and I would encourage everyone to visit if they can!

Q: (vague questions about Irish stereotypes)

A: Yes, it rains more than at home, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought it would be. January and February were definitely unpleasant, but that would be true at home as well. The difference is that when it’s cold here, it’s a damp cold that stays with you for hours, so that part is definitely NOT fun.

Yes, the pub culture here is pretty strong, but Dublin is not full of a bunch of alcoholics staggering around every night. I have not noticed an abnormal amount of drinking, but I am a college student at U of I, so I might be biased on that. Also, during the week, pubs close super early, which I hadn’t expected. But during the weekends you can bet all of the pubs and clubs will be full of people looking for the craic – Gaelic for “fun!”

That’s all I can think of for now! Hope you enjoyed a little insight into my ever interesting thoughts. Have a good day!