by Katie King
It’s the last week of classes, which means a few things for me. My time in Ireland is almost done, the deadlines for my final assignments are starting to creep up and summer is almost here.
While I normally love the end of the academic year because for me it means leaving school and living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for three and a half months, this year it is particularly bittersweet. I have dreamed of studying in Ireland for as long as I can remember and to think I only have one more month in this country is truly heartbreaking. Even though I know that I’ll will be returning at some point, it’s difficult to imagine not waking up in Dublin every morning. The past three months have been a dream but the reality of my school responsibilities are slowly materializing.
Still, one of the biggest challenges while studying here (besides learning to understand the heavy accent) has been adjusting to the Irish school system. Irish students spend a lot less time in the classroom than their American counterparts and learning course material is much more self-motivated. Grades in most classes depend on one or two major assignments or exams at the end of the semester, whereas in the states, students can have quizzes every week, three essays due a term and an exam for just one course on top of all the required reading. Coming from an American school system to an Irish one almost seemed like taking a semester off. Until now.
When choosing classes for this semester, I noted whether or not the courses were 100% continuous assessment bases, 100% examination based or a mixture of the two. Personally, I am not a good test taker. Studying for examinations has always been painful for me, but I love to write. I always excel in classes that require more writing and analysis than the regurgitation of information. I decided at the beginning of the semester that I would try and pick classes with 100% continuous assessment requirements in order to be academically successful.
Studying abroad has been an amazing experience that I will never forget. I’ve gotten to travel to several different countries, see most of the country of Ireland and I have made amazing memories along the way. That being said, I have not put in quite as much effort into my studies as I normally do at home. My weekends have been spent exploring foreign countries, giving me very little opportunity to catch up on my courses. I recommend for any student who is considering studying abroad to try and make sure their course schedule plays to their strengths so when the examination period comes around they don’t go into a panic. Even though I will be spending the next week or so working on a number of essays for my courses, it does not scare me as much as it would if I was having to prepare for five examinations.