So one of the most difficult things about adjusting to life here in Limerick was definitely putting my class schedule together. At USF, we all know the drill- you just figure out what classes you need and, if you’re hopelessly confused, meet your advisor to straighten everything out before registering yourself online. That’s not even close to how it’s done here!
At the University of Limerick, Irish students have a lot less freedom in what classes they’re able to take. They have to choose their course (AKA their major) before coming to university because every semester is already planned out for them depending on what they’re studying. This sounds kinda nice, right? Not having to stress over figuring out which classes you need to take when must relieve a lot of stress. However, note that I said Irish students.
International students don’t have this luxury.
No, how things work for internationals is more than a little chaotic. Before coming to UL, we all submitted a list of classes that we would like to take, which the university used to build our timetables (class schedules). So, when you arrive for orientation, you have a rough idea of what it would look like if you took everything you originally planned to take.
What they don’t tell you is that while most classes have multiple times available for tutorials, there’s only one open time slot per lecture, so if your classes interfere, you have to rebuild your schedule from scratch. I was very lucky the university gives you the first two weeks to figure all of this out because I was scheduled to be in two classes at once on Mondays and three at once on Fridays, which obviously isn’t feasible. So, for the first two weeks of the semester, I just popped in and out of classes as I pleased until I had a sort-of-decent schedule that I can work with. Here’s what it looks like:
10:00-10:50: Gothic Literature in Ireland
1:00-2:50: Irish Folklore
4:00-5:50: Abnormal and Clinical Psychology
3:00-3:50: Irish Folklore tutorial
10:00-10:50: Gothic Lit tutorial
1:00-1:50: Gothic Literature in Ireland
3:00-5:50: History of the Holocaust
So basically, most classes here are split into shorter lectures twice a week plus a tutorial (tutorials are just like lectures, just in smaller groups). My schedule, though, is a bit different. Most of my professors have opted for longer lectures so we meet less often. While this sounds really nice (and it is), when you sit in that 3 hour history class every Friday night while all of your friends here are traveling around Ireland, you sometimes question your life choices.
It’s alright, though. At the end of the day, I’ll be drowning in projects and papers in about a month regardless of what time my classes are. There isn’t really homework, and most classes don’t have exams throughout the semester. Instead, every class has a bunch of huge assignments due at about the same times during the semester (for me, most things are due week 9 (the first week of November) and week 11 (the third week of November). After that is the last week of classes, followed by a revision week before the two-week exam period. So even though I’m here for almost 17 weeks, I really only have about 10 weeks of classes.
In any case, I’m getting my bearings, and I think I’ve finally adjusted to how exactly this all works (and it only took me about month)!