Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

I Keep Forgetting I Need to Study During Study Abroad!

My goodness these blog posts are long overdue! It is so easy to lose track of time over here. Since Ireland is technically an island, I think it’s acceptable to say that I’m permanently “on island time.” 😉  It has already been three weeks since spring break and wow has it been a busy three weeks. School-wise, this semester has been the least stressful out of all of my time in college. The courses work a bit differently here than they do back home. We have lectures once or twice a week for each class, with an additional hour-long tutorial, where the class is split into smaller groups to discuss the week’s material. That being said, I’m only in classes three days a week and I have Mondays and Fridays free. By the time Saturday rolls around, I usually forget what day it is because my schedule is so wacky!

picnic Picnic in the Botanic Gardens after class


During orientation, many of the presentations focused on explaining the structure of courses in the UK, and it was pretty intimidating. We were told that most of the semester would consist of self-teaching/learning, which would be done by tackling our extensive reading lists. Now, I’ll admit that even though reading is my all-time favorite activity, if a reading list is listed under the heading “optional,” there’s a likely chance that I won’t do it. Usually I’ll check the book out of the library and peruse it before class, but for the most part, I haven’t really touched the reading lists for some of my courses. I prefer to learn from my professors rather than teaching myself because after all, aren’t they more educated on the course material than I am? I guess that’s a part of life, though. I can’t always have someone guide me; I have to learn how to navigate life by myself. That’s called independence and responsibility, right? I’m not a fan.

Treehouse Reading in the Treehouse


Anyways, these weeks have been busy because they have been jam-packed with presentations and research reports. Since the courses are mostly structured around the reading lists, there are rarely assignments. In my classes, my grades are determined by my attendance, essays, presentations, and for one, an exam. In one course in particular, I have two projects: a presentation and an essay, the latter is worth 75% of my final grade! Yikes!

The first crop of deadlines all seemed to fall in the two weeks after spring break. I wrote a 23-page research report (ok, it sounds more impressive when I don’t mention that it was double spaced and included a cover page, interview transcript, appendix, and reference list) and to do that, Natasha and I spent an entire weekend in the library. I’m not even joking. Friday-Monday was spent on the first floor (AKA USA second floor) by the sunny windows and noisy blinds, for an average of 8 hours each day. We took breaks for Boojum and Natasha had an endless of supply of lollipops to keep us going, but by the time the Tuesday deadline rolled around, I was sick of the library. Now that I think about it, I haven’t stepped foot on the first floor since I finished that paper.

snapchat Snapchat is a great distraction


After I turned in that assignment I had a presentation for my sociology class and then another one in my Northern Ireland tutorial the following day. This past week I have been catching up on all of the sleep I lost the week prior, and I still don’t think I’m caught up!

Tigger sleeping This is my cat Tigger. He sleeps a lot. I don’t.


I remember going into the semester I kept being reminded that it would be difficult to balance school work with traveling, meeting new people, and exploring new places. I brushed off the warnings because I’m pretty sure I heard the same things when I started my freshman year at UVM. Now I realize that every study abroad website I read was right, is it hard to balance. But it’s a bizarre type of balancing. It’s easy to forget that I’m actually still a student while I’m at Queen’s. It’s easy to ignore the study aspect of study abroad. Between spending more time outside of class than in class, having very few assignments, and getting used to a new grading system that apparently makes a 75 a really high grade (I’m not even going to try to explain it because I don’t understand it), it honestly doesn’t feel like I’m a student all of the time. That makes it hard to balance my time because more often than not it feels like I don’t have much school work at all. When I do have assignments, like I did last week, they consume all of my time because so much emphasis is placed on them when considering our final marks.

sunset Late night working at the Treehouse


I’d rather not think about the three essays I have due in two weeks, so I’m going to go London for the weekend and prolong starting the assignments even more!


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