Revision Week: Putting the “Study” in Study Abroad
Despite the content of the majority of my previous blogs, my trip to Ireland hasn’t been all about traveling around Europe with friends and family. Sometimes even I forget that the main reason that I’m here is to study. But have no fear. This past week has put me in my place. Well, sort of. Today begins the exam period here at UCD and classes finished up a week ago. So that means that last week, I had nothing but time to start my exam preparations. As I am the queen of procrastination, it should come as no shock that I managed to squeeze a few episodes of The O.C. into my study time in the name of taking a break, which sometimes lasted much longer than I had planned. However, I did manage to get some studying done and so far, I’m feeling okay about my exams. At least for the next hour. I tend to vacillate between calm and confident one moment, and a panicking mess the next. But that’s pretty much true of every semester when it comes to exam time.
I’ve mentioned before that academics here in Ireland (and from what I gather, all of Europe for that matter) are a bit different from what I have experienced in the states. My attempts to study last week made that quite a bit more obvious than it has been all semester. The education system here is much more independent, in which students are responsible for the majority of their learning. Lectures are useful for general information which will definitely be helpful for exams. Seminars are supposed to be a way to explore topics more thoroughly through discourse which is great, in theory. Unfortunately, I only had a seminar for one of my classes with an exam and it didn’t exactly prove to fit the description of a seminar. But, you have to roll with the punches and I’m sure that I will make do. Anyway, my point is that a lot of learning comes from the individual student’s efforts and I have made an attempt all semester to keep up with the slightly different pace, but perhaps not as much as I would have done at home. I mean, I’m in Ireland. I want to enjoy my time here and not be too bogged down with stress over my classes. But don’t fret, Mom and Dad! I’m not saying that I totally slacked off and didn’t read anything. It’s just a matter of revisiting important topics.
And there is the crux of the matter. With such a wide range of topics discussed over the course of a semester, and very little distinct exam information, who is to say what the most important topics are? This is the question that I kept asking myself during my moments of panic last week. My classes have gone over such a large amount of history and information that at points, I have found it difficult to pinpoint the key facts or theories. And, since everything is mostly lecture based, I haven’t had much of a chance to discuss my ideas and theories, so for all I know, I could be totally off base. For someone who has come from an educational environment in which discussion is key and exam tips have generally been laid out pretty clearly, this has been a little stressful, not to mention nervewracking. But on the eve before my first Irish exam, I keep reminding myself of something that one of my lecturers said in our last class; “You know more than you think you know.” I’ve gone to all my lectures and seminars, I’ve done the important readings, I’ve taken notes. I have all the pertinent information in front of me. It’s a little disconcerting not to know exactly how I stand in the class in terms of grades, but I’m confident enough to at least know that I’ll be fine in the end. I always manage to surprise myself, so here’s hoping that my lecturer was right!
Of course, with a whole week off, I did make a little time for fun in between studying and The O.C. Friday night, a few of my friends and I decided to reward ourselves for our studying and we headed to O’Neill’s for a few drinks and some live music. We even met a very nice couple from North Carolina, college basketball fans who had been following Butler during their NCAA run last year and the year before. It was fantastic to finally meet some fellow fans and they even bought us a round of Guinness as we chatted! On Sunday, the girls and I headed out to the Dun Laoghaire Farmer’s Market since Susan hadn’t been yet and we only have a few Sundays left together in Dublin. Unfortunately, it was cold and windy and altogether a very poor day for outdoor food markets. As windy as it was, the sea was more turbulent than I had ever seen it! It was really beautiful to see the waves crashing up on the rocks. A pretty awesome sight to see before I head back to Indiana!
Speaking of heading back to Indiana, I really can’t believe that I only have two weeks left in Dublin. I have exams Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, then I have all of next week to myself before my flight home on the fifteenth! I’m planning to make a trip out to Galway next Tuesday and there are still some things in Dublin that I’d like to see or revisit before I head home. Packing is probably going to be a nightmare, so it’s a good thing I have a whole week to do it, but knowing me I’ll probably save it until the last possible moment. I can’t wait to see all of my friends and family at home, but it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Ireland and all the great people that I’ve met since I got here. But I’m not going to worry about that just yet. I have to get through my exams first, so it’s back to the grindstone for now!
Wish me luck!