Academics in Ireland
You will find in Ireland a wide range of classes, and the phenomenal opportunity to take classes alongside local Irish students.
There are some key differences, though, that you will want to wrap your mind around before you leave to set yourself up for success abroad:
1) Classes are often divided into lecture sections and tutorial sections
This is a nice feature of the Irish system. Even if you are in a very popular class with lots and lots of students, classes will break apart into smaller sections, usually once per week, so that discussions can be generated, and students can engage more actively with the material than in a lecture-style class.
2) There is an emphasis on independent learning outside of class, which means that you do not usually have formal homework assignments between one class and the next
If you are eight weeks into your program wondering why you haven’t been assigned any homework, it may be time for a reality check– just because you are not told specifically by your professors exactly what to do before your next class does not mean they do not expect you to review relevant material and stay on top of concepts!
In Ireland, and in much of Europe, professors assume that students are doing work independently throughout the term, and reading the texts associated with the module on their own. This is a big change for U.S. students, who are typically used to professors regularly assigning work to keep everybody on-task.
It can be a bit stressful knowing exactly what to do and when, but having a study buddy in your class, or asking other students what they’ve been doing to keep up, can be great ways to make sure you are keeping on top of the material.
3) You will probably only have one or two major assignments or tests on which your entire grade is dependent
This is somewhat nerve-racking for many students: U.S. students are so used to having many assignments throughout a term, and by extension, many opportunities to improve a grade if one particular assignment didn’t go so well.
In Ireland, you will likely have only two or three assignments all term. Being graded only on a mid-term exam and a final exam is common. Professors can take a little longer to grade assignments, too, which can be frustrating for U.S. students, who often get their tests or papers graded in a matter of days.
It is perfectly normal to feel some apprehension around the time of these heavily-weighted assignments. But if you do have concerns, checking in other students, forming a study group, or taking advantage of some of the resources on your campus are great ways to confront your concerns and feel prepared.
Which Support Services Are in Place for Me on My Campus?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help onsite! Your university abroad has so many resources available to you if you choose to take advantage of them, and your CIS Abroad onsite team is also standing by to support you every step of the way.
Depending on your particular learning needs, it may be a good idea to check in with your CIS Abroad team before you go abroad, particularly if you have any learning accommodations in place in the United States, to help connect you with the disabilities services on your Irish campus. Your university in Ireland may not be able to set up precisely the same package of learning accommodations that you have in place back home, but you can work through the disabilities services abroad to find which available accommodations might make you most successful.
It is often necessary to present medical paperwork and/or a letter from your home institution outlining the sorts of accommodations you have in place, so it is best to submit this paperwork to the disabilities services at your Irish university before you leave so that they have time to review your paperwork, and assess what they can offer you.
You CIS Abroad team is here to help you through this process!
Additionally, in the face of a monumental life change, such as living in a brand new country, it is totally normal to wonder what sort of mental health resources exist on your campus. Please read the information on your specific school for more details, and remember: these resources are here to serve you! Do not be afraid to reach out to your CIS Abroad onsite team, your university study abroad team, or your campus services abroad if you ever need help, guidance or medical attention!
Please note that our CIS Abroad staff is obligated to share information about your term abroad with the appropriate authorities, and may share information with your home institution to make sure you continue to have access to the support you need when you return home. As such, information shared with our team is NOT confidential, as we are duty-bound to respond to your concerns. That said, our onsite team can connect you with resources or professionals to whom you could confidentially share information if needed.