Today was my first day of actual classes, and my first real case of culture shock. Now when I say “first day of classes,” what I mean is “went to campus and attended a single two hour lecture” because that’s how their scheduling works here. I had been forewarned that Irish school was much different than American, where showing up early, or even on time is considered common courtesy. The teaching style is also different from the States, where a professor will go between lecture and discussion by posing and answering questions and giving students in-class activities and assignments. Irish classes generally meet twice a week. Once with the whole class for two hours for lecture, and again sometime throughout the week with smaller groups for an hour or so to discuss the lecture and assignments. None of the seminars are meeting now because it’s the first week of term, so we’re just going to lectures.
Anders, Danielle, Kelsey, Libby, Matt, Pat, Rob, and I left Sandymount early this morning to get to Dun Laoghaire for our Romantic Literature class that started at 9:00am. Anders and Libby had gone in for a class yesterday that also started at 9:00, but didn’t actually begin until 9:45 when the professor and the rest of the students showed up. There wasn’t a schedule change, that’s legitimately how things run here. Trains and buses run regardless of schedules, people agree to get things done without any intention of even trying, and professors miss half of their own lectures. Based on this along with the report that the Irish students wandered in and out and talked to each other the entire time, I really had no idea what to expect.
We walked into the classroom at 8:56am (like the good American students we are) to find it utterly deserted. By 9:20 the professor and most of the other students had arrived, and our professor made a point to say (for our benefit, I’m sure) we would never be starting before 9:20. With that said, it made me wonder if the other students wouldn’t show up until 9:40 in the future.
After class, Danielle, Kelsey, Pat, and Rob headed to another lecture, while Anders, Libby, Matt, and I headed out into Dun Laoghaire. I hadn’t seen much of it from the bus, and it was a nice walk into the town from IADT. We wandered around a few shops, and ended up at the docks where we walked along the sea wall, stared at the Irish Sea, and I kicked myself repeatedly for not having my camera.
The rest of the group caught up with us at the docks after their class, and we walked up the East Pier to the lighthouse and admire the view (which is rather spectacular). We then drove each other crazy with brain teasers, stopped for tea, and rode the number 7 bus all the way back to Sandymount.
Tomorrow is another lecture at 9:00 (9:15? 9:30?), and tonight we’re fully immersing ourselves in Irish cooking (read: cooking lots of potatoes).