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Classes Abroad vs. Class at Home

I knew classes in Ireland would be different than classes in America, but I didn’t expect them to be that different. My home university is relatively small and we only have one or two general education classes that are in a big lecture hall. At NUIG, three of my classes have about 200 students registered. This difference isn’t really surprising to me as NUIG has a large student body, but what I’m having trouble grasping is the inner workings of the classes.

  Keep in mind that the courses I am describing are all from the English department, so the work/class responsibilities do vary a bit depending on which school it’s in. I love the courses I enrolled in because I find that they are topics that aren’t found at my home university. Because NUIG is so large, it can offer many different courses in a particular subject and students truly benefit from having so many options. It gives you the chance to focus on a topic that is extremely specific, such as my 20th Century Literature course focusing on Joyce and Yeats, or extremely broad, like my Genre Studies course.

   While I love the material I am learning, I do not love the lack of work that comes with it. This is not to say that I don’t have anything do when I leave the classroom, but classes and professors here do not put as large an emphasis on homework as those from American universities. Students here are responsible for developing ideas and exploring those ideas themselves. Our main goal is to do the assigned readings and to avidly take notes. We will have one or two large essays per course at the end of the term and those papers will be the only things to determine our grade.

Being a Literature major, I have absolutely no problem spending countless hours studying the written word, but at the same time, I do wish I had a bit more work to apply my thinking. I know that my final essays will be a big task, but I must say that I do miss the smaller papers and assignments in between them.

 The Quad at NUIG

Morgan McKenna is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Galway, Ireland. She is currently a junior at Stockton University.

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