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October 04, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 5

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Work without the work load

As far as studying goes, I have two majors and two minors. I'm used to taking upwards of 20 credit hours each semester, along with sports, clubs, a social life and the occasional nap.
Here, though, things could not feel more different. Regular reading at University of Limerick is, well, nonexistent. There are suggested readings that, at most, include a 10-page article with a 100-word response (which is neither turned in nor graded). Education here revolves around independent learning -- looking online for the additional readings, emailing a classmate if you have questions and so on.
There are no quizzes or smaller-scale projects throughout the semester. Instead, there is a final assessment of one sort or another, and then there may be a midterm assignment -- perhaps a project, perhaps a paper.
And to listen to my Irish classmates makes it all the funnier. See, there's a five-page paper due in the next few weeks in one of my courses, and my classmates are absolutely freaking out. They don't know how they'll get enough sources, how much time it will take them to write, while I'm just sitting there, grinning from ear to ear, because I spent this past spring semester at Susquehanna producing a 32-page chapbook, in addition to countless 10-page papers and regular online writing assignments.
Compared to that, this workload feels practically nonexistent.
What is working out well here, though, that I wasn't certain about beforehand, is the larger class-size. Somehow, in my lecture class of 45 or so, my historiography professor has come to know me as "our American cousin." For those of you lucky enough to know these individuals on the Susquehanna campus, he's this wonderful combination of Dean Phil Winger, English Professor Susan Bowers and Religion Professor Tom Martin.
Needless to say -- with personalities like that coming out of one man, Professor McElligott -- this is in my top two favorite classes that I'm taking here.
So far in the past few weeks, my favorite quote of his came when we had to move lecture to a different room for one particular class period. Solely because he knew many people would struggle to find the room, he started to lecture, paused, and then grinned, tiptoeing over to the still-open door. "Before I start, I'm going to close the door so anyone who's late will be embarrassed. I'm not the village constable when it comes to assignment guidelines, but I do enjoy doing this!"
There's this saying at the summer camp I work at: "It's not the minutes, it's the moments." So did I originally have a solid four months to spend in Ireland? Yes. But it's up to me to make those months not only memorable but life-changing. And with Professor McElligott serving as the one keeping me awake on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m., let's just say that, so far, the moments are working out wonderfully.

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