Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Week Two: Tea and Scones, Scones and Tea

We just started our Early Start Program, which consists of all international students who move in a month early and for that first month take only one class, to help us get used to the Irish system of schooling (which is so different from Loyola – UCC is filled with huge lecture halls and classes of 200 people), the Irish system of grading (70% or above is an A, and a 30% is considered passing in most classes), and living in Ireland in general. My class is Irish Folklore and Ethnology, and basically we learn about the Irish customs that have to do with eating and marriage and houses and anything else that has a specific custom attached to it. (For example, if someone in Ireland invites you in for tea, you are obligated to say yes and accept any and all food and drink they give you following this acceptance.) On our first day of class, Molly and Claire and I sat down with the rest of the kids in our class and waited for our professor. She walked in about five minutes late, introduced herself, and started introducing the course immediately. Now since we’re only taking one class right now, we have it from Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 am until12:30 pm. Except at about 10:20 our professor stopped class abruptly and said, “I’m ready for my coffee now. Enjoy your tea and scones. Come back at 11:00, is that alright?” We had literally no idea what to do, but after she walked out of the room, we all packed up our bags and followed. We went into one of the dining rooms on campus, and ordered tea and scones. At 11:00, our professor came back into the room and continued to teach, picking up exactly where she left off. We thought we were the only ones who had this mysterious tea break in the middle of class, but everyone had done the same. If any class is two hours or longer, there is a break in the middle, and the longer the class, the longer the break. It’s definitely been an adjustment getting used to taking a class with many more people than I am used to, on a new campus, in an unfamiliar city, in a subject I have never studied, but I must say having a tea and scones break in the middle of every class is something I can definitely get used to. 

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