Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cities, Classes, and Cooking

The regular semester here at University College Cork has finally begun. I have been here in Cork, Ireland for about a month and a half now, and I have to say that I have grown to quite like Cork. At first, I was hesitant about the fact that it was a city, but I have come to realize that the cab driver I had my first day in Cork was correct when he said that Cork is really more of a big town, as opposed to an actual city. The city center is actually surrounded by the River Lee on all sides, so it's more centralized in a way, confined to a bunch of streets rather than being very spread out. The River Lee, at least near campus, isn't really all that wide. It's definitely not like the three rivers (Monongahela River, the Ohio River and the Allegheny River) back home in Pittsburgh, but I think it becomes bigger the further away from Cork City you get. Nevertheless there are little "bridges" that allow you to get across River. I have to be honest here, I don't really see them as bridges like we have back in Pittsburgh, they are much smaller and extremely short, one of them is actually right outside my dorm and it's basically just a regular road) that happen to be over the water, absolutely nothing like the bridges of Pittsburgh).

 This is Gaol Cross, it's one of the bridges that connects to campus (my picture)
The second thing I wanted to discuss was “So far, the biggest adjustment has been _____________ because……”, which is the suggested topic for this week. I think the biggest adjustment so far has been two things. First is the way that the classes are set up here. The international students actually had an entire week where we just went to whichever classes we wanted to, so that we knew definitively what classes we wanted to take. We registered about a week after the semester started. It was really strange just going to any class I wanted to, testing them all out. I was really unsure about that because I like knowing when all my classes are and being able to plan out the rest of my day around them. I think the other aspect of classes here that has also been a major adjustment is the lack of actual day-to-day work to do. Back at W&J, we usually have to read a chapter from our textbook  and then be ready to discuss it in class. At W&J, there are usually little assignments to complete and turn in. However, this is absolutely not the case here at UCC. First, the booklist here typically has about 10 books on it and they are all suggestions. There aren't really required textbooks for each class. I'm under the impression that we should be gradually working our way through several of these books, but we don't have assigned chapters that need to be read for each class. There aren't really even tests, we will have to turn in essays at the end of the semester and that will determine our grade. This system has been a bit of an adjustment for me personally because, as I mentioned before, I like having structure and knowing exactly when something is due. The idea of turning in an essay at the end of the semester and then that ONE essay determining my grade (or marks, as the Irish phrase it) for an entire class is terrifying. In addition, I'm never really sure what to do with myself because I don't have a chapter from a textbook that needs read or an assignment to complete.
The second adjustment has been cooking for myself. I have to come to realize that I am incredibly used to having a meal plan back at W&J. There is no meal plan here, so I have to cook every meal. Now, I really love cooking, so this hasn't been a major issue but I have been eating a lot of pasta because it's easy and quick to make. Also, pasta is cheap. I have become very conscious of how much food costs (not that I wasn't aware that food was expensive before coming to Ireland, but actually having to buy my own food has been a bit of an eye opener). Also, cooking takes effort. Occasionally cooking for my family on Sundays is a very different experience than cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for myself every day. I have found that it's easier to buy staples (which, for me, means Ritz crackers, pasta, pasta sauce, Nutella, peanut butter and granulated sugar for tea) and then go to the store about twice a week for bread, tomatoes, apples etc. Bread gets moldy quicker here (probably because there are less additives in it), so I have to buy that at least twice a week. Luckily, there's a convenience store right on the corner of Gaol Cross, so I don't have to go far to buy bread. Physically cooking isn't much of a problem, I think coming up with some variety to what I make has been the hard part. I'm much more inclined to make pasta all the time because it's easy, but I do want to try and make different dishes more often.
Overall, I think that I have been adjusting to life in Cork fairly well. I'm going to try and write another post about some of the activities that I've been doing here in Cork soon, because I have had a lot of fun cultural experiences so far, such as watching two hurling matches, listening to traditional Irish music and Cork Cultural Night

No comments:

Post a Comment