Ireland: The Country, the Myth, the Legend. Past Review

By (Drama/History, Trinity University) for

Arcadia: Cork - University College Cork

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about Ireland and myself. If anything this experience has infected me with the itch to travel more (and go back to Ireland again).

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Much of the workload is independent, don't let it sneak up on you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Great program because it balances support (staff, orientation, fellow american students, organized events, found housing, etc.) with independence (in local school with local students, plenty of time to do your own thing and travel independently).

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I know there were some problems with housing situations for other people. Silverware, utensils, etc. are provided but limited and in varying condition. Average for school housing. Arranged through Arcadia. Flat style living with common living room, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and 5 individual bedrooms (1 suite style with its own bathroom not included in bathroom count). Bought sheets and a few other misc items. Self-catering. Neighborhood extremely safe, apart from inebriated individuals. On the home stay weekend we were treated like guests and I had an unfortunate experience (single mother/unruly child, family had just been sick, snowed, little food in the house, all parties introverted and shy, etc.) but most of the people who went had a great experience and I believe the homestay weekend is one of the strengths of the program. Just specify ages for the children you're willing to deal with.

* Food:

Pasta is your friend. Also I recommend trying black and white pudding and haggis if you get over to Scotland. Easy Break is also a great product (porridge). Just make sure to keep up the variety and save eating out for special occasions. Dunnes and Tesco are great for grocery shopping and Centra and other corner shops are great for one or two items and are open late.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Travel around Ireland, I recommend Killarney (Killarney National Park and Killarney House) and Connemara as must see places. If the gaelic department still offers it go on the Heritage Ring of Kerry Trip. The Belfast Weekend through Arcadia is also a must do. There is also a great group called the Cork Singers Club which is based out of the upstairs of An Spailpin Fanach and meets on Sunday evenings at 9. If you sing acapella, tell stories, write and read stories/poems/etc. this is a beautiful group, even if the average age when I was in the room was 40.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Ireland's version of "dangerous" and the American version are two separate things. Mace is considered a firearm (so ladies leave it at home) and the Garda are unarmed except for a special armed unit and detectives. The Garda also recommends not carrying knives (pocket/utility/leather-man) around with you because if you don't have one on you it can't be taken from you and used on you or someone else. Limerick has a reputation for being dangerous but if you visit during the day and are smart about safety you should have a problem. The same goes for Dublin. Beware of anyone who tells you to "Live for Today", it's good advice but generally they want something. The biggest dangers in Ireland are inebriated people and yourself. Don't get involved in rounds (groups of people who take turns buying each other drinks and tends to move at the speed of the fastest drinker) and don't overindulge in alcohol. Trust me, you cannot keep up with the Irish. Healthcare was easily accessible but can be slow and requires patience. Take a multi-vitamin, chances are you will be exposed to less sun than you're used to. Regular vaccines should be fine but make sure they're up to date (I had to get Hep-A before I left) The biggest health issue was the cold and flu viruses which all the Irish students have had already and you haven't.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$500 a month.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You will have to spend money to travel and do things. Just be smart about it (compare prices at the store, don't eat out unless on really special occasions- again, pasta is your friend). Take advantage of hostels (it is worth paying a little more for included breakfast) and student return bus fares.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • They had the right balance between assistance and independence.
* What could be improved?
  • More support upon returning (if I had to come up with something)

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

From Pagans to Christians

Course Department: History- HI 3052
Instructor: Damian Bracken
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The lecturer was interesting but I found the material difficult. Everything made sense in class but I had problems with the primary and secondary material. Then again Roman/Christian history may not be my forte. Lecturer encouraged student participation and was mostly approachable.
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Introduction to Modern Irish

Course Department: Gaelic- GA 1120
Instructor: Sean
Instruction Language: English with intermittent Gaelic
Comments: Gaelic is a difficult language (partly due to the fact that there is a standard written language but no standard pronunciation, you'll learn the Cork dialect). Optional field trips. Participation required and normal for a language class. Overall a rewarding experience. Class for visiting students.
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Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Struggle for Tolerance

Course Department: History- HI1120
Instructor: Maurice Cronin
Instruction Language: English
Comments: After taking this course I do not recommend visiting students take first year history courses. The lecturer will refer to other classes and seminars into which you are not enrolled and midterms will be handed back in another class. I liked this lecturer as a person but not as a lecturer (read from his notes, espoused methods I could not agree with, didn't cite sources in printed lectures, etc.). Giving him the benefit of the doubt he was substituting for the usual lecturer. That being said the class material was very interesting.
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Hitler, Nazism, and the Second World War

Course Department: History- HI3113
Instructor: Detmar Klein
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Class more about administration and less about the Holocaust (though it obviously is mentioned). The material and lecturer were interesting. The lecturer doesn't use notes so the class is more fluid but some material will be repeated. Requires class participation and will call on "victims" if necessary. One of the most packed classes (we almost reached standing room only in one of the lecture halls). The lecturer was supposed to teach Racism, Anti-Semitism, and the Struggle for Tolerance as well. German nationality (accent not really a problem). Recommend taking any course with this lecturer.
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Sean Nos Singing

Course Department: Music- Mu P32
Instruction Language: English and some Gaelic
Comments: Informative class not only on Sean Nos tradition (acapella singing [singing without instruments] of Irish songs, both English and Irish) but also about Irish popular history. If you love singing and Irish songs this is a must take course.
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War, State, and Society since 1450

Course Department: History- HI2007
Instructor: Mike Cosgrave
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Though I found the material challenging this was one of my best classes. The lecturer encourages student participation and believes in alternative methods of evaluation (mid-term was a group war-game design project through which I learned more than I would writing a traditional paper and was one of the best ways to meet local students). The lecturer was easily accessible outside of class and interesting to listen to in class. I would recommend taking any course with this lecturer. He is someone I hope to maintain contact with.
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The People's Health

Course Department: History- HI3015
Instructor: Laurence Geary
Instruction Language: English
Comments: One of the best and most informative classes I've taken on Irish history and history in generalThe material in this class was interesting and the lectures easy to follow. At the beginning of each class the lecturer would recap what had been covered in the previous lecture. Asked questions and encouraged student involvement. Another lecturer that was easily approachable. I would recommend taking any class with this lecturer. I was very sad when this class ended.
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Introduction to Irish History

Course Department: History- HI 1115
Instructor: Various
Instruction Language: English
Comments: General introduction to Irish History. Lecturers each covered a different topic and gave 2 lectures. Sometimes this class was worth the 2 hours once a week and sometimes it wasn't. Class for visiting students.
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