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Study abroad culture shocks: Limerick, Ireland

Limerick%2C+Ireland%2C+is+a+popular+study-abroad+destination+for+many+Clemson+students.
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Limerick, Ireland, is a popular study-abroad destination for many Clemson students.

Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity for students to explore new cultures and embrace a different style of learning and living. However, it can often lead to culture shocks that require adapting to a different cultural environment. I experienced this firsthand while studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland, this spring semester.

My Ireland campus is very similar to Clemson; however, there is no dining hall, and students are expected to either bring a lunch or buy food at one of the many restaurants and cafes on campus. One of the restaurants is a pub, where students, faculty and staff can get a pint, a slang term for beer. This was one of the biggest shocks; I had never heard of a bar or pub on campus, but this is normal for the Irish university.

Ireland’s crosswalks were another shock that took some time to adjust to. In Ireland, cars drive on the opposite side of the road. In the United States, you typically look right then left before crossing the street. In Ireland, you have to look left and then right. Sometimes, it will even tell you which way to look before crossing.

While Ireland is different from other countries, some of the biggest shocks I have experienced are with the university system, including the structure of classes. Instead of being called classes, they are referred to as modules. Each module contains a lecture and a tutorial. The lectures usually hold 30 or more students, while tutorials are small groups of 10 students to discuss what was taught in the lecture. There is typically only one two-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial per module per week. The structure of assignments is also different. Instead of having multiple essays, projects or exams throughout the semester, most modules only have one midterm and one final.

I also found it interesting that, for international students, we officially registered for modules two weeks after they started. These two weeks were referred to as a trial period to give students a feel for their modules before committing to them. This is similar to an add/drop period, except students are not officially registered for classes. To access the course, students had to get permission from the professor to be added to the modules.

While it has taken some time to adjust, it’s been a great experience to see how education, amongst other things, differs from typical American culture. I look forward to continuing to explore more of Irish culture!

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Alexis Williams, Senior Reporter
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