With six total hours of Trinity exams behind me and months until I know how they really went, it seems like an appropriate time to think about the differences I’ve noticed between my classes at TCD and Wash U. I’ve already ranted about the challenges and frustrations of navigating Trinity bureaucracy (registering online for the upcoming fall semester was a blessed relief) and described the terrors of exam halls, but what about the actual day-to-day classes?
The first main difference, and one everybody told me to expect, is that you have a surprising amount of unstructured time. English classes, for example, generally meet for two hours each week. My homework usually consisted of reading a book per class per week. Beyond the main texts, professors gave us extensive lists of helpful supplementary readings, but it was up to us to decide which to read and track them down. You would not be scolded in class for failing to read an article, you would simply be less prepared come exam time.
The absence of any significant American-style “participation grade” meant that in general (though of course there are exceptions), Irish students were less vocal in class than Americans. Professors tended towards a more traditional lecture style, requiring much intensive note-taking, and looked a little bemused by eager-beaver visiting students who shot up their hands to voice a comment without being prompted by a direct question.
For me, the toughest change was the shortage of midterm assignments. For one class, I had a five-minute presentation; for another, an ungraded 500-word assignment. That meant that going into exams, I had no guarantee that I knew what they were looking for, no midterm essay I could look over to say “Ah, that’s what I should work on.” It was an absolutely terrifying feeling, but I think a valuable one.
More Blogs From This Author
<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Bea Gantzer, and I am a junior English major at Washington University in St. Louis. I'm a distance runner, baker, and Minnesotan. This will be my first time out of the United States, and I look forward to experiencing a new culture, soaking up Dublin's rich history, and getting little-kid excited over seeing buildings older than the U.S. itself.</span></p>