Our study abroad student Joel Rhodes offers honest advice on joining clubs and societies at UCC and the lifestyle changes to expect in Ireland!
UCC has an impressive number of student clubs and societies. They are open to all students, even if you are only there for one term. It’s probably the best way to integrate into UCC student life and meet people outside of class, so join at least one!
One of my best decisions in Ireland was joining the UCC Mountaineering Club. They met every Sunday to hike in the mountains. Each week was somewhere new and little more challenging, but beautiful. It was by far the best way to see and enjoy the Irish countryside. You have the opportunity to hike in remote places you’d never get to yourself such as mountains in counties Tipperary, Waterford, and Kerry. A large group went each week, and there were always familiar and new faces. In addition to Sunday hikes, they met twice a week in the Mardyke Arena to use the climbing wall. On top of it all, most outings finished with a pint at a pub!
Something that I had to adjust to was preparing all of my own meals. There are restaurants and cafes at UCC, but they are too pricey to eat at regularly. Fortunately, Cork has many great shops, grocery stores, and markets to buy fresh food. The English Market is great and as you explore Cork, you’ll find small fruit and veg stores and butchers with the freshest food and great prices.
There is a great programme available at UCC called College Dinners – www.collegedinners.ie For €10 you get more than enough food for 4 meals each week delivered to convenient locations. The recipes that they use are really simple. My group of friends set aside Monday evenings to cook one of the meals together.
Overall change in lifestyle
Ireland has a different style of teaching than in America. Lectures are a little less formal, and they are normally posted on blackboard. Regardless, attending lectures definitely makes writing papers and taking exams much easier. There aren’t always specific textbooks for each class, but there are several suggested readings. Do make the effort to sift through them, especially the ones your professors mention during lectures! They look to see if you’ve done extra reading from class when grading your final exams. Also, the lecture portion of the term is only 12 weeks long, and some classes meet just once a week. Missing one class can mean missing a lot of material! The 12 weeks fly by, and then you are left with a 5 week study period before the month of final examinations.