Caela Provost (CP): Tell me a bit about yourself. Who are you, where did you go to undergrad, and what did you study?
Haley Bonner (HB): “My name is Haley Bonner and I’m from New Mexico. I went to a tiny private university in Texas called Wayland Baptist University (https://www.wbu.edu/). I studied English Literature and minored in both music and theater…I’m just an arts person all around!”
CP: What are you studying now at UCC?
HP: “I’m doing the MA in English – Modernities: American and British Literature and Film course.”
CP: What made you decide to attend graduate school in Ireland? At UCC?
HB: “I had been to Ireland a couple of years before I graduated college interning as a teacher at a school. I quickly learned that teaching was not for me, but I fell in love with Ireland. When I was looking at graduate schools abroad, I found that the program here [at UCC] fit my undergraduate degree in English to a T.”
CP: What aspect of attending graduate school in Ireland has been the most difficult to adjust to while in Cork?
HB: “Honestly, the classes and the way classes were taught. At home I had lecture courses, and here all the classes are seminars. That was something that was very weird to get used to. It’s really you and your classmates discussing texts with the teachers interrupting when necessary to guide the class. Also, depending on the text, our teacher would change, which was very different from the states.”
CP: What is your favorite “hidden gem” (place, restaurant, pub, etc.) in Cork City?
HB: “My favorite pub in Cork is called An Spailpín Fánac (http://www.discoverireland.ie/Activities-Adventure/an-spailpin-fanac/15951). It’s where I’ve made 90% of my friends. One of my housemates and I, she’s also an American, found this pub our first night in Ireland. Now we go back every week because we’ve made friends with the musicians, and it’s just so homey and comfortable.”
CP: What are your career aspirations after UCC?
HB: “I have a few things I’m thinking of. I do want to get my PhD, and if I do I want to get it at UCC. If I do that, I’d like to be a professor. If I don’t I’d really like to go back into copy editing and technical writing. I’d also like to stay in Ireland if I can!”
CP: If you could give students any advice about managing classwork while at UCC, what would it be?
HB: “Honestly just don’t get overwhelmed. In my experience, classes have been a lot more relaxed than any of the classes I took in the states. That doesn’t mean the classes are any easier […] it’s just a different style of teaching. In my course, they gave us everything we needed for reading at the front of the class[…] if you pace yourself with your reading you’ll be fine. There’s only one essay on each course, which is amazing, so if you take your time with that essay you’ll pass with flying colors! It’ll be grand.”
CP: What has been your favorite place to visit/explore while in Cork? While in Ireland?
HB: “West Cork is gorgeous, especially Clonakilty- they have gorgeous beaches. It’s a cute little town and you’ll enjoy it (everyone tells you to try black pudding…don’t believe them).
My favorite place in Ireland is really just the entire west coast. I love The Cliffs of Moher, it sounds kind of cheesy, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a place like this. 8 km away from the cliffs is a town called Liscannor…it’s adorable and you can stay at bed and breakfasts. There are two pubs, one where traditional music is played, and it’ s a very nice, quiet stay (http://www.clare.ie/place/liscannor/).”
CP: Had you gone abroad before coming to graduate school at UCC?
HB: “Yes, I was in Ireland once before. I was in Zambia, London, and I went to Haiti and Mexico.”
CP: Aside from your area of study, what are your passions? What do you do in your free time?
HB: “I actually just had my birthday and I bought myself a weighted 88 key keyboard. I love music and I play music every chance that I can. I love running, which is really great here during the winter because it’s not so cold, and also really great during the summer because it’s not as hot as at home.”
CP: Is there anything you’d like to add about your experience? We’re all ears!
HB: “I think one of the best benefits of studying in a country that’s not your own is that you gain a wonderfully wide world perspective. Especially for students of our generation, that’s very important- it encourages us to understand cultures outside of our own. You just get to meet so many new people and make so many new friends that any languages and cultural barriers don’t matter any more.”