How are Irish perceived abroad

ERASMUS experience report - Cork

When we arrived in Cork, there were first some information events in which the further procedure was explained. Especially with the preliminary course registration, there were some difficulties, as some courses turned out to be unavailable or the courses did not address the expected content. Those responsible at the institute were very courteous in this matter and offered to take part in other courses (including master's courses). In general, I perceived all lecturers and employees, especially in the International Office (International O ce), to be very helpful. Therefore, I can only recommend that you simply contact the responsible employee in the event of difficulties. Especially at the beginning of the semester there are countless events that are aimed either at all students, all new students or especially at ERASMUS students. I can only recommend going to as many events as possible, as these are the best way to get in touch with other students right from the start. Even if you don't feel really addressed by the title of one or the other event, you can actually always assume that afterwards a colorful group will come together with whom you can still roam the pubs of the city.

Courses and modules

GL 3026 Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology

The hydrogeology course was, in my opinion, one of the best courses in geology. Eileen Mc Carthy, who is responsible for the module, is active in this field herself and can provide numerous application examples and explain them well. Especially at the beginning, the amount of information and the high speed in the lectures takes a bit of getting used to, but every request from the students was answered in great detail. The same applies here: if in doubt, just ask. In terms of content, fundamental hydro and engineering geological concepts and methods are explained in the lecture, which are then deepened in the exercises. The exercises are solved with simple means such as graphic paper, compasses, calculators and Excel, and the support is excellent. Towards the end of the module there is an excursion to a wind farm near Cork. This is very interesting, but I have to say that the amount of exercises and the amount of information here was a bit exaggerated in relation to the time allotted. Another questionable point is the type of examination. The excursion report and exercises make up part of the grade, the other part is determined by querying essays. Here, the students create 2 essays with a volume of around 1000-1500 words, which are then written down again in an examination session from memory, including references to the source.
In my opinion, this form of examination is very time-consuming and for me no discernible advantage over simply submitting the essays.

GL 3028 Micropalaeontology and Palynology

This module consists of a lecture in which the classification of microfossils is primarily discussed, as well as an exercise in which sketches and descriptions of the same are created. The lecturer Dr. David Jarvis is able to convey this in my eyes somewhat dry, but very important subject with a lot of humor. The form of the exam is similar to GL3026, you work on known tasks in advance and write them down again in an exam at the end of the semester without any aids.

PY 3011 Environmental Physics

The content of this module largely corresponds to the modules Experimental Physics for Geoscientists 1 and 2 at the University of Potsdam. Nevertheless, I consider this module to be absolutely recommendable, since interesting environmental scientific interpretations and tasks are always incorporated, which illustrate the possible uses of the substance better than a purely physical consideration could. The lecturers are also very helpful here and lead well-organized and understandable exercises in which exercises are processed, as well as internships on the topics of radioactivity and heat conduction.

GA 1120 Introduction to Modern Irish

This module is my personal insider tip. Personally, at the beginning of my stay I was not aware that Irish is widely spoken in Ireland as a second language alongside English. In the cities, for example, all signage is available in both English and Irish and a basic knowledge of the language enables you to better appreciate the atmosphere and culture of Ireland. This is exactly where the course starts and dispenses with tenacious grammatical basics and (initially) spelling. Instead, you learn to have simple conversations in Irish in the first two weeks. To really get something out of it, you should heed the advice of the lecturers and talk to locals in town or in pubs who, in my experience, are always enthusiastic about exchanging a few words in Irish. I enjoyed both the course and the use of the language a lot, but it is also really necessary to keep all appointments as possible, otherwise it is easy to lose touch. In addition, the lecturers give numerous tips on typical Irish sports, music or dance events.

Living and living situation

In my eyes, everyday university life in Ireland has a completely different meaning than in Germany. For most students, their entire life, i.e. studies, social contacts, leisure activities and part-time jobs, takes place at the university. Therefore, there is a very familiar atmosphere among the students and lecturers, as they are simply in constant contact.

The possibilities for spending free time at the university are gigantic. From sports clubs such as soccer, basketball, martial arts and music groups to hobby groups such as the Harry Potter Club, every interest group is represented. For students, the entire offer is free of charge, including use of the swimming pool in the university's own, highly modern sports facility. In my opinion, the Mountaineering Club was one of the best experiences of my stay abroad. On the weekly day hikes you can quickly come into contact with international and Irish students from many different disciplines and also get to know great areas of Ireland away from the tourist attractions. In addition, participation enables you to visit the climbing hall twice a week, where you will be introduced to the sport by the expert guides and all equipment will be made available to you.

In addition to the o cial clubs, many self-organized groups came together during my stay, for example an ERASMUS soccer group. Another hot tip is the International Society. In addition to weekly parties, there are also regular city trips, e.g. to Galway, Dublin or Belfast. The trips are well guided and do not really allow you to explore the cities freely, but a flat rate of 50 euros for 3 days, including bus travel, accommodation, food and tickets for museums or other sights, is simply unbeatable . The somewhat closer cities such as Galway or the Ring of Kerry can also be easily reached with a rental car on your own. Rental cars are pretty cheap in Ireland, but the rule is that you must either be 25 years old or have had your driver's license for 5 years. If that is not the case, you can still go to the common car rental companies (e.g. Hertz) and talk to the staff. I actually just missed the prerequisites myself, but somehow I managed to rent a car.

accommodation

Immediately after my acceptance from the University of Cork, I took care of accommodation, but it was de nitely too late. I can only recommend that as soon as it becomes apparent that you will get the ERASMUS place to take care of an apartment. The contact to my originally requested accommodation (Abbey Wharf) was a bit difficult, as my first report there had probably been lost. Here, too, however, the following applies: Simply drill down with e-mails or phone calls, actually all those responsible are very helpful. Since the number of accommodations was a bit scarce, the university took care of accommodations. I stayed in the Arcadia Hall, where mainly international students live. The atmosphere there made me feel very comfortable and the furnishings were perfectly adequate with a bed, desk, oven, stove and couch. However, both bathrooms and living rooms are sometimes really heavily polluted with mold. I shared my apartment with two other German boys. At the beginning I found it very practical to have someone with whom I can communicate well, especially when it comes to the bureaucratic tasks at the beginning of my studies. In retrospect, however, I have to say that the living situation has repeatedly pulled me out of the Erasmus atmosphere, as a lot of German was spoken again in the apartment. A request to the administration office or the caretaker would probably have been enough to move to an apartment with international students, which I really should have done in the situation.

Cost of living

The prices for food in Ireland are estimated to be around 1.5 times higher than the prices in Germany. In terms of price, it is therefore advisable to buy from discounters such as ALDI or LIDL, which are easily accessible in the city. For the atmosphere you can also visit the English Market or other small shops in the city every now and then, but they are significantly more expensive.

Transport in Cork

Since the student ID card does not contain a ticket for public transport and you always have to buy expensive single tickets, it is worth buying a bike. On the one hand there is the possibility to get a bike from Bike shed, a shop that sells used bikes, but at the beginning of the semester, when all Erasmus students are looking for a bike, the selection is very limited. From my point of view, the more practical solution is to participate in a bike sharing system operated by Coca Cola in Cork. The stations are well distributed in the city and for only 10 euros per year it is also very inexpensive. Another advantage here is that you do not have to worry about the maintenance of the bike, but always have functioning bikes with lighting available.

Language skills

English language skills are also indispensable in everyday German university life, so of course it can usually be assumed that you have a solid knowledge of the situation before your stay. I think that the living situation described above was a bit of a hindrance in terms of improving my language skills. Nevertheless, I can say that I have just become more familiar with the oral language and that it is now easier for me to have an everyday or professional conversation in English. Through the Irish language course, I learned in only about 3 months to have a simple conversation in a completely foreign language, which is a really great sense of achievement.

Tips for subsequent students

I can only advise you to seek contact with local and international students right from the start. You should attend as many events as you can to get in touch with new people. Especially at the beginning of your stay, all the other students are in the same situation as you are, which makes it very easy to make contacts. On the other hand, you shouldn't try too doggedly to force the time of your life, usually the best experiences come naturally. Especially when after the first few weeks the flood of events subsides and everyday life becomes normal hiring, it is easy to get the feeling of missing out on something. In retrospect, it turned out to me that this carefree everyday life in a foreign country with new people was one of the best experiences of my stay.

Subject: earth sciences

Length of stay: 08/2015 - 12/2015

Host university: University College Cork

Host country:Ireland