Student Ambassador Noel Thompson is studying at UCD. Here he gives us a great rendition of his experiences with Irish lectures:
#1- Being responsible for 100% class attendance:
My Protestants, Papists, and Popular Belief: A History of the Reformation class seemed to be an enthralling choice when I was signing up for classes. I’ve always had a passing interest in history, and I figured that I might as well find out some information about the religious background of Ireland while I was here.
Not only was the lecture my first one at UCD, it gave me a vague understanding of how the professors would address the class for the rest of the semester. So there was a lot riding on this first day.
The lecture was only an hour, but was paired with a 1-hour “small” group meeting that they call a tutorial here (sometimes they call it a recitation back home). So, we learned about King Henry VIII and his need for the heir and the Tudor dynasty..etc, but the real important part was our involvement in the talk-back during the small group sessions with our professor.
So, one of the more overwhelming fears I’ve had in my time at University is a fear of being in a one-on-one situation with professors. Call it a fear of authority, or maybe just a problem with intimacy, but it’s a problem I’ve always had. At UNC, we have Teaching Assistants come in and give you the information in small groups, so you don’t have to insult the teacher by not knowing the material. It’s like a buffer system.
I walk into my required tutorial after glancing at my notes from class and relying on the fact that other students will be able to help me out. At this point, I’m still arriving to class relatively early to make sure I’m in the correct room (most of the time, students here arrive exactly on time or a couple minutes late). So, I pull up a chair/desk, sit down in this expansive lecture hall, and wait for the others to arrive.
With about 2 minutes left until class, I peak my head out to see my surroundings. I’m beginning to get nervous, because I’m still the only person here. There has to be some mistake. I’ve come to the wrong room. That can be the only solution. But no, instead I see my professor come ambling down the hall, walking through the door on the far side of the room.
My professor, Dr. Mark Empey, takes a glance around the room, and motions at a single wooden table with two chairs at the front. After explaining to me briefly that there was some confusion with registration and that the class wasn’t available when it was supposed to be, he smiles and informs me that
“You will be the only student enrolled in this section”
Now, I’m not one with a weak constitution normally, but the concept of spending an hour with Mark probing what I absorbed from his class gave me the combined need to faint/run away/cry/throw things across the room.
It actually ended up being a blessing in disguise, as Mark was generally ok with the fact that I wasn’t COMPLETELY prepared for the meeting, and humorous with the fact that I made up 100% of the class. We ended up meeting this way for a couple more weeks before I transferred into a bigger section, much to my surprised chagrin.
The material may have disappeared into the back of my head, but the memory of the day I conquered my fear of professors will live on.