Up until now, I haven’t really talked about the academic side of my experience in Ireland this summer. I mean, it is called STUDY abroad, after all, so you can bet that I did plenty of studying!
While I was there, I took two classes. I mean, it felt like four, but it was really two since the latter three classes I’m going to talk about in this post all counted as one course, a literature course. Confusing, I know. But that’s how it worked.
Anyway, I’m rambling now. Here’s what I spend my time studying in classrooms on the beautiful University College Dublin campus!
Dublin Summer Writing Workshop
I had this class four days a week! Several of my friends had taken a class or two with the professor who taught it and I’d heard good things, so I was really looking forward to it. Well, I have to say it definitely lived up to my expectations. He gave the course a creative nonfiction bent, rather than having us focus on fiction as so many writing workshops do. (This, of course, was fine with me, as I try to sign up for as many nonfiction workshops as possible!)
Between that, his great sense of humor, and the eclectic mix of writers whose work we read, I always had something to be excited about, even when I was still getting over my jet lag and the idea of a morning class was my worst enemy. I wrote some essays that I’m still really proud of in that class: One is about Dublin Pride and the other is about attending the book signing of my favorite author, Derek Landy!
The Irish Novel
Ahhh, my favorite component of the literature course! I have to say that we did far less reading in this class than in the other two, but my professor made up for it by:
- Teaching us how to give child characters an authentic “voice”
- Giving us lots of encouraging advice about getting published, being a full-time author, et cetera
- Handing out free copies of the latest book he’d edited, a beautiful little collection titled Best-Loved Joyce
- Being really gay
All right, maybe that last part only mattered to me. But I was pleased not only because my gaydar pinged immediately, but because I feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time I meet a successful LGBTQ+ adult. ESPECIALLY IF THEY’RE ANOTHER WRITER OH MY GOD SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.
Contemporary Irish Drama
The high points of this class? Reading plays aloud. Perusing a collection called Tiny Plays for Ireland. (Which apparently spawned tons of copycat books across the world?! Who knew.) Reading Translations by Brian Friel (about how colonization affected Gaelic) and Maz & Bricks by Eva O’Connor (about abortion rights in the modern day). Oh yeah, and seeing four (!) plays. I freaking love going to the theater. I was in heaven.
Stay tuned for a post about the plays we saw!
Ever since reading so many poems for National Poetry Month this past April I’ve been in a huge poetry MOOD, but despite that this class wasn’t my cup of tea. We rushed through so many poems, never spending very long discussing any one piece. So I didn’t feel as though I had a very thorough understanding of much of it?
Also, the reading list was male-dominated. I was sick and missed class the one day the professor apparently discussed female Irish poets, which wasn’t at all her fault… buuuut I wish we’d read some of their work in previous class sessions!
Oh, well. I made the most of it. I did come away with this class with an appreciation of Patrick Kavanagh, a poet I’d never even heard of before, because I had to research and write a paper about him. Good stuff. Grumpy guy, great poetry, lots of verses about rural Ireland.
Have you ever studied abroad? If so, what classes did you take and which ones were your favorites?