Sixth Email- Maybe I should talk about class...

Sent 17.11.05


Decided I would send an email again before it comes down to crunch time in the studies. Yes, I do actually have to do some work here, and the majority of it comes in the second halves of each semester here. Not a lot exciting to tell you about since my last email, or at least nothing like Paris or London, but I will try to put a few somewhat interesting things in here.

I guess I can start with the whole "school" thing. I don't talk about it much in the emails but this seems as good of time as any. I may be repeating a few things I said before, but I didn't feel like digging through the old emails and looking at everything I've wrote. This semester I have been taking four classes at UCD (University College Dublin) and two at the Notre Dame Keough Centre. My four classes at UCD are all computer science courses, and they all meet for two class-hours a week, in addition to a two hour practical (aka lab). The ND courses meet once a week for an hour and a half, and are scheduled on Monday and Tuesday nights to avoid conflicts with everyone's school schedule at either UCD or Trinity.

So how hard are the courses, you ask? I guess it would be a mixed response, although overall I would say it is easier here than back at Notre Dame. This is mainly related to the amount of outside-of-class work we get here, which is not a whole lot. The UCD courses have varying amounts of work. Two of them typically have an assignment given in the practical every week that requires about an hour of your own time to finish. For all you computer science kids back at ND, this probably pains you to hear, because you are probably up late in a lab right now trying to finish up your weekly 10 hour assignment.

Much of this is due to the fact that the learning here is at a slower pace; instead of having all the computer science courses in three years like we do at ND, they have four years to complete it. In addition, they are taking very few courses outside of their major so the work can be spread out. Some of these kids would never survive a week of school in the US, as they complain about any work that needs to be done outside of the hours of your 9 am to 5 pm day.

My other two courses at UCD have some work to do as well. One course you actually do all of the work in the weekly practical, and really don't have much outside of class work to do. The other has two programming assignments at two points throughout the semester that need to be completed. Of course with all of these classes, you are expected to do some self-learning and studying outside of class. I have been keeping up with the notes and looking at stuff I didn't quite understand, but overall it hasn't been too bad. Talk to me in December though when I have five exams in six days, and I will be studying quite a bit for those. Five in six days is a bit different here than at an American college, as you have 70% of your final grade in each class based on this exam; there is a bit more pressure based on your results.

The courses at the Notre Dame Keough Centre are designed to be not too time-consuming, as the staff there realizes many people are here for only a semester and a lot of the learning should happen outside of the classroom. However, both courses that I am taking (Introduction to Ireland and Irish Catholicism) do have some weekly reading to keep up with. They also both have essays due at the end of the semester, and you are pretty much free to pick a topic of your choosing for both. I can't think of much else to say about school, but feel free to email me any more questions you have. Unless you really want to hear my feelings on Dublin Bus when the bus fails to show up...

I've started making a few plans for Christmas break, and hopefully they will include watching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat up on some poor team in a BCS bowl. I recently booked a flight to Salzburg, Austria on 20 December, which is the first step to what should be a great six day skiing vacation. There are some ND kids studying in Innsbruck who organize a ski trip for those kids staying over here in Europe over the break. We are heading to Kirchberg for six days for what should be a fun trip of skiing and whatever else we want to do. After that...yeah, my plans haven't progressed much beyond that, but I have ideas of maybe going to Munich and seeing some friends from Germany, and then maybe heading to the warmer areas of Europe in Italy and visiting Rome and Florence. After that, who knows?

I've been listening to some of the ND football games over the internet (almost as good as being at the stadium). It has sounded pretty impressive, though, and I'm glad they are playing great. It is amazing how two plays during the season could move this team from good to great. There is always next year when I am back at school and able to watch the games in person again. The Chicago Bears have been playing some good football lately as well. It is the most exciting thing watching game tracker when they are playing. In case it wasn't obvious, there was a hint of sarcasm in that previous sentence.

It's about time for me to get a little studying in and some work done, so until the next email, enjoy the snow I hear many of you are getting and have a great Thanksgiving if I don't email you again before then.

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163