Warning: This is an extremely long and drawn out post that is basically full of complaints about the registration process here. I just found the whole process humorous and ironic and very Irish. Read on only if you want. More colorful posts to come soon.
It’s fair to say that my last few days have literally been consumed by trying to register for classes. You might wonder why a seemingly simple task such as that would take so much time and frustration, and I would say back that I’m left wondering the same thing. Part of the problem is that universities here in Ireland, students really don’t get to choose their classes. Rather, they enroll in “programmes” and are then just placed into predetermined “modules” for each semester as they work towards their degree. Yes, here they call courses of study “programmes” and they call classes “modules,” which made the whole thing even more complicated in the beginning.
On Thursday, Taylor and I headed to campus to register, and we took that to mean register for classes. Instead, we had our pictures taken and were given ID cards and a student number. When we asked about signing up for classes (rather than modules), DIT staff was quite confused indeed. Sicne we got no answers, we then wandered up to the fourth floor of the newish, modern building that is DIT—Aungiers Street, to where the School of Media was supposedly located. We happened upon a woman in an office there. The woman, named Stella, told us that that day was just a really bad day, and that we should come back tomorrow. So we did. We would find out later that Stella was actually the head of the School of Media, and an extremely wonderful person for us to have run into. However, we didn’t know this then. Mind you, this was a Thursday, and classes were to start Monday. We were starting to get very worried.
The next morning Stella gave us a packet of timetables, with cryptic class names on them in random blocks of time and pretty much nothing else. She told us these were tentative, but should help us with our selections. We could come back Monday to talk further about which ones we would be allowed to take. Before leaving MU, we had to fill out a course proposal, where we listed DIT courses we might like to take, and the international admissions office evaluated them to give us an idea of what they should count for when we go to transfer the credits back to MU. Of course, many of the courses I planned to take weren’t actually offered, or if they were, they conflicted with one another so I had to make new selections. This meant that I would have to get the new ones approved by the International admissions office at home to make sure they would count. And this is still pending whether or not the professors would even allow international students into their classes. Don’t worry about it, Stella told us. It’s only the first week anyways. This did little to ease my worries as she waved me out the door and told me to enjoy Dublin over the weekend.
Monday (the first day of classes)
Monday we met with our advisers on the DIT end, Bruce and Pavel, for lunch and assistance with classes. We would try Stella again after lunch. At lunch, Bruce and Pavel explained that the person at DIT that used to be in charge of international students actually quit and had never been replaced. It seems that Taylor and I are bad luck — our study abroad adviser from MU quit without notice in the middle of our application process earlier this fall. The task of looking after Taylor and I (as well as another American exchange student named Joe from Columbia College) had been forced upon them. Meanwhile, they had both been trying to push it off the responsibilities on the other. Now, we felt like more of a burden than ever. But Bruce, an American from New Jersey, was determined to help us get our class situation figured out. We stormed first to an office of a radio professor while Joe tried to pin down what options he had. This information was hard to come by, even by the professor who what supposed to be teaching the courses, and it was even harder to get a date and time. It seemed that no one really knew or cared to know any answers. Then, we caught Stella and asked her what seemed to be about 6 million and 7 questions. She answered, but we still had no idea which classes we would attend. We had to select the ones that sound interesting and then tell Stella who would then ask those professors if they would have us. Further, we had to check in back at MU to see if these new classes would even work towards our degree. All seemed to still hang in the balance at the end of day 1. But we continually were assured that all was okay. That’s the Irish way.
It was Day 2 of “classes” and I still had no idea what was going on. Taylor and I said a quick “hi” to Bruce Tuesday morning before heading off to stalk Stella some more. We already had probably 6 email exchanges with her before 10 o’clock before we finally decided to just go find her. Of course, she was gone when we got there. Just our luck. So we waited. Luckily, while we waited, the professor of one of my classes came to call on Stella as well! His name is Richard Fitzsimons, and he teaches Studies in Documentary. He introduced himself and welcomed me to the course. Just seeing the face of an actual professor already made me feel as if things were looking. Then, what do you know but another teacher of one of my a desired modules came by—named Michael Foley, who teaches a course for the master’s magazine students that Taylor and I received permission to take in lieu of the full newspaper production class. He was super nice as well. He told us 1) that professors never fail International students because they don’t want to deal with the paperwork. And 2) that we should travel as much as possible. Go to the Ryanair website and pick the cheapest flight and buy a ticket. Go places you’ve never heard of, he said. Skip and class or two. No one will care, he assured us. This was a PROFESSOR saying this before we had even started his class. I returned to the dorm and sent frantic emails back to MU, hoping at least some of my new courses would end up working. Less than and hour later, I got a response. They all worked! And my schedule is better than I could have imagined. Get this:
Monday: NO CLASS
Tuesday: NO CLASS
9-11 Media Management: an extremely practical class about the issues facing the journalism industry today.
11-2 Print Journalism: a class where we plan, write, design, produce our very own magazine. The people from this class invited Taylor and I out to a pub last night and they all seem like characters.
1-3 Political Communications: another extremely practical and seemingly interesting class about the relationship between the public, the media and the government.
3-5 Studies in Documentary: This one’s pretty self-explanatory — it’s a class from the broadcast-y realm of the school about documentaries.
Friday: NO CLASS
Could that actually be any better? I am so excited to consider the travel possibilities that my FIVE DAYS OFF, EVERY WEEK will afford me. I think that after enduring a hard process leading up to this trip and getting settled in at DIT, I’ve earned some good karma. And it starts here! (Knock on wood.)