I have a few rules for picking classes. No classes before 9:30 a.m. or after 3:15 p.m. No professors who have received terrible reviews. No more than two classes per department per semester. No more than three classes in one day. No Friday classes.
I love making lists and planning possible schedules but hate the uncertainty surrounding the process and the consequences of a bad registration time. Registering for classes at Trinity College Dublin, significantly more convoluted than at Notre Dame, tested my sanity.
Step one: Locate four different department offices on an unfamiliar campus and climb infinite flights of stairs to find them.
Step two: Meet cranky secretaries and read posted course titles and descriptions. Make secretaries crankier with pointless questions about TBD class meeting times.
Step three: Complain to self about inefficiency of Irish system. Question how classes that are starting next week don’t have meeting times yet.
Step four: Sign up for history, philosophy and theology classes, praying they don’t overlap. Hope English department is helpful.
Step five: Wait in excessively long line to see unsympathetic English adviser. Argue with her about all the spots being filled in upper-level courses.
Step six: Email English department at ND asking if lower-level classes can still count toward major.
Step seven: While waiting for response, go back to unsympathetic English adviser and tell her lower-level classes won’t count. Suddenly receive offer to sign up for unappealing upper-level courses. Resign self to terrible classes and sign up.
Step eight: Complain to self about inefficiency of Irish system again.
Step nine: Receive email from ND saying lower-level English classes will still count. Rejoice.
Step ten: Visit unsympathetic English advisor for a third time. Apologize for confusion and sign up for lower-level classes that sound interesting and fulfill requirements. Vow never to bother her again.
Step eleven: Realize I’ve just registered for classes that break almost all of my rules. Accept defeat.
Adapting to this Irish roundabout illuminated a key discrepancy between U.S. and Irish culture: Task-oriented Americans and people-oriented Irish don’t always see eye to eye. As an introverted American in Ireland, I struggled to balance the Irish gift of gab with my own desire for minimum human interaction and maximum efficiency.
This lesson proved helpful during the rest of my time abroad. Whether it was bringing coffee back for Mick, the supposedly surly security guard, after a night out or introducing myself to my theology professor and embracing my identity as one of the “Notre Dame girls,” I found that taking the extra step helped make connections.
Trying to be people-oriented just made life more pleasant. Instead of focusing on everything I had to do, I tried to focus on the people who helped me get it done. And I took my Irish friends’ advice to heart when it came to excessive worrying: “It’ll be grand, sure.”
Meg Morrison ‘13 spent her junior year at Trinity College Dublin through Notre Dame’s Office of International Studies Dublin program. She is the magazine’s summer and fall intern. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org