The Craziness that is Midterms Week

A corner of one of the hidden lakes with LOTS of reeds around it.

Campus Explorations: II (21/10/13)

Classes just classes as always. It’s the little things in between that make life worth living. My afternoon class was cancelled, so I explored the campus with my Brazilian friend. It was SO much fun. We started by getting lost in the woods “behind” campus. It was quite interesting, as we got lost off the trail for a short while and discovered some oddities. We had a bit of crab apples, they were rather sour. I also got to test the stinging nettle/dock thing as the Brazilian made the mistake of grabbing a piece of stinging nettle. Also, I discovered the two “hidden lakes” on campus. It was pretty nifty. Afterwards, we went into the science building and I got to explore this odd “art piece” in the new science center. It’s a bunch of mirror cubes forming two walls in the shape of an eye.

After a fun afternoon of exploration, I returned home and decided to make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Except there was one caveat, the Brazilian doesn’t like peanut butter. WHAT?! Who doesn’t like peanut butter?! Like, seriously!

Anyways, for dinner later on that night, I shared a seafood pie with my Italian flatmate. It’s some AMAZING stuff. I loved the seafood pie, even though we microwaved it instead of baking it, since we don’t own an oven. Then, we headed over to vocal group together and we were taught our second song for our Halloween show in ONE night. We’ll see how that performance goes I guess, since we don’t have practice next week because it’s a “bank holiday”, a public holiday when practically everything publically owned shuts down.

The Oddities of Testing in Ireland (22/10/13)

So, the best part about studying in Ireland so far is their way of doing testing here. First and foremost, the tests are rarely cumulative – IF you have a midterm during the semester. I have about 3-4 midterms this semester, and my finals are non-cumulative. For the classes that don’t have a midterm, I need to remember everything from the beginning for the final.

Other awesome part, the past exams for the courses are WIDELY available. It’s somewhat “mandatory” for teachers to post them. It’s strange, but it’s awesome. At home, we sort of have to sift through the professors’ class websites to find them, if any.

And So It Begins: Midterms (23/10/13)

So I had my first midterm today. It was a little odd, but okay I guess. It was for my plant diseases class. We had 30 questions on the test, and it’s worth 45% of our grade – 45%! Originally she was going to do “negative markings” – think SATs – where you’d get points off for choosing the wrong answer. Thankfully, she mistyped her cover page and said NO negative marking, so we didn’t have negative markings on the exam. It was easy to notice that the exam was divided into three difficulty levels: 10 questions were REALLY easy things you should know if you remember things from basic courses, 10 questions were things presented in the lecture that just takes rereading and memorizing the slides, then the last 10 questions were somewhat difficult. Some things were details on the PowerPoint and other things were just never presented in class (that or you had to memorize a voice recording or SOMETHING).

So for the MCQ (multiple choice question) exam, we were given a Scantron-type thing. But instead of being a long strip of paper with 50 questions on both sides, it’s a FULL PAGE, one-sided for 120 questions. There’s 3 columns of 30 questions and there’s an arrow separating every 5 questions. It was…really spacious.

Fern and moss growing on the corner of a window! O.o WHAT?!

Just for kicks, I’m inserting this picture of a fern. Oh My GOSH, so weird. Ferns and mosses grow EVERYWHERE here. Example here, the fern is growing from a crack on a brand new window as part of a bridge things between buildings. Seriously…weird. Oh, and underneath that fern is a bit of moss – of course.

Then, I had some fun learning some new things in Irish Gaelic class. First and foremost, Switzerland and Netherland don’t celebrate Halloween. Simply, just don’t. It’s not a thing. Second, we were learning the words páiste (posh-tah) and páistí (posh-tee), meaning child and children, respectively. These two girls in my class shared that in Swiss German, they use the same words for different things. “Posh-tah” is short for “post auto”, a car for postal deliveries. Meanwhile, “posh-tee” is to go grocery shopping. What?!

Midterms at NIGHT?! (24/10/13)

Random thing I noticed today: how the Irish pronounce letters. The letter “r” is pronounced “or”, “z” as “zed”, “h” as “hay-ch”. What oddities of the English language, even among different countries.

So, I had another midterm today, well two, actually. Midterm fact of the day: midterms here are not always at the same time, in the same place as the class. My midterms today were at night time. One was from 6-7pm, and the other from 7-8pm. The first one was in our classroom, the second wasn’t. The second test was supposed to be at an exam center at their other location “off-campus” at a semi-satellite location. However, there were a few of us who couldn’t make it because we had an exam on-campus right before it (and it takes 30 minutes to travel to the other location), so we got shoved in a special room.

The first exam was an essay exam. So, in at home, I’m used to using the “blue book”, simply a booklet of something like 10-14 pages for writing an in-class essay with a blue (sometimes green) cover with a few lines for your name, date, etc. Here, we were given a booklet with a TON of stuff on the front. The weirdest part was the fact that the upper, right-hand corner of the booklet has a fold over tab with double-sided tape on the front where you’re supposed to put your name and signature. That space is “covered” with blue ink on the back of the front cover page and the instructions specifically say to fold it over AFTER your exam is completed (though it wouldn’t have made a difference). But yeah…weird stuff. The best part about that exam was that the professor had us choose one of two exam questions to answer. This was the same two questions he had used the past 3+ years when he was giving the exam for his portion of the course.

The second exam was my stats exam. Stats is rather easy here, as I’ve already learned a good deal of the basics in other non-stats classes, in my biology courses and other types of courses. Aside from that, I’m taking this course and I came into the exam a little late since I was running across campus from a different exam for another class right before it. I finished my exam half an hour into the hour we were given, even though I had checked it over four times. However, the two proctors said that we had to stay seated, in the lecture hall, for the whole hour. So I took a nap. It was a lovely nap. At the end of it, the proctors made us take the exam questions home and refused to collect them. WHAT?! My previous two exams hadn’t done that. Strange stuff…seriously.

Whatsapp and Letters (25/10/13)

So, my morning class was the stats class I just had an exam for last night. Of the 380 people registered for class, only 40-50 people showed up to class today. On average, there’s at least a 150-200 people attendance, but I think today had something to do with the fact that the exam was last night, it’s Friday and/or the fact that Monday is a bank holiday.

After stats class, I had my last midterm. It was for my class with three professors, a basic plant biology fundamentals course. Again, I noticed the same distribution of questions over the span of 30 questions. I was confused and mulling over at least 10 questions because we didn’t go very deep into it and/or it was very detailed things that were said in class that I didn’t catch. One question was something on the PowerPoint slide that we didn’t even look at carefully, I completely guessed on that question. I only know that I got that question right because at the end of this exam, again, the professor let us take the exam home.

Need lard? No problem! O.o

Then, shopping! YAY! Groceries! It was nice to finally get groceries again. I went with my flatmate, as it has become customary for us to go shopping for food together. This time around, we discovered that Tesco sells blocks of lard – literally blocks…of…lard (see picture). Not only that, they also sell jars of goose fat. I didn’t take a picture of that, I was grossed out by that it wasn’t worth taking a picture of.

Anyways, today I also downloaded the infamous app that international students all LOVE to use, “Whatsapp”. The first person I talked to on it, my brother. It was GLORIOUS…okay, maybe not. It was nice to finally hear my brother again. Yeah, he’s crazy and all, but he’s still my brother. I like the features of the app, being able to text and send pictures and all that snazzy stuff. The best part about the app though, in my opinion, is the ability to send “voice notes”. SO AWESOME.

The end of my day came about happily. I ended my day with reading my first REAL letter. Why REAL? It was 7 pages long. My friend who wrote to me was an English major, so it was pretty exciting to get a decent sized letter that wasn’t just one or two pages as most people have written me. I am so excited. I hope this is the start of a new “pen pal-ship”, even though I knew her before we started writing. For those of you who are REALLY modern, snail mail > e-mail. Not only is it “sweet” or “romantic” between romantic interests, but I think it’s the BEST way to communicate, partially because you spend more time on it since you hand write it, but also because you get to see the other person’s handwriting (which I think is ALWAYS awesome) and because you know they care about you enough to spend the time and energy to HANDwrite things. Not to mention, it’s getting pricey to send letters, but it’s still totally worth it, especially if it’s a long letter like the one my friend sent me. I LOVE SNAIL MAIL! ❤

The beautiful morning that greeted us as we waited for the bus.

Shopping in Dun Laoghaire (26/10/13)

Saturdays are always fun. There’s always an adventure waiting. Today’s adventure was taking the bus to Dun Laoghaire with my Italian flatmate. The weather looked pretty nice today, a nice autumn day with golden tinges on the trees and some lovely clouds in the sky. We walked through several charity shops together in search of one that might give us a good idea of what to wear for Halloween. Along the way, we found some interesting things.

This awesome “boat bar” at a charity shop in Dun Laoghaire.

At one of the charity shops, there was this AWESOME bar that was put up front. They were auctioning it off for a good sum of money. It was so awesome though. If I had a nice house, I would totally have bought it. Instead, I bought a nice, red scarf.

Then, we stumbled into a Polish store that sold all sorts of random things. I bought a hazelnut wafer for 60 cents. TOTALLY worth it. It was SO good. I wish I had a box of them. There, my Italian flatmate found some breadcrumbs for some homemade crispy chicken tenders that she wanted to make. After some noms, we went to the Tesco there. I found my corn starch there. I had been looking for it for a while, but it wasn’t “corn starch”, nor was it “maize starch” as it often said on soup packages under ingredients, it’s sold as “cornflour”. Either way, I was happy to finally have some. Also, this was the first time I’ve been in a Tesco with a descent amount of clothes in it, as well as food.

This amazing “candy-cake” thing. Seriously…WOW.

Upon exiting, there were some people selling candies and sweets for some fundraising. They were raffling off this strange candy-cake thing that looked REALLY good, but also really strange. It might’ve been just a divided “structure” full of candy, but I think there was a cake underneath it all. Anyways, we got lost bored and wandered the shopping plaza that the Tesco was in to find that they had slanted moving sidewalks as well; they called them “travelators” on the signs. Silly names. Then, we walked into a random clothes shop and bought some clothes before going to the cheap euro store across the way where we bought random items for our “costumes”. Then, we figured there was more time to kill and went back into Tesco. Good thing we did because we found out that they had some sort of cake-snack thing that my Italian flatmate got REALLY excited for. Meanwhile, I was there looking pondering why in the WORLD they would make Smarties cookies.

After some time, we stumbled into an artist’s shop that was full of cute things. One of the coolest things was a simple wooden bottle opener. They’re handmade from an old whiskey barrel and there’s a code on the back if you want to find out about the history of the exact barrel that it was made from. Sure it was pricey, but I would’ve bought it if I drank alcohol. Then, I really liked these sets of mugs that said really random things. For instance, “This is a little duck. He’s smiling because he knows that he’s cool! Even without his sunglasses.” Hahahaha. Cute!

We ended the day with some classic wandering around Penneys. I tried on a black bandage dress. It looked really nice on me, but it was off-the shoulders and waaaaay too short for my liking.

Meet my new friend, Matzi.

A New Friend: Matzi! (27/10/13)

Sunday, my typical homework day. Today’s homework: a 5 page essay on the possible effects of stem rust on global economy/food security/etc. After a day of work, I was rewarded with a new friend. I adopted a cute little friend named Matzi.

Things I Learned “today”

  • When cooking mushrooms, they release water and shrink, so you don’t need to add water! (No, I didn’t know that. I don’t normally like mushrooms but I should be eating more protein, so I decided to experiment. I got told by my Italian flatmate)
  • In Brazil, when someone is a crybaby, you call them “melted butter” (manteiga derretida).
  • A “bank holiday” is like our “national holidays”, where everything under the public sector pretty much closes down, besides a few things like transportation (unless that’s privately owned here? O.o), even though they’re not celebrating anything in particular.
  • They don’t have “oatmeal” here. They call it “porridge” instead. It’s a FAIRLY common breakfast food item.
  • Cornflour = Maize flour = Corn starch
  • If you want something to do for the weekend, a good place to look for things to do:

Words/Phrase of the Day

  • Give it socks = really go for it
  • How’d you get on? = How was it?
  • Holiday = vacation
  • Flat out = busy

More Pictures from Dun Laoghaire

The ever so delicious hazelnut chocolate wafer I got at a Polish shop.

The Tesco in Bloomfield Shopping Centre with SO MUCH CLOTHES in it (and groceries).

Seriously…Smarties cookies?! Not sure I’d eat that.


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