While I was researching my semester abroad, I wondered a lot about the differences in school and how a typical day at an Irish school was like. For those of you who are interested in studying abroad in Ireland, I wanted to share a bit about the school system here with you and how it differs from the one in America. First of all, my school starts at 8:45 in the morning, ends at 3:45 on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, Thrusdays, and Fridays, I get out at 3:15. I catch the bus at 7:45 in the morning and arrive at school with so much time. My friends and I normally walk around and just talk. My school provides free cereal, toast, and tea in the mornings. For 10 minutes at the beginning of the day, a teacher takes roll in assembly. Unlike my school in America, there is no time for locker breaks or time for you to get from class to class. Each class just follows after the other. Also, my schedule/timetable is different for every day of the week here, which made it a little hard to keep up for the first few weeks, but I eventually got the hang of it. Although I was placed in a co-ed school, be preapred to go to an all girls/boys school because most schools here are still seperated by gender. The schools also have uniforms, which I was excited to experience. Not having to choose what to wear everyday or worry about dress code sounded like a nice break. My uniform is a white button down collared blouse with a jumper(sweater) over it and navy slacks. Most of the all girls schools wear a skirt with a jumper and high socks. My schedule is designed with three morning classes, a small 15 minutes break at eleven or so, three more afternoon classes, lunch, and then three/two more classes. For me, lunch here is an hour long and you can walk out of school to get lunch at a gas station or something, or you can just bring your own. My lunch in America is only 25 minuntes long, so the lunch here seems like forever in comparison. Each class is only 40 minutes long on a regular day.
The Irish school system has 12 years of education before college or university, just like America's. Although it is the same amount of time, the 12 years are split up into two schools, primary and secondary, which each contain 6 years each. The year I was placed in is called Transition Year, and it's designed to help students transition from their Junior Certificate to their Leaving Certificate. It is the 4th year of secondary school. The first 3 years of secondary school are used to prepare for a big test at the end of your 3rd year, which is called your Junior Certificate. The last 2 years of secondary school, 5th and 6th, are designed to prepare you for your Leaving Certificate, which is another big test taken at the end of 6th year. Both of these tests can help determine what college classes you can take. They can kind of be comapred to our ACTs or SATs. A lot of your years in secondary school are spent studying, and the 4th year gives students a break and prepares them for the stressful years ahead. In Transition Year, there is barely any homework or tests. A lot of the curriculum is based around projects, presentations, and field trips. The first semester they even performed a school musical. Comapred to my classes back home, my Irish classes are a breeze. Since I was placed in TY though, I'm not sure if the other years are difficult. If you are a Honors and AP student like I am, I don't think you'll have trouble in Irish school at all. I'm actually really happy to have been placed in this year because it allows me to spend less time doing homework and I can focus more on my experience and friends. The field trips we take in school have really helped me explore some parts of Ireland that I would have missed. For example, our class went to Glasnevin Cemetery and took a tour around the grounds.
Overall, I think school in Ireland is very different from my own school in America, but that doesn't mean it's worse or better. If you are thinking about studying abroad in Ireland for a semester or year, I hope this blog has helped you see some of the main differences in school. I would highly reccommend studying abroad and if you can, I would request to be placed in Transition Year.