I think I promised some of the wonderful family members who actually read this blog a tidbit about University College Cork and its hometown. So, here it is. And I solemnly swear that I will neither bore you with class lists nor go on and on and on like I did in my Blarney saga. All I will say about classes is this: coming from a small, private university in the states, attending lectures with more than a hundred people in them came as quite a shock! Gone are class debates. Gone, too, are the volumes of essays I am accustomed to writing. I don’t have anything due before mid-November, and I need only write two essays (at most) for any one class. In general, I like the lecture format. However, I miss having specific reading lists. Instead, we are expected to buy a few course texts and then pick and choose from what sounds most interesting on a long list of recommended readings. I am left with a constant sense of insecurity about whether or not I am reading the right things in the right quantities. Moving on…
UCC was founded in 1845 under a different name. The West Quad was undoubtedly the first building on campus. I think, from the picture on the right, that you can see the chapel-like aspect to it; I always feel like I’ve gone back in time when I walk in the door. Old as the building may be, it houses far older artifacts: ogham stones. These stones, dating back to the 4th century C.E., preserve the earliest written words in Ireland and commemorate the deceased. Besides acting as gravestones for the ancients, they also provide us with early Irish genealogies. Sorry, no photos allowed; you’ll have to Google them.
Now for campus myth numero uno. See the “cross” in the lawn in front of the West Quad? The shortest distance between two places may be a line, but I recommend you take the long way around because walking across the quad via the cross is a surefire recipe for failing your classes. The source of this tale? Back in the day, administrators posted your grades publicly. If you failed, your walk of shame was from one side of the quad to the other on the cross. Ouch! On the other hand, graduates also crossed the quad thus, so graduates today make a point of running across the gravel once they can no longer fail their tests. Myth number two is along the same lines; don’t walk on the grass, or you will fail.
The campus has since been updated, of course, which makes for some interesting contrasts. For instances, that glass beast in the left photo is the O’Rahilly Building, while the corner of the structure behind the column is the chapel, a contemporary of the West Quad.
Architecture aside, the group in the middle of the circle here is a band by the name of Toy Soldier. They performed for a large crowd of student onlookers during Fresher’s Week way back in September. The university hosted events 24/7 to make certain we wouldn’t forget our first week at UCC. Apart from the Toy Soldier concert, I also made it to the Fresher’s Ball held at the student centre. Workers turned the centre into a disco club for the evening, and we all danced beneath the violet lights…while they sprayed gallons of paint at us. Weird as it sounds, it was a blast! Afterward, I ended up just walking into the shower with my clothes on, since I was wearing about fifty shades of paint.
Now, for the third university myth: don’t walk on the university crest, or you’ll get pregnant! The threat is not gender-specific. One can always tell who the “freshers” are because they walk around in groups, giggling as they shove each other onto the crest.
Finally, I thought I’d include some fun words that I’ve picked up.
1) Craic! Here’s the only truly Irish word on the list. It always gives me a bit of a turn, since it’s pronounced “crack.” So, if you had a great time at the pub last night, you could say, “It was good craic!” (And all your American listeners will think, “Oh, really?”)
2) Savage. Not politically correct at all, my friends, but it serves as “awesome” here.
3) Hob. The hob being the oven, of course, but I always think of that guy from Pirates of the Caribbean saying, “Then, we send him down to see Old Hob.” I might as well give my pizza to the Kraken (or whatever Old Hob is) as put it in the oven. I mean, really, should I have my oven set to the squiggly line, the light bulb, the fan, or the snowflake? It’s okay for the ogham stones to have pictographs on them, but does my hob have to have pictographs? I can’t read them! On that note, I bid you adieu and wish you better luck cooking pizza than I’ve had!