Yesterday, while working at Presentation Brothers College, I started talking to some of my students about college in the US. The conversation began when one of my students - to impress me when talking about one of his peers remarked, "Yeah, AND he's taken that S-A-T." I smiled and asked how many students from their school would do so, and they told me that only one student every few years would apply to American universities. Upon further thought I feel this makes sense, as not many American students would apply to European universities, but at the time I was surprised by this news.
I think my surprise may stem from how strong the boys' notions of college in the United States are. From the media, they have gained an accepted opinion that students in the US are either nerds who study too hard or wild animals who party too hard. When you look at their sources (and their age) it's not difficult to trace these assumptions back to roots like "Animal House," "Legally Blonde," "House Bunny," and even "The Social Network." We had a great discussion about what they think it's really like, and how it might be different from an Irish university. Here at UCC, most students go home every weekend to spend it with their families, so the boys here were floored to learn I live four and a half hours away from BC. Through our discussion we were able to gain a better understanding of both cultures and the pros and cons of each system. It was a very valuable experience and great to hear their opinions evolve.