When junior Elizabeth Brown went to Ireland this semester, her friends at TU were expecting to be overwhelmed by travel pictures and stories of life abroad. Instead, Brown has regaled them with tales of the library.
Brown, a Chemistry major, is studying in Cork at University College Dublin. Before she left, her plans for the semester included going to pubs and seeing the Cliffs of Moher, “like every other American abroad.”
Since she’s started school, however, her priorities have changed to focus on reading and discussing books.
UCD head librarian Luke Greer said this reaction is just an exaggerated version of what most visiting students undergo. According to Greer, most Americans are fascinated with the library, as students can check out textbooks and old exam papers.
“You can always spot the Americans,” Greer said, “as they congregate in the stairwells to complain about buying textbooks back in the States.”
Brown said the availability of textbooks was one of the library’s most attractive features. No longer is she stuck reading the two-hundred dollar chemistry textbook. For fun, Brown said said she “can check out a political science, maybe even an economics 101 book, if I’m feeling risky.”
Brown also noted that all her classes have only one assignment in the form of a test at the end of the semester, which is giving her more time to read.
Reading so much, according to Brown, has somehow been a boon on her social life. She’s joined the Debating society, Harry Potter Society, and of course, the Book Society.
Book Society member Tómas O Càran said Brown has been “more involved than even [he] has.” Her enthusiasm was at odds with his experiences with the other twenty-thousand odd students, he added, as most “give my club a wide berth at the Society day.”
Her friends at TU have mixed feelings about this change of focus.
“I was hoping for pictures of hot Europeans” said Margaret Wiggins, Brown’s previous roommate. “But all her Snapchats have been book covers. It’s impressive she’s reading so much, but that’s not what I need.”
Others are much more supportive. Lauren Foer, another of Brown’s friends, finds Brown’s choices reassuring.
While originally Foer “was worried I’d get massive amounts of sad drunk texts about stupid decisions,” she enjoys the book recommendations. Foer adds she “thinks it’s unfair Elizabeth gets so much free time to read. I constantly have to study for my next test.”
In her last communication with Foer, Brown provided yet another extensive recommendation list. But the Skype call ended abruptly with Brown saying she had a flight to Paris to catch.
“The library does close occasionally,” Brown complained, “so then I have to actually go places.” According to her friends back home, this might be in her best interests.