Academics are very different here. To understand why, you have to understand that the government is paying for every single Irish student to go a University. With this in mind, students very rarely take school seriously: class becomes a time of chatting with their friends. Many of the students will tell you that the classes here are very easy and that you don't even have to go. But when asked if they get good grades, most will say no. This makes me chuckle.
School is set up differently here too, classes will usually meet once a week and then the class will break into smaller groups and meet on other days. Teachers assume that most of the learning is done independently. Come the end of the semester, we have to prove our independent learning which is based on one final exam. That's it. Some classes may have a paper due at the end, but other than that, the exam is our only grade for the whole semester. Crazy if you ask me.
p.s. I am no longer a simple 'visitor' of Ireland, we got our student passes (practically a visa) today. Those places take forever!!!