Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 2 Happenings

Tues, Sept. 14.

I walked into my 9am intro engineering class titled "Creativity in Design" and discover that the vast majority of students in the lecture theater are males. Freshmen, and I mean like 17- and 18-year-olds. A little too young for me, so don't any of you get your hopes up. Anyway, I discover that almost everyone has their class supplies, which include an oversized sketch pad, drawing pencils, and a square (ruler/straight edge). And since I'm not actually in the engineering program and didn't go to the engineering orientation, I was unaware of this, but I was informed that all these things could be purchased at the Richview Print Shop west of campus. I looked on my map I had tucked away in my planner and see that there are no buildings with such a label, but that there are 5 or 6 buildings with the name "Richview." I ask the guy sitting next to me where the place mentioned was located, and he said he wasn't sure. Ok, so I have to figure this out on my own...what's new.

Anyway, after class was let out, I went to the agriculture building for my Animal Repro lecture. I'm not sure why, but we have three one-hour lectures for this particular class on Tuesdays. They are one and two hours apart, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. I understand that they don't want to cram them all into a three hour time slot, but going back to the same room and seeing the same professor three times a day gets a little long and tiring anyway.

Between classes, I decided to venture off and find this Richview Print Shop on my own. The weather is, of course, horrible as usual. It's not only raining, but the wind is gusting enough that you have to lean to keep from falling over. So, I head west down the road and try to follow the map. When I think I'm close, I stop and ask a couple men in suits who look like they know their way around, and they point me in the direction of the architecture building. So...I head that way, only to find that the building is surrounded by a tall fence and brush. I head back east on the south side of the building and finally find a gate entrance. (I swear, nothing is ever easy here. That concept must not have crossed the ocean yet.) I go inside where it says 'reception' and there is a police guard who asks me what i need. I tell him my situation and where the professor told the class to buy the materials, but he has never heard of such a place, but he tells me that Donnybrook is like a 15-20 minute walk north when you turn right onto the main road. He said they'd probably have what I need. So...I head back west from there and come to a complex of small office buildings. I'm thinking surely someone must know. This is getting ridiculous. When I get to the main road and make a few circles to see what's around, I decide that this shop must be somewhere around these offices. I decided to walk into a small restaurant and ask a couple ladies who'd just come out. They didn't know, but told me to ask the cashier inside. She didn't know, just so happens that there was an architecture student behind me waiting to buy lunch who overheard me asking directions for a shop where I could buy supplies for my creativity in design class. He told me that it was just east of where we were. So he gives me directions to go straight east from the restaurant and then take a left where the road forks. I thank him and walk out...turn left where it forks...and suddenly I hear someone from behind me calling out. I turn around, and the same guy is waving at me and points to the right. Evidently I can't follow directions...? Anyway, I meet up with him and he says he'll take me there. I tell him I have no idea where I'm going and thank him for helping me, and he says, "well that would be awful mean of me to not say anything when I know you're lost." So we walk a ways and he points out the shop. FINALLY! But he said that they're probably closed for lunch, which I discover they are. Of course. I ask him if they take visa, and he says no, only cash. Of course...(I know I'm using 'so' a lot...sorry) so I walk back to campus and stop at the atm to get some cash so I can go back and buy the stuff I need between my next classes. After my last repro lecture of the day, I head back to the print shop. By now, the wind is getting really bad and it's starting to pour. My $1 Walmart umbrella is no match for these conditions. I point it into the oncoming wind, but it crumples against the force, and that's the end of any bit of patience I had left in me. I give up on the umbrella and basically run inside, soaked and thinking how I'm supposed to get a sketch pad home in this weather with only a purse. I show the man who runs the place what my list says, and he helps me get it together. I pay him and ask if he's got any sort of plastic bag I could use to put my things in so they don't get ruined. He gives me a small garbage bag and I walk out the door. As I do, I notice that the hours are until 4pm, and it's just now 4. So I'm thinking to myself, if I had come all that way in this weather to only end up at a locked door, I'd have been hysterical. This just was not my day.

I got back and told Jessica my story, and we made chicken penne, which was absolutely delicious after such an ordeal. Then I took a shower, got in some dry clothes, and watched Two and a Half Men.

Wed, Sept. 15

I get to my Animal Physiology class, and it's the same professor who teaches my repro class. What is this, grade school? ...I sit through two more hours of him lecturing and then go to my farm business management class for two hours. I go home to grab a sandwich, and then it's back to campus for a 4 hour creativity in design lecture. As class begins, an Irish girl named Ruth asks if she can sit next to me and introduces herself. She's a freshman in engineering, and the only person with whom I've made contact in this room, so I welcomed this new acquaintance. She seems really nice, even though I sometimes have a hard time understanding her because she speaks so softly and quick, and has the Irish accent I'm not quite accustomed to yet.

The professor has us do all sorts of activities on our sketch pads...some of them interesting and others rather lame. But I will not complain one bit about this class because for once in my life (well, the past 7 years) I get to draw in class...for class! This is without a doubt going to be my favorite class here. I already know. Plus, we'll be doing group projects that involve sketching and making 3d objects and designs. It's supposed to be a class that teaches you how to develop your creative drawing and modeling skills to be able to portray your ideas (as an engineer would need to, and also people from many different majors who take this class as an elective...aka me). Ruth and I walk to the student lounge when we are given a half hour break by the prof. She told me about places I should go see in Ireland while I'm here, and I told her about how my brother is going to school for professional flight technology. She and I get to talking about our families, and her father flies small planes (Cessnas) for fun. She's got three sisters, and thinks she wants to be an electrical engineer. After class was finished, we walked back to Belgrove, since we discovered we both live there. Hopefully we continue to talk, even though it may be hard to find one another in class, and we aren't in the same group, but we are facebook friends now.

That night, Jess and I went to a 21st birthday party for a girl she met who is from Washington state. They had a small cake, and everyone brought their own drinks. We didn't plan on going out to the city that night with them, so we stayed a couple hours and then walked back. We met people from the states as well as Australia. Someone thought I was Australian...not sure how that happened. All I did was introduce myself, and she was like, "oh, you're Australian!" ...hmmm. Nope, I'm from Indiana I said. Never gotten that one before.

Thurs, Sept. 16

Aka...FRIDAY for me!
I went to Physiology lecture at 9, and then my Food Quality and Safety Assurance lecture that is scheduled to begin at 11 was delayed by the professor one hour. So Jess and I had planned to meet up at the main restaurant. We went to the library beforehand to check out some books, and then waited at the restaurant for Nancy to arrive for breakfast. She'd gone out the night before along with Heather and the rest of the 21st birthday crew. They'd not gotten back until late, and we could tell. Nancy and Jess got lunch (I had the orange I brought from home) and by then it was time for me to go to FQSA lecture. It seems to me that this class will be kind of interesting, as we are supposed to talk about not only the obvious, like food safety legislation and quality assurance systems, but also food facility/layout and process hall design. This might come in handy when mom and dad want to build their goat processing facility.

Jess and I had planned to go to the IT center that afternoon to set up the wireless printing capability on our laptops. We get there and the guy gets hers done, but when I tell him mine's got Windows 7 as the processor, he says that it probably won't work on mine. They don't know why, but he tried to do it anyway. Well, it was a failure, as could be expected from my luck here so far. (I just now thought of this...luck...and I'm in Ireland. I'd have thought it might have had some magical effect. Well...don't believe it.) He told me to come back next week because they might be able to do it then. Ok, we go back to the library for a minute to get a book that Jess needed but someone had checked out earlier that morning on the short-term loan. Then we head over to Centra because she needed to get some groceries. We meet Betheny along the way and she walked over with us to pick up a few things. She tells us she made some no-bake cookies (because Glenomena doesn't have ovens, but microwaves instead). Mmm! Jess had never heard of them but we assured her that they are delicious. We got done with Centra, and Betheny went to her dorm while we waited with the bags of groceries outside so we don't have to carry them there and back. She came back shortly with a bag of her cookies and we walked back to Belgrove. When we got in, Jess and I tried the cookies, and yes, they were amazing. "We have to make these!" sayed Jess.

Heather had told me the day before that she and Nancy found and booked tickets to Rome for 80 euro, and Betheny and I decided we wanted to go as well. That evening, Betheny and I booked tickets to Rome for like 72 euro round-trip (Vanessa later got a ticket to go with us too). Score! This will be a wonderful mid-October trip! Italy is a place I seriously looked into going to study abroad, but they didn't have the semester-long programs if I remember correctly. So 4 days will just have to do. :)

That night we all went to the student bar for some event that was going on...I forget the name of it, but we paid 3 euro and got a wristband and our arms stamped, and all the drinks were 3 euro. I had Bulmers, and eventually everyone got out on the dance floor and was dancing away to the techno...not really a big fan, but I got out there anyways. It was kind of fun to just let loose and laugh together. Just us girls.

Fri, Sept. 17

The plan for the day was, since most of us didn't have class, to go register at the Garda. I looked up the times on the Trinity College website (since they're supposed to be more organized than UCD) and they said the hours for students were until 4pm. So we all loaded up in the bus and headed into the city center. The girls wanted to stop and get some lunch at this little cafe called Carluccio's, where they have wonderful hot chocolate I hear. So of course I had to get a cup. The man asked if I wanted hot milk in it, and I said yes...of course. It was probably...almost...the most amazing hot chocolate I've ever had. It was super rich and thick, and you have to stir it (they provide these little disposable wooden spoons) to mix it all up. It was quite nice. Then we walked to St. Stephen's Green to eat and drink in the company of some beautiful scenery. From there, we walked north to the River Liffey, along which is the location of the Garda. We go inside and the man tells us to come back on Monday at 9am because all of the tickets have been handed out. We would have to queue for a ticket, and wait our turn. That didn't make me particularly ecstatic, but we made the most of the rest of our! We went to several places, and as you well know, my umbrella was going to need a replacement, so I was trying to decide between the 10 euro one and and a more economical 4 euro one. I decided they both looked alike, so I went with the cheaper of the two (man, do I miss Walmart sometimes). Jess and I also picked up a frying pan, and I got a bowl and a few groceries.

We got back to the apartment and gave the it a well-needed vacuuming. Then I tried out the google phone thing first with George, and then dad. He was so surprised to hear me! He didn't know it was me until I said so. It was like 5pm and he was just getting ready to leave work, and I could hear him tell one of the truckers that he was talking to his daughter in Ireland. :) He misses me.

Then, since Jess couldn't get her google phone to work, I let her use my computer so she could talk with her mom. She tried and it worked. I was so happy when I heard her mom's voice answer the phone from the living room! Jess and I both looked at each other and had the biggest smiles as we waved our hands in the air in victory. :) Some things do work out here. What's more, Betheny stayed the night and made a delicious chocolate cake!

Sat, Sept. 18

Basically sat around all day. The weather was nasty, and no one had any plans, so I got some stuff done for school...and was on facebook a lot. Ha. Gotta love lazy rainy days.

Sun, Sept. 19

Betheny, Heather and I went to Howth on the east coast. We caught the bus into the city center, then switched to the 31 bus which would take us as far east as Ireland goes. (And as we got off the bus and were walking to the second stop, I realized I had set down my umbrella, yeah, the one I'd just bought, on the bus seat and forgot to pick it up as I left). Basically. There was supposed to be a lighthouse and castle, but the castle ended up being farther north than we thought, so that will be a trip for another day. The bus took us to the tourist center, and we got some FREE postcards (big smiles) and a map of the island. We then walked through a small farmers' market and the three of us split a hog roast sub. It was 5 euro and had applesauce and stuffing among loads of other delicious toppings. We got to sample a red velvet cupcake. The frosting was delicious, but the cake was pretty bland and kind of dry. Then we walked around and took tons of pictures. It was raining, and I was trying to stay dry, whether that be under Betheny's umbrella or under my hood. We came back and were waiting for forever on the 31 bus to come by. Literally, we were there probably 45 minutes. 3 of them should have come by then. So we eventually decided to go to the other side of the street and catch the bus going back to the city, and save the trip for another day. It was a bummer. I wasn't ready to leave at all, and was really hoping that the bus would come just as we decided to walk away. We got to the other side of the road and almost to the stop when I spotted the 31 coming around the bend. I looked at Heather and Betheny and we were all like "run!" So we raced across the road and down the our stop just as the bus was coming to a stop. Thank goodness! This was going to be a good day after all!

We rode that bus as far as it would take us and got off at a small ice cream shop. Heather asked the driver where the lighthouse was, since we thought that it would drop us off there. He pointed us down the road and said it was like a ten or fifteen minute walk. That was fine with us. We discovered that there were wild blackberries growing along the edge of the road! Yum! So that was a nice little afternoon snack. The countryside was so pretty. We saw a couple horses, and there were rock walls everywhere. We also saw a sign posted that said 10 m.p.h. M.P.H! Not k.p.h. What in the world?! They're supposed to be on the metric system, but maybe it's different in the country...

We finally caught sight of the light house, and of course had to take pictures with it. We then walked up and around to the cliffs, and oh my gosh. It was the most beautiful views I've ever seen! There was a hole that went under a cliff side where the water was rushing through, and then there was also a skinny little waterfall on the side of a cliff! All I can say is, go to my facebook page and look at the pictures and videos. Words cannot describe. The sea and the cliffs and the world felt so huge, and I felt so small. It makes me think of a line from Lee Ann Womack's song "I hope you dance": I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. It was gorgeous, even if it was overcast and rainy. I will definitely be going back.

Mon, Sept. 20

Today, Jess and I went to the city to register at the Garda. To make a long story short, we got there at 7:30, and they wouldn't let students queue until 9. We got our tickets a little after nine, and they told us that there would be a three hour wait, so we walked around the city until around ten o'clock. When we got back, we sat down and read and studied for our classes until we were sick of that. Then around 12:30 they finally got to our numbers. I was 168 and Jess was 169. I showed the immigration officer all my paperwork and paid the 150 euro (what a ripoff, the card expires the end of the year), and then we had to wait probably another half hour for the batch of cards to be printed. Then I heard over the intercom, "American national please, Megan Schnur." Only they didn't pronounce my name right, but I was ready to get out of there. I signed my card and picked up my passport and we were out of there. About time! That process was way longer than it should have been, and it definitely could have been done more efficiently. It just felt like a big waste of time...and money.

Then Jess and I wanted  to go pick up some stuff to make Betheny's no-bake cookies, and we also picked up some stuff to make egg salad and tuna salad. As we were waiting for the 46a to go back in to campus, we were informed by an old Irish lady that our bus doesn't stop there anymore as of yesterday. She knew because she lives just down the road by some hotel, she was telling us. But luckily, there was another couple who was kind enough to let us follow them to another stop on the bypass that would take us back.

For supper, Jessica and I were going to make sausage and rice with the sausage links I got earlier. We put mushrooms and onion and sweet and sour sauce with it in a frying pan, topped the white rice with it, and dug in. But as soon as I said, "I hope this is good," Jessica had taken a bite and was making a face of disgust. I felt so bad. I knew they were bad boiled, better cooked in the oven, and evidently awful in the frying pan. It's just the amount of fat in them that makes the texture horrible, and gives it a terrible flavor. So I felt bad and told her. But she was fine with it and made some scrambled eggs for her rice instead. I forced the sausage down. It wasn't too bad with more sauce on it. But that's the last time I get those pork sausages. I'll stick with beef or chicken over here.

So if today wasn't a test of my patience, I don't know what is.

Until next time! (fyi, I hope to update this more frequently so they're not as long) :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of Class

Well, I left off with this blog on Wednesday I believe...

Thursday night we went out to the student bar on campus and got to experience some traditional Irish dancing. It was such a fun time. I got to dance with an Irish guy...although he didn't know how to dance any better than I did. Haha. But the music is so happy and energetic that you can't help but smile as you listen and watch the band play. It is such a cultural eye-opener to be at a bar in a different country and compare the dancing, music, and atmosphere to what you're used to at a bar in your native country. I personally prefer the Cactus or Jakes, but I am here to have an open mind and learn to embrace other cultures and traditions, so I'm all for new experiences. This was also the night I had my first pint of Guinness, but sadly it wasn't even in the Guinness glass. If I had to describe it, it is a much heavier and stronger beer than I am used to in the U.S., but I am not opposed to drinking it again. Bulmers is much more up my alley. It's a cider that comes in different flavors such as berry and pear, but so far I've only had the original. After we left the student bar (by the way, there are TWO student bars located ON CAMPUS...the drinking age here is 18, so you only have to show your student I.D. to get in...a few more ways in which Ireland differs from America) we caught the bus and went downtown to a few of the pubs. They had live music as well and were generally very crowded with people of all ages. We ended the night by taking a taxi back to campus. Oh, and something I must mention...don't wear heels on cobblestone streets. I didn't, but there were several who did. It's hard enough walking in tennis shoes, I can't imagine how it would be in heels...or better yet, intoxicated. Something to keep in mind when you venture to Dublin.

Friday we took the campus tour and went to the international office because some of us needed to register for different modules and get letters to take with us when we register with the Garda. We then went to the International Student Cafe and had some sandwiches and tea and got to visit with one another and students who had traveled from all across the world to study here. Later that night, Vanessa wanted to go out to the student bar because she hadn't been yet, so Betheny and I went with her. We got to meet two other students she knew from Germany, Tom and Becca. They told us about the travels they'd done around Ireland before arriving here this week. It sounded really interesting and made me all the more excited for our trip to Cork here in a couple weeks.

Saturday I got to skype with my parents and saw my dad for the first time since the airport on Monday. Vanessa, Betheny, and I, along with Tom, Becca, and Ullo (from Italy) rode the bus into town to (attempt to) do a self-guided 90-minute tour around Dublin. We got off at St. Stephen's Green and attempted to follow the red dots on the map, but one of the things that really frustrates me about this city is that the roads are not clearly labeled. Some of them have signs on the corners of buildings, but most of them appear to be nameless, except of course on the maps, which proves to be no help at all when you're a tourist trying to navigate. So we ended up along the main shopping strip, walked down the Temple Bar area, got to go into a Guinness store (where I found this awesome clock for only 19.99...I will go back and buy it when I figure out how much it's going to cost me to ship it home), stopped at the post office to buy some more stamps for postcards, went shopping at Dunnes for some pots for the apartment so we can cook (we got a set of 3 stainless ones for 15 euro...not a bad deal), stopped at McDonald's to get some ice cream, bought a 30-day rambler bus pass, and came back to campus. We dropped our stuff off at our apartments and then caught the bus to Tesco so we could do some major grocery shopping. And when I say major, I mean we brought our carry-on rolling luggage and backpacks with us. Shopping for groceries is no fun when you have to haul it all home with you on the bus. Not that I didn't before, but I feel priveleged to have a car in America after this experience. While walking back to the bus stop from Tesco, the zipper on my backpack came open somehow and out fell my yogurt, which busted open on the sidewalk...I guess it just wasn't meant to be. It was a relief when we got all of our stuff put away in the fridge and could just sit down. I'm hoping I won't have to make many trips of that extent to the grocery store, but then I remember how much I like food. Later that evening I got a skype call first from Cody, and then from Jill and Derick! That pretty much made my day. It's so nice to be able to talk to and see people from home. Thank goodness for technology.

Yesterday was a well-deserved day of relaxation. I cleaned and organized my desk (which could use it again already), and stayed inside pretty much all day, except when Vanessa and I walked to the Centra to pick up some drain cleaner (Mr. Muscle, as it was called) for the shower, which was starting to flood when we'd use it. Last night we made penne pasta with fruity curry and pesto. I'd never had either of those sauces, but they were pretty darn delicious. I'll definitely be using those when I go back to Purdue.

This morning I had my first and only class of the day, Farm Business Management. I took my netbook with me to take notes on, but no one else seemed to be using laptops, so I reverted to simply writing my notes in my spiral notebook and made a mental note to not bring my laptop next time. The good thing news was that we found out from our professor that we wouldn't be having the Monday session of lecture until later in the semester...which for me means I get to have extended weekends since I already don't have classes on Fridays!

After class I discovered there is a post office on the main floor of the main restaurant, and so I dropped off my postcards that I wrote yesterday. Then I went upstairs to meet up with Jessica because we were going to get our student travel cards, but the stand wasn't set up in the student center anymore. We were told that it was located in the library, so we decided to wait until later to do that. Nancy was also at the restaurant, and Heather met up with us as well. Jessica and Nancy got breakfast and it looked delicious for the 5.50 euro they paid.

Jess and I came back to our apartment and relaxed for a little while. I looked up the hours for students to register at the Garda, and we decided to go into town on Friday to do that. They say it takes 3 or 4 hours to complete this process, so that should be interesting. Sounds like it will be similar to the hoops I had to jump through to simply be able to move into my room on Tuesday. Just what I want to hear.

I've been looking around for places online to be able to watch American tv shows, but no matter where I search, it won't let me watch them because I am located outside of the United States. I had no idea this would be a problem, but then again I have no reason to know this because I've never been out of the states. I suppose I take for granted the fact that at home (well, more like at Purdue where we get cable) I can just turn on the television and there are a multitude of channels from which I can choose. Instant gratification. But I am able to watch episodes of The King of Queens on youtube, so that should keep me entertained for a while anyway.

Jess, Vanessa, and I did our laundry this afternoon. The machines here cost 3 euro to wash and 1.50 euro to dry! It's outrageous! I'm used to putting quarters into a machine, not spending around $6 per wash! I guess this semester will be a test of how conservative I can be with my clothes...wonderful. I'm going to go broke doing laundry.

Vanessa went to a sporting event this evening, and Jess and I stayed home and made a stir fry for supper. We went and got onions, mushrooms, noodles, and chicken from the Centra store at Merville (a residence hall on campus), and I already had some carrots in the fridge. It turned out really well considering we used a pot because we didn't have a skillet, and we didn't have any salt or pepper. But for the time and effort we put into it, it was a very fulfilling meal. It's nice to be able to cook our meals. Makes this feel more like a home.

Tonight is what they call Black Monday, where evidently all the students go out to the bars and it's pretty much a drunk festival. My bedroom window doesn't seal completely, and I'm on the first floor, so I can hear everything loud and clear. They are ridiculously noisy outside and I am getting really annoyed. If this is any indication of how my evenings are going to be spent, I'm probably going to go crazy. Times like these make me appreciate West Lafayette and good old American law enforcement. I'm sorry, but I enjoy my peace and quiet sometimes...

Good night, everyone!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 2: The Dublin Shopping Tour

I woke up this morning at 8:45 and ate some of my fabulous Fruit and Fibre cereal i purchased yesterday at the Tesco in town. Things here are definitely not as sugary as they are back in the states, but I really do like it. The tour started at 10, so Jessica, my apartment mate from California, and I walked up to the engineering building where we were to meet. Our guide was a UCD student named Dierdre, and she was very nice and helpful. We first introduced ourselves to everyone in our group, and then went to one of the small shops on campus to make change since the bus requires exact change for the fare. It was 1.60 euro one-way. We walked to the Tesco just north of campus, and from there we took the bus up to the main shopping center area on Grafton Street. It was a double decker bus, one of those that reminds me of something from Harry Potter. Dierdre showed us the bus stop where we would need to catch the number 10 bus to come back to campus. We walked down the main city center and entered a sort of shopping mall, where she showed us a couple department-type stores called Dunnes and Argos where we could purchase bed linens, towels, pots, pans, utensils and whatever else we needed. It was comparable to a JCPenney's in America, and the prices were very reasonable. I didn't buy anything there. She then said a few final words and set us free to catch the bus and come back to the campus whenever we were finished shopping and looking.

Like I said, my roommate, Jessica, is from California. She's studying sociology and attends UCSD. My other roommate, Vanessa, is from Germany and is studying business. She didn't go on the tour with us today because she had an orientation program to attend for her particular school. Other people I met on the tour were Heather from California. She goes to UCBerkeley and studies philosophy. This is her last semester. What a way to finish! She's been here since August 26th by herself just exploring and doing all kinds of things. She lives off campus in a house, but none of her roommates have arrived yet, so it's been a lonely time for her. She said that it's not much fun traveling alone, which I can definitely understand. So I look forward to traveling with her. I discovered on the tour that she has a great sense of direction and has a passion for exploring and discovering new things, a lot like I do. Nancy is another girl I met from California. She studies psychology and lives at Blackrock. I'm getting to know a lot of Californians it seems. Francesca is from Florence, Italy, and has some of the longest hair I've ever seen. Mine used to be that long, but it has been a while. Evelyn is from New York state, and she's also studying business and lives in Roebuck. She is supposed to be moving into Roebuck Castle in a couple weeks. So for now she's living in the dorms right next to it until they finish.

We went to St. Stephen's Green, which is a park in Dublin. It was absolutely beautiful. The birds there are like the squirrels at Purdue, domesticated and everywhere you turn. I had a couple gulls fly literally inches from my face as I was walking along the pond. Nothing scares them. There are so many plants and flowers that grow in Ireland. It really is amazing how cool the weather seems, yet there are palm trees growing in the suburbs. I will be anxious to get out into the rural parts and see how everything compares to both the city of Dublin and rural America, as far as plants, flowers, crops, and agriculture in general.

Most of us girls needed to get a phone to be able to use while in Dublin, so we all went to the Meteor store. The three main cellular providers in Ireland, and perhaps all of Europe, are Meteor, Vodafone, and O2. Heather said that the majority of people have Meteor, so that's the one we went with since we would get unlimited free calls and texts to other Meteor customers for 30 days. I bought a 20 euro top off for mine as well, since I know Betheny has Vodafone. Once my 30 days are up, I can still call and text people on Meteor but it will draw from my 20 euro. So if I watch my minutes, I might be able to go two or more months on that 20, otherwise I just buy more minutes. But I must say, it does feel nice to be able to text again and have a phone, even if it isn't touch screen and doesn't have a full keyboard. I'm sure mom and dad will appreciate seeing that I'm not sending over 3000 texts a least not for the next 3.5 months. But I do still use my Samsung for taking pictures and the alarm.

From there we decided to get a little something to eat, so we went to the Citi Bar and Club, which Heather had discovered had really good food and good prices. We sat outside at a couple tables since it seemed to be a nice day, but before we ordered our food it started to rain. We thought we'd go inside rather than risk it turning into a downpour on us while we were trying to eat. So we went inside and pushed a couple tall tables together. I ordered the Traditional Irish Steak and Guinness Pie tapa, which came with salad, fries, and bread for only 3.20 euro. I'd never had Guinness, but I could really taste it in the pie, and I must say it was really good. It has a different taste from the beer in America, and I am really excited to actually drink a pint sometime soon. (Maybe if a certain Derick I know had tried this beer first, he might think differently about drinking beer (lol)). The waitress left us some small chocolate squares as we left, called "New Orleans Chocolat Extra Noir" with 72% cacao. It tasted like dark chocolate and was a nice sort of pick-me-up.

We walked all around Dublin. Heather was essentially our tour guide since she'd spent a few days in the city. We stopped at a local hotel where she'd spent a night, and she said hi to the girl at the front desk with whom she'd made friends. The hotels there are very small from what I could tell in the lobby, and Heather said the room was small, but it was comfortable. That's one thing that I've found over here. The people are all really nice and curious to get to know more about you, and are very welcoming. Some of the Irish students seem to have their groups they prefer to hang out with, but you'll have that no matter where you go. From there, we continued walking and came to the post office, where I bought a book of stamps so I can send home some post cards. Along with the normal stamp that goes in the corner, there is also a "Priority Aerphost" stamp that must be on it in order to go internationally, and I've heard from an Irish student that she sent a postcard to California and it got there in a couple days. So whenever I get around to sending these out, the recipients ought to get them pretty soon and not be reading too terribly old of news. I also picked up several post cards, which were 3 for a euro. The stamps were 10 for 8.20 euro. I'll have to convert this sometime to dollars just out of curiosity and see how it compares to US stamps. Speaking of which, going shopping at the grocery yesterday was different because they sell bananas in euros per kilo, so I was trying to do some mental math and see what it would be in dollars per pound, but I just gave up and got apples and oranges instead.

We ended up walking along the River Liffey and I got to take lots of pictures of the bridges, boats, buildings, statues, a memorial, and some Guinness trucks. We ended by walking through Trinity College, which is a beautiful campus right in downtown Dublin. They are our rivals, so if I have anything bad to say I can say it about them, or at least that's what i was told. The buildings are gorgeous, and the campus is really small. They don't provide accommodation for students as I learned, and the college was built on reclaimed land from the estuary of the River Liffey. From there, it was a short walk back to the bus stop. We were waiting on the number 10, and just across the street there was a House of Names: Know Your Coat of Arms. I made a mental note that it would be an interesting place to stop in sometime and see if there was anything on any of my family.

We took the bus back and arrived at campus around 4pm. Our exchange student orientation began at 4:30, and then there was a barbeque for 5 euro at the main restaurant on campus. It was a lot of food, but there was no drink included. They were an extra 1.50 euro, so I passed after spending so much already earlier in town. I didn't eat my baked potato, so I brought it home and stuck it in the fridge for later.

It's been a long day, and I am once again exhausted. I'm looking forward to "sleeping in" again tomorrow, since the Non-EU Exchange Students Orientation doesn't begin until 10 am. Good night!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Flying Over and the First Day

Saying goodbye to my family wasn't as hard as I'd imagined it being as I passed through to security. Our US Airways flight left the new Indy airport at 10:20am yesterday morning. Betheny and I had connecting flights at Philadelphia and Boston, and I can say they were pretty smooth and easy.  When we landed at Boston Logan International, we were able to see the many boats from the air in the harbor. There were beautiful sleek sailboats, speedboats, and even larger ones that looked like cruise ships. Boston really is a beautiful city from what small part I saw of it, and the ocean was so much bigger than I imagined it looking! We changed terminals and sat at gate E5 for a good three hours watching our big Aer Lingus jet sitting at the end of the loading ramp and listening to CNN on the television. There were so many people who would walk by talking on their cell phones with accents. That was one of the first times that it started to hit me that this was all really happening. 

They called for our rows to start boarding, and I noticed there were a few nuns in champagne-colored attire and black habits. I continued looking around at everyone in line and still seated waiting, wondering who they were and what their reasons were for leaving the country. On the plane, there were three young Irish girls, the youngest being probably 2 and the oldest maybe 6. They had the most adorable little accents when they talked to and yelled at each other, and their mother was giving them carrots and cucumbers as snacks. They were watching Phineas and Ferb on the television screens that were on the backs of the seats, which was another first for me. I'd never been on a plane with those before, but George texted me and said they were for letting us know the speed, time, distance, and flight map during the flight. He was right, except there was a lot more than that. There were movies of all types, games, and music. I took several pictures out the window as we left Boston in case it might be the last time I saw land. As we gained altitude, the sun made the clouds look gorgeous. We eventually got up to almost 40,000 feet, and on the climb up it was like the ground was made of clouds, and I was left to wonder what lay below. It was a very strange feeling to watch that little airplane on the screen in front of me leave the land I knew as home and see it heading on a path across a big blue patch into a place I knew nothing about. Other firsts for me included being served a meal, choice of beef casserole or chicken and rice. I stuck with the chicken, and was surprised at how much they actually served. It wasn't half bad. I also got to experience the airplane bathroom later in the flight. It was different, that's all I've got to say. 

As we were coming in to land at Dublin (around 5 am their time) I noticed the cars driving on the opposite side of the roads and highways. I could see the rain streaking across my window and the lights from the city and the runway were green, blue, red, white, purple, and yellow, making it look like Christmas. We landed and got everything situated and were ready to go through customs, where they asked for my passport and letter of acceptance to UCD. I got my picture taken and chatted with the woman, who had a daughter who was a freshman attending UCD as well. We went to collect our baggage, I exchanged enough money to get a bus ticket, and we were on our way to the college. The drive through Dublin at 5:30 am was incredible. The sun was just starting to rise, and what a way to be introduced to the city. It was absolutely amazing seeing the light of dawn reflect off the buildings and the river as we crossed the bridge to the south. The streets were surprisingly narrow, but that didn't seem to slow down the regulars and taxis who sped right along without a worry. When it came time to get off at UCD, the driver got our luggage out of the underneath compartment and we were on our own! We didn't know which way to go, so we followed a couple other guys who were going as well. That trip from the main entrance to my residence hall, Belgrove, was a very miserable and hot, tiring trip. I eventually got checked into my room after a few headaches, and met my two roommates. Jessica is from California and studying sociology, and Vanessa is from Germany studying business management. I think we will get along well. 

Betheny and I have already made plans to go to Cork (RyanAir had tickets for 14 euro a piece!) September 25 to see the Blarney Castle and kiss the stone. We are both pretty excited about the deal we got on that one, and plan on going down to Blackrock, Dalkey, and Killiney Beach this Saturday. They are supposed to be good sight seeing spots, and we need to keep busy so we don't get to thinking about home too much. I'm just excited to get to GO places and take pictures of everything. 

Well, I feel like I haven't slept in days and this is probably getting progressively worse as the night goes on, so I will end this for now and update it as I can!