Tuesday, September 29, 2009

250th Guinness Anniversary, Killarney, and Ring of Kerry

The tunnel to the waterfalls

The beautiful waterfalls in the National Park

Whew, we biked a couple miles to the National Park where Muckross House was!

Muckross House on the outside....we weren't allowed pictures on the inside

My first "Hostel Experience"  It was great!  Who can complain at 6 Euros a night?

Me at Ladies View...this is where Queen Victoria's Ladies in Waiting decided the best view in Ireland was.  

We visited Sneem!!!  They won the Tidy Towns Competition in 1987...too bad there were two Heineken bottles next to the sign:)

Adorable family at the beach...the water was about 40F

A round fort

Daniel O'Connell's old place, he's the liberator of Ireland

Me in front of the Atlantic!  Twas a gorgeous day:)

My first Irish Coffee

Downtown Killarney

Sorry, here's my first blog in over a week!!!  I've been so bogged down with readings and group projects and, of course, traveling!!!  

So last Thursday was the 250th Anniversary of Guinness.  It's the celebration of the day when Arthur Guinness put the 9,000 year lease down on the brewery for not very much money...great deal!

Friday my roommates and I took a 6 hour bus journey to Killarney.  It was a magical town!  We at dinner in a cute pub and the food was excellent.  Then we found our hostel and had a good night's sleep.  Saturday morning we set out on our bus tour of the Ring of Kerry!  It's a peninsula on the southwest part of Ireland.  In total we saw Killarney, Killorglin, Glenheigh, Kells, Cahersiveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel, Sneem, Moll's Gap, and Ladies View.  It was such a beautiful day with great weather!!!  We basically rode the bus around the whole day and stopped in these places for pictures and shopping.  

On Sunday we rented bikes in town and rode out to the National Park near Killarney.  I was really worried because I seriously haven't ridden a bike since my accident in 2nd grade...there were scabs in my school picture that year.  Granted, my roommate, Mariel, has more reason to be terrified of bicycles because she has braved three accidents in total.  As she described them to me I felt like my one accident on that gravel rode was so insignificant compared to her experiences.  But the old saying about stuff coming back to you prevailed and I escaped the day with one minor scourge:  I was standing beside my bike and it fell over on my foot.  We biked to the waterfalls in the park to take pictures.  Then we took a tour of Muckross House.  It was an amazing old Victorian home.  It has had three different owners including a couple from California.  They ended up giving the house to their daughter when she married an Irish man.  I would love to get a house for a present!  It was sad we weren't allowed to take pictures in the house, so I have none to show you.  There was a Waterford crystal chandelier in every major room downstairs!  The library has a great collection of books ranging from Encyclopedia Britannica to Charles Dickens.  Queen Victoria even visited the occupants of Muckross in her time.  They had a special part of the house for her including her bedroom, bathroom, and sitting area.  We didn't have time, but you could have also toured the farm and gardens of this estate.  All in all it was a very enjoyable first weekend away from Dublin.  It felt good to get out of the city and visit the country.  The people really are different there, very nice.  We'll see what Cork brings this coming weekend!  

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dublin Zoo & Willy Wonka Elevator

In front of the Willy Wonka elevator

Meerkats in a huddle

Bunny-like creatures

An adorable bunny:)

A guinea pig...we want one for our flat!



Today my roommates and I took the number 10 bus all the way to the end of it's route to visit the Dublin Zoo. We saw many animals and it was so cute to listen to the little Irish children oooh and aww about the animals. My favorite was the meerkats because they are just so darn cute! I love how one of them is always on watch for predators. I do find it slightly sad and ironic that they do this because nothing is going to harm them in the zoo...but they don't know this. I was thinking that the zoo officials should make fake predators as puppets or cardboard cut-outs. That way, every so often they could stage a fake attack on the meerkats so that the look-out meerkat would feel worth while and earn his keep. Just a suggestion.

After the zoo we trekked to find the Willy Wonka elevator. We walked soooo far...you know how everything looks close together on the map, but we must have walked for 45 minutes. When we finally got there we took pictures in front. When we actually walked over to ride to the top of it there was a sign on the adjacent hotel saying, "We are closed indefinitely due to unforseen circumstances." I was so disappointed that we couldn't ride to the top! It's suppposed to be a really good view of Dublin from the top. Sadly, we got on a bus to come back to UCD. It was a great day though:)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Various Instances

This week has been hectic because my schedule changed again. But now I have got it figured out, which is good because the last day to change is tomorrow. I have switched my Early Christian Ireland elective to Waste Management. As weird as it sounds, I am really interested in this course. Waste isn't just poo. As our professor described it, "it's everything that gets thrown down that someone else doesn't want to pick up." So that includes litter and all sorts of things. We are in small groups of four or five people. I am the only girl in a group with three post-grad guys. They're all Irish so I'm excited to get to know them! Most people in this course study Green Technologies. I've never heard of that before, but think it's a really good thing to do!

On Tuesday night we had an International Buddy Social. It's a program where six or so international students have two Irish buddies to hang out with and ask questions. I wasn't too pleased with my group because only one of our buddies showed up. A few of my group members couldn't speak english either. There isn't anything wrong with that I guess, but basically no one wanted to hang out which is the point of the whole program! My roommate, Erika's group seems pretty cool though so maybe I can tag along with them when they do things.

There's an International Student Reception tonight that we're going to before the comedy routine we're seeing. The comedian is part of the Fringe Festival that's going on in Dublin. The Fringe is all sorts of arts activities that you can see September 5-20. The Veggie Circus we saw last week was part of the Fringe. We watched a clip of the guy online and he seems pretty funny. It was about a nun and a donkey in the bathtub and the nun dropped the soap...we can't remember the comedian's name so we all just refer to him as "The Donkey Man." Hopefully he's really funny! I hate it when you see a preview for a funny movie and then all of the funny parts were in the preview, so you've already seen the good stuff. I'm sure it'll be good though!

I can't believe I've been here three weeks already! Wow, the time has flown by. I was just so excited about my new UCD sweatshirt that I decided to post a picture of it on here.

This next picture is the inside cover of the book I checked out of the library. For my Gender, Culture & Society class we read an Irish book every week and then discuss it. This week we are reading Elizabeth Bowen's "The Last September" (I highly recommend it!) There are all sorts of crazy things written in the back cover of this book so I posted the picture. My favorite is the Darth Vader sketch and written beside it, "Never underestimate the power of the dark side." :) Another weird quote is, "Brian Adams is a sad, old git. People like him should not be allowed to make 'music.' Their 'music' is boring, sorry, and pathetic. For may as well listen to the theme tune of Dallas or Home and Away or something." Poor Brian Adams!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival

Today my roommates and I traveled to Dun Laoghaire to attend the Mountains to Sea Book Festival. Here we heard readings from Sadie Jones, Jill Dawson, and Claire Kilroy. They were all fantastic authors and I am excited to read their novels. I will say though that Claire Kilroy's novel seemed very dark, and I think it's the one I liked least out of all of them. After we walked along a huge concrete pier. It was such a glorious, sunny day so we took our time and enjoyed it. Below are some pictures and a short video of my roommates.

The ocean!

From the left: Erika (from Canada), Mariel (from New Zealand), and me

The stage at the festival where three women authors read excerpts from their books

The adorable town of Dun Laoghaire (pronounced "done leery," who knew?)

Here's a cute video of my roommates by the sea

Saturday, September 12, 2009


So the Cirque de Legume was pretty good. It was funny when the girl was hypnotized by a turnip. A man and a woman performed typical circus acts with veggies like a Spanish horse and the Seal of Poland (whatever that is). All in all I'm glad we went because it was definitely memorable.

Last night my roommates and I went out to a club with some American med students we had met in the laundry room earlier that day. I guess the laundry room isn't a good place to meet people because it wasn't very fun. The place where we went was meant for a crowd older than us so dancing was kind of weird with 30-year-olds strutting their stuff, trying to win the affections of my gorgeous friends:)

Today has been the forth day of sunshine in a row!!! It's been so great because each day we make a point to go out and lay on the grass to soak up the sun. After a bit of shopping in the downtown today we sat at St. Stephens Green park and ate a muffin by one of the fountains. A guy with a little, scruffy dog kept throwing a rubber ducky into the fountain and the dog would leap in after it, splashing the slimy water everywhere. This game came to an end when the dog got out on the opposite side of the fountain from his master and shook water all over a blond woman enjoying an ice cream. It was pretty funny to watch though:)

Tonight my roommates and I will enjoy a movie together. Then tomorrow we are going to a Writers' Festival just outside of Dublin. We have tickets to attend a reading of three Irish women authors. I'm glad it's forecasted to be sunny for the next two days!

Below is a picture of the ADORABLE owl earrings I bought at Topshop today:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cirque de Legume

This evening my roommates are celebrating the Fringe Festival here in Dublin by attending The Cirque de Legume. We heard about it at the market last Saturday. A man asked us if we liked to laugh and then invited us to it....now this is something I just cannot resist because as soon as he described it I immediately thought of the Muppets when the veggies sing in Muppet Treasure Island! So I am so completely stoked to go!!!...and I hope it's not a let down because my hopes are so high:) So here is the description in the Fringe booklet:

"Quite simply the Greatest Vegetable Circus on Earth! In this piece of comic absurd theatre we meet Mister & Missus, two genius performers who find a hidden beauty in cast-off vegetables from which they make a wonderful show full of excitement, danger, and sensuality! Marvel at the Veget-animal! Gape atthe Magical Carrot! Enthrall at the Leek of Power! Fantasise over the Onion Strip Tease! The Cirque de Legume shows us how beautiful life can be if we only stop to play with it. You'll never look at an onion the same way again."

...I'll let you know how this turns out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pictures from this weekend in Dublin

St. Stephens Green on a rainy day :D

Cute family at Trinity College (Oscar Wilde & Jonathan Swift studied here)

The River Liffy

Christ Church

The Chester Beatty Library (woot woot!)

Dublin Castle

Dublin City Hall

First Day of Classes

Well, today was the first day of classes and the weather was glorious:) The sun shined for the first time in a long time...I was beginning to think they had photo shopped the sun into the international students' brochures. Since labs and tutorials (like our recitations) don't begin until next week I only had one lecture today at 1:00pm. It was for Early Christian Ireland. My lady professor was very nice and I'm looking forward to the class.

After this, I began my expedition to locate my other lecture halls and labs. It's good because my six lectures are confined to three buildings. I was lucky to find all of the classrooms, before tackling the labs. I have never seen the Conway Institute (for biochemistry lab) or Ardmore House (for food microbiology lab) on my map. I asked for help in the Food Science main office and the woman was very friendly. With directions in hand, I set off in the direction of the Conway Institute. I found my lab room in the back corner of a giant building and started back towards campus. I took what I thought was a scenic detour on a nature path which let me into a construction zone. After getting through there I found my last lab in a building which I thought was a house behind the AIB bank.

This evening I thought I'd be a good idea to take a class at the gym with my roommates. We were the only five girls there, and people for that matter. This guy was an ex-drill sargent named Seamus and he worked us like I had never exercised before! He kept yelling things at us like "smile and breathe as I walk by ladies," and "blitz, Blitz, BLITZ!!!" I kept wishing there was a clock in the room because the time seemed to pass so slowly. We did the plank position four times and push-ups and squats and lunges.....whew now I am beat. We made stir fry for supper with veggies and such to be somewhat healthy while rewarding us for the awful pain we had just endured. Now I'm getting ready for my three lectures tomorrow in the Chemistry of Macronutrients, Applied Biostatistics, and The Biochemistry of Nitrogen.....I don't think I'm going to like Tuesdays very much here:)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exploring Dublin

All this week my roommates and I have been going into the city to buy things like kitchen supplies and food and cell phones. These trips are very short and to the point. Today, however, we took the New Europe tour of Dublin. It's a free tour given in the major cities of Europe, and you just tip the guide at the end. It rained during the whole tour but was amazing! The guide was a Ph.D student at Trinity College, which is the oldest college in Dublin. Starting at the City Hall, we wound our way past Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library, and Temple Bar. Here we stopped for a 15 minute brake at the Queen of Tarts. I ordered a raspberry cheesecake tart and tea. I handed the cashier a 10 Euro note and it turns out it was fake...she took it and gave me nothing in return, and I had to pay with other cash. I was so mad! But I'm glad it wasn't a 50 Euro note instead. We continued on for another hour, ending up in St. Stephen's Green.

After the tour was over the tour guide went to O'Neill's in Temple Bar to watch the championship hurling match. It was Kilkenny versus Tipperary, and Kilkenny has won the past three years straight. This is the first time I have truly been engaged in a sporting match for the entire time! To me, hurling is a mix between soccer, baseball, and american football. The men all have sticks and they hit this small ball around the pitch to either score a goal like in football (above the posts) or in soccer (into the net). Above is worth one point and below is worth three. It was a pretty bloody match but the two halves of 35 minutes flew by in the pub. The atmosphere was electric and all the Irish people were cursing at the TV. In the end, Kilkenny triumphed for the forth year in a row. I was sort of sad because I always like to root for the underdog!

Tomorrow is the first day of class, and it's hard to believe because it's felt like such a vacation so far. Yesterday, my roommates and I made plans for the semester and were booking tickets for shows and festivals. I guess it's time to get ready for tomorrow and get in gear for a semester of work!

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Attempts at Cooking...

Yesterday was a busy day...I went to St. Stephen's Green with my roommates to get cell phones and stuff for our flat. It was a beautiful, sunny day until a giant downpour broke out. It did that off and on for the rest of the afternoon. We finally got home at about 6:30pm, but still needed groceries (because I have been eating Frosties and cheese sandwiches for the last three days). We took the bus to a nearby Tesco and got this week's food for our flat. After getting home at about 8:30pm we began cooking a delicious soup. Since our range has no markings on the dials, we then proceeded to try and get the soup to a boil (on low, I might add) for the next two hours. Finally our roommate's friend Alex told us we had the burner on the lowest setting.....:( When we had gotten the settings sorted out we marked the hightest setting with a big "H" to prevent future food catastrophes. Our soup was so tasty though, and we enjoyed it as a late night snack at 10:45pm.

There is nothing on the orientation schedule today or this weekend so who knows what will happen next!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Random Thoughts

Today is my third day at University College Dublin (UCD) and it's been raining all day. I know it's supposed to be rainy here but come on! I read in the paper this morning that this has been the soggiest summer in history for Ireland.

I've been adjusting nicely to the time difference here. I go to bed at about 10pm and wake up at about 9am. I sleep with ear plugs in because there is zero insulation in our walls. I'm on the third floor of the building and I can hear every word of the conversations going on down below. The first night my ear plugs fell out in the middle of the night so I could hear my alarm go off. However, last night they stayed in so I didn't hear my alarm. I did wake up, by the grace of God, five minutes past my alarm to find that I couldn't hear it with my plugs in...guess I need to get used to sleeping with much noise going on.

I have finally been registered for all six of my classes. I am taking the following: food microbiology, the chemistry of macronutrients, applied biostatistics, the biochemistry of nitrogen, early christian Ireland: society & history, and gender, culture & society in Ireland. It's going to be a full course load but that's how many I have to take by Purdue's rules. I hope the last two about Ireland are fun and I learn about their history.

Right now I'm watching some guys playing American footbal in the rain. One has a Brett Farve (spelling?) jersey on. I've noticed in comparison to the Irish footballers who run around and do soccer drills that the Americans are much more concened with their cool looking plays. They stop every 30 seconds to confer, about what I do not know. While the Irish guys spend every second of their practice running and doing drills. Yes, I love my window:)