Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Smilin Ireland

There has been a lot to make me smile here in Ireland since my last post. I'm getting to know more people, the weather has been great, I finally got out of Dublin to see some country side and have been spending some time at the Goffs Thoroughbred sales! Yep, that would make me smile!

KILLARNEY!!!! I went with my friends Erika, Marial and Alyssa to Killarney for the weekend which included a tour of the Ring of Kells on Saturday, so a lot of country side was seen by all! It was truly beautiful and everything and more I would have thought of Ireland to look like. You truly have not seen green until you visit the Emerald Isle! Everything worked out perfectly! We never had to wait long on a bus, we found our hostel and all our destinations very easily, got some crazy good discounts and had a BLAST!!!!!

You may not believe me, but I felt as if I was partially on business for the Wesley Foundation at Purdue on Sunday. We rented bikes and biked a few miles to Killarney National Park where we saw the Muckross House and Abby, Turoc Waterfall and a lake. While admiring the beautiful country side, I was very intently evaluating the location for the next Bikers For Jesus location. Although I've never been on the trip myself, I think if they were to do it in Ireland, I would make some time in my busy schedule to go!

I saw a lot of my favorite four-legged creatures this weekend and week as well. Several of our stops on our bus tour included some horses in the scenery! The Irish Draft to the hardy Bog Pony- I saw the whole range :) Plus Killarney National Park was crawling with horse and carriages! We stuck to our two-wheeled transportation though.

Hmm... a few highlights from the weekend: Erika holding a sheep, meeting Seamus O'Connell (the Bog Pony), walking in quaint Killarney, finding the Killarney Methodist church, getting half of my souvenir shopping done and slamming on the bathroom door to open it until we realized you just had to push the handle down all the way! :)

I've also been to my first horse sales! And apparently I picked a good one for my initation! Goffs Thoroughbred Sales! The sale that just finished up this evening is the premier one and the top horses in this year's sale brought in up to 1/2 million euro! These were all yearlings being sold- so unproven on the track and the breeding shed. Pedigrees were the name of the game these past few days. Hours have been spent pouring through the catalogs and evaluating the black type by many before shelling out the dough on these horses. Crazy is all I have to say! I picked out a pretty grey, well balanced and a good moving filly in the parade ring, and sure enough looked her up and she had a sire that was pretty popular this afternoon and a proven dam- she brought in 140,00 euro. The popular sires from the ones that I saw today were Galileo, Holy Roman Emperor and Danehill Dancer. Saddler's Wells' mares' produce were raking in some big bucks as well. A manager from a stud farm came over and talked with us for awhile about the Irish Thoroughbred industry. He was filled with information after working in the industry all his life. He pretty much said that the Irish industry is pretty much monopolized by two stud farms and it is really hard to break into, especially if you're a nobody. He was encouraging my friends to look into the Thoroughbred Industry in either America or Australia- you can start out as a no-body, work bloody hard and make a name for yourself.

All and all I lack so much knowledge about the Thoroughbred industry, not to mention the Irish industry, so I was enjoying the atmosphere and the nice horses and just tyring to pick up whatever tid-bits of knowledge that I could. I still like my Quarter Horses and wish I was home to check out the Congress- the largest breed show in the World going on back in Columbus!

Alright- I have to do some homework and get things ready before my trip to Cork this weekend! I can't wait to see what puts a grin on my face this weekend!


Thursday, September 24, 2009


All time is no time - When time is past - Make time, save time - While time lasts.

This little saying has come back to my mind recently when I realized that this past Monday, I have been in Ireland for a month!!!!! I first found it on a sun-dial in a little garden by the track that I've spent a good amount of time on as well.

It totally does not feel like that long and I am taking that as motivation to start getting outta Dublin and to also experience more of the social college life and to also really start on my studies. Phew- I'm going to be one busy girl, but what else is new? This has been one busy year for sure and soon enough I'll have accomplished this crazy goal of mine that I set out to do last Fall and be back home again in Indiana :)

It also really occurred to me that I just want to make the most of this opportunity- to enjoy it and to truly make a heck of a good memory with it. And now for the cheesy analogy- you ready?My roommate Josh got some different roses before he took off for France this week as a prep for his upcoming internship in November there, and I have some in my window ceil. These two roses I picked out are beautiful! One is a big open yellow rose and the other one is a peace rose, yellow at the bottom, then flaring into red tips. Even though I can change the water, add a German version of 'Flower Fresh' to them- they are only going to last so long- just as my time here in Ireland is only going to last for so long.

So, what am I going to do about it? Well, I have weekend trips planned for the next three weekends, with hopefully more trips to come depending on how long my money holds out. This coming weekend I'm going to Killarney with my good girl-friends I have made here so far. A local Irishman told me the other day that Killarney is where everybody goes to summer vacation, so I'm hoping that means it will be beautiful! The following weekend we are heading southwest, not just west, to Cork for the Cork Folk Festival! I'm making this trip again with my girlfriends and should be a good craic for sure. One of my roommates is from Cork and he was really excited to hear that we were going to be checking out his home-town. Then probably the trip I'm most excited about, if that's even possible, is Carnforth, England. Sounds pretty random, I know, but my friend Brett from Camp Tecumseh is finally back home in Carnforth for a little while and has extended the invitation for me to come and visit! Not only will I be getting out of the city, but out of the country! Granted, I won't be seeing London, but I think of it this way- it is much easier to set up a touristy/ vacaction type thing to the bigger places and cities at some other time, but to go to these festivals and experience more of a local lifestyle- definitely priceless.

And yes, I'm forcing myself to stay in tonight to study, seeing as it is "Arthur's Day," I have had loads of peer pressure to celebrate with the rest of Dublin tonight. I haven't really cracked down on my school work a lot, so its about time. Oh- what's Arthur's Day? Well Arthur Genniuss's birthday, and this time he's 250 years old! Talk about making a lasting impresion on Ireland? Needless to say, town is going to be crazy tonight and big, drunk crowds tend to not be my thing. But, enjoy the celebrations everyone, I'll be having a party with Economics and Management :) That was the plan last night, but my crazy German roommate, Miriam, drug me out. I was totally not planning on going- but decided why not, it'll be an experience and ended up being a good time. I can now say that I have experienced a European rave now- glowsticks, flouresant paint, black lights, techno music and all. Still can't get over the fact that any night of the week is a night to go out! I thought going out on Thursdays was bad enough back home.

I believe that party with my friends Econ and Management is starting soon actually, so make the most of your time wherever you are, I know I sure am! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writing Inspiration!

Being the fairly consistent blogger that I am, I go throughout my day not necessarily looking for things to write about, but they just occur to me. Some topics just pertain to my day and how classes are going and such and any adventures I go on, while others are just random little, and often funny or ironic circumstances that strike my fancy I suppose.

Examples of the random topics:
- I came back from classes today and had a short conversation with my Irish roommate Evan while I was fixing my lunch. He walked in with a D.A.R.E. shirt on. I thought to myself, "They don't have that here." So I asked him and he said that he just got it off of an Irish friend who bought it in Uganda this summer while he was working there. He then asked me what it was and I explained the concept of the program to him and what I remembered from it. My D.A.R.E. t-shirt has probably seen about 6 different Goodwills by now, while this particular D.A.R.E. t-shirt has been literally all around the world.
This conversation also included the topic of American peanut butter as I have found a new favorite snack- apples and peanut butter. I came up with this idea all on my own, and not through peer pressure when my American roommate, Josh, dared me to try peanut butter with an orange. At this rate, that 2 and half pound jar of JIF that I brought might not last me the semester.

- Lack of cereal selection. At home with our glorious, one-stop superstores, an entire isle is usually dedicated to cereal! Where in comparison, I think one isle in a Super Wal-Mart is bigger than most grocery stores here. So the cereal section or cereal row on the shelf is quite limited. Kellogg's is the main-stream company and my choices based on taste and economical reasons have either been Rice Krispies (the cheapest by far) or Frosties (also known as Frosted Flakes back home.)

- I have discovered the name of those birds that I mentioned in one of my first posts here- Magpies! What a hideous name for, in all fairness, a pretty bird? Apparently they are unlucky unless seen in pairs, so I sometimes search out a second one just to make me feel better.

Besides these random ponderings, there has been a lot going on. Monday is always by far my busiest day and yesterday was no exception. Classes all day, workout class with Shay where he pretty much rips us apart every week, but we love him for it, and then the Equestrian Club social last night. A lot of girls in my different classes are in it, so I actually went somewhere knowing people- which was great! I'm getting super excited for the Tetrathlon- training starts soon- so we'll see how 'fit' I really am.

Now, I'm trying to make plans for some different trips. I have a friend from Camp Tecumseh that is from England and he is home for a little bit, so I want to go and visit him. Then my friends here are planning trips to Killarney and Cork- so many options and places to see. I also found out that an old high school friend is teaching English in France, so that's another place to hopefully see while I'm on this side of the pond!!!!!!

Off to class and maybe some other random occurrences that will inspire some unusual, but interesting thoughts to share with you later!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Down by the Sea

Another week has gone by here in Dublin. This week was fairly uneventful, classes, a couple of 'international events' and just getting used to things here I suppose.

Probably the biggest highlight in my classes was when a representative from the Goffs' Thoroughbred sales came and spoke to us about their sale. It is a highly prestigious sale and it is coming up in a few weeks. I think some friends that I have made in my Equine Industry class are going to try and go when the actual sale is going on. We get to go as a class field-trip on the Monday before the sale, but there aren't any horses being actually sold then. Although about 97% of the horses sold here are Irish bred, there are internationally bred horses that are sold here as yearlings as well and buyers come from all over the world to get that special horse. So, pretty excited about that!

Classes are going well I suppose, there isn't much 'continual assessment' going on, so I suppose I've been slightly slacking on keeping up with readings as we go along. It is hard for me to stay motivated when I don't necessarily have an assignment due in a class next week. So, the goal for later today is actually read some of my econ and some of my readings for equine health.

I joined the Equestrian Club! They train for a competition called the tetrathlon where you compete in swimming, running, pistol shooting and show jumping! I'm crazy excited about this and hopefully can make it on the team. Apparently it is fairly popular, but what a thrill it would be to actually compete in this with students from all over Europe. The show jumping aspect is just a catch ride with a few practice fences allowed. Another American girl that was on my same flight over here is going to train for it too, it is going to be a great craic!

So far this weekend has been pretty chilled. Went over to a friend's place last night and watched a movie. Some of my closest friends here so far are not Irish, but either American, Canadian and in one case a New Zealander! Today was a nice little adventure as I got to see a different part of Dublin on purpose this time. My roommate Josh took me to Don Laoghaire today down by the sea. This is where my friend Alyssa and I accidentally took the bus our first night here when we missed our stop by the college. Reminded me a bit of San Francisco as far as the weather and the wind, but only in Ireland? There were people swimming in the sea, much too cold for me. It made for a nice stroll for sure watching the boats and my favorite, people watching. There were a lot of families out and about and lots of people walking their dogs! One lady sent in her Labrador Retriever to get a plastic bottle out of the water- so cute!

So I'm just taking everything in as it comes. I'm trying a new church with my friend Sarah J from back home tomorrow, it is suppose to have a more 'college-age' atmosphere, so that will be good! And plans have been made to go to Cork, southwestern Ireland, for their folk festival with some friends. Once my check comes through, I'm planning on making some travel arrangements to mainland Europe, Northern Ireland and Scotland! So many adventures ahead and so little time!

I'm kind of in the mood to watch "The Little Mermaid" now. Haha, random I know, but my friends were singing "Kiss the Girl" last night and being around the sea/ ocean today it sort of makes sense in my random mind.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Walk in the Park

I had a great weekend here in Dublin! It was the perfect combination of chill and socializing! It started out with me discovering that I'm really going to like my Friday schedule! I have two one-hour lectures back to back starting at 9. So I'm out of classes by 11am. I think my dad is eating his breakfast about then? So then I have the rest of the day with that light-hearted, the weekend is ahead of me feeling that puts an extra pep to my step. I used this extra little motivation to do a good workout, some studying and laundry! And I think I've already told you about my story in the laundry mat, which led to meeting more people and playing frisbee. So I won't repeat myself anymore other than by saying Friday just set the tone for the rest of the weekend I suppose.

Slept in on Saturday :) Woke up to another unusual sunny day in Ireland! I went and rescued my phone that decided to stay the night in a friend's purse and took a nap for the next few hours and then got ready to meet my friend Sarah J for the evening :) We had a great dinner, once I figured out how the hob or the stove-top worked. The company of my roommate Josh didn't help matters much as he was just hanging out for the sheer amusement of seeing me fuss with trying to cook spaghetti. It wasn't even like a 4-course meal or anything, but to be in a kitchen with two fellow Boilermakers in Dublin, felt pretty good :) Dinner was tasty once it was finally done, and after that, Sarah and I hit the town! First stop was her place to drop off my stuff as we decided to go to church in the morning together and it would be easier for me just to crash at her place.

We walked down to the Temple Bar area and finally decided on a pub that had some good live Irish music. It was a fun little place and I tried a new cider. It was pretty good and cheap! With more emphases on the cheap side! We enjoyed the atmosphere for awhile and just had a good time catching up and feeling pretty proud of ourselves for making this huge step for the both of us to study abroad.

We fell asleep listening to the Purdue-Oregon game being streamed on the Internet. Unfortunately, we woke up in the morning to hear the final outcome was slightly different than what had played out in our dreams. But my spirits were soon lifted as we set out for church to yet another gorgeous sunny day in Dublin! This is where we walked through St. Stephan's Green instead of around it and it was fabulous! The park was very pretty and just peaceful. There were plenty of people there, but mostly families or couples just out for a Sunday morning stroll. It was the closest thing I've gotten to being outside of the city, even though it is in the very heart of it, so I was very happy.

Sarah and I attended the Lower Abbey Street United Methodist Church. To our surprise, the store-front church actually had a pretty cool traditional sanctuary to be found once inside its doors. We were immediately leached onto by an old Irish man named Richie, extending his warmest welcome. He showed us to an empty pew and about 5 minutes later the pastor's wife came up to us and started asking 20 questions in a very motherly way to make sure we were all set as far as places to stay and what not. Very sweet indeed.

The congregation would be one that my pastors at the Wesley Foundation back at Purdue would love! It was a very ethnically diverse congregation, with very few native Irish people actually. The main minister was not there, but the lady that filled in his absence was really good. She's an actress actually by profession and just got back from filming a BBC show. So, it was kind of cool to meet a local celebrity as well. Sarah has been invited to another Methodist church in town that we're going to check out next week before we make any decisions. Today's church was a sweet little church with some great big, loving hearts! The music was a wee bit rough, but it was beautiful at the same time knowing the joy that those who were off-key were singing to the Lord.

The rest of today entailed us walking back and stopping at a little cafe to have lunch. Once again, it was nice to catch up with Sarah and have a confidant while exploring this big old city, which I finally feel comfortable navigating. Which showed when I hopped on a new bus and made it back to campus without missing my stop! :) I had a great run, made up for a day off and scarfed some leftover spaghetti. Sounds like a great Sunday right? Don't get me wrong, it was, but it was made even better by catching the last quarter of the Colts-Jacksonville game with a little help from a friend. I'm not going to go into anymore details, but thanks friend, you know who you are and yes, I am slightly spoiled to have such good friends! I chatted it up with my two Irish roommates as they were returning from their weekends home and now I'm all ready for bed. Monday is my extra long day- 4 classes and my workout class with Shay! :)

All in all, I'm starting to feel more relaxed over here. I'm just hoping the rest of the semester will be as pleasant as today's "walk in the park."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Keeping on the Sunny Side

I believe it has been scientifically proven that sunlight helps to improve people's overall moods and makes them happy! Something to do with serotonin levels or something? I should google it. But anyways- it has sure had that effect on campus here at UCD. Even with classes underway- you can't help but at least half-smile when you step outside under a beautiful blue sky. I know this isn't going to last much longer, so I'm just excited while it does.

With this good weather, its made exercising much easier! Running in the rain last Sunday was a little rough. But I'm pretty excited about adding something different to the routine as I met a first year med student in the laundry mat (which is ridiculously expensive) yesterday and he mentioned that they were playing Ultimate Frisbee! I immediately perked up and said when and where? Now and follow me was his response! I wasn't particularly dressed for the occasion- so I went bare-foot and in sweats and surprised some with my pulling ability! My friends that were doing laundry with me came along as well, but chose to sit on the sidelines and observe. They were all really nice and the girl, Biatta, who was organizing it was crazy good. Maybe I could learn a thing or two off of her?

Classes went well this week. Only got confused once on the start time to one of my classes- but I didn't get lost and I wasn't late to any of my classes! The finance part of my Business Management class is going to be rough. Not in the sense of material, but the Prof is so dry. "Beuller ... Beuller ... Beuller, " doesn't even start to explain it. But I only have that Prof every other time for the first half of the course and the other guy is pretty good.

So the other night we finally got all 6 of the residents in Glenomena House 4- Apartment 8 together for dinner. It was a great time and the conversation continued on for about 3 hours :) We are all pretty different here in the 'house' but all got along very well. Hopefully we can continue to have dinner together at least once a week :)

Plans for today- hopefully playing frisbee again or resorting back to running, then meeting up with the one and only Sarah Jay Lewis! My friend from Purdue and Wesley arrived safely to Dublin for her exchange program with DIT. So I'm pretty excited to see her and share part of my Dublin experience with her :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The 1980's?

Yes, I can claim to be a child of the 80's, but a claim is about all I can lay on that decade. Being born in the latter part of the decade, my greatest accomplishment by the time the 80's expired was probably either walking or being potty trained. You would have to ask my parents which one was a more momentous occasion. Where am I going with this? Well, when I was out on the town Saturday night with my roommate Josh and a friend of his, he was filling me in on Dublin, the culture, the people, places to go, places to don't go and women's fashion came up in that spiel somehow. He mentioned how they seemed "stuck in the 80's."

At first I thought the fashion was a more urban, hodgepodge with some funky colors thrown into the mix, but now with an attuned eye - the tights, big hair, Chuck Taylors and (to me) the missed- matched neon colors started to stand out. Even the fliers (which are everywhere) for the discos or clubs have an 80's feel to them.

The good old fallback of jeans and a T-Shirt might as well be me rolling out of bed and going to class with my pajamas! I have seen more skirts and tights than I ever have at any dance recital. A look I don't mind, and think it is actually fairly modest and cute and one that I did back in the States as well, but not EVERYDAY! So I'm going to be a standout here at UCD, academically of course, but in other ways as well. I haven't busted out the belt buckles yet, wore my more reserved 'bling belt' today but looked totally American with my Ariat sweatshirt that said- "Wild West Show." :)

The flip of the coin to this issue is the double standard about the guy's dress. Coming over on the plane my seat buddy from England said something about pants being trousers instead. Jeans were fine to say though. Now I understand why he made such a big deal, because jeans are not necessarily the norm for guys as well. Athletic apparel is though. I have seen more jerseys than I ever have and other kinds of trousers as well.

This double standard is seen of the evenings as well, when groups of people leave for their "social activities." The girls are dressed up and I mean dressed up- sequence and all, that hasn't come and gone like it has in the States. Little skimpy dresses and some forgo the fashionable tights and have to be freezing! Make-up and hair done up as well to finish out the look. Then there comes the guys straggling behind them in a graphic tee maybe and then possibly a decent pair of jeans! Seems kind of strange to me, but then again, so does the extreme "social atmosphere." Monday on campus was ridiculous! Kids were in "high spirits" since 10 am with parties and such going on all day and campus was crawling with drunk kids and neon yellow-vested security. Eat, drink and be merry with the focus on the latter two I think was the purpose of the day.

Even with classes in session, I feel like there is a lack of concern for studies around campus and more socializing going on. Maybe that is because classes are just getting underway, but all of my classes have been full lectures from the words "Good Morning/ Afternoon." Granted they don't start until at least 5 minutes after the hour, but there has been none of this "Hi I'm Professor X, here is the syllabus and I'll see you later," like we do back home. Oh and another extreme difference is the type of assessment that we'll be having- almost all my courses' final grades depend either fully or at least very heavily on my finals :(!!!!!! December is going to be a stressful time!

So, I had two new classes on Tuesday- Farm Management and Introduction to Irish Folklore. Farm Management is another small class and is going to be another good one I feel. All the kids in the class seemed to have known each other already and I haven't really cracked into that yet, but this class will include a lot of problem solving and some case studies where we get to actually go out to farms!!!!!

My other new class that I had yesterday was Introduction to Irish Folklore, a fairly popular elective by how full the classroom was. I'm just taking it for attendance only, which will be one less stressor come December, but a class I can attend for the sheer pleasure! lol! Actually, the lecturer is super cool and I had a moment to talk to her afterwards to explain my situation and she seemed pretty impressed that I would still participate and take the course for no credit. I met a California girl in my class who is also a senior and I've ran into her twice now randomly on campus, so another new friend made :)

Speaking of friends- all 5 of my roommates have moved in! Gearoid, an Irishman from Cork is studying law and business. Miriam, from Germany, is a Chinese Studies major. The most recent addition is Evan, another Irishman, is a politics and film major. Then the three Americans line one side of the hall. Ally from Boston doing her post-grad studies in European Studies is sandwiched by two Boilermakers. Myself and Josh who is also a post-grad student in some sort of computer security. There is a fancy name for it, but I can't remember. I busted out my markers this afternoon and made a sign for our first house dinner tomorrow night. I kind of took initiative and going to order pizza :) I'm pretty excited for all of us to sit down as 'family' and get to know one another. Any mixers or get to know you games that come to mind- let me know :)

So my out of class activities have mainly been dedicated to working out and my body sure feels it! I haven't been this sore in a long time! I finally gave myself the day off and have been drinking lots of water in efforts to flush out all this lactic acid that is polluting my system. I have also been napping a lot, trying to re-coop that way as well. I haven't found a scale over here yet, but I kind of don't want to. If I keep this routine up, that moment I get on the scale back home will be pretty sweet! But I can tell I'm already loosing inches. Some of my jeans haven't fit this well since high school! :)

So that has been my last few days in Ireland. I want to wish my friend Sarah J safe and happy travels over here to Dublin as she is starting another exchange program through her course of study at Purdue. It'll be nice to have another Boilermaker in Dublin :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Once Upon a Time ...

I was finally a student again! After 8 months of working two different internships back to back, I finally took my rightful seat in the classroom looking at powerpoint slides today! Ok, a little dramatic, but seriously, I'm pretty excited to be back in classes.

A rundown of the day started bright and early at 8 am with the cheerful awakening by my cheap phone. First lecture was at 9 am! I had already laid out my clothes and backpack the night before so I was in my seat about 10 minutes before class. It was a beautiful morning- the clearest skies I have seen since I arrived last Monday! Wait, here's the shocker- I even busted out the sunglasses!

First class of the day was Business Management. It's a three tiered course for Ag students that rotates lectures between business organization, business finance and business marketing. Considering I've had a good deal of finance already, I'm interested in marketing and the organization aspect of it is totally new- should be a good class!

I had an hour break before my next class, so I walked back and grabbed a quick bite to eat. My next lecture was at 11am and was Equine Health and Husbandry. My first lecture was probably close to 100 students and this one was a grand total of 5 students. Supposedly more to come as some of the Equine students are finishing their required work experience. This is going to be a really good class, challenging though as it has been awhile since I have taken any Animal Science courses. The lecturer is really good though and the class is all about horses- I think Ill be alright.

Yet another hour break! I hopped online and figured out the Blackboard system that most of my professors are using to post documents and information about my courses. I printed some notes and played around online for a little bit and checked out the pictures from the AQHA Amateur Select World Show that just concluded. Congrats to all the winners and other competitors, it looked like a great show! 1 pm and I was off to the another building (thankfully all my classes are only in 2 different buildings).

Intermediate Microeconomics! This was the largest lecture I had of the day with probably about 150 to 200 students in a larger lecture theater as they call them here. This course is also broken down into different segments, but is taught one segment at a time all the way through. First we get to peel away the demand curve and the consumer side of economics, next the supply and producer's share and finally putting it all together and looking at equilibrium. Once again, I'll claim my dorkyness and admit I like this stuff so I'm really looking forward to this class. My first professor for this class is American and really cool- but warned us that this was going to be a hard class- hmmm.... a challenge maybe? The biggest challenge is the fact that this course's only source of assessment is the final! 100% of my grade relies on one exam and one exam only- GREAT!

Finally- two classes right in a row without a break in between. Back to the Ag building for the class that I was most looking forward to, Irish Equine Industries! Yep, an entire class dedicated to the study of the horse in Ireland and the industry surrounding and dependent upon it! Once again, I went from a large lecture to a classroom setting with 9 total students this time! This was my longest lecture of the day as it was 2 hours long, but soon enough we'll be taking field trips to local sales and farms! A chance to break out of the walls of Dublin! Oh and get this, we have a final media project that we have to do at the end of the semester of writing a newspaper article! I haven't gotten the details yet, but seriously, how much cooler could it get? As soon as I heard that, I immediately thought, "Psshhh... I got that covered!" (No journalistic pun intended there.)

Exhausted from 5 hours of lecture today, I was totally content with a quiet evening and had already decided to give myself the day off from my workouts. Then a friend texts me saying that they were going to the gym to take a class. "Trainer's Choice". Hmmm? Why not? It was a blast and a good workout! Running can only get me so much, so this was great resistance and sculpting. The instructor was a riot and his name was Shay and he led us through a meriad of exercises in his semi-drill sergeant way, all of course in the Irish accent and very peppy about it.

So there we go- first day of classes, both mentally and physically! And it is way past my bedtime. Two classes tomorrow, Farm Management and my Equine Health and Husbandry Class.

Now let's just hope the rest of the semester goes something like ... happily ever after! :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That Just Happened

Ok- I know I already put up a ridiculously long post today, but I just thought I'd fill you in on the rest of my day. After deciding to sleep in, I figured I would go to church this evening as the Methodist Church downtown said that they had a 7pm contemporary service online. So after going out last night, I realized where I would need to get off to find this church. I get myself all pumped up and dressed up to go and by the time I got to the bus stop- the bus was right there. Perfect timing!

Downtown was crazy tonight! The National Hurling Finals were this evening in town and people were sporting their team's colors everywhere. I Even saw a tractor rolling down O'Connell street decked out in one of the team's garb. I should have snapped a picture but I was too creeped out at that moment and on a mission to find the right bus stop to take me back to campus.

Why was I creeped out you might ask, especially with my whole mission of going to church? I hadn't found the church yet and I'm standing at this street corner pulling out my map when a foreign man approaches me. He gets my attention and I'm thinking this is funny if he is going to ask me for directions, but again, map in hand I felt like we might be able to figure something out. Through broken English we establish each other's names and where we're from. He then asks if we are friends? I looked at him very puzzled and said that I am a friendly person yes, and realized something is kind of fishy from that point. I ask him if I can help him find something and he says no, and then proceeds to tell me he is a wealthy businessman from Egypt and is a tourist here, that he has a lot of money and staying in a nice hotel and asks if I want to get a drink. I tell him no thank you and that I was actually trying to find a church, thinking he would get the hint that I'm not that kind of girl. Well then he proceeds to ask me if I want to go shopping- clothes, shoes, purses? I again politely declined his offer and wished him a nice evening and walked on. The entire conversation lasted about 4 minutes. Seriously? I just wanted to go to church- not picked up by some Egyptian businessman!

I realized I had passed the church actually as it was part of the store-fronts and not a stand alone church. I found their signs where their services were listed different than the ones posted on the Internet. Totally creeped out and disappointed, I made a V-line back to the bus stop. I crowded to the front of the line because I just wanted to go home. I even managed to get the prime front seat on the upper deck of the bus :) Once off my feet I realized why flats are so popular here- Europeans do way too much walking to live in heels! At least I had a nice conversation with a first year coming back for school after visiting home for the weekend. About the only good thing that happened it seemed this evening.

I did muster up enough energy from earlier to go running. IN THE RAIN! That's dedication right there. My future sister-in-law's bridal shower was today (actually probably going on right now as I'm posting this). I hope its a blast and that she likes my gift ;) Its a little honery, but being the sister of the groom, I can get away with that! I gotta stay at least the same size or even better for the wedding in December and figured I should get used to running in the rain since it rains here so much. But, just as the rest of my day's plans seemed to go a stray, the rest of the afternoon has been very pleasant and semi-sunny- go figure! The other person on the track was even kinda creepy too- ugh... creepy men!

So, dressed up and no where to go, I think I'm just going to settle in with a nice book and make an early night of it because school starts tomorrow :) I'm not going to let today's encounters get me down! I'm super pumped for school- yes I'm a dork- I even took a facebook quiz once to see what I was between a dork, nerd and a geek, with the results of a dork!


What's happening in Ireland :)

I will try not to go this long without posting at least something, because it seems that there is always something going on here that might be of interest to y'all. I finally got some good pictures to add to my blog and facebook, so we'll use that as my excuse for not getting anything up here since Wednesday. So now it's a test of my memory and writing abilities to get you caught up!
One thing that I've been loving is the fact that I've been sleeping in until about 11 every morning. I realize I won't be able to do this once classes start, but I didn't even get to sleep in while I was home due to all the errands and things that I had to get done. The drill has pretty much been sleep in, wake up, work out and then some random adventure to follow. The work outs have consisted of running on the track that's about a two minute jog or five minute walk from my flat. Yesterday was the first sunny day during my run and I think the sunshine gave me some extra energy as I did twice as much as usual. There was a father there with two of his sons yesterday and the youngest boy will be an Athletics (track and field) star someday. He had no fear and seemed to be like the Energizer Bunny with an unlimited amount of energy! He ran all the distances, had a go at long-jumping and even cleared the hurdles I had set out with decent form for his age. On my way out I told him he was looking good!

Ok- enough with my workouts- y'all probably want to hear about other stuff. Thursday I rode the bus into the City Centre to get a cell phone! Planning on facebook was such a hassle! So I got the cheapest phone I could and it's actually pretty inexpensive to dial back home! Skype is still the way to go though- look me up on there if you haven't already. Next stop was Dunns- which is about the closest thing to a Wal-Mart that I've found here. It has a grocery store in the basement, clothes and such on the main floor and housewares on the top floor. It's in a shopping mall, downtown so you get to ride escalators from one floor to the next :). Wednesday we had rain all day long, which is what today is actually looking like as well, so I knew a pair of 'wellies' or rain boots was a much needed thing. I found a cute pair of black ones with white polka-dots for 12 euro and I know I'll get some good use out of them! Later that night we went to a comedy thing at the Student Club. Unfortunately the only seats that were left were in the front- bad, bad idea for a comedy show! Ally had met some girls at a meet and greet thing for international students so we were there with 2 New Zealand girls, 3 French girls, an Italian and a girl from Holland. Definitely a diverse group! It was a great 'crack' for sure.

Friday was a semi-epic grocery run! Any major grocery shopping that you want to do here needs to be done somewhere off of campus. And it's not like you pile in the car with a bunch of your friends and go to Wal-Mart and come out with carts full of stuff. 1- You have to catch the bus. 2- Grocery stores are much smaller here and selections are not as varied. 3- Bring you own bags, they charge you here for shopping bags. 4- Keep in mind that anything you buy, you have to lug back on the bus. 5- Check-out lanes were not made for a lot of stuff. So I bought about 27 euro worth of groceries which should last me a while! I went with my friend and flatmate Ally and she bought more stuff than me and we had a great time hauling it all back :) After we got back, I was just wondering campus taking some pictures when I ran into a friend and she said they were going into town. Why not tag along? This was a more relaxed trip and we did a lot more sight-seeing this time. I got a little camera happy as we ventured into the Temple Bar area and crossed the river. It was a beautiful evening and I even saw a double rainbow over the river! :) Probably one of the best moments since I've been here :) Yes, yes, the cliche captions of the leprechauns and pots of gold came streaming into my head, but I resisted them all and just took in the moment.

Saturday I wondered around campus and the buildings where my classes will be to make sure I knew where all my classrooms were. I have five classes tomorrow, with some back to back, so I wanted to make sure I could get to them all on time. Turns out, I only have classes in two different buildings, so I'm going to be just fine :) I was planning on updating this last night, but then my flatmate Josh, the Purdue grad, asked to a movie with one of his friends. Why not? It was a great 'Irish' night on the town as we ate Chinese and saw District 9, which is based out of South Africa. It was fun though, I got to see some new parts of the city and tried some new food- shocking I know for those that know my eating habits.

Which brings me to today. I had full intentions on going to church this morning- even figured out which bus and all I needed, but the college student won out in me and sleep was the victor over all. There is a contemporary service this evening that I'm going to try to make it to, so we'll see.

So things that are happening around here is the re-vote on accepting the Lisbon Treaty. Ireland, as part of the European Union, is the last country to ratify the treaty. From what I have heard, the treaty basically strengthens the European Union as a whole. The initial vote was 'No' and after a lot of negative feedback from that, the people that are for it are campaigning hard to get it passed. There are signs everywhere in support of it. The vote is going to take place in October, so I'll be here for it and could be a historical thing if it's passed.

Politics back home are heating up too as I follow what I can. President's Obama's address to the school children was yes, initially, absurd. Especially with his proposed lesson plan of having the students writing a letter to themselves of 'What can I do to help the President.' That is totally pushing policy and a distorted image of the President to them. Now when the plan was changed to writing down their education goals, ok, whether you like Obama or not, the motivation coming from his position, I agree will help keep kids in school. My gut still doesn't trust the man, and I think he has better things to do than this particular address. Especially when you look at this situation from the educators' point of views. They are put in awkward situations- some being forced to show the address, some having the 'choice' and receiving pressure from their students and administration. Again, I just feel like he is stirring up yet another pot that doesn't need it. Last time I checked there was still terrorism in this world and a national debt that he has 'inherited' (I think he has used that word at least 1,000 times). Ok, enough politics. I should do something with this day, probably going to suck it up and go running in the rain, that way I can have my day off tomorrow with classes starting :)


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm Here!!!!!

I'm over 3,000 miles away from home on this adventure in Dublin, Ireland! This whole travel/ study abroad thing really didn't hit me until the bus ride from the airport and realized that I was on the left side of the road, the steering wheels where on the right side and I could hear the accents all around! The driving on the left side didn't seem as weird to me as the steering wheels on the opposite side did. Overall the city is so very different than any city in the States. The architecture is old and crazy cool. The cars are TINY!!!! They make my Buick Century back home look like a Hummer! Oh and the shops- speciality shops everywhere. No Wal-Marts or big general/department stores that I've seen so far.

The flight over was good- 7 hours in all from Chicago. Watched a movie, ate a decent dinner and cat-napped. I had a nice British guy, Kevin, sitting next to me. He was visiting some friends in Kokomo, Indiana and on his way back. The flight entertainment system was pretty cool. Movies, games, TV shows, flight information (I could actually see and tell where we were at) and radio. That kept me entertained for a while.

We hit the ground about 45 minutes early at 7:45am local time. I flew over with two Purdue students whom I have never met before meeting them at the airport. We also found a girl in the customs line that was on our same flight who goes to Otterbein College in Ohio. So the four of us waited in the long customs line, not nearly as scary as I thought, and then claimed our baggage and hopped on the Aircoach to the campus. This is the bus ride that actually hit me- sweet I'm in IRELAND! So far it's just been the city that I've seen. It was really cloudy and rainy when we flew in so I didn't get to see much of the country as we were flying over it :(. I'm really excited for classes to start- that way maybe I'll make friends with the farm kids in my Ag classes and get an opportunity to actually see the country-side :)

Anyways, back to Monday. The bus dropped us off by the main campus entrance where we had to lug all of our luggage a good 1/2 mile to whichever residence you had been assigned. I was sweating bullets by the time I got in to register. No friendly BGR (Boiler Gold Rush) move-in people like from back home. But I've noticed that people don't bring as much here, even the Irish students. I don't see truck (I haven't seen a signal privately owned pick-up yet) and car-loads of stuff. As soon as I got into my room, I dropped my bags and crashed for a few minutes but got myself going again because I had to stay awake for the day to avoid serious jet-lag. So I unpacked and went on a little exploratory tour of the campus.

On this individual tour I found these weird birds! I mean like bigger than a crow, with long tail feathers and actually very pretty. They are mostly navy with some green on the edge of their wings and a white under-belly. I mean, they are common over here like squirrels are on Purdue's campus but just weird to me I suppose. Let's see- other weird things: the outlets are different but I knew that coming over and was prepared with a few converters, already mentioned the cars, the style (my cowboy boots and bling belts kind of stick out over here), the public transportation system, the grocery stores and food in general and I suppose just campus procedures and policies. I really shouldn't say these things are weird, just different. Oh and a lot more smokers here. Kids are lighting up all over campus.

These past two days have been pretty strictly administrative and trying to make sure I have everything I need and proper paperwork turned in. My friend from Purdue, Alyssa, and I took the bus into City Center on Monday night and got a wee bit confused on the way back. We thought that the same bus that took us there, would take us back. Well, it did, but coming back looked a lot different than going, so we missed our stop and thought, "It will surely loop around." Well by the time we reached the Dublin Bay, we finally got the picture that it wasn't looping around and that was the end of the line. At first the bus-driver seemed kind of peeved, but then we opened our mouths and told him it was our first day here and we were just poor little lost American girls (I didn't milk it that much, but its amazing what you can get if you're polite and respectful). So he said it was our lucky day and that that particular bus was going back to the 'carriage house' which meant that the campus was on his way home for the night. He was then super nice and giving us tips on where to go, things to do and talking about where we were and all. I offered him a tip, which he refused and shooed us out the door with a smile. Note to self- always catch the 10A back to campus!!!!

So far I have met three of my possible 5 flat mates. Two Americans and one Irish. Gearoid is my Irish flat mate and he is from Southern Ireland, not too far from Cork. He has been super helpful and nice and is a 'crack' (meaning funny) to talk to. He is a business and law student going into his third year of the program. Ally is from Boston, but goes to school in Vancouver, Canada as she has citizenship in three countries, Canada, Greece and the US! She is doing a masters program in European Studies and has spent a lot of time in Germany. Very nice and very well traveled- I'm sure we'll get along just fine! My third flat mate is Josh. He is a Purdue Grad Student here. Really random that we got put in the same flat. I haven't seen too much of him- just a few times in passing. There are two more rooms in the flat that I haven't met their tenets yet, so I'm hoping for some more Irish students :)

Indiana schools seem to send a lot of people to Ireland. I have met 3 girls from Notre Dame that are here for the semester as well. So I thought that that was weird that so many of us are here and that I happened to run into them.

Alrighty.... well I apologize for the delay in getting this post up, and I'll do my best in the future to keep this updated more often. But, I'm going to nap for a little bit and then head off for some orientation type stuff in about an hour or so. I hope all is well with everyone and wish me luck in Ireland! :)