Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Month on the Emerald Isle

Well, I have officially been in Ireland for one month!  It really doesn't feel like it at all; despite the waves of homesickness, time has really flown.  So, I want to take today to recap what I've done and also to make sure I note the things I still want to do.

I have gone "hiking" in the Wicklow Mountains National Park.  It was beautiful; the highlight for me was the Upper Lake area with the huge tree (I've added a picture of it) and the sensory garden.  I have had a Guinness, a Bulmers Cider (pear and original), fish and chips (and lots more chips), banoffee, and lots of tea.  I went to the Dublin Writers Museum, which was a bit of a bust, but still had some neat artifacts to look at.  I toured the Georgian House Museum, a wonderful little house with a lot of history and some creepy dressed up mannequins.  I've strolled through St. Stephen's Green which really is beautiful with the combination of tree covered paths, open grounds, fountains, ponds, swans, and statues (I've also added a picture of this).  I have shopped on Grafton Street VERY successfully, and have crossed the Ha'Penny Bridge, toll free of course.  I have joined, practiced with, and felt the pain of trampoline club- we'll see how tonight goes; I may be chewing ibuprofen!  I have started and finished A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and I have just begun Ulysses.  Finally, I have started classes at UCD and at three weeks in, I am 25% through the semester- time to get cracking on papers before I get visitors!

Despite all that I've done, there is still boat loads more I would like to do.  I want to finish reading Ulysses- a big task at nearly 700 pages.  I also want to drink some Jameson while I'm here, which might well be achieved when I go to the Jameson distillery- another item on my to-do list.  I want to see the Guinness brewery as well.  I need to kiss the blarney stone (though I'm not sure I necessarily need to be given the gift of gab).  I'd love to go up to Belfast (possibly this Sunday) and maybe find some spots where the Kelley family is from.  Also, there is apparently a trail for the Wicklow Mountains National Park that actually lets you hike to the top of the mountain.  I bought a poncho, I might as well put it to good use!  I want want want to find an Irish wool scarf in a small Irish country town, maybe when I go to Galway with my parents.  I would also like to tour Trinity College to see the library and the Book of Kells, dating back to 900 AD- you know how I like old books!  I'd like to be able to do a front and back flip on the trampoline, and I think learning how to land on my back will do wonders for getting over my fears from diving.  I want also to visit the castle in Malahide, which my Polish acquaintance told me was the best one in Ireland.  Despite it being the best, I would like also to visit a few other castles here, there's just so much history.  I want, since I'm trying to finish his oeuvre (with the exception, of course, of Finnegan's Wake), to visit the James Joyce Museum.  I think I would also like to go on a Vikings Splash tour since a couple of natives have told me that they're actually a lot of fun and the best tours to get on.  Finally (unless I come up with more later), I want to explore Blackrock some more- there is a little tiny white house in the middle of a lake somewhere here that I'd love to find.

So that's it- my totally do-able to-do list of Ireland things.  As much as I can't wait to be home and with everyone I love, I also can't wait to do all the things on this list and more!  Cheers :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trampoline Club... and it's aftermath

I had my first day of trampoline club yesterday!  It was completely a blast even though I only got to go 4 times.  The gym was packed with students, so hopefully in the next few weeks the club thins out to just the people who really want to do it.  I did: tuck jumps, straddle jumps, pike jumps, seat drops, swivel hips, front drops (a belly flop- very hard for this former diver to learn), and front drops with a half turn (so I land on my belly, then bounce back up to my feet while twisting to land facing the opposite direction I started in).  It was fun, but the last trick was HARD!  Some of the people there were coaches- students who are much better than the rest of us- and when they got to go it was pretty amazing.  Some of them looked like they could jump through the ceiling and they did really amazing flips and twists, landing on their feet, backs, and bellies.  It was awesome! I'm really excited to go back for more tomorrow :)

Today, however, I can really feel everything I did yesterday.  I am one sore lady.  In addition to trampoline club, I also walked to school, back to the dorms, to school, and back to the dorms again yesterday for what totaled at least 8km.  I had a busy day!  I think I will seriously consider getting a bus pass now...

Now, I'm off to get some work done on my class papers.  The more I do now, the less I have to worry when all of my visitors come into town.  So excited!  See you all soon, Kim and Brent soonest :D

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Shoe Dilemma

I spent today in Dublin's City Center shopping/browsing with Elizabeth.  She bought a much needed hat and I bought a not so entirely necessary pair of shoes. 

They are fabulous, as you can see, and for 90 euro they had to be fabulous.  To be fair, I have spent this amount on shoes in the past and I do keep my shoes until they are absolutely unwearable (holes, no tread on the soles).  I also had decided before coming abroad that one thing I was definitely going to buy was a pair of fantastic shoes.  However, I always thought that the great new shoes would come from Paris or Rome, not Dublin.  So, I now find myself in a shoe dilemma.

They have a 365 day shoe return policy, so I can traipse around in my new kicks for as long as I please so long as they remain in resellable condition, and in all truth, I have no plans on wearing them until I get home- the rain has already injured one of my favorites!  Could you all weigh in?  Yes to the shoes or no?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Culture Night!

SUCH a fun evening!  But, before I begin my description about culture night, I have to illustrate the type of people that are in our dorm.  As I walked back from the train station to the dorm from a fabulous evening of free events for Dublin's culture night, I walked past our dormitory eating area.  From the outside, I could hear students counting down in what I can only guess was a drinking game.  To summarize: free entry to museums, theatres, and concerts and the students I live with would rather drink on campus.

So, to begin with, I went to the Georgian House, also known as Number 29, Museum.  I thought from what was written online that there was some tie to authors, but it turns out that there wasn't.  I got there early, but was put into the 7:30 tour group.  Fortunately, I made nice with one of the workers when I bought a copy of Ulysses (I'm nearly done with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man after my long day at immigration) at the gift shop, and he came over and got me squeezed into the 7:00 group.  We were shown a horrible video in which Mrs. Beatty, the first resident of the house, "narrated" her story and told us how happy she was with the reconstruction of the home.  We then were taken on a guided tour of the house, which was really pretty interesting.  They had furniture pieces from 1690 to the 1800s and it was really pretty. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures there, or anywhere we went for that matter (though I snuck a few in at the Dublin Writers Museum).  After the tour I bought a print of a grammar lesson that was hanging in the nursery of the house.  It has the alphabet ("I" is for Indian, "N" is for Nag) and the parts of speech are explained in a rhyme.
Dublin Writer's Museum

During the tour, I made friends with a Polish student named Joanna (pronounced Yoanna) who goes to Trinity. It was her second year here, so she knew her way around pretty well.  We then tried to go to the Leprechaun Museum (I know!), but it was fully booked so there wasn't any more room.  Then we tried to go to a theater on the list, but it had only been open for an hour of the culture night and was closed when we got there.  Finally we made it to the Dublin Writer's Museum.  I thought it would be really neat, but it was just okay.  There didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the displays and we weren't allowed to take pictures of the old books, even with our flash off.  I of course took a few anyway, but we won't tell anyone.

By the time we left the Dublin Writer's Museum, it felt like it was time to call it a night and I took the train back home.  All in all, it was a fun night and I got to see a lot that I wouldn't have otherwise gone to.  Now, as fun as it all was, the best part of today might just have to be the tiny top hat fascinator that I found at Penney's for just 3 euro- it's amazing and was the very last one. :)  Cheers!

Arthur's Day!

Yesterday was Arthur's Day, a day to raise a glass of Guinness to Arthur, the creator of Guinness.  I think, however, that this is really just a Guinness marketing ploy and that Arthur's Day has only been celebrated the last two years.  At any rate, I got a free pint of Guinness at O'Rourke's (and ordered some more Banoffee) and had a fun time.

What wasn't so fun was sitting in the immigration office all day long.  I arrived at 8 AM and the line (the queue) was already stretched around the outside of the building.  Fortunately, I was given a number, 167, and told to come back at 11:00.  I went and grabbed some tea, read some Joyce, and wandered up and down the streets looking at shops that weren't open.  I finally got my student visa at 2:30.  So, the free Guinness was certainly a nice treat at the end of a very long day.

Tonight: Culture night!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Good News/Bad News Sort of Day

The good news: My presentation went fine.  The bad news: I worked myself into some tummy problems getting nervous beforehand.

The good news: I signed up for and received my membership card for trampoline club. The bad news: My name on the card is "Holly Overguaard."

The good news: I signed up for Irish club for two euro and got an awesome t-shirt (it says "Bun os cionn," which means upside down and has a picture of a bakery bun upside down). The bad news: I left my student ID card at the table.

The good news: I went to the International Student Buddy Program and met a lot of new people who seem really nice. The bad news: I couldn't eat any of the food because my stomach was still upset.

To end of good news though, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find my ID card (which I need to get my student visa); my tummy will be better by the end of the evening (chamomile tea, lots of it!); and I have a quirky souvenir that shows that whether I'm in America or Ireland, no one knows how to spell Overgaard.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Yesterday I got dinner at O'Rourke's where I had AMAZING fish and chips.  For dessert, I shared an order of Banoffee, which is a graham cracker (digestive cracker) crust with toffee and banana and whipped cream on top.  It was delicious!  A little sickeningly sweet, so definitely good to share.

Also, on the way home from the grocery store,  I saw a little snail strolling along the sidewalk.  I wish I had had my camera.

Giving a presentation for my Food and Drug Regulation class tomorrow, so wish me luck!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day Trip to Glendalough

We rented a car and the five of us squeezed in for a trip to go hiking in Glendalough.  Hiking is really a liberal term- the path was paved and wide enough for several strollers (prams).  But it was pretty and there was a sensory garden along the trail by the Upper Lake.  I bought a poncho when we got there and was pleased with the purchase, though had I known the "hiking" was going to be as non strenuous as it was I would have just worn my nice rain jacket instead.  But now I have something handy that I can throw into my laptop bag or my purse just in case.  Lovely shade of army green ;)

I saw some fantastic wool scarves there, but by the time we got back to the car I had forgotten about them until it was too late.  However, that is officially something I will be getting for myself while I'm here.  Beautiful and WARM.

On the way back to Blackrock, we stopped in at Wicklow where the group was decidedly tuckered out.  I wanted to go visit the cathedral up the road, but everyone else just wanted something hot to drink and to get home.  Oh well... I'm just going to have to go exploring on my own tomorrow around town while they all take the car to go buy cheap groceries at a store outside of walking distance

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Class Begins

Yesterday I had my first day of class (and my only day of class for the week).  I'm not sure what the best way to describe it would be, but let's just say that I'm not too terribly concerned about getting the "C" I'll need to earn my passing grade back home.

The day starts with Media Regulation, probably the most demanding course I'll be taking.  The weekly readings are somewhere between 8 and 10 cases.  There's a 1500 word essay due at mid term and a 2 hour exam at the end of the semester.  It's a graduate level course, so the students are closer to our age than in the other, undergraduate courses.  Now, when I say that this will be the most demanding course, that really isn't saying much.  Our professor came in 5 minutes late, then could not log in to the computer, went to find the tech guy and returned 5 minutes later with nothing.  He then proceeded to lecture for 40 minutes, stopping to give us a 10 minute break at about the hour mark of class.  Once the break was over, he had managed to log into the computer and pull up his power point presentation.  An older man sat in front of me and his bald head half-obscured my view of the power point presentation, which ordinarily would have bothered me, but as the professor then went through the SAME lecture he had given the hour before, but this time with power point slides, I wasn't too disturbed.

The next class is Employment Law: Contracts.  This is an undergraduate class and I think I forgot how easy undergrad was.  As an illustration of the lecture which non-law people would understand, it went something like this: "Now, a clock has numbers on it.  There are numbers on the clock. The clock, which has numbers on it, it used to tell time.  You can tell time with a clock.  The numbers, which are on the clock, allow you to tell time on the clock with numbers on it which tells the time..."  In other words: repetitive.  Though, I really felt like I was in law school when I looked around and noticed that the students who had brought their laptops were all on facebook.

Finally, Food and Drug Law.  This class seems like it will be the most interesting.  There are only a handful of law students in the class and the rest are food and nutrition students.  This class is also a graduate level class, but 20% of our grade is based on a power point presentation, which cannot be any longer than 10 minutes.  This is going to be a ridiculous semester.  I only hope I don't get too bored...
I go to class in a castle

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cappuccino, Chips, and James Joyce

A blustery day in Blackrock today, I walked down to Avoca Bar and Cafe for lunch, bringing my newly purchased A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with me.  Mushroom soup, chips (the portions seem to get bigger every time I go to Avoca), and a cappuccino made for a delicious lunch while Joyce's novel made for strangely appropriate reading as it begins with Dedalus going off to school and missing his family.  When I got to the cafe, it was pretty empty... I might have been the only person there.  When I left, though, it was nearly full and included a woman who looked like she could have been a younger Bertha Stone (a woman who lives with her husband, John, down the hall from Granny).  I guess I eat lunch too early :)

For the rest of the day, I am going to finish up my reading for tomorrow and do some hand-washing.  Apparently no one at UCD does the reading at all, let alone before classes start.  But I would hate for that to be a dirty rumor and to have to say "unprepared" on the first day of class to a room full of giggles.  On the hand-washing note, laundry is EXPENSIVE here.  It's 3 euro for wash and 1.5 for drying.  So, I've been washing a couple of shirts and some undies/socks every couple of days and hanging them to dry on a make shift clothes line.  It seems to work well and saves me 6-7 US dollars, so I'll take it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

At the End of the Rainbow...

We took a trip into Dublin city centre last night for dinner and drinks with two of Elizabeth's Irish friends.  It was great fun (though we missed the last train back to Blackrock by about 5 minutes).

On the way into the city centre, we saw a rainbow from the train.  It was over the water and was vibrantly colored.  I didn't have my camera, of course, but Kalli did, so I might have to steal a picture to post.  The rainbow ended on top of the water and at the end of the rainbow was a boat!  It was such a neat sight to see a boat in the middle of a rainbow.  The lesson here is that I need to bring my camera with me more often and also, there are pots of gold on the boats in Ireland.

Fun fact: flipping someone off in Ireland is done by giving a back-handed peace sign.  And the American way as well.

Good to know: Milky Ways are more like 3 Musketeers bars

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Irish Whiskey Truffles

are the best things EVER!

"Dark chocolate with Jameson Irish Whiskey truffle centre"

A Shopping Success

Thanks to the navigational skills of Elizabeth (fellow UCD/UMN exchange student), the trip to Dublin's city centre was a success.  I found: a great pair of rainboots (wellies) at Barratts that are black with big white polka dots; souvenirs/Christmas gifts at Carroll's for nearly everyone on my list; a fantastic store with over priced but amazing accessories; and a delicious Greek salad.

Today also marks the end of my first full week in Ireland.  I have spent just over 3 times what I hoped to allot myself each month.  However, given that the first four days of hotel living required me to eat out for every meal (no mini fridge or microwave!), and that I also have set up my international phone and my dorm room with all the necessaries, I think I did pretty good.  That said, I am going to try to get back down to budget for the rest of my time here. :)  For now, I'm off to fix some tea and have a relaxing evening.

The River Liffey in Dublin City Centre

Hallmates and Birds... Both Equally Awful

So the gang stayed up pretty late last night, for us.  I was up until 1:00 am (but only had 2 pints!).  I was hoping to sleep in, but much to my chagrin, was awoken by horrid squawking. The birds here are horribly noisy in the morning and do not have a cheerful chirp in the least.  It's more like a death knell.  Also horribly loud in the morning (and every other time of day) are our hall mates.  For whatever reason, they seem to feel the need to shout to each other down the hall (in Chinese?).  So, I guess I'm either going to have to go to bed earlier or drink more so I'm more soundly asleep through the morning :)

Off to the city centre today!  I'm very excited to see Dublin closer than through the bus window and to do some shopping.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

They Have Trampolines at Orientation

We went to our law/international student orientations today on campus.  My feet and exhausted from all of the walking (we got a little lost trying to get to the first building because of construction on campus), but I'm extremely excited.  I think I am going to join trampoline club!  They have a ton of clubs on campus that colleges in the states would only dream of (wind surfing club, equestrian club, trampoline!) and we got to preview a few.  I hopped up on the trampoline and they told me a few things to do- a tuck jump, split, pike, seat drop- and they told me I should join!  It was so much fun, though a little weird feeling when you stopped bouncing, that I think I will just have to join up.  It may have been a decade since I last did any sort of tumbling/flipping/twisting off a diving board, but I can't pass up the chance to do something that I'd never get to do stateside.

In other news, I'm going into city centre (the middle of Dublin, proper) tomorrow to do some shopping.  Going to get some rain boots, which I'm sure I'll wear bunches, and just look around and see what there is to see.  Will have my camera in tow.


(ps, beautiful day today- temps in the 60s without any rain! (well, some rain, but not all day))

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In the dorms

I am all moved in and settled.  And I'm also feeling like a very smart shopper.  We went to IKEA (which was an incredibly long and wet journey) and I picked up some dishes, a duvet cover, sheets, hangers, a closet organizer, and some various other things for only 30 euro.  Not too shabby!

The rooms a nice- they're all different and I lucked into a fairly good sized one. We all have our twin bed, some form of dresser or bureau, a desk, some shelves, and a sink.  It's nice not to have to walk to the shared bathrooms to brush your teeth before bed (or in the morning).  We'll be heading off to main campus today for the international student orientation. It's not mandatory, but I figure it's worth checking it out.

A few things that I've noticed here: It's "take away" instead of "to go."  People don't pick up after their dogs. It's a lot rainier than I thought it would be. Printer paper is bigger.
Shoreline in Blackrock

Something I should have thought of but didn't: water-proof mascara.

Also, I have my official address now- send me an email if you would like it! :) (mom and dad- I still can't access my gophermail, so I'll give it to you next time we skype)

Friday, September 3, 2010


I'm in Ireland and at the hotel!  The flight was fine even though I was next to a boy who didn't know how to keep his elbows to himself.  On the bright side, I was right in front of the screen for the in flight movie.  It made for bad viewing but great leg room!  I barely slept- at best a 2 or 3 hour nap in the past 30 hours.  I'm trying to stay awake for as long as possible so I can go to sleep at a normal bed time on Ireland time.

The hotel is great- very pretty but they make you buy a swim cap or supply your own if you want to use the pool. Strangely, no swim cap is needed for the jacuzzi.  Colleen and Adi and I also went out for lunch where I had my first genuine sip of Guiness and ordered a Bulmer's pear cider for myself.

That's it for now.  I've got to get moving or else I'm going to fall asleep!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh, Canada!

Well, I'm here in Canada for a significant 7 hours lay over before my second leg takes me to Dublin.  Canada's Toronto airport is pretty big with strange "art" throughout.  There isn't much to do though and everything is beaucoup expensive (I paid almost $11 for a sandwich and a cup of hot water).  I've occupied myself skyping and chatting online.  I still need to get through my InStyle magazine too so I have one less thing in my carry on.  I am, officially, a heavy packer.  Hopefully it turns out that I use everything I've brought.

Strangely, when I arrived to the airport (7 hours before my flight, mind you), the terminal my flight was supposed to leave from was closed off with a second round of security.  I stood in line for it for about 10 minutes, but when I reached the front I was told that it was for Tel Aviv only.  Hours later when I returned to the terminal from my campsite in the middle of the floor plugged into the only outlet I could see, the extra round of security was gone and the terminal was open and connected again to the rest of the airport.

As of now, I have about 1 hour before my flight departs.  Then... Ireland!
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