The UCEAP Orientation Days

Hostel –> Hotel (31/8/13)

Left: my hostel room. Right: my hotel room.

I woke up a little later than usual in order to pack and move from the hostel to the hotel UCEAP had booked us in. My German companion was very nice and helped me drag my belongings about 1 km/.5 mi down the road. Upon arrival, I slowly met many of my fellow UCEAP students also studying at UCD – there are 21 of us. Soon after settling into my room – I got lucky and my room was available before check-in at 2pm – our orientation session began. I learned that there was another student, from UC Davis, who was also going to UCD with me, who’s also interested in botany/plant sciences, except from a more agricultural/environmental point of view.

Chicken with Melted Brie Cheese and Cranberry Sauce at Bewley’s.

After our short introductory session, we had lunch at Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street. I had ordered a Fillet of Chicken Burger, but because there were so many of us, I ended up being served the Chicken with Melted Brie Cheese and Cranberry Sauce. It was pretty good, despite not being what I ordered. It was sweeter than what I would’ve like for lunch, but the chips were amazing.

The Long Room at Trinity College, above the Book of Kells exhibition.

After some delicious food, we took a walk to Trinity College to look at the Book of Kells. When we were outside, there was a sign that said “Please Q Here”, as in “Please Wait (in line) Here”. The Book of Kells was amazing. The exhibit is as entertaining as you make it, it’s like every other museum, except it just has one room full of the history behind the book and the room with the Book of Kells in it. After that exhibit, we walked upstairs and go to see The Long Room. It was gorgeous! They has little display cases talking about the restoration of the library and of the books in general. Only a little history involved. Then, downstairs to the gift shop. It was amusing to see the things in the shop. There were regular things, books, cards, gifts and such. It was strange to see some of the things sold there though – a piece of the Blarney Stone for sale, a pet rock, and a pearl necklace where they give you a canned oyster you have to open yourself.

Top: my Beer Battered Chunky Cod. Bottom left: the Homemade Beef and Guinness Pie. Bottom right: the Bailey’s Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Afterwards, my fellow botanist and I headed back to the hotel where we reconvened with the rest of the UCEAP group and walked to The Barge for dinner. My fellow botanist ordered the Homemade Beef and Guinness Pie, while I ordered the beer battered chunky cod. After dinner, we both had a Bailey’s Cheesecake with raspberry coulis.

After dinner, my fellow botanist and I walked  up to the hostel to meet up with my American colleagues and my German companion. We had fun walking around Temple Bar and managed to actually go into The Temple Bar. It was pretty crowded and crazy with some wonderful live music. We were packed in the pub like canned sardines and it was hot, too hot to wear a jacket that’s for sure. After thirty minutes to an hour, I started feeling like I was suffocating because it was so stuffy with so many people that I asked my fellow botanist to come with me outside for a bit of fresh air. We looked at the time while we were outside and realized that it was late and we should return to the hotel, due to our early schedule the next day.

Exploration of Culture & Food (1/9/13)

Top left: a picture of Bell & Pot. Top right: the Buttermilk & Ricotta Hotcakes. Bottom: the Full Irish with All the Bells and Whistles.

In the morning, we had breakfast at Bell & Pot, a cute little café attached to/adjacent to the hotel. I ordered The Full Irish with All the Bells and Whistles: a sunny-side up egg with an Ulster Farls (a potato cake), two sausages, two slices of smoked back bacon, a flat mushroom, a half of a home dried plum tomato, a black and a white putog pudding, a bowl of home baked beans and two slices of white bread. It was a very filling breakfast, and I’d say a good price for just under €10, though it was “free” with the room. My fellow botanist, and another fellow student were surprised I actually ate the whole thing, along with my cup of cranberry juice.

After breakfast, we had another informational orientation session. This was followed up by the hop on hop off bus tour. We got on the bus at St. Stephen’s Green. Our bus driver was a wildly entertaining storyteller. I’m not sure if what they say is scripted or not, but it was wonderful.

The center of the Kilmainham Gaol.

Originally, my fellow botanist and I wanted to go into the Dublin Castle, but we decided against it due to the wait for the next tour to start. However, we discovered this nifty little pamphlet on the Heritage Card. This Heritage Card pretty much gives you unlimited, free access into “all fee-paying State managed OPW Heritage sites located throughout the country for one year”. We got it using our University of California (UC) student ID card and it only cost €8. This is a pretty good deal, considering the admission fee for many of the places varies from €2-7 (or more). So, we got on the bus and rode the bus over to the Kilmainham Gaol. It was a pretty epic tour with a storyline tied into it, sort of, about Joseph Plunkett and his beloved Grace Gifford. I loved having my fellow botanist there. We were both reading (almost) everything and exploring every alcove and all that jazz. It was wonderful. We were there for at least two hours.

The Irish White House, or Áras an Uachtaráin.

Then we hopped back onto the bus and the bus, where we ended up riding with our first bust driver; reunited with the best bus driver! He took us into Phoenix Park, where the “Irish White House” and the Dublin Zoo are; it was pretty sweet. Then, we looped around back to St. Stephen’s Green where we got off and walked to our hotel. Thank goodness we got back when we did because the orientation group was just only thirty minutes from going to dinner at The Barge again.

This time, we had a lovely guest for dinner. He studied at my school for a year last year and now I’m studying at his school for a year this year. I’m glad he got to sit at my table and pass on his knowledge of Dublin to my fellow botanist and I – as well as other students at the small table. For dinner, I ordered the Homemade Irish Stew. It was made with lamb, so it was definitely different from what I’ve had at home, but it was good. There was no dessert this time, but that was fine.

The ever so delicious Homemade Irish Stew.

After dinner, I met up with my American colleagues and my German companion. We met them at a pub next to Abbey Court, a hostel, with the words “O’Connell” on the front, the same pub from 4-5 days earlier. We all went back to our rooms around midnight. I got into my bed at the hotel and passed out, exhausted.

Word/Phrase of the Day
Fairy liquid – dishwashing liquid (like how we call tissues Kleenex, adhesive bandages Band-Aids, cotton swabs/buds Q-tips)

Things I Learned “today”
• What we consider “regular lemonade”, they call “cloudy lemonade”. Why? I don’t know.
• Orange juice – and other juices – are typically pulp free, but if they have pulp, they are “with bits”.
• No one asks you if you’re “in line”, they ask if you are “queuing”. Line = queue…somehow

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