Being a Freshman – All Over Again…

Clubs & Societies Rush! (16/9/13)

Monday was a happy day…sort of. At the beginning, it was somewhat frustrating, as I had to get my bank card issues cleared out. They’re not very organized here. My passport did not fax over to the central office and so my bank account wasn’t open for two weeks, and no one notified me about this! I had to find out for myself after patiently waiting for 2 weeks. That was frustrating.

It was crazy busy at the Fresher’s Tent.

I got bored during the day and went to the “Fresher’s Tent”. Oh…my…goodness…it was crazy. It’s literally a giant tent FILLED with booths of different societies – equivalent to “clubs” in America. Some interesting socs – short for societies – that caught my interest were – the Classical Society, the Musical Society, the Jazz Society, and the abundance of language/country societies. And as many clubs often bribe people at home in America, these societies did the same thing. They bribed people to join their societies with free food, free goodie bags with things in it, and – get this – condoms. What?

Of all the clubs they had, the scuba club had a PRETTY good display (that fit into a photo).

Anyways, after visiting the “Fresher’s Tent” I went over to the “Sport Expo”, which is exactly the same thing but for sports clubs – yes, they’re called “clubs” for sports, but “societies” for other things. The sports clubs are significantly more expensive due to insurance and coaches and things like that. However, it was pretty great seeing what they had. I thought it was weird they had a Rifle Club and an American Football Club. I was contemplating the Snow Sports Club – but it was too expensive, as snow sports tend to be – and I started asking them questions about where the practice. Answer: on a dry slope. I think I might join the Trampoline Club. What’s trampoline? It’s not just jumping up and down like you’d think – watch this video.

At night, I went to the “buddy programme” – yes, that’s how they spell “program” – where there were 80-90 groups and each group had 10 people in it, 8 international students and 2 UCD “Irish” students. It was very casual with little hors d’oevoure like Irish pork links/sausages, chicken kabobs, egg rolls and then some tea and water. I really got talking to one of the other international students, henceforth known as my “German buddy”. She was awesome. We both live in the same residence area, so I walked her back to her house, in old Belgrove. It was quite interesting. Their apartment was 3 people in an apartment, with a bigger dining/living area. However, they don’t have a microwave, but they do have an oven. Also, there’s 1.5 bathrooms – the half is not a toilet, it’s a shower CLOSET, quite literally.

My German buddy and I ended up talking after the program for a good 2 hours or so. We talked about very shallow topics and then some very deep topics. I learned a lot about Germany – at least her part of Germany – from all the things we talked about. For instance, there are a large variety of types of honey that are widely available at grocery stores (i.e. forest honey, mountain honey, etc.), not just simply “honey”, as we have it in most places in America. Also, she was telling me how it was cheaper for her family member to import a German car into the States than to buy that same car in America. Strange.

Best part of day: coming home to my 2nd postcard from home!

Real Irish Rain (17/9/13)

Classes…not much to say. But afterwards, I took the bus into city centre for my second – and hopefully last – GNIB office visit so I could pick up my card. It was raining fairly lightly, but it was coming down rather quick. Something that DOESN’T happen in SoCal. Just 5 minutes of walking and I was already dripping. My raincoat worked fine, but I didn’t think about the walking part very well. The rain dripped down my coat, and because of my longer strides, would get absorbed where my coat met my jeans. So I suffered wet jeans for the next two hours. It was not pleasant. Because of this, I also noticed that a lot of people will use their broken umbrellas anyways – broken due to times when it’s windy AND rainy.

At the GNIB office, it took less time than the first time around, but it still took longer than I liked. Instead of waiting 4+ hours, this time, they just had to get my card printed and my passport stamped. That took 30 minutes. Good thing I brought a book.

Attempted Job Hunting (18/9/13)

Classes here spread out the material more so than at UCI. The amount we have covered in two weeks here is something we would’ve covered in one or two days back home. I haven’t decided yet if is due to the teaching style of the country, or if it’s due to the fact that I’m on a semester system instead of a quarter system.

Meanwhile, I decided that maybe I should look for a job on-campus. Boy is that much harder here than back home. You’d think the career centre would be helpful, as it is back home, where they have a database of job listings you could apply for. Nope, not here. Almost 98% of their job listings are for graduates on the career centre website, and none of them are for on-campus for part-time undergraduate jobs. There’s practically nothing available for someone who has no skills in the industry advertised. In addition to that, I asked them the best way to get a job on campus. Answer: just ask around the different shops and shove them your resume. No, seriously. It’s crazy.

The awesome escalator from the first floor to the second floor of the library, decorated with photographs on the wall and lit up so prettily.

The Day My World was Coloured (19/9/13)

In between the crawling to and from classes, I had a few hours to spare, so I took a library tour – yeah, they offer those. The library is arranged into 4 floor, each divided by subject or use. It is so fancy of a library, they have escalators instead of elevators as the main form of transportation between floors. Each floor is color-coded a different color. Sadly, none of the books, except those “on reserve” for 2 hour or two day checkout, are filed based on the Dewey system of cataloguing. Instead, it’s on some strange UCD system.

Later on in the evening, I went to the International Student Reception to mingle. It was somewhat pointless, aside from the free snackage and beverages – including wine. On a side note, I find it weird that wine is served at student events, even though I know the drinking age is 18.

After the reception began to die down, my fellow botanist and some of her friends invited me to an event they were going to. I hitched on the bandwagon and shuffled myself down to the LGBT Soc’s speed friending event. It was quite interesting as I had one person I was “speed friending” who was SHOCKED to discover that I decided to attend the event even though I’m straight. Either way, it was a pretty fun ending to the night.

The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. I will go there again…for sure.

Flowers and Pasta (20/9/13)

After an agonizingly boring week of classes, I was lucky to be in a class where we took a field trip to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. It was gorgeous. We were given a quick 2-hour tour of the gardens. The guide was a staff member of the herbarium, so we got to go into the herbarium and see their amazing library of dead plants. This was SO exciting – though it might not sound like it to you. It was amazing to see the things people put together in olden days to entertain themselves, or to “socialize” and such. There were fern doilies, a full book of fern specimens, and plant presses where it was just a large poster-sized sheet with plant specimens enclosed in a glass casing as part of a cabinet of them. It was amazing!

My delicious homemade pasta sauce.

After a tour around the herbarium, our guide led us into the “family beds” and into this giant greenhouse – they call it glasshouse sometimes – called the Curvilinear Range. It was enormous. I was surprised at the variety of species they managed to fit in there, but it was pretty awesome. I saw some familiar plants, especially an Oryza sativa (aka rice). I wish I could’ve stayed there longer, but it was a field trip. Hopefully I’ll be back soon, on a nice sunny – or at least not windy and rainy – day.

When I came home, I was inclined to create my own pasta sauce. So I did. I simmered some tomato puree with some vegetables, onions, sausage bits and herbs for a while. I’d like to say I simmered it for 1-2 hours, but in reality, it was probably just 30-45 minutes. Either way, the pasta sauce came out DELICIOUS. I will definitely be doing this again once I move back to the States.

My flat, no baking powder pancake with ham and scrambled eggs with bell peppers and onion.

Another Beach Day (21/9/13)

For breakfast, my Italian flatmate wanted me to teach her how to make pancakes. So the day before, we had gone out shopping and I bought some “maple syrup” for my pancakes. This maple syrup didn’t taste anywhere near what I would prefer my maple syrup to taste like. It tasted like a blend of fruit syrups and honey. My Italian roommate didn’t like it and ended up using honey on her second pancake. The sad thing we forgot to buy for our recipe, baking powder. This WILL be used the next time I make pancakes for breakfast with her.

Blackrock Beach at low tide. Top left: one of the seashells we found, SO BIG and intact! The rest: pictures of the mudflats.

My German companion’s sister came to visit. So, my fellow botanist, Italian friend and I joined her and her sister on a walk to the beach. It was the same beach I had gone to before. However, this time, the water was at low tide. It was such a strange sight. I don’t think I’ve seen that many mudflats all at once. Not only that, but the shells on the beach were fairly intact and rather large compared to the shells at home. My German companion got so excited that she had such a blast collecting shell after shell after shell. I had to resist my urge not to join her, as I know I shouldn’t collect any more things – I’m trying to break my packrat habits. Although, to be completely honest, I found a white little piece of something – it looked like a stone or a really thick shell – with black lines on it. The black lines would probably be best described as veination. However, they ended a few millimeters before the edge of the stone – or whatever it was. Not only this, but they were not etched into the stone, nor were they raised.

After a long walk to and fro the beach, we dropped the Germans off at a bus stop before continuing our way to Tesco, where I made more observations about consumerism – or whatever you call it. For once, I discovered that air fresheners for rooms practically don’t exist at the grocery store. The only option I had was a €6 car freshener, a clothes freshener spray, or candles. I would’ve bought some lovely candles, except we’re not allowed to have such things in our campus housing. Also, my companion was looking for deodorant. During this process, we discovered that the Irish have a thing for body spray. There is a whole shelf (and sometimes more) dedicated to JUST body spray, like for fragrance. As for deodorant, they don’t carry deodorant sticks, as we do in America. The most popular deodorant product was sold as a spray in a can, the second most popular was as a roll-on deodorant gel/liquid. Then, we noticed the shaving section. Women’s products are SO expensive, and so limited in selection. Meanwhile, the men’s section was MUCH cheaper and had so many more options. For instance, for shaving cream, the women’s section has the brand name cream and the generic, that’s IT. All the while, the men’s section had at least 5 brands with at least 15 different choices. Absolutely ridiculous.

Doesn’t my French toast look amazing? Don’t you just want to gobble it all up?!

The Biggest Mall I’ve ever Seen (22/9/13)

I was craving some eggs for breakfast, as I hadn’t had eggs for breakfast in quite a while. So for a Sunday morning brunch, I decided to make French toast. I hadn’t had French toast since I visited my girl friend in Maryland and she had made me some on her “stick” pan. Thankfully, it was much easier on a non-stick pan. Just for fun, I remember she said how her siblings would REFUSE to eat French toast as a whole piece of toast, only French toast sticks. For the sake of that memory, I cut my French toast. Thankfully I did, otherwise they would not have fit in the dipping bowl. I’d say it turned out pretty successful.

The woodsy path from campus to the main road down south.

My feet were hurting from my non-walking shoes. So, I set out on an expedition to go to somewhere, besides city centre, to look for a lovely pair of shoes – or two. Most people were busy, remembering that studying is a thing they SHOULD do, others just didn’t feel like walking with me. So I went by myself. It was an amazing day to spend alone. It took quite a while to walk to the Dundrum Town Centre, but it was totally worth it. The best part about the walk, I think, was discover this woodsy trail/path on the back side of school, on the way out to the main road.

Inside the Dundrum Shopping Centre. On the top left corner are some of those inclined moving walkways. At the center bottom is a rotating sushi bar. The top right corner is the elevators and some platforms showing the floors/levels.

The first things I noticed was that it towered over all the small mom and pop shops on the street nearby. Then, before entering the mall itself, there’s a lake/pond with a water show set-up. That is fancy. Then, walking in, there are 3 main floors, two additional floors that aren’t full-floors, and then two “half-floors”. Connecting these levels were not escalators but moving walkways tilted up at a slant. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever stood on. The mall had a full-sized Tesco inside of it. When I say full-sized, I mean as big as a grocery store typically is in California, and it was INSIDE a mall! Also, there was, supposedly, the biggest Penneys around. There, I found two pairs of shoes for me, and it was so cheap. After this visit, I have to say: Penneys is the Walmart of clothing. The plus side is that Penneys fashion is actually very decent, much like H&M fashion, but the cost was much, much cheaper for most things. It was definitely a good day and an eventful week.

Word/Phrase of the day

  • done and dusted – successfully completed
  • peckish – hungry (I saw it on ads for McDonald’s and just HAD to know what this word meant)

Things I Learned “Today”:

  • Get a coat that ends where you don’t mind getting soaked, or flares outward – down to the calves area, maybe
  • Don’t depend on a job when you’re here. Finding a job is MUCH more difficult and might not make your time here as worthwhile.
  • Bring a book to GNIB, no matter what you’re getting done.
  • They spell other things funny other than “mould” and “theatre” (i.e. practise, anodised, recognised, authorised)
  • Students in Ireland pay €2,000 per year for their education
  • Food spoils BY the “Best used by” date
    Unlike American food, Irish foods do not have preservatives and additives. Thus, milk WILL curdle in a week, unlike American milk which curdles 2-3 weeks after the “deadline”; most cheeses WILL go bad in a few days, unlike American cheeses. You REALLY have to think about what you want to eat for the next week.
  • Primary and secondary school children (K-12) are mostly required to wear uniforms to school.
  • Gas is more expensive in Europe than in America
    Currently, US gas prices average $3.45/gal and Irish gas prices average €1.60/litre. 1 gal = approx. 3.8L. Thus, $3.45/gal vs. €6.08/gal. $1 = approx. €0.75. This makes it $3.45/gal (US) vs. $4.56/gal. Crazy.

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