The Ups and Downs

Mondays can be Wonderful…Sometimes (7/10/13)

I met my new flatmate today. She is a very, very lovely Irish girl. She fits into our little home quite well. She’s introverted, like the rest of us, keeps well to herself and is VERY neat and orderly. I like her, a lot. She’s technically doing a master’s in education here and she’s my age. It’s sort of nice. Not only that, my Chinese flatmate was right. She IS elegant. Her style and mannerism really would define ‘elegant’. I could pretty much say, she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn.

After meeting my new Irish flatmate, I went to vocal group with my Italian flatmate. We were told that they decided to change their minds, so instead of singing “Façade” from Jenkyll and Hyde, we’re singing “In the Dark of the Night” from Anastasia. It was quite interesting, as we have four male leads who will be singing the part of Rasputan, the evil guy. There was one guy, he is SO funny to watch because he’s so passionately thrown into the song when he says the lines from the movie, particularly the part where Rasputan says “She’ll be gone!” (~1:00 in the video link). In addition to this, one of the girls decided to take on the role as the “fat bug” (~1:45 in video link) and sing “Find her!” and “Doom her!” It was so funny, we’d all break into laughter every time that part comes up because the “fat bug” has a PRETTY deep voice, and she’s a second/mezzo soprano.

Fire Alarms: The Bane of My Existence in the Dorms (8/10/13)

The day was absolutely glorious, but at night time, our house had 5 fire alarms go off during the 10 hours the general population is sleeping on school nights (10pm-8am). It was a nightmare. I felt bad for my Irish flatmate the most, since she just moved in that night and she said she usually wakes up pretty early (5am-7am) because she does a little teaching during the week. So, by the 5th alarm, she had given up trying to go back to bed and just gone off to start her day wearily. Pobresita.

Throughout the day, I was DRAGGING myself through it. Luckily, I had managed to obtain some of that lovely yerba mate at a health food store. It managed to keep me up for most of my classes. Sadly, I didn’t make it through my second class of the day because it didn’t kick in until later. The worst part was, I had a gym class I had already signed up for and couldn’t ditch. It was a pretty intense day.

My picture of the beautiful lake smack in the middle of UCD campus.

Irish Talk (10/10/13)

So, apparently they do “housing audits” here. I’ve never lived on campus before, so I don’t know if this is normal in America. Anyhow, they had e-mailed us to let us know around what day housing would come to our house and check it out, make sure we’re keeping the place clean. Not surprisingly, we got a good audit and nothing happened.

After my lab class that day, I sat around with my lab partners that I was to make a presentation with and we really got to talking. It was quite interesting. We started talking about politics, documentaries, the future, and all sorts of random topics. Thankfully it was a beautiful day outside, so I got to take a nice picture of the lake on campus while they were sipping on their coffees.

Amazingly good canned chicken curry.

For dinner, I decided to try some canned chicken curry that I had bought a few days before at the grocery store. I thought it’d be worth a shot, since I don’t really like to MAKE curry (since it stink up the house) and I like to eat it every so often. I was shocked at what came out of the can. I was expecting some measly vegetables and little of any actual sustenance. Nope, chunks of full vegetables and a good portion of chicken came pouring out of that little can of chicken curry. Of course it didn’t taste like the curry I’m used to, but it was actually pretty good for something that came out of a can! I think I’m going to buy more.

Inspirations (11/10/13)

So I made a decision to go to gym between my stats class and one of my botany classes. It was an amazingly intense class. I saw two girls in there that really boosted my sense of my body image. I’ve always known I’m considered “skinny” and everyone says “you don’t need to work out, you’re so skinny” and all that. But no, I DO need to work out – for my own health! I’ve been made fun of for looking like “stick and bones”, but OMG, this girl that was there. She was quite literally, skin and bones with muscles. She had muscles like a body builder, with the veins popping out and everything, but she was also so skinny that you could see where her bones were. I don’t know if she is anorexic, or she just has some genetic condition, but it was scary-looking. Not only that, but she could do all the more “advanced level” moves that the instructor suggested. On the other side of the spectrum, there was this girl who was pretty hot. She was a nice, hot kind of curvy. She wasn’t a US size 1-4; I’d say she’s probably a size 6-10. She looked pretty athletically fit and toned. How do I know, she worked out in a bra and yoga pants. Hot. I found it she’s Lithuanian, and she speaks Russian. Not sure if that’s typical, but it was interesting.

Top: the cones of an Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica). Bottom left: the cone of a deciduous conifer, the larch (Larix sp.). Bottom right: the cone of a Chinese Thuja (Thuja orientalis). Right: a mature cone on top of an immature cone of a yew tree (Taxus baccata).

After gym, I headed over to one of my botany courses. We were doing a class tour around campus. The teacher introduced us to the various species of trees on campus and how to identify a few of them by sight, and by using a ‘dichotomous key’ as most botanic contain. We saw some pretty interesting plants I had never seen in California. We also saw a redwood and a Monterrey cypress planted on campus. It was strange to hear California talked about like it was a foreign land.

Another Quest for Winter Clothes (12/10/13)

I decided to take a walk with my fellow botanist to city center. We walked into every charity shop (second-hand store) we saw, because she needed to find thing for her debate tournament, which required her to wear an evening gown. We both ended up finding what we needed at the TKMaxx at St. Stephen’s Green. We found her a nice, simple dress and me, a nice, white ski jacket. I love this new ski jacket of mine. It’s warm, and it has a bajillion pockets for anything I could possibly want to carry, AND it actually fit me. The worst part was, I looked at the price tag, said to myself, “€80, not bad”. I did a little calculating and realized that came out to about $110 or so. WOW. I contemplate returning it, but not unless I find something significantly better. I also got fascinated with this wallet and bought it. It’s a ‘magic wallet’. My brother spoiled it for me and told me “those have been around forever!” Nevertheless, I think it’s pretty nifty.

Oolong Flower Power, the tea room, café and retail shop. I know, it sounds lame. BUT LOOK AT ALL THE TEAS (top right)…and coffee beans (top right)…and..and….cupcakes (bottom)! ❤

During our adventures, I also found the most wonderful-looking tea shop. It reminded me a lot of my favorite tea place at home (Tranquil Tea Lounge). I feel like this place was even more upscale though. It had 300 varieties of teas and a nice collection of coffee grinds if you want good coffee blends. I’m definitely going back there some day to have a cup of tea. The only problem is that it’s rather pricey, but I think it’ll be worth it when it comes down to it.

Things I Learned “Today”:

  • Stinging nettle is native here. “Every little boy who has dared run around with shorts on has experienced stinging nettle.” Stinging nettle stings with formic acid; this can be resolved with dock (Rumex sp.) leaves where there is a form of alcohol, an alkaline substance, which neutralises the acid.
  • Bee stings are acidic too and should be treated with an alkali; like vinegar, but a wasp sting is of a neutral pH.
  • Potatoes for crisps/chips are sweeter/sweetened before they are processed into those delicious snacks we love so much

    A box of ‘smokes’. Top left: filters. Top right: a pack of filter paper. Bottom: bag of tobacco.

  • I know I had previously posted about students rolling their own ciggies. Well, here’s what a box would look like if you bought one. It should have enough paper, filters and tobacco for 30 ciggies. Crazy. (And no, I do not smoke now. I borrowed this from my classmate who does.)

Word/Phrase of the Day:

  • Spanner = wrench
  • “Shoehorn things into boxes” – to categorize things

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