The Best Things in Life…are under your nose

A Bank Holiday?! (28/10/13)

So today was the October bank holiday. What’s a bank holiday? I have no clue. All I care about is: no school! YAY! So, my Brazilian friend and I decided that we were going to take a trip to Howth. Bad news: the DART (read: train) was not servicing to Howth for the bank holiday. So, we decided to take a walk down to Dun Laoghaire (I think it’s become my new favorite place to go).

When we were at the Dun Laoghaire shopping centre, we went into a candy shop, and I discovered Twizzlers and bought some for my Irish friend, since he had been telling me how he misses Twizzlers. It was awesome. I also bought one of those strawberry belt things. SO good, but nothing like the ones from home. The texture wasn’t quite right and the sugar didn’t really stay on the candy like they do at home. It was good nonetheless.

This, my dearies, is a flake. Yes, wtf indeed.

Then, we just meandered around the mall a bit. Some time in between wandering, we decided to have some ice cream, since there was an ice cream shop. Oh My…MmMMmmmm….I had my first flake. What’s a flake? Take a look at that picture. That’s a flake. It’s just a giant piece of chocolate essentially. I had the idea because the UCEAP (the study abroad program I’m in) Facebook page had a picture of a girl having a flake. It said that you MUST try a flake while you’re in Ireland. So I did. I’m not sure I’ll do it again anytime soon, since I’m not too fond of chocolate, but it’s quite an experience.

At the end of the day, we decided to walk home. We walked 7-9km (4-5 miles) in 10°C (50°F) weather with a ~20km/hr (12mph) wind. In short, it was FREEZING. It was fun though, but still…FREEZING. We dropped by a random convenience store on the way to buy some hot drinks. I got some tea with some sugar and milk. The Brazilian was unbelievable: a cup of hot chocolate (already sweetened) AND – get this – FOUR packs of sugar. Seriously?! FOUR packs of sugar? Ridiculous.

Anyways, after getting home and defrosting, I decided to try and learn a little Portuguese. I found ou the hard way that apparently I can’t get the “-ão” sound. It was the most confusing thing in the world trying to pronounce it. After a while, I gave up. Instead, I tried logging on to Facebook. I got a notification that my Facebook was disabled and I needed to upload a government ID in order to reactivate it. I was frustrated for an hour or two, but I didn’t do anything. Then, it was activated again. Most confusing thing ever. That’s what I realized that I’m too addicted to Facebook and that it’d be very hard to NOT have Facebook, especially since a good deal of my international friends and I communicate that way.

Yay for flowers of the daisy family! Top: a ‘daisy’ flower cross-section. Left: a ‘ray’ flower that borders the outside of the ‘daisy flower’. Right: a ‘disc’ flower that resides in the center of the ‘daisy flower’.

Vocal Group Halloween (29/10/13)

I woke up this morning totally forgetting that it was Tuesday. So, I ended up missing two of my classes and then skipping the third one for the day since it was a useless tutorial class for statistics. I feel like such a rebel – no, seriously. I haven’t skipped classes on purpose, EVER and I typically feel bad if I accidentally miss one.

However, I did go to my applied plant biology lab. I got to sit down and dissect a flower in the daisy family. I’ve always known about the different types of flowers in a daisy head, but had never gotten a chance to dissect it and look at it closely under a microscope. It was pretty awesome getting to see what the two different types of daisy flowers in the daisy head looks like.

After classes, my flatmate and I got all dressed up for our vocal group Halloween party. She got to wear her lovely blue hair whilst I dressed up as something NOT that girly for the first time ever. I mean, yeah I’ve been a ladybug, I’ve been the night sky and things like that. I guess it’s not so much girly as it is “not a goody-two-shoes”. Instead, I dressed up as a pirate. What?! Yeah, no idea. Anyways, we went to the vocal group “Halloween party”. It wasn’t much of a party, since they didn’t invite anyone, nor did they publicize it. There were as many choral members as there were audience members. It was sort of sad in such a nice, big hall. I guess it was fun anyways.

Teleutospores of rusts. I forgot what the one on the left is (most of the look the same). Right: Puccinia coronata avenae.

Swing Cravings: Satisfied (30/10/13)

I began my day by saying goodbye to my lovely Italian flatmate, who decided to take a trip hope during her revision week. Get this: non-science students get a revision week off around midterms, while the science students don’t. Not fair, but whatever. Afterwards, I went to meet up with my Irish friend to give him the sweet surprise I had found for him, a pack of Twizzlers.

The ends of a piece of my hair. Top: the cut end of my hair, clean cut. Bottom: the natural end of my hair (rather translucent O.o).

In plant diseases today, we looked at the spores of smuts and rusts. The rusts all basically look the same, as they’re only SLIGHTLY more oblong on one side or the other, or something like that. However, there was crown rust, which reminded me of a sea anemone. It was awesome. Then we saw smut particles and little spore sacs. I thought I’d never say this, but fungal spores of plants disease are so cute – sometimes. At one point I was so eager to move on and see the next spore type that I decided to be obsessive with the microscope. I cut off a piece of my hair and stared at it under the microscope. It was quite interesting to see the difference between the end of my hair where it grew to, and what the ends look like after you cut it.

After a lovely day in plant disease lab, I went to my Irish Gaelic class. Who knows why, maybe a combination of it being revision week, the week after most midterms, the weather, or whatever, only four people showed up to class. Not only that, but we had a substitute for our class. Our instructor, or somebody, had organized for another guy to teach class that day. I liked the sub. He was pretty cool. He didn’t teach it how I expected it to be taught, but we sure did a lot of verbal practice through ridiculously face scenarios which was definitely a more preferable way of learning a language than simply being given worksheets or to recite and repeat things after the instructor.

Then, the fun began. My swing friend from home was visiting me this week, from today on. She was staying in city centre for the first few nights at the lovely Abigail’s. I grabbed my Brazilian friend and ran off to go meet up with my fellow swinger in city centre. For dinner, we had fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s. It was delicious as always (you can never go wrong with fish, if you’re feeding me…I think). After filling our tummies up a bit, we headed over to Turk’s Head where I found out there’s swing every Wednesday. We got to partake in a little bit of their Halloween party and were lucky enough to be asked to dance a few times. It was quite delightful and so freeing to be dancing again. My, my how I’ve missed dancing.

Trinity College on the night of October 30th.

A few hours later, we decided it was time to go home, as the Brazilian and I both had school the next day. So, we headed off towards home. However, the bus does not run past 11pm here on the weekdays so, we ATTEMPTED to walk home. It had a grand beginning at first, seeing Trinity College all lit up with funny colors, seeing a city fountain piled up with bubbles as if someone had dumped Fairy liquid in. Sadly, an hour and a half later, or so, we got lost until 1am, we a taxi was hailed to take us back to campus. It cost €2 less than the price if we had gotten a taxi from city centre. According to Google maps, which I checked after we got back, we ended up getting lost 3.5 miles away from school. Funny thing, city centre is 4 miles away. What detour. The worst part was going through it during chocolate week, the most dreadful time to do many things. At least I got back to my apartment in the end.

Leaf venation. Top: the leaf veins of a dicot (read: not grass-like). Bottom: the leaf veins of a monocot (read: blade-like leaved plants).

The Magic of Bewley’s (1/11/13)

I woke up this morning, thinking not much of it. But was an amazing day, it picked me up, off my feet and shook me around. I started the morning by talking to a friend from home. We had a good long discussion about relationships. My conclusion:

We should never settle for what we really deserve. We may accept something we THINK we deserve, but that’s not the same thing as what we REALLY deserve. If we don’t feel comfortable in a relationship with someone new, we should follow our instincts and leave. If we do, keep going. If at another point we don’t feel comfortable, move on, don’t wait and hesitate.

Hey look! You can actually see choloroplast blobs under the microscope! =P

Stats class was boring as always, but afterwards there was lab. It was actually a pretty exciting lab, since we got to actually be in a real laboratory. I got to take lots of pictures of plants under the microscope. We could see how different leaves were ‘veined’ because they were soaked in red dye solution. I got to take pictures of monocot stomata (which is pretty nifty), and chloroplast blobs (yay!). Everything was going wonderfully until there was a random power outage. Then the scientific apocalypse happened. All the scientists came out, freaking out, especially those that work on DNA. Their experiments had come to a grinding halt due to the power outage. Their years of hard work was trickling down the drain as the time passed by. Reactions were ruined and samples were lost. I was surprised that there was no back-up generator for all that stuff. Sad stuff, researching at an institution that doesn’t have enough money. Anyways, it only lasted an hour, so things weren’t TOO bad (hopefully).

At the end of the day, I got to pick up my lovely swing friend. I dropped by the hostel and we had dinner at Bewley’s. It was amazing, although we didn’t pick the best spot to eat, as it was right next to the door and the door kept opening and closing. The food was delicious nonetheless. We chose to choose a full on meal and split the cost and the food down the middle. We had some lovely garlic pizza bread as a starter. It was rather fun to eat, as it was flat and reminded me a lot of the Chinese green onion pancakes. Then, we had an entrée of egg tagliatelle with chicken and a side of seafood chowder that comes with two slices of their homemade brown bread. It was an amazing meal. After a full meal, it was time to hit the hay.

The Introvert Connection (2/11/13)

Waking up this morning, I was set on writing up an article that I had been assigned by my editor. I was to write an article about the discover of “junk DNA” that may play a role in the formation of our facial feature. It’s pretty cool, but he expected 900 words on that. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Not one person who had written about the story secondhand, as I was supposed to do, wrote more than 500 words on the topic. I ended up with about 560 words and sent them to my editor, admitting defeat and feeling lame. But seriously, what else is there to say without throwing in complex scientific terminology that more than half the student population would probably not understand unless I go into a whole lesson about these terms?

Assignment done, my swing friend and I decided to go on an exploration of the bus system. Yeah, yeah, half of you probably think that’s a lame way to spend a day when she flew in all the way from France. Honestly though, I was glad she was fine with it. My swing friend, thankfully, is a RATHER introverted person like myself. It’s easy for us to be exhausted of full days of exploration and it’s nice to just do something seemingly boring to the general population. We ended up taking the 46A bus line all the way to its last stop at Phoenix Park, then took it back down. Along the way, we had passed by the Irish Deaf Society charity shop in Phisboro. We went in and took a peek around. In the same neighborhood, we also took a look at the Oxfam there. They had a really nice, red winter coat that was a good length all around, but I ended up not buying it because it was too wide on me. However, it was a pretty successful exploration, as she found the PERFECT pair of jeans for a good price, and I got myself a new, white scarf to replace the checkered one I bought from home (which I’m not fond of the pattern of).

Upon returning to city centre, we took the bus up to Blanchardstown Centre, my new favorite shopping centre/mall. We just meandered around a bit for about two hours. We got to catch a bit of delicious Auntie Anne’s to eat and a bit of Starbucks and American’d it up. Then, we made the best discovery ever: there’s a FCUK store in the shopping centre. It was too good. I mean, yeah, FCUK is hella expensive, but they have such GORGEOUS things. I would LOVE to own something from there that fit me, but they cost a fortune! As the stores closed down for the night, we made our way back out to the bus. There we encountered a strange, but charming lady. She was somewhat special, but at the same time she was very friendly and talkative. It was pleasant.

At home, we defrosted a bit in bed and caught up on a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Sadly, we forgot to pop the popcorn we had bought. It was a lovely evening nonetheless.

Best things about today: finding out that someone else is a fellow introvert and falling in love with a friend you never thought you related with, in terms of personality.

My bus photo of the Dublin Airport in broad daylight.

Asian-ness (3/11/13)

We woke up bright and early this morning to take the bus up to the airport and bid adieu to my beloved swing friend. It was fascinating to see the airport in broad daylight. On the way home, I bought some postcards I FINALLY deemed artistic enough to send to my event photographer friend back home.

Asian food craving: fulfilled. Clockwise from the top: homemade dumpings, chives box, and beef ho fun.

Then, my Asian food cravings got fulfilled after a short walk around Parnell Street and Penneys off of O’Connell Street. I was just walking up and down Parnell Street, looking for Asian food. I found a small market to buy some noms from. Then, I was looking for my chives box, since I had been craving it for a while. I went to every Chinese food restaurant window, looking for it. When I finally found one, my Brazilian friend and I went in. We had a delicious brunch of beef ho fun, dumplings, and chive box. It was delicious! It was also funny, since my Brazilian friend had NO idea how to use chopsticks and was struggling with them the whole time. Also, it was shocking – who in the world doesn’t like dumplings?! Anyways, it was a delicious meal anyhow.

Then, we took a long bus ride to Dundrum so I could find out about the ice skating rink they had set up and how it’d work if I wanted to get the cheapest price for skating. I had a random urge to go ice skating a few days ago. So obviously, I Googled it. I find out that ice rinks are set up at various shopping centres around Dublin county from November until January. Being me, I just KNEW I had to go. The closest one turned out to be at Dundrum, which isn’t too far from home. They have early special prices, on-peak prices, and off-peak prices. It was the most confusing thing in the world. I will be ice skating soon! How exciting! The sad part is, on my conquest to find out information about ice skating, my Brazilian friend lost a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4. Sad stuff.

When I returned home, I sat a good long while thinking. I came to two conclusions:

Home is not a place, it’s a group of people – for some it’s family, for others its friends, and for the lucky ones, it’s both. I’m going through a phase of homesickness, now that my swing friend has visited. I realized what I’ve left behind back in California and I miss it – I miss home. I miss all the wonderful adults who have helped me over the years and supported me through my difficult times. I miss all the coworkers and supervisors who have shown my compassion and listened to my troubles. I miss the few girls who make me feel less alone in the world.

I’m REALLY slow at making friends. Yes, it’s easy to “make friends”, but most of them are temporary and, really, they’re just acquaintances. I, as a RATHER introverted person, have problems initiating conversations and spend A LOT of my energy just to seem extroverted and “obviously” friendly. As if that wasn’t hard enough, I feel like being an Asian in a dominantly Caucasian area makes it worse. I think – I may be wrong, but I have yet to be proved wrong – that people on-campus don’t ever choose to talk to me or approach me, even if I just sit at the international office, because I’m an Asian American. Most Asians can tell that I’m not from China or from the East in general just by the way I dress and carry myself. Then, the Caucasians don’t approach me because I look Asian and they think I probably have poor English. Thus, I’m stuck with few people to go out with. Not to mention the fact that I’m broke (because I’m practically financially independent) and I hate large groups (because I’m an introvert).

Thing I learned “today”

Peanut butter is NOT a thing in France. They do not LIKE peanut butter in France. It is not an easy thing to come by. All this, according to my swing friend who indulged in some creamy peanut butter before returning to France.

Words/Phrase of the Day

Crèche – daycare

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One thought on “The Best Things in Life…are under your nose

  1. Pingback: The Glories of Fall (October) | Diverse Shades of Green

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