New Semester, New Beginnings

Yay for the new semester!

The Past Lingers (20/1/14)

Even though it’s a new semester, I’m taking statistics with the same professor I took introductory statistics with last semester. Also, I was excited to find out that my botanist friend and I are in the same class for physiological plant ecology. I think this is the start of a wonderful new semester!

New Friends and Old friends (21/1/14)

Today, I had my first lecture session for my “Folklore and Imagination” class. I found out that apparently there was an Irish Folklore Commission that collected and studied the Irish culture and its traditions.  Now the collection from the Commission resides at UCD.

After classes, I met up with some new friends for the “buddy programme” the international students office had set up for us. We had a grand time snacking on sandwiches and exchanging small talk. I have big hopes that the group this semester may be closer than the group last semester.

Then, I went to the airport to pick up two of my Brazilian friends from the airport after their 3-weeks of Europe. They told me of their first experience of snow – taken from the tops of a car, when nowhere else in sight had a sign of snow – their “invasion” of a castle and the crazy nights spent on trains and random places due to a lack of planning. I don’t think I could ever just go somewhere without solid plans, or even ideas, concerning transportation and housing.

A Strange Way of Living (22/1/14)

This is probably the weirdest school day I’ve had yet. Today, I was done with my classes by 11am. Then, just chilled around the rest of the day. On the plus side, I got to sign up for an event and got to catch up with a new friend.

My lovely, awkward, but delicious purple and green snow peas.

My First Pub Crawl (23/1/14)

Class was interesting for my physiological plant ecology class. My professor is this old guy who apparently prefers to stick with old fashioned slide-projectors. The ones from the ’80s and ’90s that are little tiny clear-windows of slides that are magnified after a light has been shined through them and all.

I had some STRANGE peas today. Now, usually our mangetout/snow/snap peas are just green, but here they’re not afraid to market different coloured ones: purple. So I had a blend of purple and green mangetout/snow/snap peas. It was strange to cook as the purple colouring of the peas leaked into the water I was steaming them in, so after I was done cooking, I had some purple pea juice.

Later on in the night, I went to my first pub crawl ever. I had decided to go, due to my flatmate. Now, I don’t drink much, but I have to stay it was definitely worth going to, especially since our tour guide was rather animated and has his degree in Medieval Irish and Celtic Studies.

We started the night at Bull & Castle where we had two reserved tables just for us and discounts on some drinks. I sampled a couple beers from my new friends there and had my first shot as every pint ordered came with a free shot.

  • Galway Hooker: I rather disliked it as the bitter taste lingered for a rather long time
  • O’Hara’s Irish Stout: Less bitter than Guinness. My Italian flatmate likened it to the taste of black licorice and two of us thought it had the kick of instant or burnt coffee.
  • Metalman Pale Ale and 5 Lamps Lager: The bitter taste of it was rather light and didn’t linger too long for my liking

On the way to our second pub, we stopped at Christchurch Cathedral. Apparently, it used to house a pub AND a brothel in the crypt. Then, it was all shut down after some eerie occurrence of somebody dying in it after being accidentally locked in for months.

Some pictures from the pub crawl. Top left: the artist at the Trinity Bar Venue. Bottom left: cups hanging from the ceiling at O’Neill’s. Top right: a view of the inside of Bull & Castle. Bottom right: the band, as seen though a “window” at O’Neill’s.

The second pub was Darkey Kelly’s – or as my Italian flatmate likes to call it – the “previous brothel” because it actually used to house a brothel. We didn’t have reservations there, so sadly we were squished all over the place in the tiny pub. On the plus side, we came on the day they had free BBQ nights, so we all got a little food in our system. Aside from that we had free shots with each drink there as well though we didn’t get a discount on the drinks.

M. J. O’Neill’s was our third stop. It was a really fancy place and the had a live band upstairs playing some songs. The drinks there were hella expensive, but there was also a free shot with each pint ordered. There were also some tables with taps installed INTO the table. It was pretty gosh darn fancy. We spent the longest time there, so I tried a bit of Aspall Cyder, which is less sweet than the typical Bulmers Irish Cider.

The last pub my Italian flatmate and I went to before we headed home was the Trinity Bar Venue. It was a rather lively place, hopping with people and live music. The wall behind the performer was pretty interesting as it was a display case full of alcohol coasters that the companies give to bars to advertise with. It’s an ingenious idea! I had a sip of Foster’s Lager there. It’s pretty light and I think I like it, not to mention it’s a pretty good price for a pint of beer.

Random Thoughts & A Piece of ‘Italy’ (24/1/14)

One of the things my Italian flatmate introduced me to that I was excited to find at Little Italy Ltd.

Today I came up with two different streams of thought. The first was my “grass and mud theory”. So everyone knows that Ireland has lots of grass, probably due to the excessive amounts of rain. But my thought was, what if it’s also very green because in places like the patches of grass on campus, the mud is just too disgusting to walk through and that’s why continues to grow so well?

Then my other thought was on the student grading system here. It seems like grades are very much book- or material-based in America. You just need the time and ability to absorb what is given to you. However, here in Ireland, a lot of the grading is based on student efforts. Nothing is given to you. You are taught how to find resources and a little bit on how to use them, but you are never given a specific list or set of resources to pull information from. Thus, I feel like the grades here are partially measuring student interests in a topic and/or their motivation to seek out information on the topics they are learning.

Anyways, enough of my ramblings. Today, I got to go to city centre with my Italian flatmate. We went to a little Italian market north of the Liffy called Little Italy Ltd. It’s almost like Asia Market, where when you walk in, everything is LITERALLY in that language. The people who work there are all Italian and there were so many Italian things my flatmate got SO excited and wanted to just buy everything, but we knew we wouldn’t be able to carry it back home.

The M&S (Marks & Spencer) café in the Dundrum Shopping Centre. SO CUTE!

The First Intense Rain + Wind (25/1/14)

Another adventure day with the flatmate! Yay! Today was a visit to Dundrum. When we were preparing to leave the house, the weather looked promisingly sunny. Then, as soon as we stepped out, the rain and wind decided to attack us. I brought my “wind resistant” umbrella my dad had previously bought from China. The metal was pretty flexible in the wind, but it wasn’t very sturdy. Meanwhile, my flatmate’s umbrella was rather sturdy against the wind until it finally snapped and broke. These comparisons of our umbrella reminded my flatmate of the story of The Oak and the Willow from Aesop’s fables.

I also got to test out this “Dublin Bus Texting” thing where you could get information on a bus route or a specific stop by texting a certain number with certain phrases. It was pretty spiffy. Then, when we got to the Dundrum Shopping Centre, we had a good look around before we went to Tesco for some food shopping. This Tesco was amazing. Not only was it big, but there were better discounts (or as they say: offers) and more variety – I mean for crying out loud, they had “smoked salmon for sandwiches”!

After a long day out at Dundrum, I took my new Canadian companion to go blues dancing with me in city centre. It was quite fun, though blues proved to be rather challenging for her.

Irish eggs, look at it unwashed, even the one with feathers on it look yummy! Americans should change the egg “washing” policy.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Eggs here – and in almost every other country – are not normally refrigerated. Americans refrigerate eggs since we wash our eggs before sale, stripping them of the natural protectant against salmonella infections.
  • Bay leaves used in cooking consists of various species, generally in the Lauraceae (Laurel) family or in some cases the Myrtaceae (Myrtle) family.
  • Platanus occidentalis is commonly known as a sycamore tree in America, or a plane tree in other regions of the world.
  • Celery is best had after frost when all the starch is stored in the stems instead of used up for metabolic processes.
  • Australians work on a dollar system, though the American dollar is stronger.
  • Fairy fort and mounds are mounds of earth that occur naturally. In traditional folklore, they are not to be disturbed as to prevent angering the fairies.
  • Hot cross buns are traditionally associated with Good Friday.

This is what hot cross buns look like…apparently.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • Plonker = idiot, moron or dimwit
  • On offer = on sale
  • Toastie = toasted sandwich
  • Sultana = golden-colored raisin
  • Punnet = a small container for fruit

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