Coming to a Close…

The main street in Killarney.

Begins with a K (26/5/14)

Next on the list: Killarney. While traveling there, my bus had an hour layover in Limerick, which seemed like a simple, small town. From Limerick, my bus passed by the little village of Adare where thatched roofs seemed the norm in a certain part of town.

When I finally arrived in Killarney, it was rather late in the afternoon for the town. Shops were getting ready to close and people were getting ready for the night. Most non-pubs, like grocery stores and shops closed by 6-8pm. Heck, Eddie Rockets Diner, closed at 9! Anyhow, I decided to take a walk into Killarney National Park either way. During my short exploration of the place, I saw so many flowers I really wish I had my flower guide with me to identify them all – or at least a good number of them. In the end, the rain ended my short exploration for the day.

On my walk back to the hostel in the rain, I saw four tourists on bikes in the park. When I got back to my hostel, as it turns out, they were my roommates for the night. They were co-workers from Slovenia on vacation together. Small world sometimes…

Ross Castle with my new American friend.

Killarney: a National Park as a Backyard (27/5/14)

Traveling alone was proven to be worth it today or of all the days I’ve traveled alone this far.

I woke up this morning to have breakfast and say next with the American, from Arizona, who slept on the bunk below mine last night. We got to taping and became quick friends. It’s awesome to meet someone who’s as interested in knowing you as you are them – especially as friends – no expectations, just sharing moments of life and happiness together. After breakfast, we took a walk to Ross Castle where we took a tour. Then, a delicious lunch at Jam Café, where I had a delicious salmon fish cake, potato and spring onion salad, and apple and celery salad. Though it was a good meal, both of us were in the mood for some ice cream for dessert so we had I’ve cream at the “infamous” Murphy’s ice creamfrom Dingle. We sampled quite a few flavors before I finally settled on the gin ice cream and her on the Irish coffee ice cream with Jameson whiskey. SO GOOD. Seriously best I’ve cream ice ever had. Our short time together ended with me walking her to the train station and seeing her off during her last moments in Killarney.

The Muckross House.

After my new friend had left, I made the crazy decision of walking 6 km/4 miles to the Muckross House and Gardens, though tours had already finished for the day. It was creepy, awesome and strange all at the same time. The park was rather misty and rather cloudy, and there was an endless trail of trees and sweeping views every so often. I ended up wandering around by myself until 8pm, only seeing the locals out and about biking, walking their dogs, walking with friends or just walking alone. They use the park like their own backyard. It was awesome! When I was finally exhausted, I started walking back, but with my strange sense of direction, I exited in front of Muckross Park Hotel, a 5 star, classy hotel with a spa attached. I had no idea which way out was to town, so I walked in to ask for directions. It turned out, some random guy there was heading into town in a bit and offered to give me a lift into town. During our drive into town, I was in utter shock as I noticed the length of the road I had walked to get to Muckross House only a few hours prior.

The Smithwick’s Brewery in Kilkenny.

From One “K” to Another (28/5/14)

This morning, I woke up exhausted so I left the hostel 2 hours after my planned travel time. Due to my procrastination of getting up, I spent all day traveling to Cork, waiting at the Cork bus station for 3 hours, going to Clonmel and waiting another hour before I finally reached Kilkenny. So I was traveling from 1030am until 645pm. What a pain. On the bright side, being awake when we were in Clonmel, I got to see the location of the Bulmer’s/Magner’s brewery.

Upon arrival at Kilkenny, I found out there was another brewery to be seen there: the Smithwick’s brewery. However, it was too late to take a tour as the non-pubs closed at around 7pm here as well. So, I ran to get groceries, made dinner and ran out again to get down swing dancing for the night. I stayed out dancing until 2am at the beautiful Left Bank pub where I had my first taste of swing aerials, as the instructor found it fun to toss me around. The night ended with a short hang out at the instructor’s apartment with some new swing friends.

The bar at The Reg in Waterford where we were swing dancing.

Kilkenny/Waterford: A Swinging Ending (29/5/14)

My full-day in Kilkenny. I went on the Rothe House tour and explored their 0.5 acre garden for a few hours, followed by the Kilkenny Castle tour. My, that house was too beautiful, especially the picture gallery. I got hungry soon after and dropped by their Thursday market and got a duck pie from Peter the Pieman for a late lunch. He said he’d been making pies for 15 years. It was indeed a good pie, with what seemed like an au gratin potato crust rather than the regular pie crust. It was REALLY good.

After a day alone, I called up the swing instructor who was teaching last night and he gave me his tour of the little town of Kilkenny. It was rather fun. Then, we took the train over to Waterford for more dancing at The Reg, where I was thrown around some more for aerials after lessons. We were out until 3-4am this time, dancing and spending time with another swing dancer, before taking the first BusEireann towards Dublin Airport back into Kilkenny.

The lovely Heuston Station in Dublin.

Returning to Dublin (30/5/14)

Time to head back to Dublin. I opted for the train back. I was so glad the train left only a few minutes late, otherwise I would not have caught it. I had underestimated the time it took to walk to the train station, but thankfully I got the train. The scenery back to Dublin was lovely, but after taking busses for so many hours, it sort of all looked the same: green with a lot of field margins, scattered houses, and livestock.

Upon arrival in Dublin, I can now say I’ve been in Heuston Station. It’s a busy place and almost as big as a a Tube station in Central London. Soon after my arrival, I settled in at a friend’s house and then met up with another friend for an evening tea at Oolong Flower Power one last time. This time we didn’t have cakes, but it was still great catching up.

The Harlech House. Left: A view of the gate in the morning (top) and at night (bottom). Right: a close-up of the gate itself.

Last Weekend in Dublin (31/5/14)

So, I’ve been wanting to go to the Harlech House since I first saw pictures of it and was really excited when I found out that it’s really close to my school. However, the whole semester, I hadn’t found the time to go see it. Today was the day I went. My Brazilian friend was excited as I to go when I told her about it, so we took the walk over – which was surprisingly a short distance from her house. I do not regret it. AMAZING house, even though we didn’t get to walk in or anything, as people live there.

Then, we went crazy shopping for things. I bought my first decent backpack – after school has ended, I know it doesn’t make sense. I was also lucky enough to snag a brand name swimsuit at TKMaxx. Then, we ended the day with dinner at Jo’ Burger, a rather expensive burger joint – but I have to say, the burgers were TOTALLY worth it. It was an exciting day, though simple – nothing special.

The Last Walk Around (1/6/14)

My last full day in Ireland and I spent it with a friend who’s as much of an explorer as I am. We just spent time walking around, talking about life, its difficulties and wonders. It was definitely a worthy last day. The odd part about the day was that it didn’t feel sad, as if I was leaving the lovely city of Dublin, the country of Ireland forever, but rather I was leaving for a short time before I’d return again.

Things I Learned “today”

  • The butter is yellower in Ireland because the cows are grass-fed not maize-fed.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • Jaunting cars = think “carriages” or “coaches” but open top

Killarney National Park:


A view with a jaunting car.

A view of the mountain range.

A panoramic of the lake next to Ross Castle.

A piece of the Muckross Garden.

A view of the lawn & lake in front of the Muckross House.


One of the floors of the Rothe House.

Swing dancing at Left Bank in Kilkenny.

A panoramic of Kilkenny Castle.


Now What…?

My lovely room as I’m packing my life away…

Getting Kicked Out (19/5/14)

Today was the last day of living in residences. I was totally not ready to move out of the place I had come to know as “home” for the past school year, but it was time. I woke up early and was freaking out to no end until I went to the post to ship some things home. During that time, I really got to breathe and calm down a bit – and reflect on what a wasteful culture we’ve created with an increase in wealth and commercialized production of goods.

After calming down at the post, it was interesting going back to the apartment to clean. It was shocking how much my Italian flatmate and I got done in such a “short” period of time. At one point during cleaning, we also came to the realization that we’d miss each other because we’re both pretty equal in terms of our standards of what we consider “clean”, aside from other things. I think the cleaning and packing was probably the most stressful part of the whole thing – and my multiple trips to donation centres so my things wouldn’t go to waste. Checking out of residences itself was a lot easier than expected – though I wish they had given us more details on how it worked.

After a day of hard work, I finally settled back into Abigail’s for the night – where I’d be staying for the next few days. I went to dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant with my Irish actuary friend – who had never had REAL Chinese food and wasn’t well acquainted with chopsticks. It was a pretty interesting dinner watching him struggle with chopsticks and trying to figure out the perfect way to hold his chopsticks. Though, I have to say: I’m impressed he managed to keep up eating at the same rate I did only using chopsticks.

Abigail’s In Day & Singin’ in the Rain (20/5/14)

Today I had stayed at Abigail’s doing “work”, writing essays and making a video for a small sports scholarship I had received. During breakfast, I met the guy who was sleeping in the bed below mine. We got to a pretty interesting discussion about our experiences both as biologists and travelers – though, to admit, he is much more well-travelled than I, being used to a backpacking lifestyle and all. Later in the afternoon, my Thai friend came over and we planned or little excursion to Cork.

Nando’s dinner with the flatmate before our show!

Following that came the event I had been looking forward to since we first conceived such an idea: my musical-loving flatmate and I went to go watch a musical together in Dublin. We began with some finger-lickin’ chicken at Nando’s, which supposedly serves Portuguese chicken though it’s a chain restaurant found in the UK and Ireland. After dinner, we took a lovely stroll to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre where we watched Singing in the Rain, a lovely musical with lovely choreography and supposedly 1200 litres of water on the two rain scenes where the front row got rather splashed. It was a wonderful last outing with my beloved Italian flatmate.

A Step into the Next Chapter (21/5/14)

The morning began with a meeting with my Italian flatmate. We spent our last moments together as if our big separation wasn’t about to happen. When it was time for us to say goodbye, it didn’t feel like a forever goodbye but rather a “see you soon” goodbye.

After a farewell to my beloved flatmate, I met up with my botanist friend to take a trip to a charity shop and bid farewell to the lovely pair of boots that had served me well all year and my nice thick jacket that kept me warm and dry throughout the Irish winter. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. After donating, my friend and I browsed around and I found my first maxi-length skirt and my first “silk” scarf.

The night came to a close when I went to my friend’s charity concert and heard her sing for the first time. Afterwards, I bid farewell to a few of the friends I had met during my time here with the hopes of seeing them again one day.

Top: (left) yellow & green courgettes/zucchinis, (right) leafy greens. Bottom: (left) flowers for teas, (middle) white duck eggs vs brown chicken eggs, and (right) top lamb vs bottom beef kidneys.

Cork: Follow the Green Arrow! (22/5/14)

Today I set out to Cork with my Thai friend. We left Dublin bright and early at 830 on a GoBe bus. Upon our arrival in Cork, we settled into the cozy little hostel we booked called Oscar’s Hostel. After we had settled, we took a walk and town and stumbled upon the English Market in Cork where I saw duck eggs laid next to chicken eggs, a comparison of kidneys people eat, my first sighting of yellow courgettes/zucchinis and the cute little fancy chocolates of Wilkie’s, an award winning organic chocolatier.

The Cork Walk arrows in Daunt’s Square.

After an exploration of the English Market and Bishop Lucey Park next to it, we ended up in Daunt’s Square where we found a sign for the Cork Walks, self-guided tours via colored arrows and plaques located around the city. Out of the 4 routes we could’ve taken, we choose the Green University Route to University College Cork. Every half an hour or so we were running around saying, “Where’s the green arrow?” or “Follow the green arrow!” It was our game of the day: ’twas delightful! Along the route we crossed Fitzgerald Park, once owned by the brewer Charles Beamish, which was rather interesting with its unique “art” pieces and its fancy entrance flags.

After a day of walking around, we settled in our hostel for the night and got comfortable with our 3 other roommates. It was an interesting night as we all went to bed quite early after the other American and the other girls mused at my inability and curiosity to know how to wrap my hair in a towel-turban.

The picturesque town of Kinsale.

Kinsale: the Picturesque Sea Town (23/5/14)

Getting out of bed was hard today, so we slept in 2 extra hours. When we finally got up, we had a long and friendly conversation with the hostel owner before we left for Kinsale via BusEireann (link).

We arrived in the cute little town of Kinsale at noon. The fun began with a simple exploration of the town. I fell in love with their little wall painting dedicated to the various plants of the area and a cozy home with a large garden for sale named Merlin’s Keep – which housed a mysterious old man. Following our exploration of the town, we decided to walk to James Fort. It was quite a long walk but it was all in good craic, especially since we saw a seal pop its head out of the water near the bay at one point. At the end of our short hike to the ruins of the invisibly star-shaped James Fort, we wandered onto a beach next to it, Dock Beach. My, that was the first beachy beach I had been on in Ireland with nice – but rather fluffy – sand and not consisting of miles of tidepools. When we finally returned to the little town, we had a nice, filling lunch at a restaurant called The White House, where I had something called a seafood pancake. Then, shortly after, we took the bus back to Cork and met the hostel mascot, a dog named Oscar.

The flags with the crests of the 14 tribes of Galway in Eyre Square.

On My Own…In Galway (24/5/14)

The next big step came today: the beginning of my adventures alone, or as my brother or friends have called it… being a nomad, a wandering homeless person. My Thai friend returned to Dublin to focus on her work today, leaving me to my own means and whims, a victim or a conqueror of my own curiosity.

As I awaited my bus to Galway, I managed to muster the courage to talk to another traveler, another American. Within half an hour of boarding the bus, we quickly faded into strangers again, barely acknowledging the presence of the other. Upon arrival at our destination, we went our separate ways without even a goodbye. Then, more attempts as I chattered my way through a walking tour of Galway with a German high school graduate, a Japanese worker from London and a Slovakian au pair.

Later on, my afternoon was filled with explorations of the oddities of Galway. I began with the Galway Market, where they sold a variety of foods and crafts- and even freshly caught fairies! Then, I walked a bit of Salthill took a stroll out onto the Mutton Island Causeway – which was essentially a pier. I finished my walk of Galway with a fun time getting lost on the National University of Ireland, Galway campus, which definitely looked more modern than University College Cork.

Upon returning to the hostel, I had a simple dinner and I continued my quest to converse with other travelers. I ended up chatting it up with two Canadian guys who were rather silly, but friendly.

A beautiful view we passed on our way to Kylemore Abbey.

Six Acres of Nerding Out (25/5/14)

It was odd waking up this morning, realizing that I was the only girl in my mixed 3-bed hostel room. But it was okay, the guys were pretty passed out when I left for my 10am Healy Tour to Connemara. Our first stop of the day was at a little town called Spiddal, where we saw a real thatched roof over a cottage and a craft village with maypole – though all the shops were closed since it was Sunday. As we drive along to our next location, we could see the 3 islands of the Aran Islands in the distance and the steep – almost straight – drop of the Cliffs of Moher. The driver also told us of the housing rule in the area stating that each house had to have a stone wall to “blend into the landscape”. The next few stops we made were just for pictures: the Screebe waterfall in the town of Screebe, a replica cottage from a 1950s film The Quiet Man in Maam Cross and other scenic stops.

Kylemore Abbey, as seen in many postcard pictures (thought I seriously took this picture myself).

When we finally reached the highlight of the tour, Kylemore Abbey, House and Gardens, I was more than happy to run off the bus. I made a mad dash for the shuttle that would take us from the entrance of the abbey/house into the gardens. For the next two hours, I explored and indulged in the 6-acre garden. I immersed myself to such an extent I forgot to save time to see the abbey itself. I felt like this was a place to spend a whole day touring, considering the extensive amount of land on which it was developed. There were hiking trails, plants and buildings. It was definitely more than my two hour tour bus allowed and I didn’t want to get stuck 70km from Galway, which the bus driver informed us would cost a whopping €110 to take a taxi back from.

After a refreshing day at the Kylemore Abbey, the tour bus took us to more scenic locations for photographic opportunities, including Killary Harbour. Upon returning to Galway, I decided to eat for a night out at the Skeff Bar and Kitchen, which is attached to the Skeffington Arms Hotel and associated with Karma Nightclub. I had a filling seafood chowder starter for dinner and a delicious apple crumble for dessert. Then, I returned to my hostel room to find my room vacant if any other travelers. So I laid my head down on the fluffiest hostel pillow ever and slept soundly into the next day’s adventure.

Things I Learned “today”

  • It’s considered bad luck for a girl to buy a Claddagh ring for herself.
  • The beautiful pink rhododendrons seen in the Western Ireland landscape has become a rampant invasive within the last decade.
  • Sheep farmers buy alpacas to scare foxes away from sheep – because apparently foxes are frightened of alpacas.
  • The colored sheep of Ireland are that way so that farmers can tell which sheep are theirs.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • Lynching comes from an act carried out by James Lynch which involved the hanging of his only son
  • Drisheen = a type of black pudding

Additional Pictures from the Week:

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre where my Italian flatmate and I watched Singing in the Rain.

A small panoramic of Cork.

A cute corner of Kinsale I fell in love with – especially because of those two flower plaques.

A view seen on our way to James Fort in Kinsale.

The oddities of the Galway Farmer’s Market.

What I saw on my way back to Galway from the Mutton Island Causeway.

Some interesting sculpture on NUI Galway campus.

Two Weeks of Finals & Moving Out

The RDS Simmonscourt location for exams.

Week 1 (5-11/5/14)

So…finals week. SO NOT ready. When I went to my first final, thank GOODNESS I got there early because apparently it was at a different off-campus location than last semester. It was still on the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) grounds, but it was on the other side of a road. Crazy stuff. Thankfully the valet guy knew what was going on and directed me to the other location. No wonder everyone was walking in a different direction….

The rainbow seen after getting soaked walking home from my Stats exam.

Anyways, for one of my exams this week was for my Statistics and Probability course. The course consisted of three groups of people: 2nd year engineers, finance/economics people, and others. I was in the “others” course. Originally, I found out that one of the trampoliners I knew was in the course with me. Then, I saw another one…then I was told of another and so on and so forth. Next thing I knew, I came to the conclusion that there were 5 trampoliner guys who were 2nd year engineers in the course with me. Crazy stuff. Anyhow, after that exam, I was walking home and it decided to rain. By the time I got home, I was dripping – though not “literally a puddle” as my Italian flatmate said she was after our winter exams. It was then that I was told that two of these trampoliners lived in the courtyard right next to mine! WHAT?! Weird stuff.

Towards the end of the week, after I had finished my exams, I realized that my next exams were in sequence: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week. This meant I only had three days – one day each – to study for the next week’s exams, as I had not started studying for them during revision week. Ooops.

The things people write on the exam desks sometimes are inspirational.

Week 2 (12-18/5/14)

Study Buddy Exams (13-14/5/14)

So, for the past two days, I was lucky enough to have a study buddy for my two exams. She happened to be in both of my classes for the two exams. It was very helpful to have her to study with, especially since the material wasn’t quite what I had expected from the class. Both exams went wonderfully, but on Wednesday, it was pretty funny because both of us totally didn’t DOUBLE check the time schedule so we both ended up walking together to exams at 9am, turns out it was 3pm. Thankfully, though, we went EARLY for the exam not missed the exam completely. So, we took a walk back to campus for lunch, a nap and a little more studying – I took a much needed long nap.

Some scallop shells found, and left at Portmarnock.

Meandering Around Portmarnock (15/5/14)

With exams over and done with, I decided to take a long-needed breather and went to go visit my friend in Malahide, as he had invited me to do so. He drove me in a cute little red Yaris to Portmarnock from the DART station. It was strange getting into the left-hand seat and being the front seat passenger.

So, for the whole days, we wandered along the coast towards Howth (going south). At one point we decided to take off our shoes because mine were getting soaked. I still can’t decide if I regret it or not, as a portion of the walk ended up with us walking into sand that had a mud-like consistency that clumped to your feet like bits of clay in a mud mixture; it was a weird feeling. It got weirder when I looked down in that area closer to where there was a stream of water and realized that there were baby clams sticking out their feet into the water. So, it must’ve been…a clam breeding ground or nursery?!

After a meander along the coast, he was talking about some delicious lemon and coriander hummus from the Dunnes store, so we walked over and got some – and a delicious rhubarb pie…tart…thing. Following our dinner was a walk around the Malahide Castle Gardens & Grounds at night. It was wonderful, even though the place was TECHNICALLY closed. A walk along a fragrant night walk with the night flowers releasing their scent – AMAZING.

What did we find? Another way to play with food: zucchinis/courgettes fried in a breadcrumb-yolk batter.

Moving Out (16-18/5/14)

Once again, I am reminded that moving about is a pain the arse. Not only did we have to move in a very short amount of time (less than a full week or two), but we also had to deal with finals. Oh the horrors. The worst part was seeing out how many things were simply tossed into the skips instead of being donated or saved because we have so little time and few people planned very well how to move about. Things like cutlery, bowls and plates, duvet sets (and residences made us toss out the duvets and pillows they gave us), backpacks, purses, all sort of things. It would’ve been the perfect if we had a donation bin or two, as well as the skips. Not to mention it would’ve been a great opportunity for dumpster diving for those brave enough to do such things.

One of the oddities of moving, I think is the returning of things from people that you forgot about over the year, things like scarves, CDs and other little things. Then, you start wondering what you should do with them: donate, toss or keep – especially since you forgot you lent people these things.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Garlic scapes (蒜薹, 蒜芯, 蒜苗) are the stems of garlic plants and are used in Chinese cooking.
  • Chrysanthemum greens (茼蒿) are the leaves of Chrysanthemum coronarium, which is apparently used in cooking Chinese food – and other Asian dishes.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • “I’ve got to leg it” = “I’ve got to run”
  • Skip = dumpster
  • Kip = an untidy, dirty , unattractive place
  • So, I found a link describing the differences between the British/Irish way and American/Australian way of referring to foods and other “cooking terms”. Quite interesting.

Farewell to my UCD room: home for 9 months. ='[

Study Week

The lovely haircut.

A Much Needed Refreshing (29/4/14)

It’s been a while since I cut my hair. So, I had made an appointment and I went in for a full-on cut. I called in to the Peter Mark Training Centre to get a cut. They only have 9am and 2pm appointments, so I made mine for 2pm appointment. Originally, I was supposed to get a cut with my guy friend and have him choose my haircut length, but that fell through. Anyhow, I ended up asking for a fringe/bangs and a shoulder length cut.

It was sort of interesting seeing how their training centre worked. The students would use a dry erase marker to draw out your head/hair and how they’re supposed to cut your hair. Mine was just a simple drawing that said 0° graduated, 6 inches – because apparently they measure hair length in inches even though everything else works in centimeters. The women next to me, her mirror said “firefly”, which I can only guess is this, according to Google, since I was too distracted to see the finished cut. Anyhow, I was worked on by a 20-year old girl from Cork. She didn’t talk much. She tried to make conversation but that didn’t go very far. I told her where I wanted my hair cut, she estimated 6 inches – which is probably about right – but ended up cutting only 3-4 inches off the first time (1.5 hours). After she was done, since I didn’t know how haircutting works or anything, she asked me if I liked it. I didn’t like that it looked like only a trim, so told her I wanted MORE off. After 3-4 hours at the place, I finally got my short cut.

After a long day at the stylist’s, I decided to go swing dancing. My, was that refreshing! I hadn’t been swing dancing in so long. It was definitely much needed. The best part was convincing two of my friends to go – a fellow trampoliner and her boyfriend. Glad to say that they enjoyed themselves.

Memories (1/5/14)

The International Office here decided to throw us a Farewell Reception. It was a very casual event where we just got to snack on free appetizers essentially. I got to see a few people I hadn’t seen on a regular basis and just see how their semester or year was. I think the best part was talking with my fellow botanist. Her, her Irish friend and I had a blast talking about our childhood obsessions. We got to reminiscing on the Olsen twins, Wishbone, Cardcaptor Sakura, and the like. It’s interesting how interests of generations overlap even across continents. My, it’s nice to remember the joys of childhood.

My cup of tea and gluten-free lemon cheesecake.

Tea Time with a Trinity Trampoliner (2/5/14)

I met this trampoliner at the last and final trampoline event of the year I attended, the Dublin Open/Bouncy Ball. Sad to say, we connected really well, though we realized we didn’t have much time left together. So, we decided to have a tea date after realizing – via Facebook procrastination – that we both LOVE tea. We met up around 7pm, after I got lost and confused in city centre – yes, it still happens, sadly. It took me a while to decide on a tea, but in the end I chose a mangosteen and apricot green tea with gluten free lemon cheesecake. We had a lovely couple of hours chatting it up. During which, we covered the fact that my lemon cheesecake was probably not baked – as most cheesecakes are NOT in Ireland – and that the crust is made from digestives, not the American graham crackers – as they don’t really exist here. In the end, when we checked out with the cashier, the cashier and I got to discussing – because she noticed my American accent – and it turns out she’s from Ithaca, New York where I did an internship program with an affiliate of Cornell University. Now THAT is a moment perfect for “It’s such a small world!”

My cheap kites that we decided to attempt flying.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite! (4/5/14)

So, I’d been hard at work studying for my exams for next week. I thought I’d take a break and go kite-flying with my friend with the kites I got from the Trampoline Awards. Sure they’re cheap kites, but it was all about the fun. At first, my friend and I were running around TRYING to get the kite in the air with only a few metres of string released. Then, we Googled “how to fly a kite”. That TOTALLY didn’t help. Then, we decided to extend the string length to a suggested 30 feet – I measured out about 6 times my height by laying down on the ground. That worked a lot better, but we still didn’t get the kite in the sky. However, we did manage to get it a few feet in the air and get it to stay for a few seconds. It was pretty fun nonetheless. The most shocking part was that my friend chose to stay with me for 3 hours during this attempt. Lesson: kite flying can take a lot of patience if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Irish/British make-up products have this little symbol that tells you how long they should be kept before tossing them, as bacterial build-up is an issue with make-up.

    A clip from an issue of Glamour Magazine I was reading.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • “How’d you get on?” = “How did it go?”

Last Week of Semester 2!

Visitors! (21/4/14)

So, today was a bank holiday – meaning we have no school! Yay! Horray! My friend is visiting from her study abroad location in England along with one of her friends. I picked both of them up from the airport at separate times today. It was quite fun. I got to make my first welcome sign for an airport pick-up, since I didn’t really know her friend and didn’t quite know what her friend looks like. I took them from the airport to Abigail’s Hostel – ah, the memories.

While I was a Abigail’s indulging in the memories of my first weeks in Dublin, I noticed that apparently there’s a Game of Thrones Tour that was recently established and now being advertised. My new friend got super excited over it and planned to take the trip. After resting up and settling in, the three of us went out for a bit and took a walk around town. The best part of the day was definitely going to Asia Market again. I picked up a box of delicious Chinese egg/biscuit roll snacks and a pennywort drink, which I had been DYING to try for a while but never stumbled across. It was an absolutely relaxing day.

Top left: The egg before opening. Top right: Opening the egg. Bottom: a cute, new friend!

Sommie Side-Up Eggs (22/4/14)

My Italian flatmate had brought back an Easter egg during her last visit home before the Easter insanities. It was adorable. So, the Easter eggs here in Ireland are compose of a chocolate shell with more candies – most of the time more chocolates – inside of that shell. However, the Italian Easter egg my flatmate brought back to Ireland, it was a chocolate shell around a large, plastic egg that encases a plushie – she likes to say ‘plushie’ because ‘stuffed animals’ makes her think of taxidermy – wrapped in plastic. It was the cutest thing!

Later tonight, I went for trampoline practice and I began to learn front somersaults – or as one of my coaches likes to call them “front sommies”. My coach keeps telling me that I have good power, but I don’t know what that entails. Either way, the coaches I worked with tonight were both impressed by how well I do them….apparently. One of them told me it’s because I propel myself into the somersault AFTER my feet leave the trampoline rather than before – essentially my feet leave the trampoline in a rather vertical manner instead of a diagonal manner (?). Either way, it was absolutely FUN – and frightening.

Different Places, Different Ways (23/4/14)

This morning, for breakfast, my flatmate was having chestnut jam and she offered some to me. She had brought it from home, as her granny makes it every year. Chestnut jam…who wouldn’t thought. Anyways, it had about the same consistency as apple butter/apple sauce. I’d never had chestnuts before, but I can tell you that chestnut jam was pretty good.

Tonight, I went to our trampoline club annual general meeting (AGM). Apparently every club hosts one of these towards the end of the year to vote for the new committee/board/leadership positions – and to amend their club constitutions. You sit there for a few hours listening to speeches by people who want to try for a position, then you fill out the order in which you’d vote for these people on little slips of papers. These papers are counted and sorted by people not associated with the club – who I think work for the school or something. What’s interesting is that even club members who have graduated – as “club members” entail anyone who wants to pay the club fee – can run for these positions as well.

After all the serious stuff at the AGM, the club had put together an awards slideshow for fun awards and casual awards. Casual awards were things like best coach of the year and best fresher – apparently fresher applies to ANY newbie, no matter their status in the school. Then, the fun awards were things they had going as a tradition and things made up for the year like hottie tramp, gossip tramp, etc. I got awarded “creeper tramp” because I’ve taken SOOO many pictures of everyone on my camera over the semester I’ve been part of the club. I also won another one which I got a pair of kites for. I think I might actually take them out to try and fly them one day – hopefully soon.

Lessons in Fooding (24/4/14)

I don’t know how I came up with this, but I LOVE my yerba mate for those days most people would drink coffee. However, yerba mate tea tends to be somewhat bitter. At home, we have Guayaki that makes pretty good yerba mate drinks – flavoured of course. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner, but this morning, I made my yerba mate tea and added my strawberry-elderflower cordial to it. It was stupendous! Delicious! Seriously, wish I had thought of it sooner – rather than on my second two last bag of yerba mate.

Then, this afternoon, I went food shopping. I was so excited over a €10 bag of salmon on offer that I just HAD to buy it. So I did, and I dragged it home. In the middle of cutting these two sides of a WHOLE salmon into quarters, I realized there were still scales on it. Now, I know at home I’d seen a fish scaler before – when I didn’t know what it was used for – but I had never used one. But this idea popped into my head that the scaler looked A LOT like a grater. So – with the permission of my flatmate – I used my flatmate’s grater – which she LOVES to use for her cheese on her pastas – and performed a kitchen experiment. Result: SUCCESSFUL! I feel absolutely ingenious today!

Asian Potluck! (25/4/14)

So, I was invited to my first (and probably last) Asian potluck party here in Ireland. A bunch of us international students from – mostly – Asia got together and had a party. My dish: Chinese tea eggs. Now, I’ve talked about this dish repeatedly – because I LOVE IT! – but I still hadn’t perfected the recipe to make at home. So today, I did things on a large scale (9 eggs instead of 3) and tried it out.

9 eggs +½ cup soy sauce (~100g @ 15.5g sodium/100mL) +4-5 cup water (~900mL) +4-6 pu-erh tea bags (~10g tea leaves) +8 anise seeds

Simmered from 8am-6:30pm (10.5 hrs)

Result: absolutely mouthwateringly delectable – it was GOOOOOOD.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Alfalfa is known as lucerne and it is in the pea family (Fabaceae).
  • One of my favorite Chinese vegetables (空心菜), which I have not had in a long time, is apparently also known as “morning glory” – among many other names, as it is in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae). Sadly, it is also a USDA recognized noxious weed.

Words/Phrases of the Day

Approaching the End of a Chapter

Who’s the Sunshine of My Life? (16/4/14)

We’ve been really lucky this week with all the sunshine and clear skies – with occasional bouts of clouds. It’s been lovely. It’s like Southern Californian winter weather funnily enough. I can feel myself getting happier with the extra boost of vitamin D.

Some lovely plants of the Tercentenary Physics Garden at Trinity.

Dublin Open & the Bouncy Ball (19/4/14)

I visited Trinity for the first time since my arrival in August. Everything was in bloom so I got some lovely pictures of the things that were in bloom. What really amused me the most was the tercentenary (300 year anniversary) physic garden they had right in front of the sports centre. Alas, flowers in spring – my ultimate weakness. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The last trampoline competition of the year – hopefully not the last I’ll ever attend. I got there early and had fun on the different trampolines, as theirs are noticeably different in terms of their bounciness. After about an hour of bouncing around for warm-ups, the competition started. It was lovely to watch the different schools compete again. This time, it was another small competition involving just three school – the three schools in Dublin: Trinity College Dublin (TCD), National University of Ireland, (NUI) Maynooth and my school, University College Dublin (UCD).

Some good shots I got at the Dublin Opent: crash dive (top left), pike (bottom left), forward tuck/somersault (top right), and some fancy Elite move I haven’t learned the name of (bottom right).

My performance this time around was not up to my own high standards, but at least I tried. I was supposed to do a synchronized routine with my friend but she overslept and didn’t show up. But, it was alright. In the end I didn’t place to get a medal, but I did get the chance to learn what it’s like to score-keep and I got a chance to actually get to know some of the other competitors from the other schools, which I had not done before. I also got a chance to watch several non-serious accidents happen that were pretty funny. One trampoliner got himself THROWN across trampolines TWICE during the competition because he has so much energy during his routine, but the energy was directed the wrong direction when he took off into the air; he was fine after a little ice to the back after the second incident. Then, we had another trampoliner practically GLIDE off of the trampoline, miss her footing on the floor and almost went crashing into the judges table – instead went under it – after she finished her routine.

After the 7-hour competition, my personal coach and I went to grab some food to eat before the night began. As our snack/my lunch, we went to a convenience store and I had my FIRST “hot chicken fillet baguette/roll”, or simply put: a “chicken roll” (side note: Irish people say “fill-et” not “fill-ay”, strange). I’d been told, the whole time I’ve been in Ireland, it is THE “go to” food to buy from convenience stores all over when you’re hungry and want some cheap, delicious food. All it’s made of is a baguette – my French friends would, of course, argue it’s not a REAL baguette – cut in half and stuffed with pieces of a deep-fried, herb and crumb-covered piece of chicken breast. Of course they have other things added in them, but that varies from store to store. Although, the other things you add in is set-up much like Subway where you just pick and choose what you see, what is available. The oddest thing, I think, though, is the fact that they SMOTHER one side of the baguette in butter OR mayonnaise to begin with, then they put everything else in and the chicken pieces last.

Our Bouncy Ball dinner (left to right): homemade cream of vegetable soup; steamed vegetable sides with the turkey and ham with herb stuffing, baked potatoes and mash(ed potatoes); our three cream desserts.

Then, we all made our way up north, almost up to the Dublin airport, up to the Regency Airport Hotel to prepare for the “American Prom”-themed Bouncy Ball – the trampoliners ball involving any students of any Irish schools’ trampoline club that cared to attend the ball. We started with cocktails at 7:30-8pm. My coach got a virgin strawberry mojito that was PRETTY delicious (I think they used sour flavouring rather than a lime because it didn’t taste sour at all) and I tried some drink I’d never had before. It wasn’t as good as my first cocktail experience, I can tell you that, but it was still pretty good. Then, we had a fancy 3-course dinner. It started with a delicious bowl of homemade cream of vegetable soup, followed by a serving of traditional roast breast of turkey and ham with herb stuffing and (real) cranberry sauce and a side of veggies (turnips – my first time knowing I’m eating turnips – carrots, and string beans). For dessert, we finished the meal with three small “cakes”: a passionfruit one (almost like a passon fruit panna cotta), a coffee cream cake (almost like tiramisu), and an apple crumble/cream cake thing. They were pretty delicious.

After all the belly-stuffing food, we went on the dance floor and had some fun until about 2 in the morning. Some of us stayed up later than that until about 6am. It was a fantastic night. Sometime around 3-4am, I woke up from a nap in one of the rooms to return to my room to take a nice warm bath. I hadn’t had a hot soak bath in YEARS. It was AMAZING. I forgot how much I love baths. Then, I returned to the little get-together that early in the morning, still carrying on from the night. It was fun – although lacking in A LOT of sleep.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Holland is a REGION of the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, they speak Dutch. However, the Netherlanders/Dutch people refer to themselves as “Nederlanders” and the language as “Nederlands”. But, English-speaking countries call them Dutch people who speak Dutch because of the German use of “deutch”…or something like that.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • What’s the goss? = What’s the gossip?

Additional Pictures:

A panorama from inside the garden on the east side of the Museum Building.

A panorama of the garden on the east side of the Museum Building.

Things from the Trinity College campus: ‘Sfera con Sfera’ by Arnaldo Pomodoro (top left), ‘Apples and Atoms’ by Eilís O’Connell (top right), and some ‘cherry’ blossoms (bottom).

Some silly pictures of trampoliners I caught during the Dublin Open.

Some more silly pictures.

Calmest Week EVER in Dublin (8-12/4/14)

Nothing much has happened this week. This is probably going to be my shortest entry ever. Things are calming down as the final weeks of classes is approaching. I’m sad to say that student government campaigns are over and my friend didn’t win, but we were pretty proud to say that we bumped him up from someone no one really thought was a “threat”, to second runner-up for the position. My ankle is slowly healing as the days go by, though I was up and bouncing by Tuesday’s training session, when I convinced my friend to do synchro with me for our next mini-competition next weekend. We’ll see how that goes. As for the weather, spring is springing. The daffodils are wilting away as their time has ended, and now the cherry blossoms dominate the campus and litter the ground with their large white petals. It’s like…”spring snow”. So lovely in combination with the abundance of sunshine we’ve been having.

Some flowering trees from campus. Left: blossoms from trees of the rose family (Rosaceae). Right: horse chestnut blossoms.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Irish students here at UCD need to decide their major by 6th week of freshman year, otherwise they have to pay the full amount for their education, if it was previously free.
  • Divorce was legalized in Ireland in 1997.
  • Volatilization/volatilisation: t’s pronounced “vo-lah-tih-lie-say-shun” not “vol-uh-tuh-lie-zay-shun”.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • Well! = shortened version of “are you well?”, which is how some Irish people greet others; instead of saying “hey!”, apparently.

Keep Calm, It’s Competition Time!

‘Hustings’ or Debates (31/3/14)

I decided to help my Irish friend run for Welfare and Equality Officer here at UCD. As part of the campaign team, I went to ‘hustings’ to support my friend. Apparently, it’s not called a ‘debate’ when applied to student government, but it’s called ‘hustings‘. It lasted from 7pm until 9:45pm at night. It was a terrible choice on a school night, yet it was totally worth it for the experience.

It was definitely interesting to see how the student government worked on this campus. Not only do they have students who run for “part-time” positions while they do their degrees, but they also have “sabbatical positions” where students drop out of school for the year and get paid to be a student government representative full-time. Crazy. For part-time positions, they have “class reps” (for each major and each level of each major) and “convenors” (one for each school on campus). Then, for sabbatical positions, they have undergraduate officer, postgraduate officer, welfare & equality officer, and president.

It was pretty intense listening to all the candidates give their speeches for their position. Although the ‘debate’ was aired on the radio show, who knows how many people actually cared to listen. Most of the students at the actual ‘debate’ were just campaign teams, that’s for sure – especially obvious after half of the room left once the first half was over. It wasn’t much of a debate, it was mainly just people giving their speeches and then getting grilled by a small committee of people – most likely from the people hosting the husting itself (University Observer, LawSoc, L&H).

Still Learning (1/4/14)

It’s been difficult to sleep these days. I’m recording the amount I sleep per night and I found that I average 5-6 hours. Terrible. No wonder I can’t be as creative and as happy as I usually am, I don’t have the energy for that kind of focus. Time to set my schedule straight again!

So, I’m in love with my Brita filter water bottle still, but I’m really upset over the price of the filters. So, I tried to clean one and decided to microwave it to dry it. Bad idea. It decided to SET ON FIRE. Seriously. What?! I guess activated carbon will spontaneously combust when put in a microwave for less than 3 minutes. Thankfully, it was a small enough fire to just….blow out with a big breath. Lesson…learned? Ironically, our stupid apartment fire alarm didn’t go off during this ordeal, but goes off randomly at OTHER times. Seriously…WHAT?!

Tonight was the last trampoline practice before the big competition. I keep scraping my elbows away during the front drop. Terrible. Though, I think I definitely have the routine down for the competition. SO EXCITED!!!!! Oh, and I bought a UCD Trampoline Club shirt. Funnily enough, I got one that says “coach” on it because it was the only small shirt left.

Onward to Belfast! (3/4/14)

Today was REALLY stressful. I had one class after another, after another, then I had a health appointment – which took half an hour of waiting before I could see the doctor, but thankfully I got out in 15 minutes. Then, I had to run back home (thankfully I had packed last night) and get my duffel bag to catch the DublinBus to city centre so my threesome of trampoliners could make our bus to Belfast.

Our 28-bed room at the Linen House Hostel.

It was surprisingly cheap to get a return ticket (round-trip) to and fro Belfast. It was only €22! It was a pretty long two hour ride into Belfast, but thankfully I slept most of the time. When we got there, the hostel was a good walking distance away (less than a mile) from the bus station. It was quite strange to get into, but we got in eventually. The trampoline club had booked us a 28-bed room in the hostel. It was insane how many bunk beds they managed to squeeze into such a tiny room. It was a good first night, considering there weren’t too many people in for the competition just yet.

The lights at The EG were awesome.

Later on that night, there was a meet and greet at The EG bar, a private event for ISTO participants only. It was great craic. At first, I didn’t want to go, but one of the trampoliners I met that night – for the first time – convinced me to go. I didn’t regret it, it was definitely fun. I ran into some random guy that night who was tossing around one of his fellow female teammates. It looked a lot like moves you’d do in ballroom dancing, so I asked him. Instead of answering my questions, I got roped into being tossed around myself. TOTALLY worth it.

The BIG Day (4/4/14)

Today started slowly, as we didn’t have to be at the competition location until afternoon. So, one of my trampoliners and I had woken up early that day, so we took a walk into town, to Tesco to buy some food/breakfast. It was seriously sad to see such a pretty building being used as a Tesco. Then, after getting some food in our system, we took a walk into town to go look around. We stopped by a thrift shop and I tried on some things, but they were all too big for me. The best part of our little walk was stopping by Ann Summers. Since they had one here, I just HAD to go in. Personally, I’d say it’s about as “upscale” as the Victoria’s Secret line back home, but I just like it better – I don’t know why.

The entrance to the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex where we had our competition.

After breakfast, we prepped for our novice competition day. Arriving at the Leisureplex was pretty intense. It wasn’t that fancy of a place, just a sports complex with a water park-type thing in it. I was SOOOO nervous. But, it all came tumbling down pretty fast.

During warm-ups before we even began the competition, I fell funny on my left ankle and everyone heard a big, loud crack. What happened? Just a bad sprain. Sadly enough, it was bad enough for me to not be able to compete. Major sadness. I was pretty depressed for at least an hour, after I accepted the fact that I couldn’t compete in the biggest trampoline competition of Europe. But, I bounced back enough to make it through the day. Despite that, I was definitely not in the mood to go out that night, even though the second half of our trampoline club had finally arrived at the hostel – after the novice competition.

Some of the lovely men competitors from UCD.

A Day of Wonder, A Day of Awe (5/4/14)

So, most people had stayed out late until 2am the night before, disturbing the rest of us who were already in bed – then staying up for another one or two hours after that. Despite that, the group managed to get out of bed and be out the door by 9am for the second portion of competition. Today’s competitors were the Intermediate, Intervanced, Advanced, Elite, and Elite Pro levels. They were quite interesting to watch, especially the Elite and Elite Pro levels. Not to mention, the awards for the whole competition got laid out so our eyes could feast upon the goal.

After a full day of competition, we went to Queen’s University Belfast’s student union bar for a 90’s themed party. I was surprised to find it was rather accommodating for such a party. It was quite literally as big as a small music venue, with a full bar and everything – much bigger than the pub on UCD campus. It was a pretty interesting night that night. Some of our trampoliners decided to get together and pull together a set of Spice Girls outfits. There were other people there in other strange and curious costumes. The odd one I saw was definitely a girl who decided to wear a princess ball gown with gloves and a tiara, as if she was going to prom. Other than that, everyone had pretty nice 90’s themed hairstyles and outfits. My friends and I went back to the hostel early, but we were woken up later on by the majority who came in after 2am, again and stayed up ‘till late.

A pair of synchro trampoliners.

Farewell, Belfast (6/4/14)

I’m still surprised that people manage to get out of bed and ready for competition by 9am this morning – again. Today’s competition was focused on DMT (double mini trampoline), Tumbling, and Synchro. All of it sort of happened all at once; it was insane. The DMT was definitely a new thing for me to watch. Here’s a video of one, sadly, I didn’t get one from our actual competition. Then, tumbling was rather exciting, as my friend (and “personal” coach) got second place in his Level 1 routine. It was also jaw-dropping to watch our parkour/free-running trampoliner dish out his Level 4 routine, despite the fact that he wasn’t awarded a medal. Then, there was my favorite: synchro. It’s amazing to watch people try synchro. Most people weren’t all that great at it, but when it was done well, it was amazing.

After the competition portion was over, the committee had a bounce house set up for us to play on after we did awards. Then, it was time for the journey home once it was all over.

Things I Learned “today”

  • The Irish call it “wool” never “yarn”.
  • Supposedly, middle name are given to people because in the olden days, people called their children by their middle names instead of their given names as the banshee (bean sidhe in Irish, meaning woman fairy, pronounced the same way) called for children by their first names, before they take the child away.
  • Apparently, the Dove chocolate company in the States is the same company as the Galaxy chocolate company in the UK and Ireland.
  • Never noticed this until it was pointed out to me, but Ireland doesn’t really have much of a drug culture. It’s JUST alcohol (as far as I can tell).

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • “in bocca al lupo” (Italian) = literal translation: “go into the wolf’s mouth”, slang for: good luck; their equivalent of “break a leg”. In response, you’re supposed to say, “crepi”/”may the wolf die”

More Pictures from ISTO 2014:

We had a “Sleeping Corner”, it was much needed, but used by only maybe 0.5% of the trampoliners. Most of us just slept in the bleachers.

This was our competition hall on the first day of novice competitions.

Just because I like this picture I took. =D

The Shield (for the best school), the glass awards, and the medals.

The giant bounce houses they set up for us to play on after the competition was over.

Eggs & Campaigns

Back to School after A Lovely “Midterm” (24/3/14)

Spring break had such lovely weather. Then, school started and Ireland decided to remind me that spring is not really a thing. My first class coming back to school was my statistics class with my Irish professor who’s my brother’s age. He started my week with the phrase “populate the values”. That sounds so much nicer than the typical American “plug and chug”. After a day of classes, I went food shopping with my flatmate and I bought kiwis for the first time in my adult life. I took forever trying to figure out how to eat it. I even had to YouTube it and I asked a few people’s opinion. In the end, I cut off the top and scoped it out of its skin that way.

Challenges & Frustrations (25/3/14)

So, apparently it’s normal for people to just walk around the streets of Dublin carrying a small jug of milk. I had never encountered this in college until today. This guy in my folklore class walked in with a small 500mL jug of milk this morning; that’s like, a pint of milk! I guess that’s not THAT much, but I’ve seen people walk around with twice that, which is about a quart of milk! I’m jealous. If only I wasn’t lactose intolerant.

Anyways, it’s my second day back and I already had my first exam back since spring break. Oddly enough, a fire alarm went off in the middle of it and the professor just had us leave our exams there to return to 10 minutes later when we were allowed to go back in.

“Noah’s Egg” by Dermot Weld on UCD campus. Left: a peek into the egg. Top right: a full view of the egg. Bottom right: a close up of the egg and the hole into which to look.

The best part of my second day back to school, though, was definitely this evening. I started by helping my friends in the crazy event UCD students call “postering” – read: battle/race for as many spaces to put posts as possible. It was pure madness. Then, immediately afterwards, I went to my first trampoline practice after spring break. In short, I fell on face – literally –  while practicing my routine; got a nice big scratch across my forehead. Though luckily, I did find out I’m VERY flexible.

The night ended with a walk with my ‘personal coach’ to his bus stop. Along the way, we passed by the egg on campus. He showed me something I had never known about the egg since its replacement on campus. It has a hole you can look into, revealing a dark space with what looks like the stars shining through into it.

The beauty of a slice of kiwi.

Kiwi Eating (28/3/14)

So, I’ve been experimenting with different ways of eating a kiwi, as I’ve never really had to prepare my own kiwi for eating. One of my Brazilian friends suggested I slice it, skin and all. I tried it. To be honest, I wasn’t too fond of it though he was quite right: the skin is rather crunchy. At the same time, I also rediscovered the beauty of nature, especially regarding the space around the seed. In the kiwi, it is clear while the rest of the fruit is solid, creating a beautiful sense of contrast.

REAL homemade Italian pasta, as made by my flatmate’s grandmother.

For the Love of Dun Laoghaire (29/3/14)

Today was definitely a day of relaxation. My Italian flatmate and I decided to take a trip down to Dun Laoghaire with one of my American friends from trampoline. It was a lovely trip, as always, with a short stop at the Irish Cancer Society charity shop there where my flatmate and I both picked up a new piece of clothing each for a good sum. Then, when we went to our final designation, the Tesco, we found a rather wide of what Europeans consider “Easter eggs”. It’s not the American plastic eggs with little candies inside, they’re huge – at least a foot tall – chocolate shells in the shape of an egg, with various types of goodies inside. Sometimes these are more pieces of chocolate, other times there are like toys or plushies.

After a long, lovely day in our favorite Dun Laoghaire, my flatmate treated me to her grandma’s pasta sauce for dinner. It was SO good to have REAL homemade Italian food.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Vanilla pods are the seed pods of an orchid flower.
  • There is an EU grant to protect leprechauns in Louth County in the Cooley Mountains.
  • The leprechaun’s favorite color is red, not green, because red is the color of “the other world” (why red hair is often associated with beings from “the other world”).
  • May trees are given by a guy to a girl in (some parts of) Germany on the first of May if he likes her.
  • If you have a Gmail account (a regular account or a Google Apps account), you can get a free (American) phone number from which you can make free calls to anywhere in the US.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • Boot (of a car) = trunk

Painting Spring Break Green

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin (17/3/14)

The day of green. Green…more green. Ironically, St. Patrick’s colour was not green. It was actually a deep, royal blue. Anyways, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. What is there to say? It’s Dublin, Ireland and it’s St. Patrick’s day.

My flatmate and I started off the day by going over to a Canadian friend’s house. We started the day early at 7:30am. We arrived at our friend’s house about an hour and a half later. There were already a handful of people there getting the day started. Our host was nice enough to make us some lovely pancakes until all of her pancake mix was gone. They were pretty good pancakes. Then, we stayed at the house doing St. Patrick’s day things, including putting on temporary tattoos on almost everybody. I’m proud – not really – to say that I cleaned out an almost empty jar of Nutella. It was a delicious breakfast indeed, hahahaha.

The crowded Dame Street along the parade route.

Then, we took a cab to city centre in attempt to watch the parade around 11am. At first the streets looked scattered and people seemed a rare sight, though when you did see people, they were all green and St. Patrick’s Day ready. Then, as we neared the route for the parade, there seemed to be less and less free space. When we finally gave up on trying to find a good spot to watch the parade, we settled down and spent a good hour trying to get a view. The parade floats weren’t very tall and overly extravagant and there seemed to be no real theme for the entire parade. It was really random. There was anything from Vikings to Dante’s Inferno to jazz/swing music with dancers – which was awesome. I didn’t get to see much at my short height, I just took in the environment for the most part. When we finally gave up trying to watch the whole parade with the whole lot of us being rather short, we headed to Burger King and grabbed a bit to eat before heading to our resting place for the rest of the night, Pygmalion.

We arrived at Pygmalion very early on around 3pm. It was a pretty comfortable place to spend some time until later on in the night after sunset, then they started to play some pretty terrible music and stamped everyone’s hand with a stamp that said “Flying Pyg” (very creative). However, it was nice to have a little group of people to talk with that didn’t drink much. I met a girl who was visiting from London, but originally from New Zealand. She was interesting and decided to call me “her ninja”. Then, there was this German guy who was pretty interesting to talk to and my flatmate and I made good conversation with him, especially since he was also an English major. It was all good.

Sometime around 9pm, my flatmate and I both decided it was time to get some dinner in our system. Oddly enough, most of our group didn’t seem interested in joining us, or they had already left for the day. Of the few of us that were left, only my flatmate and our newfound German companion seemed interested in actually feeding ourselves. It was shocking, but as they say, “to each their own”. Thus, we walked about and ended up eating from a street vendor right outside the pub. There, I had my first Irish burger. It was delicious. It might not be “the best burger ever”, as one of my American trampoliners said of the burgers at the Hairy Lemon, but it was still pretty gosh-darn good – and 1/3 of the cost. I can tell you honestly, It was much better than any burger I’ve had in America, including Inn-N-Out burger and – my favorite – The Habit. Why? It had REAL beef patties that were very minimally processed, unlike most American burger patties. You could taste the beef falling apart in your mouth as if it had been made just from mince (Americans, read “ground beef”). It was delicious, just absolutely delicious. Yes, it was simple, but it was delicious nonetheless.

After filling up our stomachs, we went back in for a little bit, but decided that it was time for us to go home and call it a day at 11pm, 8 hours after we had walked into the pub.

Spring has Sprung! (19/3/14)

The day started out grey and bleak. It was cloudy and overcast, but my flatmate and I had previously made plans to go to Bray. So to Bray we went – yes, it’s called Bray, like the sound a donkey or a mule makes. We were happy to be accompanied by one of our new friends from the St. Patrick’s Day party.

A portion of the Cliff Walk from Bray to Greystone.

We started bright and early in the morning and took the DART – the Dublin commuter train – down to Bray and started our day with a short, rocky walk on the Cliff Walk from Bray to Greystone. The whole trail is 7km long, following the DART line between Bray and Greystone. We only walked half of it and then we turned around and walked back so we could make it to Powerscourt Estate for the day. It was pretty rocky in some areas with a few steep climbs. The whole trail was rather narrow, sometimes barely wide enough for two people to walk side by side, but it was definitely a refreshing walk. There were all sorts of people on the trail, runners, people with pets, elderly people getting their exercise in, and some wandering young people like ourselves.

The entrance to the Walled Gardens at the Powerscourt Estate.

After a refreshing walk along the cliffs, we took a DublinBus over to Powerscourt Estate. The bus was such a difficult thing, as it only came once an hour – if we were lucky, and it left and arrived at the stop on the dot. It’s probably the timeliest DublinBus I’ve experienced so far.
We got to the Estate at the perfect time when it was bright and sunny, although somewhat windy. The place had a rather steep entry fee of €8.50 for students as it was just a large house – which we didn’t get to explore as part of the entry fee – and its extravagant, movie-like picturesque garden. Nevertheless, it was nice to just spend a few hours there. We walked around the whole of the gardens within 2 hours, then spent the rest of the time just enjoying the break, taking it all in before school started up again.

Things I Learned “today”

• Daylight savings time is different in America and in Ireland. It started on the 9th in America, it WILL start on the 30th in Ireland.
• Hydrogen peroxide is not sold in the European Union due to the European Council’s directive to ban the sales of products containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide. It has to do something with using hydrogen peroxide as a tooth whitening agent (I didn’t even know you could whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide).
• The Irish generally talk about height – and bra sizes – in feet and inches as well, though everything else is in centimeters.
• In the Irish version of prom, their “debs”, they don’t take professional photos like we do.

Words/Phrases of the Day

• Lead = leash, like the ones you put on your dog when you’re walking them.

Other Pictures from the DART Station & Cliff Walk

The DART station at Bray. Love the murals depicting the decades in the history of the Irish rail system.

The rock/pebbles beach at the start of the Cliff Walk from Bray Head.

A peak over a wall of the DART rail parallel to the Cliff Walk.

A view from a random set of stairs we decided to go up near the beginning of the trail.

Other Pictures from the Powerscourt Estate

Some small greenhouses at the Powerscourt Estate and “Julia’s Memorial” in the centre.

Dolphin Pond, which was supposedly bought in Paris by the 7th Viscount in the late 19th century, so says the pamphlet.

Triton Lake: the main Powerscourt Gardens lake – with the House in the background.

The Powerscourt House and the stairs leading down to the main lake, Triton Lake.

The Pepperpot Tower among the plants of the Powerscourt Garden, “modelled after a pepperpot from Lord Powerscourt’s dining table” as stated in the pamphlet.