Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parties, Pub-Crawls and Traveling

Hi all! Sorry I have been so terrible about updating this blog! I’m honestly just always doing something fun here. I love everything about this city. After being here for a month now I am beginning to figure out my favorite places. I spend a lot of time at Café Depeche (a lovely café on the corner inspired by the great Depeche Mode, of course). I do a lot of my reading/other schoolwork there. At first I was surprised by how little work there was. I had an art history exam last week and a paper coming up so school stuff is starting to pick up a little, which is actually a pretty welcome thing. The lax workload left a lot of time for exploring the city, going out to pubs and clubs at night and hanging with my wonderful roommates and other new friends, but I like having something more productive to put my time into. I have made a great group of American friends here— I just wish that more of them were Irish! We have been meeting a lot of native people here when we go out at night, though, which is fun.
We met two guys who organize “unofficial student pub crawls” which seemed like a good way to meet people so we went to one of those last week. There was somewhere around 130 people there! We started at New Bar, the on campus pub, which I still think is crazy, I don’t see Goucher getting one of those anytime soon. Then we went to a few other small bars in the area that I hadn’t been to yet so it was good to see some new places. One of the bars had some great live music and an outdoor “beer garden” which was really fun. We ended up running into the two guys that organize the pub-crawls the other night and they told us there would be another one coming up in the next two weeks or so.
Last week was also our friend Corrie’s birthday! She turned twenty-one, so of course we had a big party for her. We hosted it in our apartment because it is definitely the biggest. We invited all of the people we have met from the apartment and a few Irish people that we have got to know. We made a cake from scratch, guacamole and this “beer dip” that my roommate knew about (which was so good in fact that two girls ended up stealing a bowl of it and subsequently breaking it in the hallway…very sad). While we were nervous about people not showing up/not having a good time it ended up being one of the best nights we have had here so far.
This past week we also went to DUBLIN! I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy the city—I had heard conflicting things about it. It ended up being great, though! I loved Grafton Street (the people performing were all really impressive and we ended up buying a CD from one of the bands that I have been listening to on repeat), St. Stephen’s Green was beautiful (I want to go back in the spring and bring a book to read and sit on one of the benches), and hanging out at the top of the Guinness Storehouse with our free pints and looking out over the city was incredible. We went out to the Temple Bar area (kind of crowded and overwhelming but still a good night) and to a very American-esque bar to watch the Superbowl (I was so happy for the Saints, and for the fact that they had decent hot wings…I miss you Bill Batemans!). The hostel that we stayed in was surprisingly clean and nice. We were staying in a brand new wing and everything was freshly painted/new. I’d say we were a little spoiled, aside from the fact that there was no hot water and the heat was a little iffy. If we go back to Dublin (which I hope we will so that we can check out Wicklow National Park and other sights we missed), we definitely know where we will be staying. There was a HUGE Ireland v. Italy rugby match going on so we met a lot of Italians. On Saturday (the day of the game) I felt like it was the Quidditch World Cup or something, everyone was dressed all crazy and the streets were packed! Overall, Dublin was wonderful but I was very happy to come home to Cork.

Coming up next weekend: Galway! I am so excited. Post to come!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Yesterday we woke up to a snowstorm that was pretty substantial, even by U.S. standards. It made for an interesting day full of coffee shops, movies, chili cheese fries and frozen water pipes.  Ireland is having a record breaking winter in terms of ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures, and accordingly, they do not have the skills, knowledge or resources available to account for it all. There is virtually no conception of rock-salt or shoveling, which leaves the sidewalks permanently coated in an inch-thick layer of ice.

By yesterday evening, as things began to really ice over, we all were expecting the school to shut down. A lot of Irish students tend to pack up and go back to their home-towns for the weekend and were going to have to find a way back with the streets a mess, airports closed and buses called off. Nevertheless, school stayed open and I slipped and slid my way the mile or so walk to school to register with the English department this morning. While I may have felt like a bit of an idiot in my rainboots and jacket, I was happy to have them when the not-so-used-to ice natives were falling in their heeled boots and tennis shoes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good Craic in Corcaigh

Okay, so first off…I LOVE CORK (or Corcaigh as they spell it here). It is a beautiful, interesting, friendly city. Every day I walk on cobblestone along the river to school and pass brightly colored doors and buildings that look like castles, all the while listening to the lovely Irish brogue that surrounds me. Our apartment is great. It is really big, with a balcony that looks out over the river. Save for the severe lack of hot water, a showerhead that refuses to work and a dryer that leaves clothes soaking wet, I love it. Hopefully all of those kinks will be worked out within the next few days.

My roommates are great! Erin, my actual roommate, is from San Francisco and goes to school at Loyola Chicago. Our apartment-mates Kelsea and Kristin are also from the West Coast.

School started on Monday. Us International Students spent the whole day in meetings so we didn’t attend classes until Tuesday. So far, I have been to my Irish Folklore Class (which seems very interesting, but is only for international students which limits my interaction with Irish students, unfortunately), my Art History Modernism to Postmodernism class (this one is good, all Irish students and me, which is intimidating but definitely a good experience), my Themes in Celtic Literature class (very interesting and different from anything I have taken in the states) and my Anglo-Irish Lit course (which seems like it will be cool especially since I am not familiar with any of the texts that we will be studying). I should go to my Culture, Literature and Language of Ireland class for the first time tomorrow, so we will see how that goes. The Irish school system is very different, and has definitely been the biggest adjustment for me since I have been here. I am not technically registered for any classes yet, which is strange and a little annoying since I am not able to access certain information on blackboard etc. By Tuesday, when I register, hopefully all of that will be sorted out.

The weather here has been quite different from what I expected. It is very cold, icy and snowy, which is unusual for the normally rainy and mild climate of Ireland. It feels a lot like home right now in that sense.

Aside from exploring Cork, we also ventured out to Blarney Castle (a 15 minute bus ride away). It was absolutely stunning. The castle itself was impressive, and with all of the frost on the ground it looked beautiful. We climbed to the top and kissed the stone despite the fact that we have heard people like to both pee and spit on it, and that by doing so we are declaring our allegiance to England.

So there is the first update! I am definitely going to try and write here more often to document all of the great craic we have been having! (Craic means fun, by the way).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blog Post From The Airport!

Hey all,

This is a blog post from Sunday at the airport:

Saturday January 2, 2010
10:48 PM US time.

So I have been sitting at the gate for approximately four hours now. The flight has been delayed from 9:50 to approximately 11:58. I met up with Kasey pretty soon after I got through security so we have been rotating patterns of eating, bathroom, napping and magazine fetching to keep ourselves occupied. Surprisingly, I am not nearly as nervous as I expected to be given the fact that I am leaving the country for five whole months. I don’t know if it is just that I am too busy to be nervous or if I am still in denial about the whole thing. A combination of both would probably be responsible at this point.

So if the plane arrives when they say it will, we should be arriving in Dublin around noon Ireland time. Then comes the lovely adventure where Kasey and I find a way to carry our suitcases and selves to the bus by 12:15. Not going to happen. So, we are banking on the bus company allowing us to exchange our tickets for a later departure (the next one leaves around 2). If not, we will most likely make our ways over to the train station and hop on a rather expensive train. We’re crossing our fingers on the bus company being accommodating.

So till then I’ll be sitting here on a row of plastic blue chairs, feet up on a carry on, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our aircraft. Next update will be from overseas (hopefully!). 

I am here in Ireland now and loving it. I am very busy and haven't had a chance to update yet.