Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Compression; Relaxation

After spending all of Monday and Tuesday studying away, I got up bright and early Wednesday morning to cycle to Blackrock campus south of UCD for my third final. It wasn't too bad a ride, except that it was uphill a lot of the way in the beginning, and my pant leg got stuck in the chain at one point. The exam was similar: unpleasant to do at the time but ultimately successful. I then took the unexpectedly long cycle to the other exam center at RDS, to the north of UCD. I got there about an hour and a half ahead of my test and met up with a few other people from the class. They made me feel a bit better about it by appearing to be at least as unprepared as I felt, though ultimately I'd say they turned out better results. I just couldn't find enough to write about for the essays. Oh well. Cycling back home was pretty miserable, too, because I was so tired. I hadn't slept well the night before; I kept waking up from dreams involving cheese. At one point, I'd woken up at 4:41 thinking I'd overslept, calmed down, went back to sleep, was sleeping pretty soundly, and woke up again (still dreaming of cheese) to find it was 4:45. What the heck?! Whatever, at least I managed to unwind a little when I got home by watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. What a good movie!

I was feeling pretty good about Thursday's exam. I got ready in plenty of time to grab my notes and catch the free UCD shuttle to Blackrock campus. I arrived at around 12:30 for my 1:00 exam, strolled to the exam hall...where there was a test going on. I wondered why no one was around waiting, and pondered the likelihood of there being two exams scheduled back-to-back in the same hall. Eventually, I discovered at the reception desk that my exam was in fact scheduled for 3:00, and I am just a nincompoop who can't convert 24-hour time into 12-hour time properly. So I went Christmas shopping at the nearby shopping complex for an hour and then returned to continue studying. Another test well-taken. And when I got home (after walking a while and picking up something for dinner), I checked the time for my final the next day (which it turns out I'd also gotten wrong).

By Friday I was pretty freaking excited to be nearing the end of my ordeal. Little did I know what the day would bring. I spent the morning reviewing and taking care of last-minute business, since it was my last day in the country until I got back for the spring semester. I tried to drop off my registration sheet with the JYA office, picked up a last nosh at Centra, and was off to grab the 2:40 UCD shuttle to Blackrock (again). I was at the stop ten minutes ahead of time and waited with a few other girls. 2:40 rolled around, then 2:45, then 2:50...finally, just before 3:00, we caught sight of a bus pulling into the parking lot. The group of us breathed a small sigh of relief. The driver unloaded his passengers, but as we approached gave us a look that clearly said, "What the hell do you want?" He told us he wasn't due to head off until 3:20. We inhaled our sigh again. We explained the situation, but the driver remained unmoved. We called four different cab companies, all of which were booked up. We got to the stop for the public bus just as the bus we wanted pulled away. We decided just to wait for the shuttle. I tried not to cry. All I could think about was that the exam I was currently missing made up 100% of the grade for that class (Minoan Bronze Age of Crete - one of my favorites of the semester). After maybe 15 minutes and some conversation between a couple of the shuttle bus drivers, the first one took pity on us and agreed to leave early. We arrived at our exams half an hour late. The good news is that I spent my remaining hour and a half writing steadily, so I think I did pretty well...but I could've done better if I'd had those extra 30 minutes.

And then I was free! Well, except packing. But that was accomplished handily, especially when accompanied by Lynchy arriving earlier than anyone else and chatting with me while I freaked out over things like what shoes to bring home. I ended up having a pretty chill night of drinking in my apartment, rather than going out and ravishing the city, but mostly because the people we were waiting for before leaving showed up just as the last bus was leaving campus, and I wasn't about to take a taxi into town. Luckily, we found a place to order in cheap beer.

I took a nap for a couple hours before being rudely awoken by one of my guests so I could be sure to catch the AirCoach in time to get my flight. I made it with all of my belongings to the airport and experienced hell on Earth waiting to check in my bag while so dehydrated I thought I might pass out. Luckily, I arrived at my gate in plenty of time (plus an additional half-hour delay) and was able to nap a bit more and thus regain my ability to function. The flight was uneventful, as I slept through much of it, as well. The middle-aged Irish woman seated beside me had clearly never been on a plane before, as she didn't know how to adjust her seat when the flight attendant asked her to put it up before takeoff. (That particular flight attendant, appropriately enough another Tommy, was quite a ham, but went about his antics in a way that to me suggested a need to relieve his own stress as much as entertain his passengers.) The food was edible, the movie (No Reservations) watchable, the length barely doable, but I made it to the ground okay and recovered my suitcase with minimal hassle. I met my dad at the gate, which was GREAT...

...and the rest is a story for another day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Memory Lapse, Part Three: Back to the Present

I cannot bring myself to study anymore right now, and it's probably too late to be baking anything (which is what I've been doing as a study break), so I'll try and bring this thing up to date at last.

Let's see, the day after getting back from Amsterdam I went to a party with the elusive Luke, the fifth and rarely-heard-from member of interstudy's UCD contingent. It was an apartment party in town, and the guests were mainly Spanish, with some other European elements. At one point, three Irish guys came in, one of whom is in a few of my archaeology classes and who I have a passing acquaintance with (though we didn't actually learn each other's names until the party). The night was fun; nothing particularly noteworthy happened until Luke and I left sometime after 3 a.m. We went to a nearby chipper where I had some absolutely delicious fries and Luke bought a burger with the last of his money...which meant we walked home. It was a grand adventure, after which I was extremely glad to get to bed.

That was my last hurrah for a while; my first final was Monday morning at 9 a.m., at the Blackrock campus, which meant I had to get up so early that I was waiting for the bus while watching the sun rise. (For the sake of perspective, that was only around 8 a.m., because the Irish winter is truly a dark and dismal one.) I'm definitely biking there next time, because the bus takes a fairly circuitous route that still necessitates a ten-minute walk. The final was for Art and Ritual in Prehistory, and I think I did reasonably well. On Tuesday I saw The Darjeeling Limited with Dan (from JazzSoc & climbing). It's a Wes Anderson film, so of course I loved it, and we saw it in Dun Laoghaire, a town just south of here that I'd not been to, so that was nice. And I had a nice conversation with a girl named Yuna on the bus ride home.

I spent the rest of the week studying for my final on Friday evening at 6, in the Archaeology of Religion, which I also think I did pretty well on. Afterwards, I hit the town with Tommy, Lynchy, Ross, and Mark (with a brief cameo by Aisling), and we went on a pub crawl in which we took turns choosing four random directions (e.g. left, right, second left, left again) and going to the nearest pub to where we ended up. Lynchy & Mark split early, but it was a nice evening anyway, and I got to see Ross's new Don Johnson haircut.

More studying, and that brings me up to today, right now, typing away at my computer while surrounded by the explosion of studying materials and assorted junk that is my desk. Hmm, maybe I can still fit in a bit of baking; I could use a snack...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Memory Lapse, Part Two: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a really neat city, and a place I'd like to have had more time to explore. I'd love to go back, but with different people more inclined towards action, and perhaps a smaller group as well, as five people proved a bit difficult to coordinate.

So last Tuesday, I woke up at something like 6 in the morning so I could catch the AirCoach and be at the airport by 8 for a 9:40 plane. How unpleasant. I made it, though, and assembled with Lynchy, Aisling, and Mel for our flight. It's only an hour and a half to Amsterdam, with a one-hour time difference. From the Schipol Airport, we caught a train into town and went off in search of our accommodations. We'd rented what turned out to be a small one-room apartment, through Dam City. The guy was very nice and gave us a map, on which he circled various places of interest, such as the sex shows and coffee shops he recommended. Oh, and where the museums and stuff like that are. He was an American, complete with quintessential Stoner Accent. Good stuff.

By that time, we were all famished, so we went around the corner to the Tibetan place he'd told us about. I'd had Tibetan before in Boston, but this was a bit different. My dish was SO spicy that I started sweating about halfway through. That said, it was all delicious, even allowing for how starving we all were. We were introduced also to an interesting nuance of Dutch dining: no free tap water. If you want water with your meal, you have to pay for bottled water. You'd think a people whose city is built on water would be a little more generous with the stuff.

One of my favorite things about Amsterdam and something you notice fairly immediately upon arrival is the extraordinary amount of bicycles it has. They are everywhere; if there's anything on the street that allows for a bike lock, there are at least two bikes chained to it. There's even a two-story structure outside the train station entirely devoted to bicycle parking. How freaking awesome is that? The only downside is the significantly increased risk of getting mowed down by a cyclist while moving about the streets. If someone dings their bell at you, you had damned well better get out of their way.

Once out of the Tibetan place, we safely navigated the streets to pick up the fifth member of our party, Alan. He's studying in France this year with Erasmus, but normally goes to UCD and is friends with the other three from the trip. He'd also gotten to Amsterdam a day before us, and by the time we met up with him he was already, um, steeped in the coffeehouse culture, shall we say? He was also with a friend of his whose sister lives in Amsterdam. We relaxed with them for a while and ambled around the city a bit until Alan's friend had to go. It was evening by this time, so we stopped at the grocery store to get milk for the tea Mel had brought and some bread and butter for toast, and the adjourned to the apartment, where the rest of them engaged in some lifestyle experimentation while I watched, laughed, and took pictures (which aren't actually very entertaining, and I wouldn't post them here anyway).

The next morning I was up fairly early (at least compared to everyone else) so that I could meet up with Ruth, a fellow Onas counselor who's been studying in Amsterdam all semester. (If you're interested, her blog is here.) We got falafel at one of these really cool stands called Maoz, where you get free unlimited salad bar — and it is the best salad bar I've ever had. After that delightful experience she took me to meet my friends, who'd wandered to the Waterloo markets. They apparently have some hippie roots, and it certainly shows by the wares they sell. I definitely would've like to spend some more time there, but the gang was clamoring to move on, so move on we did...to Rembrandt's house! It was a pretty cool thing to see; there was a free audio tour which explained a bit about what 17th-century Dutch living was like, how Rembrandt's studio was set up, and what techniques he used to do things like mix paint or print etchings. There was also a fairly large gallery of his etchings, some of which were absolutely amazing. Afterwards, we headed to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch, where I was served a pint of Heineken (a local brew!) in something awfully reminiscent of a glass stein...

We got a bit lost going back to the apartment afterwards. Generally, I expect bodies of water to serve as pretty functional navigation tools: not so, when every other street has an identical canal running down the middle. Eventually we found our way back and took a few minutes to regroup in the apartment before the evening out. Since our apartment was right in the Red Light District, we decided to have a look around (after all, if you're in Amsterdam, you might as well see some of what it's best known for). We, uh, got talked into seeing a show by a spectacularly good salesman...it was mercifully brief and extremely awkward. And that is all I'll say about that. The night got much better when we tracked down the hookah bar we'd been told about by the guy renting our place to us. It's called the Green Light District, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Amsterdam. There are some smaller tables, but we chose a large elevated area with a short table and loads of cushions to relax on. I'd already experienced the magic that is hookah a couple of times at BU, but it had been a while. Man, I really, really enjoy them. There doesn't have to be anything "special" in them, even, though on this occasion it was certainly a pleasant addition. I also had a really nice Gouda sandwich, and our waitress was this really, really awesome dreadlocked girl from...we think maybe Australia? She even put on the Roots at one point. And Alan's friend came to hang with us some more, and taught me how to blow smoke rings! I'm still not that good (I need practice), but at least I can do it now! It was a really nice way to spend the evening.

The next morning we got up, collected our things, and embarked on a journey to this place I'd read about called the Pancake Bakery for food before our flight. It was a bit farther out than we'd been previously, in more of an area where actual Dutch people might live. After some complications involving a later opening time than expected and some forgotten clothes, we were treated to some of the most intense pancakes I've ever experienced. You could get pretty much anything put in a pancake; I opted for apples and raisins, but others chose things with cheese and meat and whatnot. There was a small wooden bucket with a spoon on the table full of stroop (traditional Dutch syrup), and between that and the powdered sugar on my pancake (which was the size of my plate) I felt like I'd had breakfast, lunch, and dessert in one sitting. It was excellent; another place I'd definitely recommend to any future visitors.

Unfortunately, the meal took a little longer than expected, and we had to book it to the train station, where we anxiously awaited the train, praying we wouldn't miss our 2:40 flight. The train seemed agonizingly slow, and the occasional comment of "we're definitely going to miss the flight" from the peanut gallery did not help. Once at the airport, we had to get special late check-in boarding passes, and we ran to the gate, getting there just in time to board the plane...and wait for at least another ten minutes before they sealed the door or anything. With the time difference, we arrived in Dublin a mere half hour after taking off.

And that's all the time I've got for now; the next entry should hopefully bring this blog up to date again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Memory Lapse, Part One

WOW. I, uh, kind of forgot about updating my blog for a while. This is going to take two entries. (This may be in part because I'm too lazy to write about everything in one, but hey, it's finals, and I've got to study.)

When we last joined our heroine, it was coming up on the last week of classes. She made it out alive and even finished her last essay on time, allowing her to participate in the residence hall Christmas mulled wine reception. For those of you who've never had mulled wine, let me tell you: YUCK. Not tasty. Red wine should not be served warm. Ever. But at least there were mince pies, so it's all okay. And afterwards a small group of us headed into town to celebrate Aisling's birthday, which was fun. On Thursday I finally made it out to the pub with Mountaineering after the rock wall closed, which was great fun and left me kicking myself for waiting until the last climbing day this semester to do it. Good thing I'm coming back!

The big event was Friday night, after classes were officially over for good. See, there's this famous Irish talk show called the Late Late Show, which is the world's longest-running talk show. Every year, they have this Toy Show special where lots of small children are brought on to demonstrate all the hot new toys coming out for Christmas in an orgiastic celebration of consumerism and greed. And it just so happens that every year, the Late Late Show's Toy Show coincides with the end of term, making way for the tradition of having a big party where people drink a lot and periodically pay attention to the television for just long enough to go "wow, look at that amazing toy!" or "wow, Pat Kenny really can't handle children!" Since I'm the only one Tommy and Lynchy have any sway over who lives on campus, I was informed (more than asked) that it would be held at my place this year. It was, by and large, a great success. I spent the evening sipping on the White Russians I was treating myself to in celebration and wondering who the hell all these people in my apartment were. The RAs' Christmas party is also held on this same day every year, thank goodness, because that's the only we didn't get busted. Though at one point some RAs did come in, but that was just to join the party! What a ridiculous night. I left my camera on the table and was rewarded with 78 pictures I didn't take, many of which are of people I don't know. It would've been perfect except for the constant disruptions I faced when I finally did want to turn in after nearly everyone had left; a few stray drunks, in the form of Tommy and Lynchy, decided that they also wanted to sleep in a bed, and since mine was closest and most readily accessible they would go for that one. After a few hours, I woke up to discover my blanket and duvet had been stolen, and I yelled at them to get out of my apartment and let me alone to sleep. (Man I was mad at them.) But eventually they came back to bring the TV back to its rightful owner and, at my request, clean the sticky bits off the carpet. (Maggie, Connor, and I cleaned the rest of the apartment.)


Sunday, I got up bright and early to catch a bus to Belfast with Mandy! We spent the night there, which wasn't really enough time, but we still managed to fit in a lot. We saw the gorgeous Christmas markets in front of the also-gorgeous City Hall; we rode the giant ferris wheel, also right next to City Hall, and got a lovely view of the nighttime lights of the city; we took a (shortened) black taxi tour (with an IRA-leaning tour guide) and took in a bit of the really terrible history of violence in Belfast, including a very intimidating loyalist mural; and we went to the Giant's Causeway in North Antrim, which was absolutely astonishingly gorgeous. I'm not generally one for mere sight-seeing, as I find that generally pictures can give just as good or even a better impression, but nothing compares to looking up a cliff face made of hexagonal prisms.

I had just enough time when we got back that evening to do some laundry so I'd have enough clean clothes for my trip to Amsterdam early the next morning...which I will write about in my next entry.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving in Dublin

I feel I should probably mention the celebration, as it is part of the whole "abroad" experience to miss American holidays. But the program that coordinates Americans studying at UCD, the JYA office, put on a Thanksgiving dinner for us on Thursday, probably so we wouldn't get all homesick. To use pretty much the same thing as I wrote to my dad: it was deeeeelicious. I ate everything they put in front of me (and felt just a bit ill afterwards). There was salad and bread and mixed veggies in addition to potatoes and turkey, stuffing, and ham in a stack, followed by apple pie with custard and little sweet mince pies. And, of course, wine to go with it all - the coordinator for the Americans at UCD, Frieda Savage, got pretty drunk, which was hilarious.

I ended up making friends, too, with a few people I recognized from Mountaineering, and hung out at their apartment in Belgrove (another dorm complex on campus) afterwards for a little while. When I got back to my own apartment, it was full of extreeeeeemely drunken Irishmen (and a couple fairly drunk Americans, as well)...a pretty surreal evening ensued, in which a kid from downstairs came in with a construction paper Pilgrim hat and pasta necklace and was looking for who stole his pie, I had to tell a different kid my name no fewer than eight times (and he probably still doesn't know it), and another kid with a broken back tried to fall sleep in my bed. All in all, I think I hung out with more Americans than I have since the very beginning here, and it was actually a pretty nice time.



In other news, the Peter Marks graduation thing was during the day on Thursday. I had my makeup done (with some garish orange foundation), my hair loaded with product to prevent any movement, and had to walk up and down a catwalk in front of the friends and family of the twenty-three graduates from the Peter Marks Academy (and probably of some of the eighty-two other models, as well). It was pretty neat, and I'm on a DVD now, though not one for popular sale — thank goodness. And it was very nice to be all done up for dinner without having to do anything myself, though I did spend several minutes wiping off all the foundation.

Apart from that, life has been pretty relaxed. I handed in a paper Friday and have another one I'm working on for next Wednesday (the last of the semester, huzzah!). I was at Captain America's on Wednesday night, which is basically T.G.I. Friday's with a comic-book theme. Last night I went out to the Ginger Man and Doyle's with a bunch of people and had a really nice time; I spent much of the night hanging out with a really cool guy, Josh, who's at UCD and a friend of Ross. It was a really fun night, which means that tonight is going to be full of schoolwork as penance. I guess the Irish Catholic guilt of the country is getting to me?

...Nah.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo



From the back of the package:

"Buffalo are here! You've seen buffalo grazing the plains of North America in countless Westerns, but would you believe that these might animals which can weigh up to two tonnes now graze the plains of... Co. Meath. Yes, Ireland has a buffalo ranch. But don't expect to hear beating drums or see smoke signals in the vicinity of these buffalo. These hairy giants are farmed in much the same way as conventional cattle (except for the stronger fences). So now thanks to Hunky Dorys, you can saddle up and try a taste of the Wild West."

Also on the back of the package:
"Suitable for Vegetarians."


There are a lot of different kinds of chips in Ireland. Pringles is...out of control, with their "Rice Infusions", "Light Aroma", and even a "Gourmet" line. There's also a lot of meat-flavored chips, most of which don't actually have any meat in them, making it slightly more acceptable for me to be as obsessed with them as I am. Pigs-in-a-blanket Hula Hoops are my indulgence of choice, but I will eat pretty much any meat-flavored chip anyone throws my way. So when I saw the buffalo-flavored Hunky Dorys, I had to try them.

Let me tell you, they are weird. I've had buffalo, and I guess they could be said to be loosely inspired by the flavor, but man. Weird. I think I'll stick to the more traditional meats for my chip flavors.

Friday, November 16, 2007

News from a Mute

Well! Since I have laryngitis and therefore can't have ANY FUN, I guess it's time to update the ol' blogeroony. I've just been trucking along as per usual, enjoying myself and the company of friends. General hanging-out-ness has been accomplished. I spent last weekend pretty much entirely at Zoë and Joe's, as did Tommy, Lynchy, and Mel. We watched 5 movies in a 24-hour space (Pretty In Pink, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, V For Vendetta, Ghostbusters, and Fargo, if you're interested).

Tuesday evening was the Sci-Fi Society's burlesque. While there were lots of people in costume, I find it unreasonable for them to call it a burlesque, as the performers were just two bands. And although Tarrintino was quite good, I was looking forward to something a little...racier. Ah well. I also accidentally chatted up an Irish Ron Paul supporter. I don't even understand the mechanics of that, apart from the fact that my luck is apparently pretty shit. Seriously, the guy was like "if he comes in fourth in the primary, would you give him more of a chance?" And I replied, of course, "Look, there's just no way Ron Paul will ever get elected. None. It's not happening. Ever. There's no chance. Period. That's it. I'm sorry. He's hopeless." Also, I think the guy failed to understand that if he comes in fourth, that means he's lost. Duh. Man, nearly every Irish person thinks they've got something to say about American politics, but a bunch of them just have no freakin' clue. Whatever, the rest of the night was cool. My friend Dave played bass and the rock-enspiel for the second band, Earl Grey, so I was kind of "in with the band". That was cool.

So Wednesday was the second JazzSoc Carnivale, an event that essentially amounts to a bunch of kids drinking outside with guitars and drums and things until Services moves us on — "knacker drinking", as it is referred to here. When we did eventually get moved on we went to someone's suite in Belgrove, shortly after which I left so that I could go to bed early enough to get up at 7:45 the next morning.

After a lousy and interrupted night's sleep, I did manage to get up and make it downtown to meet with Gillian, the hairdresser at the Peter Marks Academy who is using my hair for her graduation project. Now my hair is different colors! But mostly the same shape. Here is a picture:


So all through the events of this past week (starting Tuesday), my voice was getting hoarser and hoarser, until yesterday it disappeared altogether. Subbing in for it occasionally is a hacking cough that varies in its productivity, depending on time of day and application of steam through leaving the electric kettle boiling in my room with the lid open. It's been pretty disruptive in class, so I'm glad to have the weekend in which to recover. Unfortunately, Steve B. from high school is in town this weekend(!), so I feel pretty bad for not being able to be very social. But I'm not going to worry too much over it as I'm doing all I can to heal quickly. I've even installed Verbalize on my computer, so I can type in what I want to say and it'll say it for me. Tommy, Lynchy, and Ross were having fun with it today when they dropped by to make fun of me and bring me a large bottle of 7-Up (a beverage that seems to be widely considered by the Irish to be a cure-all for colds).

At any rate, it's something soupy tonight for dinner, so I'm going to go get started on that. And then...I don't know, schoolwork? What else can one do when one has no voice? What a hassle.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Temple Bar Food Market

I forgot in my last entry to talk about the wonderful thing that is the Temple Bar Food Market. I cycled there Saturday morning to do some shopping for some fresh veggies, and boy was it worth it! It's a perennial farmers' market that pops up every Saturday from 9-5 in this little cobblestone square in the midst of Temple Bar, and it is great. There are a bunch of organic farmers, cheesemongers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers, a crepe stand, a Japanese stand, a Mexican stand, a smoothie stand, and a bunch of other most excellent vendors. There's also generally a couple of decent musicians busking. I got a bunch of delicious, fresh, organic vegetables, and a bean and tomato empanada. It is generally an awesome institution that I plan on returning to regularly. Take that, Tesco.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stuff

Well, some stuff has happened, so I thought maybe I should post about it. Halloween was Wednesday. JazzSoc teamed up with some of the other small societies to throw a little party, and a good time was had by all. I went as a koala:


Let's see...I suppose the next interesting thing happened on Saturday, when I went on a trip with the Archaeology Society to the Wicklow Gaol. We had dinner in the basement, in which people broke out the refreshments they'd purchased beforehand at the off-license, followed by a tour of the jail. The tour was pretty good; they had actors pretending to be a couple prisoners, and, given the social lubricant working on a few society members, some reactions were rather hilarious. The bus ride back to Dublin was also pretty good; we were pretty much the only people on the coach, so there was a nice relaxed atmosphere. When we were back in town we all stopped in at Doyle's for a pint, after which I made it to Joe's apartment for his 21st birthday celebrations.

Technically, though, Joe's birthday was yesterday, so of course we had to go out then, too. A lot of us went to the very swanky Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen's Green for drinks. Now, I feel underdressed just walking past this hotel, so actually going inside was a bit intimidating, especially since I didn't know that we were going there and was dressed a bit, um, artistically. There was also table service, which I've not encountered in a while. Having just re-watched The Big Lebowski, I ordered a white Russian, and oh my god, it was like vanilla ice cream. I usually shy away from ordering cocktails because I'm generally at a pub, which isn't necessarily a conducive atmosphere to well-mixed drinks, so it was a lovely change. Three of the guys ordered scotches, because how could you not, really? At any rate, we moved on to Doyle's afterwards where I, at least, felt much more comfortable. The night ended with a nice, long walk home with Lynchy and Tommy. In retrospect, I should've just hailed a cab.

So, in general, things are going pretty smoothly here. There's only a month of classes left and I've got three essays due before it's over, but they're very straightforward, so no worries there. The exam schedule was posted last week, and I've got finals right up to the bitter end, but hey, whatever. I've been battling a bit of the sniffles for about a week as the weather turns colder. I need to start looking for a good winter coat. Et cetera.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Guinness Jazz Festival

WOW. What a weekend.

There were thirty members of the UCD Jazz Society that journeyed out to Cork for the festival, and we essentially took over Sheila's Hostel for the weekend. It was a very nice place, if only by virtue of it's putting up with the lot of us. We got there Friday evening and were assigned our rooms; I was in with Jen, Jessica (an American who goes to Bryn Mawr and knows Rachael), John (an Irishman I knew already who looks like Kevin Bacon), and Emma and Niall (an adorable, proper Irish-Catholic couple who slept in the same bed for the first time ever while on the trip). The first night, Niall enjoyed playing up the stereotypical Irishman for Mandy, Jessica, Jen and I, while Emma looked on in a slightly head-shaking way. We wandered Cork for a while, had some drinks at a pub to some live music...a pretty low-key evening.

The next day, Mandy and I walked around Cork and did some shopping. We had breakfast in this cute little juice bar called The Berries, which I also recommend to anyone in the area. The owner was extraordinarily friendly and the food was quite tasty. And for lunch, I had the best curry ever at some Thai place. Eventually we made it back to the hostel and relaxed in the cinema room. Somewhere along the line two other girls and I got talked into getting in the sauna with six guys, and let me tell you, it was not a large sauna. I was very sweaty, but very little of that sweat was my own. So naturally that was followed by a shower, and eventually everyone made it out for the 11:00 gig JazzSoc had gotten us tickets to.

This brings me to the highlight of the weekend: JazzKamikaze! THEY WERE AMAZING. They're a five-piece band, based in Denmark, that place jazz with, in some pieces, a touch of metal. Go, listen, and be happy — though their recorded stuff can't compare with the thrill of seeing them live and experiencing the amazing energy and chemistry they have. There's nothing quite like seeing a guy with a mohawk play the soprano and tenor saxophone at the same time. They did one of the coolest covers of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" I've ever heard. And best of all, I was right up front, practically sitting next to the guitarist (who's my favorite, coincidentally). It's a shame for the next band that JazzKamikaze went on first, because there was just no way more traditional jazz like that of Greg Abate and the Organics could live up to it.

The next day, more Berries, and then at 3:00...another JazzKamikaze gig! Which managed to be even better than the first! I really hope University of Buffalo is running their field school in Denmark this summer, because I want to be able to see these guys live all the time. Anyway, the rest of the afternoon was whiled away with more cinema room and goofing around and a certain degree of semi-humourous sexual harrassment directed at me, until the next gig. I had a significantly lousier seat for this one, and found it pretty unremarkable anyway. Jessica, Mandy, and I ended up leaving to poke around Cork a little more and grab a snack. I ended up in bed pretty early on, which was good, since we had to be out at 11:00 the next morning.

Monday was spent mostly in traveling, and by the time I got back I was too tired to do much more than make dinner and do some token schoolwork. Oh, and load both JazzKamikaze albums onto my computer. All in all, it was a pretty fun weekend. Thanks, JazzSoc!

Oh, and here's one of my favorites from...guess who:


This one is longer but jazzier and also amazing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Valuable Discovery

So while I was not as productive as I would've hoped this week (no big surprise there) I did get enough done to make me feel okay about spending my weekend away at the CORK JAZZ FESTIVAL! Woo-hoo!

Apart from doing stupid paper stuff for classes, I managed to see Dr. Strangelove with the History Society on Monday, go to an Irish language student wine reception after Irish class on Wednesday, and generally spend my evenings in leisure. Yesterday evening I spent it in the company of a young man I have not seen in five years: Steven, from my CTYI days! I found him under his old alias on YouTube, finally, after looking for a while. We spent the evening playing music and videos and such for each other. It was super cool! Yeah!

The other thing that happened this week is something I was unsure about posting here, but I'm doing it anyway because then all 4 of the people reading this will know and I won't have to say it 4 times, and that is that on Wednesday Jon told me that he couldn't keep up the long-distance relationship. On a purely logical basis I understand, and I don't feel like going into my other reactions, but there it is, and that's that then, I suppose, at least for the time being.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I've got to go grab a book from the library for the trip and then hoof it to the bus stop to make my way to Cork!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Which way to the gun show?


*flexes arms* That a-way!

That is going to be me pretty soon if I keep up what I've been doing lately. That includes the Beginners' Bouldering Competition on Thursday, from which my arms are still slightly sore. I came close to winning something, but mostly only because there was a separate women's division and there weren't that many women there. But I'm definitely interested in keeping that up since no top rope means no needing to find someone to belay you, and it was damn good exercise.

I've also been taking good advantage of my new [to me] bike. Friday I made a trip to the Stillorgan Shopping Centre. What I'd failed to take into account was that the trip is, unfortunately, almost entirely uphill from UCD. At least it's not uphill on the way back, though, with groceries on my back. I also biked into town today; it's only a 20 minute trip, which is shorter than it takes on the bus sometimes. (And don't worry, mom and dad, I've been wearing my helmet.) The trip from the entrance to the school to Merville is also very uphill, meaning I get a nice little burst of difficulty at the end of every trip. Hey, whatever, I need the cardio.

In other news, I went to Loughcrew, in Co. Meath, yesterday with my Art and Ritual in Prehistoric Europe class. We passed through Kells on the way there for a rest stop, and I think I walked through most of it in half an hour. There's not that much, really; check it out on Google maps. No wonder those monks made such a beautiful book there; there was shit-all else to do. Though there were quite a few beauty salons and barbers for such a small town (and of course, at least one pub every block).

Loughcrew itself is actually a bunch of hills, atop which prehistoric people built a bunch of passage tombs and carved some neat stuff on the rocks inside them. It was in some gorgeous countryside, and since they were the only significant hills in the area they had a great view. The only downside to that was the wind, which was wickedly cutting at that height. I was certainly jealously eying some of the sheep's wool; maybe that's why they ran away every time I came near them. But it was a pleasant day, and I actually got to meet some of the people in my class, so it was definitely well worth it.

This week is reading week for the Archaeology Department, which means I only have my Study of Irish Folklore class. The rest of the time I'm meant to be working on reading and preparing for my papers, which I of course will be doing during the day. And on Friday afternoon I leave for Cork with other members of the Jazz Society to attend the Cork Jazz Festival. It looks like it should be a pretty rockin' time; the Blind Boys of Alabama are going to be there! And for now, I'm cooking up some Zucchini Pasta — thanks New York Times!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Fun Day at the Garda National Immigration Bureau

[The Dingle entry is coming, but as it is photo-intensive it is taking some time, and I've got some other stuff to say in the meantime.]

My passport had been stamped upon my entrance into Ireland with the date October 3rd, and I had been told to go to the GNIB, in City Centre, to register and get my nifty little ID card before then. I did try to go before that date, but at 3:00 in the afternoon they had long since stopped giving out tickets (think "deli counter") and so I resolved to come back the next day. Unfortunately, the next day was the day I came down with tonsillitis, and so the trip was put off. When I did try again, which I believe I mentioned here, I gave up, as the line was not only ridiculous but immobile, and I had better things to do. And so, I decided that yesterday would finally be the day I made it in and registered. I didn't have class until 2, so I thought I'd have plenty of time since I planned to get there well in advance of the 9:30 opening of the student office.

And so, yesterday morning, I awoke at 6 a.m., showered, dressed, ate breakfast, made it to the bus at around 7:45, made it to Garda at 8:50, and was faced with a line that was still around the corner (only one corner this time, though). I stood and waited while reading up for my upcoming essay for about 40 minutes waiting for them to open, and at 9:44 I got my ticket (the time is printed on) saying that I was 218th in line, and thus the 282nd person to get served overall for the day. The garda who handed me the ticket told me to come back after 1:00. "There go classes," I thought. But I decided that it would be an excellent opportunity to wander the city, buy a bike, and stop in the National Museum for a while, where they have an exibit on bog bodies that I really should've been to see by now. Alas, however, Square Wheel Cycleworks was out of second-hand bikes, the National Museum is closed on Mondays, and the cinema didn't open until 1:30. I did, however, have a really nice bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese while sitting next to the Liffey being stared down by seagulls.

By noon, I'd run out of ways to amuse myself, and seeing as the weather was being generally unpleasant I decided to just go back to the GNIB and wait there. I had brought quite a bit of school reading with me, which was good, because I had plenty of time to read it — 282 wasn't called until around 4:30. When the number counter hit 280 I was fidgeting pretty badly and the African woman sitting next to me, the Eastern European woman on the other side, and I joked about the building pressure. Finally, it was my turn, and I handed over the stack of paper they required of me along with my passport. The man behind the counter was very nice and everything went very smoothly. After I paid my €100 fee (and I can't believe had to pay them to spend my day there) and had my picture taken, I was told to stick around just a little longer for them to call my name and give me my card. It was after 5 p.m. by the time I actually got out of there, meaning I spent longer than a full day's work at that hell-hole. But it wasn't all bad; people watching was pretty high quality, and there were a lot of absolutely adorable babies and little kids to make faces it. Also, my ID photo is the most badass I think I've ever taken.

So after this ordeal I treated myself to a surprisingly delicious veggie burger at Abrakebabra and went to see Superbad, which was just what I needed. It's a very funny movie while still remaining fairly loyal to a fairly genuine sense of the high school experience, and the ridiculously awkward characters made me feel a little better about myself.

In other news, today I bought a second-hand bike at Joe Daly's Cycle Shop in Dundrum and got plenty of exercise finding my way back. And now, I'm going to take it over to rock climbing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I got called "Sir"...

...at an Ani DiFranco concert, of all places. You'd think the crowd there would have a passing familiarity with androgyny (always double-check gender in such an environment). I was even wearing a skirt! Anyway, the reason the mistake was able to be made is that, as you may be able to tell from my updated picture to the right, I got a haircut! It was more than high time for it to happen, but the salon prices in Dublin are absolutely ridiculous. Finally, I decided to go to the Peter Mark Academy (a hairdressing school), where they told me the price would be €15. It took a while, as I expected, and I had to keep telling the girl (Julie, I think) to go shorter, and her teacher helped her out some, but it came out really well in the end. AND I didn't have to pay anything after all, because I've agreed to be her graduation assignment. This means that at some point in November I'm going to go back in for a trim and a color of some crazy kind and then on the 22nd model for her. She said that either the cut or the color has to be kind of bizarre (it's her "fashion cut and color"), and I told her that she can do whatever she wants, so I'm excited for insane happenings on the top of my head. By the way, here's a second shot of my new hair:


So that, I suppose, brings me to the Ani DiFranco concert that I went to Tuesday night. It was excellent, which is no real surprise, I guess. She had the same opening act as when I saw her last November, which was Hamell on Trial. He can be a bit heavy-handed with the crazy left-winger schtick (as on his anti-death penalty song "Don't Kill"), but overall he's got great energy, really funny lyrics, excellent guitar skills, and seemingly no social filter. As for Ani, she was her delightful, energetic, smiley, chatty, ridiculously talented self. People kept shouting requests, but she uses all these crazy tunings and has a bunch of guitars to accommodate them all, so she can't do impromptu songs so easily (she managed a couple, though). The crowd was also great; there were waayyyy more guys than at the show in Boston, and it was a standing-room venue as opposed to the seated auditorium I saw her in last time, so it was, I think, a positive change.

It was enlightening to go to a show of two such politically-charged American performers in a different country. There is an overall shared ideology, but it really made me think about some basic assumptions in their songs that are rooted in playing to an American audience. For instance, Ani has more than a few lyrics about race relations, and while the rapidly increasing diversity in Dublin is making such things more of an issue, the Irish simply don't have the same perception on the subject as an American would. And when Ani did a spoken word piece about her own patriotism, I almost felt like crying.

"I love my country, by which I mean I am indebted joyfully to all the people throughout its history who have fought the government to make right."


Something that has really been brought home to me in my over-a-month living abroad that I didn't really understand in adolescence is how rooted I am in the history and culture of my country. I don't know anymore how comfortable I could be living permanently in any country but America. For all its pigheadedness, willfulness, strong-arming, ignorance, conservatism, and blatant stupidity, there are many, many great things about America. Virtually anyone can find in it a place where they can comfortably live the lifestyle of their choosing relatively unhindered. It becomes so easy to live a revolutionary lifestyle. And I truly believe that what we are going through politically right now will pass, and changes will be made and we will begin moving once more in a more correct direction. (Oh, and I've mostly decided: Obama '08! I just...can't handle Hillary.)

What I guess I'm trying to say here is that, while I'm having a blast in Ireland, and I plan to continue having a blast, and travel more around Europe and such, and I'm getting a better education spending this year here than I would spending this year pretty much anywhere in the states, I love my country and I am looking forward to getting home and getting involved once more in working to make it a place I can be even prouder of.

But speaking of traveling, I'm journeying out this weekend with interstudy to the Dingle Peninsula in the southwest of the counry, an area which is widely believed to be one of, if not the, most beautiful part of Ireland. There will be hiking and horseback riding and cruise-taking (and possibly seeing the local dolphin) and pub-going (I've heard the Guinness is better in the west) and general fun-having. I'm quite looking forward to it, and I suppose I will try and remember to take pictures — I have been very bad at that so far.

Oh, also of note is that I finally made it to a céilí on Monday, though I did not take part in dancing. It was pretty entertaining, though, with good music provided by members of the UCD TradSoc. Think square/line dancing, except with better steps, better music, and better drinks.

So that about wraps it up for now. What with the concert on Tuesday starting at 7:30, I didn't make it to Mountaineering to try out my new shoes, so I'm gonna get to that right now.

P.S.
I almost forgot: I got the new Radiohead album! Definitely worth the $5 I paid them, at least. I wasn't blown away, but it's some quality music, and a most original distribution method.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Change of Heart

I think I've changed my mind about the group of people I'd rather spend time with. I went out Wednesday to this club called Spy Bar...it was pretty lame. I think partly that was because it was with this Erasmus club thing, which meant that there were a lot of Eurotrash (a.k.a mad sketchy) guys. Also, it was club. I have solidified my negative opinion of clubs. Anyway, I went with Mandy and Paul and Bryan and Folky (a Czech guy who I'd not met before but heard Mandy talk about) and this kid Drew from Vassar. The boys had been pre-gaming in some Merville apartment with a bunch of other people before we left (Mandy and I weren't drinking), so they were already a little scattered when we got there. Mandy was not in a very good mood right off the bat because all the guys ran off godknows where without saying anything to us. Mandy is I think a bit too touchy about being included; she complains a lot about so-and-so forgetting that they were supposed to text her at such-and-such an event or something, where I would just forget it and move on. Whatever, anyway, she was kind of in a funk after that. But eventually they came back and Folky and Drew and Mandy and I were talking, and then Drew and I got into a music conversation and the other two tuned out. So the beginning of the night was pretty good.

Eventually, however, things degenerated into that state where everyone is running around looking for nothing and doing nothing and not having any fun (at least, I never do). I don't know if anyone else knows what I'm talking about, but it happens more with some groups of people than others. It's that time when person A is looking for person B, person B is looking for person C, person C wandered off and ran into person D who drags person C and E to introduce them to person F who isn't actually very interesting so person E leaves and person C doesn't realize until 5 minutes later and goes to try and find them, and person B and A are still running around with no idea what's going on, and all the time I'm sitting off to one side somewhere wondering why we didn't just stay at home and have a few calm drinks with conversation or something else that seems in any way worthwhile. Whatever, the point is, it sucked, no one was anywhere, the music was awful, it was a weeknight, and Mandy and I were tired, so we left around 1:00.

The upshot of all of this is that during the few times I've hung out with Bryan and Paul & Co., the evening never seems to achieve anything. I'm left with an empty feeling of time wasted. While Tommy and crew are perhaps a bit too wild at times, they are at least something. Also, they don't go to clubs. Check and mate.



In other news, I had a grand day out on the town yesterday. I got up bright and early, all set to go wait at the Garda National Immigration Bureau so I could pay my €100 to register with them. On Saturdays, the Bureau opens from 10 to 3 and serves students only, so I figured I'd aim for getting there at 10, and if I was a little late it couldn't be that bad since it's only students.

I was wrong.

I got there at 10:23 and followed the line from in front of the door, around the corner, down the block, around the next corner, and nearly to the end of that block and stood at the back. I stood there for over twenty minutes, and the only time I moved up in the line was when someone ahead of me gave up and walked away. So I gave up, and walked away. I'll try again on Thursday, when the bureau opens at 9:30 and I have class at noon. If I get there maybe 30 minutes before it opens, I hope I won't be late for class.

At any rate, I had several errands I wanted to run while I was in town. I picked up a lot of spiffy yarn, since I have finally finished the socks that I've been knitting since...May? June? (Whatever, they're done now. I'm going to knit up a swatch to use to make sure that they're machine-washable, then send them off to Liz, who I promised them to during Onas pre-camp.) Yes, so I have three new projects to start on. (The first one's first.) I also bought pretty rock climbing shoes for increased success at the wall. (Side note: my belay test is Tuesday, eep!) And I got semi-permanent royal blue hair dye, for use at some future date. I wanted to get my hair cut, too, while I was out, but every salon I saw cost at least €50, which is just ridiculous, especially with the exchange rate like it is. I've been told of a cheaper place that I'm going to try and get to on Tuesday. And I wandered through a lot of interesting alternative clothing shops in the Temple Bar area, but they were a bit overpriced.

At some point (noon) during all of this, I met up with Mandy so we could go to the Liffey and watch some Catholic monks throw red flowers into the river as an expression of solidarity with the people of Burma. It was nice, and there were maybe 50 people there as well with signs and such. I gotta say, though, as horrible as things are in Burma right now, at least they're not as bad as in Congo. The New York Times has an article today talking about the explosion in sexual assault on women there. It is absolutely horrifying, but I don't see it getting as much press. Maybe it's just too bad to face. I can't imagine having to live it.

I can't end on as absolutely depressing a note as that, so instead I will leave you with yet another link in my link-filled entry: something else.

EDIT: Here's an even better finale! I went grocery shopping on Friday and found mac and cheese! IN A CAN! WHAT?!?! Further updates forthcoming on taste and texture quality!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Kraft Gods, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

There is no boxed mac & cheese in this country. What the hell sort of country doesn't have boxes of mac & cheese? It's a national disgrace! Mom, put it on the list of imports to Ireland for our future import/export business. Honestly, what an abomination.

See, the beauty of mac and cheese is that it's squishy, cheap, and filling. At this stage of my throat issues, I've begun judging foods by how squishy they are. Toast with butter I choked down before class this morning? Not that squishy, so not that good. (I knew that in advance, too, but I was running late.) But the chips (oh right, "french fries") with ketchup that I had for lunch were pretty squishy. Mac and cheese is very squishy, so I decided that it would make a perfect dinner, especially accompanied with applesauce. (Melted cheddar + applesauce. Try it.) But, there is no mac and cheese in Ireland! Unless you make it yourself!

That is not what I did. I do not have the initiative to make it myself. Also, I don't like baked mac & cheese because it's crispy on top (to review: crispy is not squishy and therefore undesirable). So what I did instead was to go to Centra, buy a packet labeled "Cheddar Cheese Sauce Mix", follow the directions on the back, and then pour it over some cooked seashell pasta. (While I was there, I also noticed a packet labeled "Smash", which I bought for tomorrow — instant mashed potatoes are very squishy.) This worked out adequately. It was definitely squishy, though the flavor was definitely not Kraft-worthy. Unfortunately, I made way more sauce than pasta. That's okay, though, because then I made more pasta, put the sauce on it, and refrigerated the whole mess. I'll see if it looks edible tomorrow. And the applesauce went well, too.


In unrelated but equally if not more interesting news: Radiohead has gone extra-crazy in an AWESOME WAY. I plan to pay £2.50 (but kind of which I had a decent excuse to myself to buy the discbox).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Sick sick sick ick.

The first time I'd left the house since returning from class Friday afternoon was to go buy ice cream last night. After that, it was to go to the student health clinic today. This is because I've had a very sore throat, really swollen and tender glands, probably a mild fever, and various other unpleasant sick-related conditions. The doctor today said that it's tonsillitis (though I still think it could just as well be strep throat) and I now have lovely antibiotics, medicated lozenges, and a bunch of oranges. Hopefully I will be functional again soon. Maybe I'll even make it to my one class tomorrow!

On the bright side, I got to watch a lot of Firefly online. I would've finished, too, if the second half of each of the last two episodes hadn't crapped out on me. Also, I've almost finished knitting the second sock. And I got to sleep a lot guilt-free. So it's not a complete loss.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Closing Out the First Month

Well, the past week has been very relaxed compared to the beginning of my adventures here in Ireland, with the exception of Monday. And it's a good thing, too, as I'm coming down with a cold of some sort (my throat is quite sore and my glans are swollen) and constant activities would probably have put me much worse off than I am now.

So on Monday, I stopped by the Forum Bar to pick up a skirt that I'd lent Zoë when hers got a huge rip down the back. The quick stop ended up becoming about 2 hours and 2 pints of Bulmers, after which a group of us went off to find free food and wine somewhere in the arts block. I didn't actually want to do this, however, and managed to escape the group, but only after being manhandled into an elevator and forced down a hallway for a while. So I got back home and was doing a bit of work when, without warning, the gang descended upon my flat, bearing alcohol and a party spirit. I had been planning on attending a céilí at the Student Bar with Mandy, Brian, Paul, and Dave, all of whom I quite like but rarely see because of my soon-to-be-adjusted inclination towards choosing the crazier group to hang out with. Instead, we decided to play Kings, which got nearly everyone but me very drunk — I was drinking more Bulmers, whereas others were mainly drinking wine (I was also cheating when we were supposed to be chugging). To cut a long story short, things got a bit odd, certain people got a bit too exhibitionist-like, and I kicked them all out around 12:30 so I could go to bed.

The night served as a culmination of a growing realization that I couldn't keep up with these people, and what's more, I don't want to. It's certainly been a nice change of pace from my normal social modus operandi, but it's not a lifestyle I want to make my permanent choice. Not to mention, most of those kids are repeating at least once class this semester because they party too hard, and there's no way I'm allowing that to happen to me. So, for all those out there concerned with my academic concentrations (I'm looking at you, mom and dad), have no fear, I'm doing fine and am, in fact, keeping up with what I have to do for school.

So, as I said, the rest of this week has been fairly subdued. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in. Yesterday Mandy and I and some others went out for a little while to a free electronica show at the Student Bar. I didn't stay long because it was like a lot of shows I've already been to except not as good, and the group of people I was with (a different one from usual, this time including Paul) had heard of a party at Merville. I thought it would be fun just to stop in for a bit until they told us where it was: 10.6. Wait a second, I said, that's where I live! Apparently, Cory (from 10.1) had invited a bunch of random people over to my place, because Glennis was having him and a couple of others over for dinner. Then it became a few over for drinks afterwards, and by the time I got there our living room was full of people I didn't know. This including one raging jackass named Tom from New Jersey. He was the stereotypical loud and obnoxious Jersey boy who kept saying things like, "In America, we [insert stupid mindless blather here]." My god, if he ever sets foot in this apartment again I will physically kick his ass out of here. I was apologizing to the Irish people, trying to explain that he's not representative of all of America, just New Jersey. I ended up going to bed at around 12:30 again, but had a difficult time sleeping until Glennis kicked everyone out sometime after 1:00. An RA had already come up to warn us that we were too loud and shouldn't technically have that many people over at that point. It's a €200 fine for violations of that sort, and the thought of that makes relaxing into sleep difficult. Luckily, they kept quieter after that and left not much later.

In other news, there's a really nicely built spiderweb on the outside of my window. The weather's getting brisker and the wind is picking up. I need to go buy a couple more sweaters (excuse me, "jumpers") and I think I'm going to get a UCD hoodie as well.

I'm also going to pick up some climbing shoes, as I've gone to the rock wall with the Mountaineering Club twice this week and think I'd do fairly well with the appropriate footwear, as opposed to just decently. I'm saying that in terms of comparing myself with the other club members I've noticed without proper shoes. There's a few really lousy climbers there, most of whom seem to be really girly types who still have all their foundation and other makeup on from the day. You know, the kind commonly found at BU that I'm here partly to escape. I don't want to be too judgmental, but observing their behavior seems to indicate that some of them are, yes, interested in rock climbing, but others are interested in rock climbers. Just sayin'. (Poseurs.) That aside, the club is awesome and the people are generally helpful. They go to the Forum after every practice, too, which I've yet not been able to do because of other obligations, but I will! And it will be fun!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Long Week

Man, my birthday seems like forever ago. Being 20 so far feels exactly like being 19, except no one can make teenager jokes anymore (I'm looking at you, Jon). I did actually clean my room after my last entry, a process helped significantly by the arrival of my birthday present from Jon. Ollipeist the dragon came in a decently large box, allowing me to store my socks and underwear in that on a shelf and empty my second suitcase and stow it under my bed, FINALLY.

On Thursday, I hung out with a bunch of folks at Joe and Zoë's apartment. There are, finally, some pictures, and I'm working on figuring out this whole Flickr-Blogger thing. For now, just head on over to my "Ireland" set. It was a lot of fun, not least of all because of the guitar involved, and it was nice to see some non-UCD living spaces. However, it was perhaps less-than awesome to have followed that so closely on the heels of birthday celebrations. At least I didn't have class Friday since both my lectures were cancelled (which I knew in advance).

What I did have on Friday was a visit with Aunt Kathleen. She and the two women she's been traveling with for the past week made their way to UCD, but not without significant complications. They couldn't find the place and were subsequently about two hours later than they said they'd be, thus preventing me from hitting up the thrift shops again like I'd meant to. When they got here, I took them to the coffee shop in the Quinn School of Business for lunch. They took a lot of pictures (including of me in front of the Quinn building, despite the fact that I don't attend any classes in it) and were generally stereotypical American tourists. I am not a fan of the two women Aunt Kathleen was traveling with; they don't seem very intelligent or conscious of themselves. Luckily, I wasn't with them for that long.

I was with Aunt Kathleen for much longer yesterday — six hours, in total. The visit was in turns very tedious and very informative. Overall, I cannot confess to being comfortable dealing with my aunt one-on-one for that extended a period when she is in unfamiliar conditions. However, I did learn several interesting things. For instance, I am part Scottish! And I have roots in Donegal (the Morrisseys and the Kellys)! And, oh yeah, Aunt Kathleen has had a very, uh, interesting dating history! I don't want to really go into it on a public blog, but let's just say I've been in this family for twenty years now and I can't believe that I've not been told some of this stuff before. In addition to the conversation, I learned a bit from the Book of Kells exhibit we went to at Trinity, and from the bus tour. I also took her to Grafton Street to find a place for lunch, because hey, it's famous and touristy and that's what we were in town for.

After leaving Aunt Kathleen at the train, I wondered around town for a bit, picked some stuff up at Marks & Spencer (how chic), and then went home, only to end up back in town a few hours later with Ross, Jen, and Jen's roommate, who is conveniently named Jenny, and from Brisbane. We had a pint at Eammon Doran's in Temple Bar, which happens to be the same place I ended up with Molly & Co. for her birthday the first night after we'd moved in! It was a lot cooler tonight (the music didn't suck so hard), and a lot more packed. Also, there was a show in the basement that I would've like to have seen, but I didn't want to lose the rest of the people and have to fend for myself getting home. Other friends of Ross's were there, but left for Club Twenty-One, a place with a €10 cover charge and no chance of ever getting me into it unless someone else is paying (and even then it would be difficult to convince me). All in all, it was an amusing but uneventful evening; we took the Nightlink back fairly early (at least for a Saturday), and now I'm here typing this after spending my morning messing about with Flickr.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday, I celebrated my 20th birthday with a bunch of nutty Europeans. Oh boy.

I had one class, at 11 a.m., after which Mandy and I visited the Freshers Tent and Sports Expo. These are the two week-long events that are put on to allow groups to ensnare unsuspecting newbies into joining. Clubs here work a bit differently than in the States in that to join, you have to actually pay dues. The Societies (a.k.a. non-sports organizations) are €2 and the Clubs (for sport) are more — Mountaineering was €15. So I am now a card-carrying member of the Archaeology Society, Jazz Society, Arts Society, and Mountaineering Club (though I got the Arts card for free because someone else decided they didn't actually want it). I'm particularly excited for Mountaineering; practice starts next Tuesday, and I'll have to buy appropriate pants. But with no class this Friday (both my lectures were cancelled), I think I'll manage. (Shopping? Darn!)

At 6:00 there was a wine reception at O'Reilly Hall for international students. It is amazing to watch college students around free food and drink. God help the catering staff last night; every time a new tray of food was brought out, kids just descended on it like violent seagulls. And then there were the suspiciously-accented guys from Sweden and Poland and Bulgaria...they sounded awfully Irish to me...OH WAIT THEY'RE MY FRIENDS. Heheh. A bunch of them came to take advantage of free food and, more importantly, alcohol. It was extremely crowded but generally a good time.

After the reception (as the folks in charge were attempting to sweep everyone from the hall) we headed over to the Forum to continue general celebration and merry-making of my birthday. The gang of Irish folks I've been hanging out with thus far made it (since I've been telling everyone I meet for the last two weeks that they need to celebrate with me), as did several international folk from the reception (mainly German). General revelry, slight madness, and buying-me-drinks ensued, but I still made it to bed by midnight, and went to class today, which is more than I can say for several of the people who accompanied me on my adventures last night.

The upshot of all this is that my room looks an absolute mess (though I did buy a lovely poster of Klimt's "The Kiss", a favorite painting of mine). So my next task: a thorough cleaning!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pausing for Breath

I've decided I like magpies after all. They look really funny when they run, and they have a nice poem about them:

One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three to get married, four to die,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.


It's pleasantly creepy. I also like the crows around here. Larger birds are more interesting than smaller ones; they're less likely to fly away when you approach them. I saw a fair few today on my way back from grocery shopping. It was the first rainy day here so far, but that only made things more beautiful. The sky was astonishing, and the green color of the grass was only highlighted by the quality of the light. It was gorgeous. I have to go walking around here more.

I went to a different Tesco today than I'd gone to before, and it is SO MUCH BETTER. First off, there's a bus that goes there, so you don't have to walk back laden with your goods. Secondly, it's in a huge shopping center, so the Tesco takes up 3x the space and sells so much different stuff! Our kitchen is now much better stocked in terms of cookware, and I have a nice pair of speakers that were only €12.99. There's also a health store that sells tofu and other veggie-friendly stuff that you can't really get at Tesco. It also sells Vegemite, much to Mandy's delight (I will never understand how she can enjoy that stuff).

So I got home from shopping and decided to make carrot walnut muffins, which would've turned out better had I had a proper grater/peeler type thing (I used a knife) and had I left them in for slightly less time. Then I made a meatless meatloaf which turned out soooo well (thanks, mom!) and a salad. My flatmates now love me. I think I might make a nice dinner every Sunday. It's too much work to do every day, but I enjoyed doing it and it's certainly nice to eat a proper meal. I also managed to cut one finger pretty badly and burn another, so I don't think my body could take the abuse if I did it more.

Speaking of abuse, I inadvertently crashed a birthday party last night. The gang invited me to a party, "Jimstock", that was supposed to be a big music-y thing. I was expecting some sort of house party with bands in the basement or something. Instead, it was a somewhat shwanky affair in D4 (the richest part of Dublin and possibly the country) that Jim's parents were throwing him. Apparently, in Irish tradition, 21 is the year that the eldest son is given the keys to the family house or some such, so it's a bit of a big deal. I felt somewhat under-dressed -- thank goodness I at least had a vest on. The other girls were under-dressed in a different sense, in as much as they were generally wearing shirts with a belt around the middle. D4 girls don't seem to like pants, and who can blame them, really, except that it was rather cold and I saw a few of their butts. But I had a really good time with the people that I knew there. I can't say the same for Maggie, however, and therefore by extension Mandy, who ended up walking home with Maggie at about 12:30 after Maggie threw up in a bush. Way to go. She tries so hard to be cool that it is at times physically painful to watch, but I still would't wish vomiting on her. And I wouldn't wish a sick, drunk Maggie on Mandy. But so it goes.

Tonight I'm having an early night of it, because I haven't had one in a while and it's best to start the new week fresh. With a good dinner in me and a long night's sleep, I should be ready to face the week, and most importantly MY BIRTHDAY! And at some point, I'll post pictures of the apartment and whatnot, honest I will.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Week One

This week has gone overall splendidly. I'm definitely well and truly in with the crazy group of Irish, though one of them has just seen that I have this blog so I'm going to feel all awkward now every time I update. Curse you, Joe! Anyway, things have been quite fun and fairly busy. I've had almost all my classes; I dropped the one about agriculture in Europe in favor of the Minoan Bronze Age in Crete. It's the same professor as my Archaeology of Religion, Prof. Alan Peatfield, who's English and has crazy white hair and is awesome, so I'm pretty excited. So with that change in place, it's looking like all my classes are going to be pretty interesting.

The academic learning environment here is so different from the States. They just finished transitioning to a more American style of course classification and registration (and by "finished", I mean "are still adjusting to"), and the attitude towards teaching seems to be much closer to the descriptions my dad gave me of his days in college; two of my courses' grades are based solely on the final examination, and my other four courses only have an additional essay or two due mid-semester. Also, I am taking six courses for a full load, but still have about 4 fewer class hours than I did with my four courses last semester in Boston.

Yesterday was Ross's birthday party. His birthday is technically Monday, but he has to celebrate with his family then so the heavy drinking took place yesterday. He started at the Centre Club on campus 1:00 p.m and went until he got kicked out of Doyles around 1:00 a.m. I did not do nearly so much drinking, of course, partly out of frugality but largely out of a desire not to destroy my innards (and possibly outtards, if I did something stupid drunk). Nonetheless, it was loads of fun and I got some people's numbers and commitments to taking me out for my birthday. I just wish I'd gotten home sooner, but I couldn't leave when I wanted to without going home alone, so I elected to stay out longer until I could persuade Thomas to leave with me (since he's the one living below me).

Ross, Tommy (not Thomas), and Joe (the CTYI kid - world domination, here we come!) came to visit this afternoon and have been hanging around here for the past five hours. Actually, Ross left fairly early on, and Mark's coming now, so I think my apartment may have become the new hang-out on campus. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only ones living on campus, so it's nice and convenient for them, and entertaining for me. The only problem is I can't exactly kick Maggie out of her own flat, so she's kind of insinuating herself in with everyone else. Luckily, the rest of the Irish folk know I don't like her, so they're I think being considerate of that. Whatever. I can handle it.

At any rate, I made a sweet potato for lunch, but I kind of mucked it up so it didn't taste that good, so I'm going to go grab something to get a different taste in my mouth. Probably ice cream. Yeah....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chinese, with an Irish accent

In my last update, I failed to include Monday's saga of the Chinese take-away. Tommy, Molly, Glennis and I decided that it would be a good idea to order Chinese food from a nearby restaurant. We didn't have a menu, but we figured that it was a standard Chinese food place and we could guess what they'd have. So Tommy went first and tried to order General Tso's Chicken. His first mistake was mispronouncing it. His second mistake was ordering something that the name of which varies regionally even within the U.S. His third mistake was assuming that they had it. Then he tried Chicken and Broccoli, which they didn't have either but pretended to have so he'd pass the phone on to the next person. None of the rest of us had any better luck - Molly still doesn't know what she got, even after having eaten most of it. Also, it took TWO HOURS for them to deliver the food because they only had one delivery man. At least it was good, though.

So today I come back to the house after class, and what should I see before me on the ground in the entry way but a stack of menus for the restaurant we ordered from. Excellent. They're going to have to hire another delivery guy, though.

"This is Madness!" "THIS! IS! UCD!"

Well I made it out of the strange apartment alive, and would've made it to bed in plenty of time and been well rested for class if the fire alarm hadn't gone off at 2:30 in the morning. I don't know if it was a drill or an alcohol-fueled prank or what (there were a lot of very loud drunk kids around), but I do know that it was cold and horrible and that I had a hard time going to sleep again after getting back inside.

Classes have been going pretty well so far. I've seen a marked difference in professors' attitudes towards their students between the second-level and third-level classes I've had so far, but it's still pretty interesting stuff and none of the instructors seem like their going to be very bad. I'm a bit concerned about being attacked by Lorraine, however, who's a student who's come back after several years off to complete her degree and kind of glommed on to me the first day; she's very bubbly in a way I'm not entirely comfortable with.

But my social life has really taken off in the last two days. Yesterday I spent some time after class drinking wine with a whole bunch of people in the quad and then in Tommy's apartment after his drunken idiot of a roommate John threw a half-eaten apple at a girl who turned out to be an RA. She was going to leave us alone, too, but after that she made us all go inside.

Later we decided to head down to the Student Club, which is run by the Student Union and was completely packed when we got down there. Also, it was loud and disgusting and my shoes kept sticking to the floor, and, to top it all off, Maggie was there, so I made a subtle exit to go try and track down where Glennis had got to. Turns out she'd been waylaid by John and some English girl and her friends, so I went to wait outside their building for her to come down and go over to the bar.

I laid down on a bench that was there and was sort of staring at the sky when some people in another apartment waved to me. I asked if that's where Glennis was, and they replied back in the negative and in a French accent. But there was a large group of people on the grass who'd thought the people in the apartment were waving to them, and went over to say hello. They saw me on the bench, and one boy said, "oh, that's the girl who doesn't play sports!" because I'd told him that as I failed to kick a soccer ball he'd passed me back to him. So the group of people came over to the bench, and just like that I had an entire social network of friendly people.

We hung out for the rest of the evening, mainly wandering around campus and occasionally sitting in random places. Brian is the one that kind of brought me in; he's very talkative and friendly and reminds me quite a great deal of Dan Whitener. He's friends with Paul, who is, in fact, Tommy's roommate, and also is a very nice guy, though a good deal quieter than Brian. There's also Thomas, who's half French and half Polish and lives in the apartment below mine, of all places, and is a law student. Also present were Dave, a UCD fresher, Laurence, a Belgian girl whose name I've probably misspelled, and John, who took to me as soon as he heard me making what could be perceived as sexist remarks against women.

Today I saw both Brian and Thomas and was persuaded by them into attending an international student thing at the Forum bar (there's 2 bars on campus, God Bless Eire). There I met loads more people, including Joe, who was at CTYI the session immediately following the one I attended, (another) Tommy, who's pretty '90s-grunge looking and a whole lot of fun, (another) Brian, who's a bit like a beatnik leprechaun, and a bunch of others, including several metal kids. What this all amounts to is that I'm a de-facto member of the Jazz Club already. After the international thing we went back to Paul/Tommy-the-American's apartment where there was a drum kit, an acoustic guitar, and an acoustic bass (a most impressive instrument - sounds like a twangier double bass). So the rest of the evening was a jam session backing some lovely conversation. Also, Tenacious D was involved. Excellent times. AND the Student Union folk gave me a free loaf of bread. What a night. This is awesome.

In other, unrelated news, I've finally realized why Bono wears those silly sunglasses that are barely tinted at all. Usually, in Ireland, it's just bright enough to make you squint, but not quite bright enough to provide enough light to see by if you're wearing full-fledged sunglasses. Now if only there was a solution to this problem that didn't involve looking like a prat.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Free Drinks and the Fringe

So after much freaking out and inhaling of dinner, I made it to the Fringe Festival opening yesterday (though I was a little late). Ann Marie and I met up in Temple Bar and power-walked over to Georges Dock where we were just in time to stare at crowds of people for about 10 minutes. We ran into Ann Marie's friend Lisa (another BU student at DCU) and were chatting when we heard the brass band approaching. They were in crazy dressed-up clothes and their instruments were decorated (the tuba and French horn had Christmas lights) and they were playing really well. But then they went away, and the crowds were left again to ignore each other, until the white rowboat came out of the dock. It was carrying several figures, all dressed in white and painted white, and went to each of the 4 bed frames floating in the water and dropped off someone. Then it disappeared, and from what I could tell the people in the beds went to "sleep", as recorded snoring was played. I couldn't actually see much of anything, though, and neither could Ann Marie or Lisa, so we concluded by the end of it that the performance had been totally lost on us. But we walked around a bit and saw some lady doing neat aerial acrobatics on a suspended ring and some guys doing extremely localized parkour, which is not very impressive. And then I got accosted by Tom who was passing by and recognized me (probably the accent, and loud vest I'd been wearing all day) and handed me a stack of programs to hand out to the masses. That was some brief fun.

After the Russian dance troupe was done their water-based frippery, Ann Marie and Lisa and I decided to head over to Temple Bar to find a pub. We ended up at the Vat House, where Ann Marie knows the doorman, a big friendly guy from Boston named Alan who has, we discovered, a pink lighter. We got our drinks at the bar (I had a Guinness) and found an unoccupied bit of floor to stand in - no mean trick at Temple Bar on a pleasant Saturday night. I don't know if the fact that there were a few hen parties at the pub that night had anything to do with it, but the DJ was playing some of the cheesiest music ever. Maggie would've had a ball. Most of it was a bunch of '80s non-classics, which became even funnier after we'd made our new friends of the night.

There was a somewhat older set at the bar, mainly thirty-somethings, and at one point one of them came over to us and told us that his friend who'd just gone to the bar had told him that by the time he came back he wanted us three over by them, so we should switch places so as to kind of pull a prank on him. So we did, and then the two guys left, so when their friend came back it was just us three girls and his friends nowhere in sight. Now, he was clearly just shy (and had seemed rather depressed before), so he couldn't strike up conversation with us until his gregarious friend returned. We then learned that the loud one was Barry, the shy one was Phil, and the other guy was Michael, and we spent most of the rest of the night socializing with them - we even got a pint of Bulmers a piece out of it. They were quite fun and seemed to be totally content with just enjoying the company of 3 college girls who, no, did not remember the music video to the Phil Collins song that's playing right now, no.

When Madonna's "Like A Prayer" came on it was our cue to leave, so we made a graceful exit, and on our way out we passed Tommy coming in. I told him to text me when they were leaving and that we would hang around for a while, since I didn't want to make the trek home by myself and had been planing to sleep over at DCU if I hadn't heard from the UCD contingent. (Speaking of which, John and Kate are not actually a couple, so it's not really funny. Oh well.) Anyway, so Ann Marie, Lisa, and I entertained ourselves with a walk to Burger King at Lisa's request, and chilled on some steps until Tommy texted me.

The trip home was a real adventure. All the cabs' lights were off and Cory (who was with the bunch of UCD kids and spliting the ride with Tommy and Molly and I) was being an ass of a belligerent drunk, so we ended up walking endlessly and eventually getting a ride in this weird van shuttle thing for €5 a pop. My feet still ache.

Today was very laid back. I made another trip to Tesco and bought a bunch of canned soup and veggies and some houseplants, among other things. I also found out how to get mail (it's delivered from 5-7 nightly and packages are kept in reception but slips are given out). It's been a very low-key, relaxed day, which is good, because class starts TOMORROW. Eep! I'd feel more confident if I knew what any of the room numbers were for my classes, but I'm assured that this is the way Irish universities operate and I should just relax and let things happen as they will. Or something.

In other interesting news, the outlets in our suite still don't work, so I'm sitting in the dark in the apartment below mine. I don't know anyone who lives here, but some friendly Irish guy let me in and then left, and there's one other person here who either hasn't noticed me or is ignoring me. I think I should probably leave and go to bed about now anyway, before this gets any weirder.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Accidental Walking Tour of Dublin

I am soooo tired from today, but I'm still planning on going out to the opening night of the Dublin Fringe Festival tonight. I almost just stayed in town since I'd been there for nearly 5 hours, most of which I'd spent walking around being lost.

The initial plan was to go into the city and find a pub in which to watch the New Zealand vs. Italy match of the Rugby World Cup. This is because one of Tommy's roommates, John, is from New Zealand, as is his girlfriend also studying here, Kate. (That's right: John and Kate. I actually don't know if he uses the 'h' or not.) I met them last night when I was hanging out at Tommy's with Glennis, Molly, and Corey (who lives downstairs).

After wandering around the Grafton Street area for several minutes with the group, trying to find a pub with a large enough viewing area of the TV, I decided to strike out on my own and get some things accomplished. I headed to the Bank of Scotland branch I'd seen across the way from St. Stephen's Green, since they're partnered with Citizen's Bank. Unfortunately, they were very closed, and I don't even think they had ATMs anyway. So I wandered back to Grafton Street, a lovely all-pedestrian shopping area. I passed a mediocre stand-up comedian before coming to the Marlboro Man playing lap steel really well. I listened to him for a while before calling up my parents so they could here, too. When he was done I gave him some change and left to try and find the Squarewheel Cycleshop, which I utterly failed to do. (I did, however, find Dublin's Chinatown.) I have since done some examining of GoogleMaps and discovered that I missed it by mere blocks. Instead, I chose to have some lunch (carrot soup and a pint of Smithwick's) at Fitzgeralds, which is right on the river. I ended up watching part of the Australia vs. Japan match of the Rugby World Cup in which Australia kicked quite a bit of butt (final score: 91-3 Australia, holy cow).

Then I decided to go find a place to buy bath towels and toiletries, so I decided to try O'Connell Street, which is nice and big and commercial. As I was waiting at the light to cross over I saw a girl in a "I <3 Fringe" t-shirt for the Festival, so I asked here where the box office was. She gave me directions, and I headed over to try and find their volunteer office so I could make my presence known. I couldn't find it, of course, but I found a place to buy towels on the cheap.

As I was leaving there, I did find the Fringe offices. I walked in and asked the first person I saw if they were with the festival. The guy told me he was the director, so I told him I was there to volunteer. After a few exchanges he admitted to not only not being the director, but being French and unable to understand English. What a douchebag. So I found someone who was actually with the Fringe, and she was very nice to me and took my name since the coordinator was busy at the Speigeltent preparing for tonight. Also, a guy named Tom has claimed me for the marketing department.

Then I got toiletries. Finally! I only wish the water pressure in the showers didn't SUCK so much. A heavy rain shower is more effective at dampening things. The accommodations here are better than BU only in as much as it's a suite. This afternoon, while I was out, our outlets stopped working, so we had to find other people's places to put everything that was in the fridge. The lights work, the water heater works, the stove works, so it's not our electricity overall, it's just our outlets. Go figure. And Maggie is listening and singing along to Blondie's "I Touch Myself" in the common room. *Gag*

Good thing I've got other places to be! Ann Marie and I are going to the opening of the Fringe Festival tonight. It promises to be quite the spectacle. I'm very excited. Plus, it'll be the first time I've seen Ann Marie since May, so there's bound to be some fun there (muahahaha).

In conclusion: the magpies, while pretty and far superior to pigeons, are making noises that kind of freak me out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Deceleration

It feels like things are starting to calm down a bit, but that may only be because of my feeling more settled here. I know my way around campus quite a bit more; it's not that difficult since I only have to deal with a few of the many buildings, at least so far. Also, last night was a complete bust as no one would call or text me back about anything (though in one person's case it was at least because her phone wouldn't make outgoing calls), so I spent the evening online looking at the UCD Mountaineering Club's website and various climbing gear and talking to Jon (mostly about climbing). Also, I had tea and toast while listening to Bach and felt very civilized.

Today was the larger international student orientation (the one I went to on Wednesday was only the JYA {Junior Year Abroad} orientation for American students). It was stunningly boring until I realized that I'd slipped my Terry Pratchett book that I'd bought in the airport into my bag. Also, I got a free scarf in the UCD colours (and lifted 2 others for souvenirs - who wants one? - from empty chairs) and tea and sandwiches afterwards. Before that, though, I'd sat through a not-quite-as-boring IT induction thing, for which I got a 1 GB memory stick. I also filled out a form to get a letter from the university that I can take to the Garda National Immigration Bureau so I don't get kicked out of the country (I have until October). Oh, and I found out where the laundry facilities are, so hopefully I can have my duvet cover and extra pillowcase washed by the time I go to bed tonight.
Now I have to go find a place to buy toiletries, which I've been putting off for far to long, because I don't want to completely use up my little travel-size things.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

On Being Oriented, etc.

The rest of the house is full now, and they're all American students. I've gotten so frustrated that I've used up all my frustrated and am now at piece with it. Plus, they had a kind of party on the first floor last night that got me a little more relaxed (do not interpret "relaxed" as "drunk" - I'm looking at you, Dad - especially since I don't even think there was any left when I got there). Anyway, yeah, they're all from the same program, Butler, and have been together for the past 5 days before coming here to move in. Whatever.

Today was the beginning of UCD orientation, at least for me, and I got lots of nifty things like my student ID card, student handbooks, free juice, and the knowledge that registering for classes is going to be insanely and unnecessarily difficult. I have a list of classes I want to take; whether or not I'll actually get to take them? Well, we'll see. Also, I'm registered with the U.S. Embassy here until December, so that's good.

I also hit up some of those charity shops I mentioned earlier this afternoon. North of the Liffey is definitely the place to go for cheap and quirky shopping (which makes sense, since that's the more working-class part of Dublin). There were four charity shops (possibly more that I didn't see) in two blocks on Capel St., just above the river. Between them I got a duvet cover, another pillow case, two sheets to cover the couches with (they are unpleasantly stained), flatwear, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 3 teacups & saucers, and a small ceramic kitten with a chipped ear for Luke, who is mad at me for leaving him behind after I told him I'd go with him (I was worried about them closing and me not having anything to eat with/off of for yet another day). We also picked up some hand towels and bath mats at a bargain department store. All in all, I'd say it was quite productive. There's still some things I'd like to pick up somewhere (like something for my stark and barren walls), but I at least feel pleasantly established here.

Now I'm off to the student bar for a céilí ("traditional Irish music and dance") and then...Adventures!