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!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shopping Mania

So I've come to embrace my American friends, and not just because they're pretty much the only people I know here so far. They are, by and large, fun people to hang out with. We bonded last night over Molly's 21st birthday celebrations. Present were Molly (naturally), Tommy, Glennis, Luke, Ben, and Kevin (the token Irishman), with the Brendans (two Temple students) joining us for the trek into town. It started with a few rounds of Asshole in Luke & Ben's suite, in which I lost terribly. Then we moved down to Temple Bar, where I had my first Irish pint of Guinness, and man, was it a treat. The pub was mediocre, primarily due to their horrible music selection (Whitesnake was playing when we went in) and generally unremarkable atmosphere. I don't even remember what it was called. It did, however, feature an impressive collection of graffiti on most of the walls of the ladies' room. Overall, it was an enjoyable night with entertaining company.

On the other hand, Maggie, one of my suite mates...oh man, she's a real trip. Her nasal voice only accents her whiny, blunt, and generally pessimistic attitude towards the simplest things. Luckily, I don't live in the same room as her, and will likely be able to avoid spending copious amounts of time with her. (Coincidentally, Jon, she's from South Pasadena and knows several CalTech kids.) The other girl, Amanda, is from Sydney, Australia, and is quite nice and more down-to-earth than Maggie. But suitemates aside (since who could ever top the former Room 212?), these accommodations are far more pleasant than la Casa. I only wish there were more hooks places, and more drawers.

Anyway, so this morning I woke up at the crack of noon to start the long, arduous process of outfitting the new digs. The interstudy crowd + Ben went into town to pick up various things at a department store; I ended up only getting a power strip, as I'm hoping to get everything I need at a thrift store charity shop. The grocery trip afterwards was far more productive and significantly more painful, as the nearest supermarket is a mile away and not on a convenient bus route. My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts - all from walking laden with my bookbag, satchel, and tote full of over 80 euro of necessities. And I'm already making a list of things I forgot and plan to get tomorrow (for instance, toiletries: I'm still working with travel size). Next time, I won't need so much, and I'll have a bike, thank god (or if it really comes to that, I'll call a taxi). That was an extremely unpleasant experience. But, I have food now! And cookware! Yay! It's certainly a big step towards feeling at home here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Addendum

Okay, so I'm overreacting a bit to the Americans. It's not like they're not nice or anything, they're just not what I came here for. But hey, we just got here, and it's nice not to be totally alone. Things will pick up. I met a couple Temple students who seem quite nice, the other interstudy kid, Luke, who's fun in a group setting but a little too intent on American-style heavy drinking, his roommate, and an Irishman from Donegal whose name I didn't catch but who seems very entertained by the Americans. Also, I've gotten in touch with the kid from CTYI who goes here, Raphael [EDIT: real name = Angus], and will hopefully be meeting with him tomorrow or something. So it's all good, really.

Arrival

Well, I've finally made it to the Emerald Isle, relatively intact and with all my luggage. The flight over was pretty easy. Three seats in coach are, at least in terms of space, superior to one seat in first class. I watched a movie called Starter for Ten, starring James McAvoy, which I quite liked, and then lied down for a few hours, minimally delaying the inevitable jet lag which was to plague me for the rest of my day. I was the first to meet Coleman at the airport; two other girls, Glennis and Molly (whose birthday is today), came after, and we all went on a coach to the hotel where we'd be spending our first night while Coleman waited for Tommy's flight to get in. The hotel (the Montrose) is right across from UCD, and pretty nice. After we'd dropped off our luggage, Coleman dragged us around campus and then around the city in an effort to show us around and keep us awake long enough for us to work some of our jet lag. After we got back to the hotel, we tried to stay up for a few more hours so as to adjust more quickly; I ended up crashing at around 5:30 and sleeping for 12 hours.

We moved in today at around noon; dragging the suitcases up from the hotel and then up to the third floor was quite the workout. Turns out that, of my three suitemates, at least 2 are Americans (the 3rd is currently unknown, though certainly moved in), one of whom is with interstudy. And the other two interstudy folk we've been with are hanging around a lot; we're all going out tonight for Molly's birthday. I am really pissed off; I'm here to get away from America, not to be still surrounded by it. I was told that being here for a full year would more than likely put me in with a bunch of Irish kids, and instead I find myself still surrounded by Americans. Seriously. Crap. This isn't okay. But I've contacted a kid from CTYI who hopefully will at least in part rescue me from this horrible situation. Also, the Fringe Fest.

I think for now I'm going to go nap and then unpack more. Further updates will be forthcoming.