Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bittersweet Endings

Friday night was a blast! We started the party early in apartment number four where the LA boys made everybody a buffet style dinner with the massive amount of food they still had left over. We had two different types of pasta, potato casserole, and some potato pesto chip things. It was all super tasty. Then we went out for our last night in the Irish pubs! We went to An Brog for awhile, and then headed over to our old friend The Bailey, where we danced the night away. It was a great night, but it was also really sad to say goodbye.

Me, Aaron, Liz, Dan, Kelsie, and Kaitlynn's tongue at The Bailey

Saturday morning I woke up at ten and started getting stuff packed up. We said goodbye to Ashley, Stephen, Jason, and Aaron at about noon and laughed as they tried to fit all their luggage into one little taxi (did I mention that Ashley did a lot of shopping? It looked like a clown car, but they got it done!) Then the few of us that remained walked down to City Centre for some lunch. We stopped at Wholy Wheat and had some fantastic sandwiches. Then, guess who we ran into! Only our favorite seminar teacher, the one and only Robert! He seemed surprised to see us, but that could have been because all the sudden there were 8 kids yelling his name in a restaurant. He handled it well though, and we said our last goodbyes. Back to Brookfield for more packing, gross. We said goodbye to Kylee and Diane that afternoon, two more gone. Then I had my first experience with kebabs (pronounced ki-baaabs...by myself :D) at a place called Istanbul. Apparently I was way behind, as everybody else had already eaten there at LEAST four times. I ended the night with more packing. Everybody else went out one last time, but I opted to get stuff done and stay home. I know I’m lame. So I had to say good bye to Travis and Josh before they left. This day is getting more and more depressing.

Me, Nicole, Scott, and Ali waiting for the Taxi at 4 in the AM

Sunday morning started WAY too early at 4 AM. I had to get Scott to take my suitcase down all the stairs to my apartment, cause there was no way I was lugging it down myself. Scott, Kaitlynn, Ali, and I said goodbye to Nicole before getting into our plenty big enough taxi-van and heading to the airport. We had a little difficulty getting through security; apparently Cork airport has super scanners that could detect the supposedly undetectable titanium pole in Kaitlynn’s back. What’s up, Cork? Oh well, they let her through. We ran into Diana waiting for her plane to Edinborough , Scotland and had some breakfast with her. Our plane left a little bit late due to something leaking (so reassuring), so we had to practically jog to our flight in London. Good thing our gate was the farthest one away! Have no fear, our flight for London was running late too, so we’re good.

The flight was also PACKED. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house, which sucked because it meant I couldn’t move my seat to sit by Kaitlynn, Ali, and Scott. I spent my flight being entertained by Tony Stark and some inane Nicholas Sparks movie between catching some brief z’s. At least I had a window seat. Overall the flight wasn’t too bad. But then we got into Chicago about an hour late, giving me an hour and half to get through customs and sprint across O’hare to my gate. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my flight buddies (*sad face* miss you guys though!), but I MADE that flight. I’ve rarely been so proud of myself. The plane boards late and then sits on the tarmac for a half an hour due to MORE issues. I keep repeating my mantra: almost home almost home almost home. I sat by a guy on the flight who was determined to make friends with me when all I wanted to do was stick in my head phones and block out the world for awhile. He was nice enough I suppose, not his fault I had a long day.

But then I was finally back in Des Moines, where it is HOT and HUMID (go figure, it’s August), but it’s nice to see my mom and dad. Got home and took a shower before dinner, which was everything Iowan summer cuisine should be: brats, potatoes, pasta salad, and delicious Iowan sweet corn. I can now die happy. Jeff was there for dinner and stayed for a while afterwards. Too bad I was too jetlagged to stay up past nine (we did the calculations, I had been awake since 10 PM CST the night before...gross), sorry hun. I woke up after a solid 12 hours of sleep and felt fantastic. Take that jet lag! Then I finally got that burrito I’d been craving for 3 solid weeks (Thank you, Pancheros!!) and went to see Despicable Me with Kyle. We stopped by to see Andrew and then I went to a work party with Jeff. All in all it was a great first day back.

So here are some random/strange things I’ve decided I missed about home:

- Being able to wear shorts and a tank top and be comfortable. Hooray warm weather!

- Cicadas. Gross little buggers, but the noise reminds me of home.

- Driving. I missed my car!!! And singing at the top of my lungs while in it. :D

- Thunderstorms. This may seem odd from someone coming from one of the wettest countries EVER, but it just didn’t storm in Ireland. I loves me some thunder and lightning.

- Decent water pressure and hot showers.

- Reliable internet.

- Not having to use a converter when I plug things in.

Finally, I guess I just want to say that I had the time of my life while I was gone, and a lot of that has to do with the awesome people I was in the program with. You guys pretty much rocked my world and I’m already missing you. Kelsie, Liz, and Diana, we’re gonna have to hang out ASAP. Everybody else, when’s the reunion? I’m there.


Friday, July 30, 2010

MMM... Irish Whiskey > Essays :D

I am THIS CLOSE to being finished with summer school. I am done with my essay test and I am done with my third essay and I feel pretty great about both of them! All that I have left to do is write my last 1500 word essay on Yeats by August 13th and I’m golden! Hooray!

This last week has been pretty awesome, although it has been hard to concentrate on school work, knowing that I only have a little bit of time left in Ireland. Monday was pretty mellow. I decided not to go to Blarney Stone again with Kelsie, Liz, and the LA boys (Stephen, Aaron, and Jason…this is what I am calling them now so I don’t have to always type their names out haha) in favor of getting my essay started. Tuesday was a lot of fun though. Liz, Diana, the LA boys, and I went to Midleton, which is about 20 min away by train ride, to go tour the Jameson Distillery. We got to see the drying and distilling processes, which was way cool, and we also got a complimentary drink at the bar afterwards. Jay and Stephen were chosen to become official whiskey tasters. They were given little shots of Jameson (Irish), Johnny Walker (Scottish), and Jack Daniels (American) whiskey. They both said that they liked the Jameson the best, although I think that might have been because it was first haha! They were even given little certificates that said they were certified whiskey tasters!

Stephen and Jason with their certificates

Once we let Liz go a little crazy in the gift store, we headed back to the train station. Stephen was hungry, so he read the sign of Every. Single. Restaurant. Between the distillery and the train station. We got him a snack and went to find someplace to eat as soon as we got back to Cork. After ditching one restaurant before we even ordered (it was WAY too expensive...oops. I told the hostess that we were meeting people somewhere else. Haha) we found a nice Chinese place on St. Patrick St. After that the boys went to An Brog for another night of bingo and Liz, Diana, and I headed back home to be responsible students and get our essays finished (riiiiiggghhhttt.... haha).

Diana, Kelsie, Me, Kaitlynn, and Liz at Gougane Barra

Wednesday I got most of my essay ACTUALLY finished in the breaks between classes and got in a nap after class. We all headed out on our third, and final, class field trip at four. We went to a place called Gougane Barra (Gugán Barra in Irish), which is where St. Finbarr’s Oratory is located. The ride down was a little bit rough, even for someone like me who doesn’t get motion sickness very easily, but the view once we got there was SO worth it! The evening was gorgeous and sunny. There’s a big lake surrounded by sheer, green cliffs that were (literally) crawling with sheep and a really pretty old forest. I’ve posted some pictures, but they don’t really do it justice.

We had dinner at a nearby hotel (it was tasty! I had prawn salad, chicken and potatoes, and apple crumble...mmmm...) before we went to a performance at Theatre on the Lake. The show was called O’Sullivan Beara, the Last Gaelic Chieftain which was performed and written by a very talented man named Aidan Dooley. The play was about the leader of one of the last bands of rebellion against British rule and their struggle to travel from Cork to Northern Ireland to join friendly forces. It was very engaging and interesting. I was also interviewed along with some other students for the second half of the Irish Summer Studies video, so keep an eye out for that! I’m going to be famous! :D Then, on the way home, I was treated to the DJ-ing skills of Stephen Walden, who picked the songs I got to listen too. haha

Yesterday was also pretty relaxing. It was the last day of classes, so our teachers took pity on us and didn’t make us think too hard. I spent most of my day putting the final touches on my essay and studying for the test I had this morning. I did go out and have dinner at the Gusto Cafe with Kelsie, Liz, and Kaitlynn, which was as delicious as it was the first time. I got to skype with my parents and Jeff, which was super nice as I hadn’t talked to them for awhile. Today we have a closing lunch-thing for the program, which I’m sure will be sorta sad, and then I think everybody’s planning on going out for one last hurrah before people leave tomorrow. I think my day tomorrow’s going to be spent packing and doing some last little things I haven’t gotten the chance to do yet (like drinking an Irish/Bailey’s hot chocolate). Then on Sunday I’m headed back across the pond. I can’t wait to see you guys at home!!!


P.S. Some more Gougane Barra pictures!

Me, Liam (seminar teacher), and Kelsie

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bus rides, Gay Bars, Crappy Irish Weather, and Birthdays

Earlier this week I decided rather suddenly to go to Galway with some of the girls in the summer school with me. I knew that they had been planning to go there (something about seeing Josh Ritter in concert at the Galway Arts Festival…I don’t know who he is, so it meant little to me) but I wasn’t really sure what I was doing until about Wednesday when I realized that I had no plans for my last weekend in Ireland and didn’t want to be lame and sit around Cork. Granted being lame in Cork is still better than being lame at home. So on Wednesday Diana and I booked our bus tickets and a hostel. Of course, we planned all of this separately from Kelsie, Liz, and Josh so we none of us were leaving at the same time or staying in the same place. That would have made way too much sense.

So Friday after seminar (which Liz and Kelsie did not attend…tsk tsk) I went back to the apartment and packed my backpack with a change of clothes and my toiletries before showering (I didn’t want to risk the hostel showers). Diana and I ended up leaving at the same time as Josh, Aaron, Stephen, and Jason so we all split a cab to the bus station. The bus ride was a pretty good time. Diana got a little loopy on her motion sickness medication and started talking about bringing cows onto the bus and the proper way to catch Canadian geese and Josh and I had an iPod party. Between the five of us we managed to induce Diana’s endlessly amusing fits of uncontrollable laughter at least four times on the bus ride. There was one slight bump in our travel plans. The bus stopped at Limerick and we were under the impression that we had like a half an hour before it left again (thanks Stephen) so we got off and found a fish and chips place to grab a snack, only to watch our bus drive away without us. There was another bus in an hour, thankfully, so no harm was done. We just spent four hours getting to Galway rather than three.

Aaron and Stephen on the bus

Once we finally got to Galway, Diana and I had to find our hostel and sign in. Luckily the Galway City Hostel that we booked was literally right across the street from the bus station. Hooray planning! I’ve never experienced a hostel and therefore have nothing to compare this one to, but it seemed pretty nice. Everything was clean and my roommates seemed cool (although the rooms were co-ed which I wasn’t expecting). I was in a room that consisted of four bunk beds that were jam packed with people’s belongings and a little square of floor in the middle. I’m happy to report that I got the top bunk! Diana’s room was a little less packed (only two bunk beds) and was right next door. There was a shower facility that was pretty clean and a nice, but small kitchen with an eating area and free wi-fi.

Walking in Galway City

Once Diana, Josh, and I had our sleeping arrangements made we all met up with Kelsie and Liz, who didn’t end up going to that concert, at a fountain in Eyre Square, which was, once again, conveniently located right across from my hostel. We wandered around downtown Galway City for awhile. I’ve come to the realization that my favorite way to experience a new city is to see it at night, preferably on a weekend. There’s something about it that makes it seem more exciting to me than just seeing plain buildings and shops in all their functionality during the day time. We did decide that Galway was the busiest city any of us have been to in Ireland so far. It could have been the fact that it was a Friday night or because of the arts festival, but the streets were packed and the pubs even more so.

Diana and I in Galway City

Anyway, eventually we met up with the other boys (Stephen, Jay, and Aaron…just in case you forgot) and started hitting up the pubs. The first bar that had a two cocktail for €5 deal, so all the girls (and Josh) took advantage of that. I have now had a White Russian, Sex on the Beach (the drink friends, geez), and a Blue Tycoon, which was my favorite. There were a lot of people trying to get people to go into their bars, claiming if you went with them you would get a free shot. We didn’t have much of an idea of where to go, so we went with a couple of them. One of them, Club K, was most likely a gay bar, but we got a drink and had a shot anyway. Highlight of the evening was when Jay, Stephen, and Aaron shook their groove thangs on the dance floor, much to the delight of all the men already occupying it, and causing the rest of the group to collapse in fits of giggles (keep in mind that this is still very early in the evening).

We continued wandering around and made several new friends along the way. The boys met a group of older ladies who were all dressed as sailors and who promptly rebuffed them. Their fragile ego was soothed by gaining several kisses from the bridesmaids that were out for their friend’s hen party. Josh met a girl who knew what the X-files were and decided that it must be fate. Unfortunately she wouldn’t hang out with us. We went into one bar that was so ridiculously full of people that it was impossible to breath, let alone move. We didn’t stay in there long.

The next morning Kelsie, Liz, Josh, Diana, and I woke up early, tried not to wake up the other people in our rooms, and grabbed an 8:40 bus to the Cliffs of Moher. After a two hour bus ride we arrived to find…nothing. There was so much fog that you couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you, let alone see the cliffs. We were really disappointed, but we wandered around anyway and the fog lifted just enough for us to get a glimpse of how cool the cliffs would be if we could actually see them. I bought a post card just so I could show people what I was supposed to be able to see. Regardless of the bad weather we did manage to have a good time.

I'm trying to save Diana from falling off the cliff, but Liz held me back!

We spent another hour or two in Galway that afternoon. Just long enough to get lunch and buy Kelsie a new suitcase before we grabbed the bus back to Cork. We decided not to tempt fate and just stayed on the bus the whole ride back, so we didn’t end up missing another bus. It was past 8 when we finally made it back to Cork and Diana and I had had enough of sitting, so we passed on the cab and hoofed it back to Brookfield (about a 20 min walk), talking about very deep and philosophical things the whole way (no really!). I chilled at home that night, just relaxing, and went to bed early. I ended up getting about 10 hours of sleep…it was fantastic!

Yesterday was Ashley’s first anniversary of her 21st birthday, so we had a whole day of celebrating for her, starting with lunch out at an adorable little Italian restaurant tucked into an alley called Scoozi. All our food was delicious, and we ate til we were bursting. Then we went shopping and we all bought some really cute clothes (I bought a whole new outfit! It’s really cute, everybody said so lol). Then we made a run to Tesco’s to get groceries for the last week and relaxed until it was time to go out. We ended up going straight to the Bailey and staying there the whole night. There was live music, but the band played mostly blue-grass folksy music so there wasn’t a ton of dancing, which was too bad, but we still had a lot of fun. Aaron somehow managed to avoid all my efforts to buy him a beer in thanks for being such a good guy earlier in the week, but I will prevail, mark my words!

At the Bailey! Left to right: Diana, Kaitlynn, Aaron, Liz, and Me!

Today has been pretty good. I’m a little sleep deprived, but otherwise fine. We started Yeats today and I’m way out of my element. I just don’t really get poetry. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll catch on…hopefully? I have to start writing my first literature essay on Joyce tonight. It doesn’t have to be as long as the history essays were, but I feel less confident about my grasp on the material, so I think it’s still going to be tough. I also have an essay test on Friday that I have to study for. We have a field trip on Wednesday that I’ll have to tell you about in my next post. It’s really hard to believe that I have less than a week left. I think I’m really going to miss the people I’ve met here. Anyways, I’m off to seminar!


Friday, July 23, 2010

"Real adventures do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad." - James Joyce, Dubliners

Hi friends!

It seems like it’s been awhile since I posted last so I thought I’d do a quick update before my very exciting weekend! This week has been pretty intense. I’ve been enjoying reading Joyce a lot more than I expected too. It’s amazing to see the levels of meaning and metaphor he put into his writing. Ulysses is a tough read, although it is interesting, but Dubliners is much smoother and, in my opinion, more approachable (it’s MUCH shorter than Ulysses). If anyone reading this is interested in Joyce or Dublin in the early 20th century, I’d recommend picking Dubliners up.

The tough part of this week has been juggling an essay with all the reading they want us to do for class. I’ve just finished my essay (2000 words on the biological and anthropological sources of the Potato Famine! Whoooo!) and it took a lot more research than the last one because I sort of made my own topic. I think Robert will enjoy reading something a little bit different though, I know I would. This essay should NOT have any problems passing bibliographical critiques either! Hooray! Hopefully that means an A for Amelia...:D

It hasn’t been all drudgery and work though! Have no fear! I went to a new restaurant (for me) called Zak’s with Kelsie, Liz, and Diana Tuesday afternoon. It was quite delicious! There was a worm in Kelsie’s salad. Gross!!! It was quickly remedied, though, so no harm done. Later that night I went to a pub called An Brog (meaning The Shoe, I think haha) and played some games of Bingo. I didn’t win, but my group won €60 total! So that was exciting.

Wednesday was all laundry, reading, and writing. Nothing fun there. I had most of my essay done yesterday though, so I decided to go out with some people to City Centre. We went to several pubs, listened to some live traditional Irish music, and learned how to Riverdance! I did manage to forget my room key in someone else’s apartment, which is brilliant, even by my standards. Aaron, one of my neighbours who had walked home with me, was kind enough to offer me his bed and sleep on the couch. What a nice guy! Thanks Aaron!!! It ended up being a really good night, but I’m very tired today.

Later this afternoon I’m headed to Galway with Liz, Kelsie, Diana, and Josh. A lot of people are headed up there this weekend though, so who knows who I’ll see. Kelsie and Liz are going to a concert there tonight so Diana, Josh, and I are just going to explore a little bit. Saturday morning we’re planning on heading to the Cliffs of Moher bright and early and then we plan on spending the afternoon in Galway City before heading back to Cork that night. It’ll be my first stay in a hostel though, so wish me luck!

I’m sure I’ll have tons of awesome pictures and stories from Galway to tell you about when I get back so stay tuned!


Monday, July 19, 2010

"Ulysses scares the living life out of people" and Other Things to Look Forward To

As of today I have less than two weeks until I’m on my flight home. That means I’m halfway through my program, but it somehow also means that I have three essays and an essay test still left to do. I think I’m getting the hang of it though. I got my last essay turned in Friday morning after I finished my history essay test (subjects were Patrick and Gerald of Wales/Norman invasion, if you were curious.) and I felt pretty good about both of them. I get to find out how I did on the first essay on Wednesday, so we’ll see how it went! I hope to do the essay that’s due this Friday on the potato famine, but we haven’t been given our prompts yet.

We started the literature portion of the course today. I think I’ll find it interesting, and hopefully not too overwhelming. Classes about literature always make me feel sort of guilty and out of the loop though. Most of you are well acquainted with how much I enjoy reading, but I have a hard time reading what is considered literature. I find them to either be difficult to read (such as Jane Austin or Charlotte Bronte) or simply boring. I usually like to read things that are different than real life because, if I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be reading. This isn’t to say that I just read fluff books, however. I enjoy books that are challenging, they just don’t usually happen to be considered literature.

Anyway, this weekend was busy and lots of fun, although we did have a break from essay writing, which was nice. We got done with our tests at about 10:30 AM Friday morning, so a bunch of girls and I decided to spend our extra free time shopping in City Centre. I managed to find a really cute shiny shirt at a little store off of Oliver Plunkett St. (It’s a good “going-out” shirt Mom and Carla!) Later that evening all of us got a little dressed up and went out to blow off some steam! We ended up going to The Washington Inn, our meeting pub of choice, and then heading over to the Bailey right next door. The original plan was to do Karaoke, but it sounded expensive and it was too cold outside for the walk, so that plan kinda fell through. There was some live music at the Bailey that was very good though! The guy played tons of classic American music (like Brown Eyed Girl, Hotel California, American Pie, etc.) and after he was finished there was dancing.
Athassel Priory

We had a field trip at 1:30 on Saturday, which meant I got to sleep in a little. We were heading to Cashel in the northern parts of County Cork which should have been about an hour’s drive, but we were delayed due to some motion sickness (mixed with morning after pub sickness) and a lost bus driver. We did manage to make it to our first stop, Athassel Priory, in fairly good time though. The priory was built in the middle of a bog as a defense system, but luckily it hadn’t rained at all that day, and it was fairly sunny, so the ground was firm. The surrounding area, however, was used as a cow pasture, meaning that there were rather large cow pies everywhere you stepped. You win some you lose some, I suppose. The ruins themselves were beautiful and we were allowed to wander them freely. We weren’t allowed to stay long though because the land is apparently private property, which would explain both the fences we had to climb over to reach it, and we didn’t want to get caught.

Students and Robert (in the brown leather jacket) at the Priory

After we made it out of Athassel without upsetting the cows or their owners we headed to the Rock of Cashel. As our tour guide pointed out, it is important to note that there is no actual rock there. In fact the cathedral (for it has not been a castle for a few hundred years) is built on a large, sod covered, limestone rock that rises about 200 feet above the town. The views of the surrounding Irish countryside were amazing, although the wind was vicious given the height. The architecture there was beautiful, and we even had the chance to look at some frescos that they are recovering.

Grave at the Rock of Cashel - One of the girls on the trip knows the family

After a nice dinner of steak at a nearby hotel we headed back for Brookfield. We were lucky in the fact that it waited until JUST as we got on the bus for the rain to start. That night was pretty mellow. I spent some quality time with two of my roommates in our common room getting to know each other and then a large group of us crammed into our neighbor’s common room to watch The Hangover.

Trying to keep warm! I've got the best spot : D

I got to sleep in again on Sunday morning, which was fantastic. We had planned to take a trip to the Fota Wildlife Park, but it rained all afternoon, so we decided to go to the cinema instead. We saw Inception, which was an excellent movie, if a bit mindblowing, and marveled at the public displays of affection people engaged in before the movie started.  People here are much less concerned about kissing in public!  Once I got home I was super bummed to find out that the internet was down EVERYWHERE! So I wasn’t able to talk to my parents or Jeff *sad face*. I’m starting to really miss home, but I’m also starting to get comfortable here, so I’m not really sure where I stand on the whole two weeks of class left thing.

Anyway, that’s all that I have to update you on. I have an essay to write this week (maybe two if I’m super ambitious) and then I think this weekend a couple of us are planning on going to Galway. I’ll let you know!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blarney, Cobh, and Kinsale

Hey guys. I just wanted to start this next note off with a few service announcements. One is that it’s my mom’s birthday today! Everyone say “Happy Birthday, Lori!” I’d tell you how old she is, but I’m told that it’s impolite to do so. The second order of business is to let any interested parties know that I have posted some pictures up on Facebook. I’ve only posted the pictures with people in them for the most part, so I’m sorry if you’re excited to see scenery. The internet here is just too touch and go to post all the pictures I’ve taken, but I promise that they’re worth the wait! Lastly, I love that people are reading this blog and are posting comments! They’re fantastic! I would ask, however, that if you do write a comment and don’t have a Google account, with an obvious user name, that you sign the comments with your name. Otherwise I have no way to tell who is saying what. Thanks! Anyway, moving on to other news...

I think I left off my last blog about a week ago on my birthday, so I have a lot to catch up on. I spent the afternoon after my birthday at Blarney Castle with Mom and Carla. It was a pretty dreary day. It drizzled in between pouring, which made the ruins of the castle rather precarious. For those of you who have not been to Blarney, you may not realize that the Blarney Stone, said to give those that kiss it the “gift of gab” (and yes, I did kiss it), is at the very top of the tower. This meant that, in order to reach it, we had to climb up a very tall and very narrow, winding staircase, a situation made even worse by the well-worn steps. Poor Carla almost had a heart attack, but we made it all the way up and back down in one piece, so all’s well that ends well.

Kissing the Stone!

I actually enjoyed the grounds around the castle more than the castle itself. There was a really interesting garden in which only poisonous plants were planted (I wanted to stay and read all the informational signs about each plant, but Mom and Carla weren’t as interested). There was also a place called Rock Close that had a lot of interesting rock formations, including a druid circle and a ruined stone dwelling with a chimney. Legend has it that there’s a witch that lives there and grants wishes. We headed home thoroughly soaked and spent the evening in the hotel so that Mom and Carla could pack. They got on their plane very early Friday and made it home safe and sound, if a bit jet lagged.

Old grave site at Rock Close. The sign said the rock would sometimes shift, but I couldn't get it to budge.

I had my first class field trip Friday afternoon. We all loaded on a bus and headed out to see a Norman castle called Barryscourt. This castle had been renovated and decorated to show what it might have looked like when it was in use (for those of you Iowans reading this, think Living History Farms style). It was a great tour and it provided an interesting contrast to the ruins at Blarney. We made a quick stop at the Fota Mansion, an old landlord’s house, before heading on to Cobh (pronounced “Cove”). This town was the Titanic’s last port of call before heading out into the Atlantic and the place from which many immigrants to North America left Ireland fleeing the great potato famine of the 1840’s. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to see the heritage center, but we did get to see the harbor and take a picture with the statue of Annie Moore and her brothers, the first people to enter the United States through the Ellis Island Immigration Center (where I’m told there’s a matching statue). We also got to do a quick tour of St. Coleman’s Cathedral and see the memorial for the sinking of the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the First World War and sank in 18 min, killing almost 1200 people.

Feasting at Barryscourt Castle

The next day I woke up early to meet up with two girls I’ve become pretty good friends with named Kelsie and Liz to catch a bus to Kinsale. After navigating an unfamiliar public transportation system and dealing with cranky bus drivers, we made it to the port town just in time for lunch. We ate at a place called the Fishy Fishy Café, and had some excellent salmon and chips (and I don’t even like fish!). It was cold and pouring (what’s new?), but luckily there was an arts festival going on, so we managed to have a pretty good time inside. We DID get to see an Irish rock band called Mashed Chicken play under a tarp in a square, which was pretty amusing. We did a tour of Desmond Castle, which used to be a French prison and also had a wine museum in it (if you think that’s an odd combo, you’re not alone). Liz, Kelsie, and I headed home, drenched and exhausted. We missed out on doing a walk along the coast to a place called Charles Fort and we didn’t stay for dinner to have some of the famed cuisine, but it was a good day all around. That night a bunch of us went out to the pubs in City Center and met some local color (including a guy on the street who gave us Dominos pizza and an Irish lad who wanted to take me home as his teddy bear- don’t worry, I dodged that one and stayed with my group).

Obnoxious Americans? Nah, we're just having fun : D

The rest of my week has been fairly boring. A bunch of us did get together to watch the world cup final!  Go Spain! : D I’ve been putting a lot of time into my essay, which is THIS close to being done! Yay! The lectures this week have moved on to 19th and 20th century Ireland covering the famine and the war of independence, and they have been unbelievably dry, which is too bad given the potential of the subjects. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m very much an ancient history kind of girl. The seminars, taught by a man named Robert, are the only thing keeping me interested. He’s very knowledgeable and he manages to condense the information from the lectures and make it interesting. Fun fact: He’s also an Iowan! Apparently he got his undergrad degree from Iowa State. The seminars have actually given me a lot to think about and I might do a blog about my ponderings eventually, if I’m not sick to death of writing by then. Right now, however, it’s time for me to wrap this up so I can finish my essay and start studying for my test on Friday. Thanks to Rachel for editing it for me! Also, tomorrow is St. Swithun’s Day and, apparently, if it rains tomorrow then it’ll rain for the next forty days straight. Cross your fingers for me!


The 31st International Studies in Irish History group picture. Can you find me?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Blame the Romans

Hey guys!

I know it has been a while since my last blog, but I hate to tell you that you're going to have to wait another day or two to get an update on what I've been doing recently.  This week is sorta crazy as far as the study portion of study abroad goes.  I have one 2500 word essay about how the Romans viewed Ireland in the early medieval times, and an essay test to study for on Friday.  I'm hoping to get a short post up tomorrow or Wednesday, but rest assured you haven't been missing anything too exciting.

I miss you all! And thanks for sticking with me!  I'm so happy that there are people reading this.