it’s not goodbye, just see you later

Well, tonight is the night, my very last night in Ireland. I could not be more upset. I thought for sure when I started this program that I would be more than ready to come home after six weeks and I’m utterly surprised to realize that I am not even the slightest bit ready. When you live somewhere for six weeks, it starts to feel like home and I’m not quite ready to leave home yet, or my new family for that matter.

This week hasn’t been very eventful. We have mostly been finishing up school and doing our last minute gift shopping and celebrating our last nights out with our new friends. Tuesday, after Maggie was safely on her plane back to Italy, I had class and then we geared up for our last two euro Tuesday at Dicey’s Beer Garden, quite obviously one of our favorite pubs to frequent. Looking at pictures from our first night at Dicey’s to our last definitely demonstrates how much better we all have gotten to know each other and how much closer we have become.

Wednesday was our study day. Being that we had spent a lot of time exploring Ireland and not a lot of time preparing for our final exams, everyone took full advantage of this day. I only left my books for some final souvenir shopping. The rest of the day was more or less torture. Thursday was exam day. The tests weren’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t any fun. Before our exams, though, our program director Margaret said, and I quote, “Remember we are meeting at reception at five o’clock. We are going to a restaurant near by where we will have dinner after we get a little drunk and disorderly, okay?” And she wasn’t kidding. You think they would know better than this by now, but Arcadia treated us all to a free cocktail hour and a lovely dinner with bottomless wine. Needless to say, we were all a little “drunk and disorderly” when we left dinner. Being that it was the last night we could really celebrate together, we all headed to Flannery’s Pub for the remainder of the night and it was a blast.

Today has been a lot of packing, shopping, and cleaning. We’re getting all of our odds and ends put back together before our early flights home or elsewhere tomorrow. Thinking back on my time here in Ireland, I would not have traded it for the world. Ireland is a beautiful country, the people are the nicest people I have ever met, and I am actually picking up some Irish sayings. I have met some fantastic people and made some good, potentially great, friends. Fortunately most of them are within reach when I get home. Thinking about leaving this country tomorrow makes me want to cry. As happy as I am to come home and see the people and places I know and love, I know I will never experience anything like this again, and I will definitely never experience Ireland like this again. I am definitely leaving a little piece of my heart behind when I step on that plane tomorrow, but i know that it’s not goodbye, just see you later.

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marge in charge

I prefaced my last post by saying how I have failed to keep up on my blogging and here I am again, apologizing for the lack of posts in the last week or so. As I mentioned in the last post, my friend Maggie came over from Italy, followed by my mom coming in two days later and the three of us have been going nonstop. So, again, my apologies for my horrible blogging skills, and now on to the good stuff.

Monday of last week was an ordinary day. I was impatiently awaiting Maggie’s arrival all day when at about 9 o’clock I received a message from her letting me know that she would be spending the night on the airport floor thanks to a shotty public transportation system in Italy and one very rude airport employee. Obviously I was crushed and felt horrible that Maggie was stuck on the floor in Rome, but it actually worked out better that she didn’t get in until Tuesday afternoon. I was able to finish my final papers for class so that they were not looming overhead while I was entertaining guests.

Tuesday night consisted of a quick dropping off of bags, two euro Tuesday at Dicey’s Beer Garden, and a group of Norwegian boys who insisted on entertaining a group of American ladies at the pub, Maggie’s warm welcome to the land of the leprechaun. With Maggie only being in Dublin for a short time, we wasted no time getting right to our Irish adventures on Wednesday morning. Much to my dismay (not), I was “forced” to skip class to take Maggie out to Bray, a beach town on the coast of Ireland. There isn’t much to the town except for a rocky beach and Bray’s Head, a mountain, by Irish standards, that has a number of paths for walking and climbing. Being determined to reach the top of Bray’s Head, we wasted no time getting to the mountain and setting off on the nearest path we could find. After a significant amount of time spent walking and after realizing that we were not actually getting any higher up the mountain, we decided that perhaps looking at the map that we so confidently surpassed may have been a wise choice in hindsight. We found the right path and after many stops and quite a bit of huffing and puffing and realizing just how out of shape we were, we made it to the top and it was most definitely worth the climb! The view was absolutely amazing. We spent the rest of our time in Bray goofing off and riding ridiculous carnival rides, one of which held us upside down very high in the air for a solid 30 seconds. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we made it back, and I was sufficiently sunburnt (Yeah, I know, sunburnt in Ireland. Who would’ve known?), so we grabbed some dinner at Portobello, a pub/restaurant near my flat. There was a couple people ordering at the same time as us at the bar and they invited us to eat with them, so of course we sat right down. The dinner was highly entertaining, especially at the end of the meal when the gentleman sitting next to me asked if I was going to finish what was left on my plate… When I speak of Maggie’s time in Ireland, I say adventures for a reason.

Thursday I, unfortunately, had to go back to class, but was very happy to be meeting my mom shortly after at the great food market that takes place on the canal every week. I had been so looking forward to seeing her, I could hardly wait for class to be over! We got some great food, found Marge (Please note: I will refer to Maggie in several different ways. She has too many nicknames and I interchange them frequently in my everyday conversation), and I began my Dublin tour guide career. I took my mom and Maggie to Dublin Castle, which was really cool, especially since I have been learning a great deal of the history that revolved around the castle, Christ Church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and out for a drink in Temple Bar, because everyone has to have at least one pint of Guinness in Temple Bar. We finished off our mini Dublin tour with dinner at the Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident in my tour guiding abilities. After dinner, mom headed back to the hotel to settle in and ward off her jet lag while Mags and I suited up for another night out on the town. It was great craic (craic: Irish for fun).

Friday was an early morning to catch a train to Cork for the weekend. I was more than excited for this portion of our trip, mostly because I had spent so much time planning it. Friday we went to a really neat wildlife preserve. The animals are not kept in cages and are, for the most part, able to roam freely throughout the park. Definitely way better than a normal zoo, and I came out of the experience with a picture of me within two feet of a baby kangaroo! Saturday was the busiest day of our time in Cork. Another early morning to hop on a bus to Blarney so we could all kiss the Blarney Stone. Kissing the stone was a total adrenaline rush. Most people don’t realize that it is at the tippy top of the castle and you have to bend backwards over a rather large gap to kiss it properly and redeem the supposed gift of eloquence and persuasion. I don’t know about anyone else, but I surely feel more eloquent after having kissed the stone, and it wasn’t too hard to persuade Maggie to spend an extra night in Ireland, but I’m getting ahead of myself with that adventure… Saturday afternoon, after stopping to make an inevitable shoe purchase (You do not let the Ross women loose in a city with great shoe stores), the three of us were off to Kinsale for a sailing trip in Kinsale harbor. The town of Kinsale is beautiful! Fortunately for us, the guy in charge of our sailing trip mixed up the date and they weren’t able to take us out on the large cruising boat as planned, a smaller one would have to do. Being lovers of the sport, we were not discouraged at all. The guy that took us out was more than pleased to have experienced sailers on board and more or less let us run the show. It made for a great afternoon. Shortly after sailing we headed back for a quiet night in Cork (and one of the best salads I have ever had). Sunday was spent traveling back to Dublin and relaxing after our adventurous weekend.

Our evening of rest was followed by some beer and appetizers at a nice pub called the Barge. After a couple drinks, my mom headed back to the hotel while the rest of my study abroad group met up for a night at Coppers, a night club that everyone says you have to experience once and only once (let the adventures of Lauren and Maggie continue). The club was definitely fun, and decidedly a little too much fun. Maggie was due to leave at four the next morning to catch her early flight back to Rome. Needless to say, being college students, we were strolling back home for the night around 3 AM..Maggie was not going to make it to the airport. It turned out to be alright though, because she didn’t want to leave anyway!

Today we met back up with my mom for Dublin’s hop on hop off bus tour, a great way to see a lot of the city in a small amount of time. We hopped off at Trinity College first and walked around the grounds. I could totally see myself going to school there, it is beautiful. We then had some amazing crepes for lunch and hopped back on the tour bus. A trip to the Guinness storehouse where we learned to pour our perfect pints and a tour through Kilmainham Jail later, we were exhausted. We ended the night at Jo Burger and it was time to say goodbye to my mom. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. I can’t believe I only have five days left in Dublin. I don’t want to leave. I get teary eyed every time I stop to think about it. I did get myself a really nice Irish wool blanket, though. My little piece of Ireland to comfort me for years to come.

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lovely garden

I know I haven’t written in way too long, but I haven’t been feeling well and on top of not feeling well, this was one of our busiest weeks! But now that I have some cold medicine and I’m feeling a little more energized than I was earlier this weekend, I think it’s about time I updated this thing.

This week was the week of excursions! We did all sorts of stuff, really cool stuff, that I’m sure I would have enjoyed more if I wasn’t feeling so sick. Monday we had school as usual, but later Monday evening, IPA treated us to front row seats in the Abbey Theatre to see Translations, a play by Brian Friel that we were reading in class. I really enjoyed the play when we were reading it, so I was thrilled to get to see it live. It was such a great experience, not to mention the fact that we were in the front row in Ireland’s national theatre.

Tuesday was also exciting! We only had a half day of classes in which we learned about James Joyce, probably one of the most world renown Irish writers in history, and then we were whisked off to Sandycove, a cute little beach town on the coast of Ireland. Sandycove is the home to the Joyce Tower, a museum dedicated to Joyce’s life. Joyce tower is not only home to artifacts revolving around James Joyce and his work, but Joyce actually lived in the tower for a week when he was young. The tower also serves as the opening scene for his infamous novel, Ulysses. After visiting the tower, we were free to stay in Sandycove as long as we wanted. A group of us decided to stay for lunch, and it was probably the best decision we have ever made. We got tons of food for only about 7 euro and it was all delicious. There wasn’t a single one of us that didn’t nearly, if not completely, clear our plates. Delicious!After seeing Joyce tower, I realized just how lucky I am to be here and to be in this program. Anyone can learn about Irish history and literature, sure, but I learn about it and then through the design of our program, I go and see and experience the history and the literature I’m learning about. One day we’re reading a play in class and discussing it and the next we are seeing it performed literally two feet in front of us. It’s absolutely incredible and I wish all of my classes could be like this. It definitely helps me to remember the material better, after all.

Wednesday wasn’t much to write home about. Lots of laundry and paper writing. Unfortunate, but it has to happen sometime. Thursday was another excursion day, though. (Like I said, busy week!) We had classes as usual, but later in the day we met up with the Arcadia staff for dinner and Riverdance! Riverdance was one of the things I had most been looking forward to since we arrived in Ireland. I think traditional Irish step dancing is so cool and I wish I was talented enough to do it as well as the pros. The show was definitely worth seeing. The dancing was incredible and it was a great night out! The delicious chocolate brownie at dinner was well worth all of the calories, too. I’m sure it would have been even better had I been feeling 100%, but I still had a lot of fun.

Not much has gone on this weekend. I was hoping to get out and do some exciting things, but unfortunately the last two days have been the worst of whatever I have (I think a sinus infection, or just a nasty, nasty cold). I guess I have to count my blessings, though, and realize that I am in Ireland and be thankful for the days of rest so I can go out with a bang. I did get some very exciting news today, though. One of my best friends and roommate, Maggie, was able to find a flight cheap enough from Italy to come spend some time with me in Dublin! She will be here Monday and I cannot wait!

When I was feeling a little better today, I was able to venture out of the apartment for some fresh air and sunshine and found a lovely, lovely garden hidden right in the middle of the city. It has been here all this time and I walk by it at least once a week and never noticed it. I’m glad I found it though. It was a much needed peaceful break from the city rush today.

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london

So it’s Sunday, and a long weekend and one cheesy I heart London sweatshirt later, I am safe and sound back in my flat in Dublin. Thank goodness. We left for London in the middle of class on Thursday, which was totally okay by me because we had an acting workshop on Thursday and the instructor was a little bit more interested in teaching us how to act than we were in learning. Flying with Ryanair is definitely no luxury cruise, but it got us to London just fine. Once arriving in London, we didn’t have much time for exploring the city at all since it was already after seven, but we had a really great taxi driver that gave us a mini tour of the city on our way to the hostel. While at our hostel, we met a group of Australian students who were really nice. We hung out with them for the rest of our night out on the town. It was definitely different than going out in Dublin, but it was still a lot of fun.

Friday we woke up early to begin our sightseeing extravaganza (aka packing as many things as possible into two days because we’re poor and can’t stay longer than two days). After getting our oyster cards (London transportation passes) with the help of our new Australian friends, we were off. Jodie and I started on the London Eye, while Ellen and Olivia did a little wandering around the city. The London Eye was pretty cool. My favorite part was getting a great view of Big Ben, my favorite landmark in London. After getting off the ferris wheel, we met up with Ellen and Jodie at the British Museum. The museum was awesome. We saw everything from pieces of the Greek Parthenon to Egyptian mummies to Native American ceremonial outfits. We probably could have spent days in the museum alone trying to see all that it had to offer. Naturally, after that much walking around, we were exhausted. Jodie and I spent some quality time in the front courtyard of the museum resting up and planning what we wanted to do next. After resting up, we headed over to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, there was some event going on at the palace and there was a crazy amount of busses in front of it, so we didn’t get the best view, but it was still amazing to see. When we weren’t bugging other tourists and locals to take pictures for us, we spent the rest of our time near Buckingham Palace laying in the grass of Green Park. It was here that we decided it was time, time to embark on the greatest adventure of our visit: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Although the screen wasn’t as big and the seating wasn’t as grand as the movie definitely deserved, it was one hundred percent worth it. We all shed a little tear at the end as the reality set in that the Harry Potter adventure really was over. With the combination of a lack of sleep and a total loss of energy from our adventure filled day, we wasted no time getting back to the hostel, taking some rather uncomfortable showers (there really is nothing pleasant about showering in a hostel), and hitting the hay, hard.

Saturday was yet another day of adventures, starting with an epic fail on the underground, or the tube as the Brits would call it. After getting stuck on a train by myself after a moment of hesitation, and changing trains about three or four times after that, we finally made it to London Tower. And here is where I need to enter a small side note: Being really good friends with Ross Young and having spent many a weekend night out with him and his friends at Ohio State, I have become pretty good friends with his friends. Carly Simms, being one of those friends, and I had talked a little bit about meeting up while we were both in Europe this summer, she, in England and I, in Ireland. The plan was to meet up with Carly in London. She was going to call Jodie’s phone because Jodie had a UK phone and it was the only way we could contact each other. Well, Jodie’s phone died, so we never got ahold of Carly. End side note. While standing in line in the pouring rain and chilling wind that none of us dressed for (hence the cheesy I heart London sweatshirt) to see the London Tower, there was Carly. Absolute coincidence. Although we didn’t get to spend as much time together as we had hoped, it was great to see her and definitely very lucky that we ended up in the same place at the same time completely by chance. The London Tower was used both as a fortress and as a home to England’s royalty. It was really neat to go in the old buildings and see where kings once lived. There was also some incredibly old graffiti on the walls that I couldn’t believe still exists today. My absolute favorite part of the London Tower was being able to see the Crown Jewels. They were so beautiful and the stories and history associated with them is incredible. I probably spent way too much time reading every detail that I could about the jewels while we were there, but I was just absolutely fascinated by the whole coronation process. Our next stop after the London Tower was Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. We saw the original site as well as the newer building where they have shows today. It was rather sad to see, but the original site of the Globe was not very well preserved. It looks like they built an apartment building over the land where the original theater once stood. The newer theater was neat though, and we decided to split up because Ellen and Olivia wanted to stay and see a play. Jodie and I spent the rest of the evening walking to Westminster Abbey, taking our classic London phone booth pictures, and getting some dinner and a drink at the pub. We all turned in pretty early since we had to get up at four AM to make it to the airport to get home.

All in all, I had a great, jam-packed weekend in London. There is so much history and so many cool things to see in London that I am very glad I went and it was definitely worth the trip, but I was very happy to get back to Dublin. There is no question, if I had to choose to live in either Dublin or London, I would pick Dublin in a heartbeat… but I may be a little biased these days.

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week three?

I had the sudden realization today that we are working on week three’s schedule at school. Week three means halfway. I’m not sure I’m ready for halfway. I feel like there is still so much of Ireland to see! I almost regret not doing much this weekend because I feel like I don’t have enough time to get everything done, but then again I don’t regret being lazy this weekend because I think we all needed a break. And don’t worry, Mom, I was plenty busy scoping out the good shopping districts for when you arrive in Dublin. I also discovered that pretzels are a rare treasure here in Ireland, as in you can’t find them anywhere, which is somewhat of a tragedy. But anyways, my rambling about doing nothing can’t be all that exciting, so I’ll talk about stuff that may actually be of some interest.

School started this week with our last history lecture. I can honestly say that I was not upset about it in the least. Our teacher was a pompous, cynical little Irishman (and I literally mean little) named Aiden. Although I have to credit him with being way more knowledgeable about his country’s history than any one man should be, I didn’t learn much from him at all, except that he pretty much hates every Irish historical figure, and especially dislikes the British. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I spent most of his lectures “stumbling”, but it was his own fault for telling us that taking notes wasn’t necessary because he would give us notes at the end. You never tell a college student they don’t need to take notes if you actually want them to pay attention…

After saying goodbye to our little friend Aiden, we were off to Kilmainham Jail. This jail housed a number of important figures in Irish history because it is where all of the rebels were held after the 1916 Easter Rising. All of these men were executed in the jail shortly after they arrived, except for Eamon de Velara who was not executed because the British did not want to execute an American citizen while they were trying to entice America to join them in WWI to fight the Germans. de Velara went on to become a huge advocate for Irish independence and was eventually president of the Irish Republic for many years. The jail also housed other important political figures like Charles Parnell. Our tour was really neat. We got to go inside the cells to somewhat experience life inside them and we had a really great tour guide. There was also original graffiti on the walls left behind by many of the political prisoners. Being fascinated with jails and prisons, I was most excited about this excursion. I really loved it and thought all of the stories our guide told were really interesting.

After the jail, we headed back home to rest up before dinner. We ate dinner at the original Brazen Head Hotel, the oldest pub in Dublin. It was really cool inside. It was a series of smaller rooms, which was nice because it gave it a more intimate feeling. And the food wasn’t too bad either!

The next two days are mostly consisting of homework and preparation for my trip to London. I could do without the homework, but I am very excited about London! We leave Thursday right after class! I absolutely can’t wait!

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lazy days

It’s official. I have finally settled in to life in Ireland. The first two weeks felt like a rush of excitement and traveling, but now, everything is starting to slow down and I am finding time to relax and be a typical college student. Although there is still so much to see, and so many places to go, it feels good to slow down and take a deep breath for a minute and my feet and joints are definitely not opposed. I plan on using the rest of this week and into the weekend to decide what it is that I really want to accomplish before leaving Ireland and what I need to see. Plans are in the works for a trip to London next weekend, which I am very excited about. We are trying to figure out how to see the final Harry Potter movie while we are there, because there is no better way to complete the story than by watching it where the whole thing began!

I don’t have much exciting news at the moment, other than our plans to travel to London, but I do need to expand on a comment I made in an earlier post. Last night, at the pub (yeah Dad, another pub), we met a bar tender who’s aunt married a guy from Dublin, Ohio. One of his first American sporting experiences was an Ohio State-Michigan football game and he mentioned that he has since been an Ohio State fan! He even owns OSU jerseys. Like I said, you really can find them anywhere and everywhere. GO BUCKS!

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co. galway

If I had to choose a place in Ireland to live, I think it would be Galway. The complete atmosphere of the city centre and of the people and the nature was just amazing. In the city centre, all of the streets were pedestrian walkways and there was live music at almost every corner. There were also pubs and great cafes every two steps. The night life was fantastic. Every pub had different live music and all of the musicians were great. The first night we did a pub crawl which allowed us to see many different styles of pubs and get a feel for the number of different experiences you could have on any given night in Galway.

In the morning, we headed off on our fabulous tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, which lasted all day and was very well worth the 20 Euro we all spent on it. Our tour guide was an inappropriate old man named Desmond. His being inappropriate was completely okay, however, because he was old and we found it hilarious (and we have also discovered that the Irish would find a lot more to be appropriate than we would). Anyways, the tour was phenomenal. Everything we saw was gorgeous. We stopped and got off the bus a number of times to see all of the sites, each being even more breathtaking than the last. We stopped in a town called Doolin for lunch. All of the food was great and Desmond recommended getting some homemade fudge while we were there, which may have been his best recommendation all day. After Doolin, we finally reached the Cliffs of Moher, which is by no surprise, up for a spot as one of the new seven wonders of the world. I have seen very few things equally as beautiful as the cliffs. We were very fortunate to have such great weather to see the cliffs. We were told many times that it is extremely rare to have as beautiful a day and as clear vision as we did. And as we were taking advantage of the beautiful scenery to capture one of the most epic O-H-I-O moments of our lives on film, we heard a “go bucks!” from some other tourists. It really is true, you can find OSU fans anywhere and everywhere.. even on the Cliffs of Moreh in Co. Clare, Ireland. All in all, the tour was fantastic and the nights in Galway equally as fun.

The last day in Galway was spent exploring the bay and the city centre a little more before we left. We stumbled upon an awesome farmer’s market and had some of the best nutella crepes I have ever had. Between all that we saw in Galway, by the end of the trip, I was absolutely smitten with the town.

After staying in a hostel for two nights, though, our arrival back in Dublin was definitely welcomed with open arms. The past couple of days have been spent settling into routines for the remainder of our time here. We attended a hurling match on Sunday, which unfortunately Dublin lost. It was an incredible game to watch, though. It is amazing that there are not more injuries being that they have no protective gear other than a helmet (which was just recently made mandatory), but the skill level of the players is such that the ball is rarely out of control.

Yesterday, in honor of our national holiday, we went on an excursion for school. We visited the Avondale House which was the home of Charles Parnell, a huge figure in Irish history. We then continued on to Glendalough, a beautiful park (and also where P.S. I Love You was filmed), where we spent the remainder of the day wandering through the woods and sitting by the beautiful lakes admiring the mountains in the background and joking about purposefully getting lost so that we could be found and swept off our feet by a Gerard Butler-esque Irishman. When we returned to Dublin, we all got together to celebrate America’s birthday the best way we know how: with hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, potato salad, and Budweiser. We all had a great time, but school was a little rough this morning to say the least. Thank goodness our teacher, being a student herself, was very sympathetic.

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gaelic football and hurling

Today was an absolute blast! Aside from being rather tired from going to Dicey’s Pub last night, today was a really great day. It was beautiful outside. We had class in the morning where we learned more about Irish history, including the potato famine and the war of independence. After classes we were bussed over to a gaelic football pitch (field) to learn the basic skills involved in playing the classic Irish sports, Hurling and Gaelic Football.

Although some of the skills were really difficult, it was a lot of fun to learn. After we learned our skills, we played a short gaelic football match. It was an absolute blast and it felt really good to get some exercise. It started to rain about halfway through the match, but nobody minded because it felt good after working up a sweat, and there’s not much that is more Irish than playing Gaelic Football in the rain. Sunday we will be going to a Hurling match. I am really excited to watch a live game! It is such a crazy cool sport!

We leave for Galway tomorrow, right after classes! I couldn’t be more excited!

Below are links to some youtube videos about how these games are played in Ireland!
Gaelic Football
Hurling

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the beginning

After what felt like days of traveling, and after a lost pilot, almost missing the runway, and sitting on the plane for almost three hours before finally taking off, we arrived in Dublin at about 9:00 Thursday morning. On the bus ride over to City Centre where our hostel was located, one of the Arcadia staff members explained to us that our only job for the rest of the day, other than making it to lunch, was to stay awake until about 8:00 pm. At first we all just laughed, thinking he was just joking. As the day went on however, we discovered just how hard of a job staying awake would actually be. We spent the entire day outside the hostel determined to stay awake, and after a few long, slap happy, jet lagged hours, we had gotten to know each other and started some really great friendships.

We were all struggling to stay awake while visiting Temple Bar. Temple Bar is supposedly the cultural center of Dublin, but all of the locals will tell you otherwise. Needless to say you will not find many Irish accents in Temple Bar.

The group at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The park was beautiful and a great place to rest while we battled our jet lag.

Although the first day was full of excitement about finally being in Ireland, we were more than happy to sleep for the rest of the evening and all through the night.

Friday consisted mostly of meetings about our flats, our classes, safety, and other important things we would need to know while living in Ireland (like not to take your pint of Guinness until the barman completes the second pour). Shortly after we moved into our flats on Rathmines Road and were free to explore Dublin. After getting some necessities from the store, being college students, our first stop was a local pub for our first pints of Guinness and some dinner. The Guinness is much better in Ireland than it is in the States and Sam (also from Ohio State) and I learned that if you want to eat with everyone else, you have to order a starter. We also learned that the Irish walk fast, and that is about the only thing they do fast. After dinner we spent some more time unpacking and relaxing before heading out to yet another pub to have yet another Guinness, or cider (which can only be found containing alcohol in Ireland). We also learned that the Irish are very friendly. They do not hesitate to say hello and will gladly strike up a conversation with you about just about anything.

The Bleeding Horse

Day three consisted of a bus tour around Dublin where we hopped off to tour the Jameson Distillery. Although the tour was rather cheesy, there was a group of Dutch men that were absolutely hilarious and made the tour worth the 11 Euro. The whiskey tasting at the end of the tour wasn’t a bad addition either.

Jameson Distillery

The bus tour was followed by some rest and relaxation back at our flats. (The Irish walk EVERYWHERE, and claim that any destination is only about a 20 minute walk. Naturally us lazy American’s are having some trouble keeping up.) The rest of the night was devoted to exploring more pubs, this time on Ranelagh, a pretty nice area of town. We ran into Garrett, one of the members of Arcadia’s staff, at the pub and I also met my new friend Johnny, an old Irish gentleman who claimed he was the best dancer in Ireland (he demonstrated later). Like the rest of the Irish people we have encountered so far, Johnny was quite the jokester and a lot of fun to talk to.

My friend Johnny demonstrating his dancing skills. I would have to guess that he had more than a pint or two of Guinness before this picture was taken, but he was such a sweet old man!

Sunday was one of the most exciting days yet. Hayden (another of Arcadia’s staff members) took us to the Gaelic Football match between Co. Kildare and Co. Dublin. I have never seen anything like Gaelic Football. It is a really huge deal in Ireland. Everyone wears jerseys and waves flags and chants to cheer on their team. The game is a mix between soccer, volleyball and rugby, although they don’t wear any pads. It’s amazing how in shape the players have to be to endure the stress on their bodies. Gaelic Football definitely puts American sports to shame.

Monday marked the first day of classes. Although I am not thrilled about taking summer classes, it seems like we are going to learn a lot! The free scones and tea before class are certainly enough motivation to get out of bed and make the 45 minute walk to the IPA where we are studying, and class is nicely broken up every day with a break for tea and biscuits. I’m also sure that there will be no shortage of entertainment during class, as the Irish are very witty and always have a smart comment to make. Our instructors have so far lived up to this expectation and have kept us on our toes in classes. We learned that we will be doing excursions around Dublin and even outside the city every week in class to enrich our learning experience here in Ireland, all of which I am very excited about.

So far Arcadia has us well taken care of. They have treated us to a number of great meals so far (including a four course meal last (Monday) night). They also respond quickly if we have any problems and have been more than friendly. After dinner last night, we all got together and made plans for our first trip to Co. Galway this weekend! I am very excited and will be sure to post about our trip when the weekend is over.

As for today, we went on our first excursion to the Leinster House which is the home of the Irish Parliament. It was interesting to learn about the Irish system of government, and also about current issues about the Irish economy (which is currently in a bit of a crisis) and the Seanad Eireann (the upper house in Parliament which is in danger of being removed from the Irish government system).

So far, I am absolutely in love with Dublin. The weather is nice most days and the atmosphere is so laid back. I feel incredibly safe walking around (the police or garda don’t even carry weapons). Everyone here is so nice and friendly and funny! All of the people in my program are great, too! I am positive that I will come out of this experience with some lifelong friends. I can’t wait for what is to come!

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