First three days in Ireland

The past 3 days have been a whirlwind. Between traveling and events that the College had planned for us, we didn’t get our first real bit of down time until 6 PM on the third day. This is the first chance I’ve had time to post and it’ll probably be a long one so sorry in advance!

Traveling went well….of course the flight was delayed at O’hare, but when aren’t they?

I met up with 4 other students in the O’hare airpot and together we flew to Toronto, walked to our gate and boarded for our flight into the Dublin airport. Although I love traveling alone (so much less stress than with a group and the people watching in airports is extremely interesting), it was nice to have other people to find our bags and the airbus to the college and just have some names and basics out of the way. Other students in the program assumed we all knew each other!

So. About traveling and Ireland and anything else, here are my first few impressions from the past 24 hours:

-Traveling internationally on Air Canada is the way to go! I felt like a kid in a candy shop with my individual TV screen in front of me. They have awesome movies by the way. And music. And TV. And games. Although we flew overnight, I didn’t sleep at all. And they give you free alcohol…wine with dinner on the plane isn’t so bad!

-Ireland has hills, which living in Wisconsin we don’t see much of…it reminds me of Pennsylvania, where I used to live. I sat in the middle of the plane so I couldn’t see out the window much, but I saw lots and lots of hills. (we went to mountains which I’ll talk about later on which were even better)

-Everything is so green. Even better than your neighbor that has perfect lawn and waters it everyday. I mean like really green. The grass is so bright and the trees are ridiculously huge and just green. I guess that’s what things look like when it rains approximately 5 times a day.

-Yes, Irish accents are extremely attractive. And sound 10 times better in person. Enough said.

-Irish people are also EXTREMELY nice. Imagine the nicest friend you have. They’re nicer than that. They want to talk to you about anything and everything and are always willing to help, whether it be with directions or carrying your 46 pound suitcase up to your dorm room. They genuinely want to help and get a little offended when you refuse it. I’m so used to doing things on my own that I’m not used to accepting help, but I do have to say it is pretty nice.

-EVERYTHING IN EUROPE IS SO EXPENSIVE. I will be broke by the time I leave this trip. A beer is a good 10 American dollars, food is all expensive, drinks, water, basically everything. Oh well, we have all decided we won’t let it ruin our trip and will pay for it with our great jobs someday, ha.

-Not only do people drive on the left side of the road, but they walk on the left side too. We looked very American walking on the right and making everyone move around us until we figured this out.

-The handle to flush the toilets is on the right side of the toilet

So yesterday we got organized-my room has a double bed and some of the other rooms only have singles. The rooms are super cute and have lots of space. And include their own sinks in them. Not bad for a dorm room, I’d say! We also have 2 bathrooms for 4 people and a completely furnished kitchen/den area.

After unpacking a group of us went walking around the city for an hour or so just exploring. For those of you from Madison, most of the streets are like mini-replicas of State Street. Everything is cobblestone, people walk in the streets, there are shops everywhere and markets with flowers and produce. It’s pretty much amazing.

Then we slept, aka took a 3 hour nap and showered and went out to dinner/our first Irish Pub. Trying to organize going to dinner with 15 people who you don’t know, in a city that no one knows, without cell phones to communicate with each other is extremely difficult and time consuming. We ended up splitting into smaller groups. My group stayed at The Temple Bar and talked to two guys who are actually from America but live in Europe teaching baseball to little kids. They were at the Timber Rattler stadium a few months ago in Appleton—it really is a small world! They have been here 6 months and already sound Irish, so maybe I’ll come back with an accent. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Anyway, we get continental breakfast so this morning (Friday morning) we had breakfast and then Nick, my dormmate across the hall Chelsea, and this crazy funny girl Carly went and got phones from the cell place Vodaphone. FINALLY CONNECTED! I seriously feel better just having it. And we get free calls and texts to other Vodaphone people so we can talk all for free. The phone was the cheapest they had and still kind of expensive, but it’s just necessary to have….we need to be able to talk to people. And we have a credit on it so right now I have 40 minutes of international calling. I called my mom during the day from my number. Since we have to pay a set fee for a monthly service, it’s not a bad deal because that fee for free texts/calls to people here goes toward international minutes.

After we had orientation to the program in the morning (classes, meet the important people, etc) we had lunch and then went on a bus to go to Dublin Castle. The castle was really neat, we got to take pictures…the detail in the ceilings and wood work was absolutely amazing. From there we went to St. Patricks Cathedral. At this point we were all so tired it was hard to pay attention but it was cool to see where Jonathon Swift was buried. Also, they have one of the best boys choirs in Europe and they started playing at the end of our tour.

Youd think our day would be over, but nope. Next we went to a cinema to watch a movie, The Dead by James Joyce. The cinema is ridiculous. It looks like you should be in a posh night club. There is geometric furniture everywhere and open spaces and really bold colors and lots of hanging out space…….totally not like an American theatre.

After arriving back at Trinity, some of us went and had dinner at a Crepe store-mine was spinach and cheese and my first time liking a crepe. Not exactly Irish food, but I definitely don’t eat that in the States. After dinner came shower and sleep…..only to wake up much too early to start the next day.

Yesterday was Saturday, which consisted of a day field trip to County Wicklow. It is about an hour outside the city and our first stop was to the Powerscourt Gardens. This was by far my most favorite thing we’ve done so far. The gardens were located in the mountains so everywhere was surrounded by green mountains…they were huge and you could take a long walking tour that takes over an hour to give you an idea of how big the gardens are. They included a pet cemetery, a rose garden, Japanese gardens, dolphin park and much more. Honestly, it was one of those places where I can’t even begin to describe and pictures won’t do it justice but I’ll see if I can find the best pics because I think I took about 200. To you golfers out there, there’s a course right in the middle of the mountains….a pretty nice backdrop for your swing I’d say!

After that we went to Glendalough (pronounced GLEND-A-LOCH). This was deeper in the mountains so even though I wanted to nap I keep my eyes rooted out the window. Here we had a tour of some old monastic ruins and got to walk through the gravestones and over to a lake which, again, was gorgeous. Also, my friend Allison here found a set of gravestones with her family’s last name on them!

Our final stop was the Avondale House-home to the Parnells. By this point my knee was hurting and my right leg was hurting from standing with all my weight on it during the tours so I didn’t take any pics of this place….the first two places were much better.

Yesterday was what the Irish consider a “grand day” outside….which means the sun was shining and we could actually wear a t-shirt and not be cold…..we enjoyed laying in the sun, ate some dinner, then went out to 2 student Irish Pubs….Kennedys and O’doyles. It was fun, but right now we are still traveling in pretty large groups which is kind of difficult to manage so in time I think that will get better as people go off in smaller groups.

None of us really know what any of these things are that we visited, but we all have to take a history course starting Monday so it will be cool to read about something and say we’ve been there! The nice weather is over and it’s raining, but all of us need groceries so we’re taking a trip to Dunnes Stores, which is a grocery/clothing store here and supposedly the cheapest around. I don’t know about the rest of the day…I might try to go to the gym, but it’s about 30 american dollars a time, or 120 for a month so I can’t decide what to do about that….with my knees though I can’t run outside and need the weights so I might have to suck it up and pay the money, which would be about 240 for the time I’m here. Hmmmm…….

Classes start tomorrow, I’ll update after the first few days. And for anyone who actually got through this whole thing, I promise they’ll be shorter in the future! I’m sure you got a sense reading this of how packed they’ve had things so if you’re exhausted you know how I feel!