Studying Abroad in Ireland!

Snipers, Peace Walls, and Thanksgiving

Hey guys,

I know it seems like it’s been forever since I last wrote. Low key, that’s because it has been a while. I do apologize for my absence. I haven’t had anything do in any of my classes so far this semester and now all of a sudden everything is due. These next two weeks are going to be ridiculously insane and I will be consuming a lot of coffee. I have much to fill you in on, so here it goes.

Two weekends ago, I traveled with my study abroad program to Northern Ireland. Having discussed extensively in my Conflict class The Troubles and the conflict that still remains, I was very interested to see first hand how things are going. We arrived, had dinner and then set out to walk the streets of Belfast a little before heading to bed. It was maybe 9pm at that point, and what really struck me was how empty the streets were. Hardly anyone was walking around. This is counter to Cork where there are always people walking around everywhere in town no matter the time. Belfast also had a very different feel than Cork or anywhere else I’ve been to in Ireland. It was colder. Not only temperature wise, but also atmosphere wise. It felt more British, which obviously makes sense. The Irish language is not used at all. It was weird to see Police and not Garda. I don’t know, the entire city just didn’t feel as lively and homey. I was only there for a few days, mind, but I got a very strong feeling of caution. People are still reeling from the decades of war and death.

On Friday we embarked on a tour of Belfast, and we also traveled to the Giant’s Causeway and this really cool rope suspending bridge that connected the mainland to an island right off the coast that had the most stunning views. Of course it was raining and cold, but I came prepared with my rain coat, layers, scarf, and hat. I was just fine. Our first stop was the suspending bridge. Again, I did not expect to be such a baby about this. I was really excited because I had seen pictures of it and I’ve never been on a rope bridge before. However, as soon as I stepped on this swinging, seemingly unstable bridge, I became terrified for my life. It did not help when Dominic started jumping and swinging the bridge back and forth. I was ready to throw him off. I still haven’t forgiven him. Terrifying. Anyway, the island was mad muddy, but it was so incredibly beautiful. There are so many places in Ireland that I feel I could sit forever and never get bored.

    

Our next stop was the most photographed castle in Northern Ireland. Located right on the coast, it was pretty big and the ruins have held up reasonably well. Our tour guide told us the story of the castle, which was owned by a woman. Now, this woman was having a huge party and invited a lot of guests. During this party, the food was late coming out to the main room so she went to the kitchen to see what the delay was and found that the kitchen had completely dropped into the sea. There was nothing left. No one to be found. So she was all, well I’m outta here. So she left and that was the last time that the castle was occupied. It was so cool to go into each room though and imagine who might have lived there and what their daily life was like. Probably pretty cold.

Next up was Giants Causeway which is this huge rock formation that was created by lava. It was the coolest place. I really don’t know how to describe it accurately so I’m just going to post a lot of pictures. It was raining the entire time and got pretty slippery but that absolutely did not stop me from climbing to the top of numerous rock formations. I am queen of volcanic rock. Hear me roar.

      

That was it for the first day. We headed back to the hotel, I took a nice hot bath and then we hit the streets of Belfast again. This time in search of the night life. We had to compare! I’m not going to lie, it was pretty disappointing. In Cork or pretty much anywhere in Ireland, a pub can be found on literally every corner. Usually two or more are found on the same side street. This was not the way it was in Belfast. We had to search for somewhere to go for a while and when we did find a place, it was kind of disappointing. There wasn’t a lot of dance space and I like to get my groove on. Anyway, I hit the hay early in order to get ready for our full schedule of activities planned for Saturday.

 Oh also, we won 2nd place in the photo competition! Hah, next time it’ll be 1st!

On Saturday, we took Black Taxi tours which are pretty infamous to tourists visiting Northern Ireland. Each taxi driver grew up during The Troubles and had personal experience of the daily fears and struggles. We first visited a Protestant neighborhood that had graffiti on all the building walls highlighting the Protestant side of The Troubles. It was terrifying. The main tour leader talked about the history of the conflict and how it progressed. Then he explained the murals on the walls. There was a sniper that was known as a hero to Protestants. He is seen as a freedom fighter. I don’t see it that way. The guide told us that these “freedom fighters” killed way more people than the IRA ever did. They saw a Catholic, aimed and fired. No questions asked. Didn’t matter how old they were, man or woman, senior or child. The most famous sniper was highlighted in a mural. No matter where you stood in relation to the mural, his eyes were always on you, Mona Lisa style. It was a bit sickening. Our guide also told us there had been a mural of a grim reaper holding a gun to a Catholic or something like that. I don’t remember the details but it was recently painted over in an attempt to cool tensions.

We got to see one of the many walls that were put up during The Troubles that were used to separate Catholic and Protestant communities. They are all still up. The people don’t want them to come down. They’re terrified the violence might come back. However, the wall we visited was a Peace Wall. It was amazing. It was completely painted with graffiti and murals and then signatures and messages written over it. Celebrities even come to sign the wall. The Dalai Lama visited and signed. President Clinton signed. Even Rihanna and Justin Beiber have signed it. So then we all got to sign it. It was so cool. We also visited Bombay Street, where The Troubles began. There was a memorial for all the members of that community that were killed.

    

Our taxi driver told us a personal story of his experience during The Troubles. He was a taxi driver and one night two men got into his cab. He started to drive and then one of them told him to pull over. He did and the man told him that they were taking this taxi. The driver said no they weren’t and then they pulled a gun out on him. They told him to get out and not to call the Police for at least an hour or they would go and kill his family. This threat was made entirely more real by the fact that they had his taxi license, which listed his address. That was one of his scariest run ins and I can’t even imagine being put in that situation. He also told us how it was for Catholic girls that dated Protestant boys. They were immediately disowned and thrown out of the house. However, if a Catholic girl was caught seeing a British solider, she was tied to a pole, her head was shaved, and she was tarred and feathered. It was the biggest disgrace a family could have. That was the reality back then. Protestants and Catholics were kept so separate.

 We also went to the Christmas Market which was a wonderland of Christmas joy.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say about Northern Ireland. It was fascinating to see but I loved coming back to Cork. I love Cork so much. I’m going to miss it a ridiculous amount.

Last week was Thanksgiving, which was kind of sad for me. It was the first Thanksgiving that I didn’t spend with my family. And get this, no where in Ireland do they eat pumpkin pie. Atrocious! I didn’t even get to have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Hmph. I did get to have a nice dinner though. The chaplaincy put on a dinner for American students and whoever else wanted to come. It was really nice. The food was fantastic and afterwards there was a table quiz with questions about the original Thanksgiving and other random trivia. It was pretty fun. My table won, which was even more exciting. It would have been pretty sad if we hadn’t of though, since we were the only all American table. Haha unfair advantage? Maybe a tad.

Now an update on my life currently: I am currently drowning in school work. However, today, to blow off some steam I went to a belly dancing class with Celina and then a jazz class. Both were amazing but I had so much fun in the jazz class. I must say, I do still have it. I can’t remember the last jazz class I took but I was picking up the combinations so fast and it felt so good to really stretch. I’m kind of upset that I haven’t been going all semester. Celina also introduced me to some of her dance friends and I now claim them as my friends too! Yay new Irish friends! I can’t wait to go to Ballet next week. Ballet was always my favorite.

Anyway, I have stopped working for far too long a time to write this. I need to get back to editing/fixing my paper that’s due this week. On another note, I’m traveling to Italy this weekend! So excited. I’m also running around trying to make sure I have everything figured out. Oh jeez. Alright that’s all for now! Much love to the U.S.!

 

Cliffs, Islands, and Dumb Americans

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prepare yourselves for an extremely long tale of the epic variety. I have many adventures to relate on this blog post so tuck in, dear friends.

This past weekend, I journeyed with two friends, Kathleen and Evie, to the West of Ireland to see the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and enjoy the city of Galway. Well, check, check and check. I’ll start from the beginning. We left Cork at 3:30 pm on Friday and arrived in Galway 4 long hours later. I’m generally pretty good with road-trips but at point, every seat on the bus was taken and it was a bit of an uncomfortable squeeze. But we managed and arrived in Galway! We had directions to the hostel that we had booked online which seemed clear enough but obviously not enough for us because we ended up going in the opposite direction with no idea how to find the damn place. So we asked a Garda that had just written someone a parking ticket. He was very nice and thinking that we knew where to go, we headed out again but in the right direction this time. Well, unfortunately, that didn’t really work either because we didn’t see the landmarks we were supposed to see so we asked a random guy on the street. He didn’t really know where we were trying to go but another man was walking past and asked us if we were lost which we responded that yes, we were. He asked where we needed to go and we told him Sleepzone Hostel and he was like oh yes! No problem, I can just take you there. It’s on my way. Now to Americans this is going to sound extremely sketchy and not safe. Which, of course my guard was up and ready to high tale it out of there if I got creepy vibes, but this actually happens a lot in Ireland. People are just really nice. He could have just told us where to go but it was on his way and he wanted us to be able to get there. So we chatted on the way, and it was actually really close. So we were on the right track! But he left us at the end of the street it was on and we thanked him and he headed on to the pub. Lovely soul.

So we checked into the hostel and went to put our stuff in our room that we had booked, which was quite nice. It was a very pleasant hostel and the receptionist worker guys were super nice and helpful; they gave us a map of Galway and marked nice places to eat and cool pubs to go to which was really sweet. We told him that we wanted a traditional Irish meal for dinner that night so he recommended this great place. So we left our stuff in the room, taking all our valuables with us, and headed out for this restaurant. We did make it there and had a fantastic meal! I got a Shepherd’s Pie and this delicious veg soup. So we ate, paid and then headed out looking for a traditional pub to chill in. My friend, Evie, is a journalist, in her final year of College and is doing her thesis on pubs in Ireland. She takes photos of the place and then interviews the owner or manager. It’s pretty freaking cool. We did go to one of the pubs suggested to us, but it didn’t really have the right vibe for her project so we just stayed and listened to the live band that was playing while drinking a pitcher of Woo woo. The name was just too funny to not order! It was quite delicious and it was grand craic all around. They played some fantastic songs, all of which I either danced in my seat to or made my way to the dance floor. When you gotta dance, you just gotta dance man! I’m not going to cool down my groove just because other people are afraid of what everyone is going to think of them if they jam out. So yeah, I did attract some odd glances but that kind of just made it more fun. I’m never going to see these people again, might as well make a fool of myself.

    

Anyway, we went back to the hostel and settled in for the night planning on journeying to the Aran Islands in the morning. We were rudely awoken at 4 in the morning by assholes who were partying loudly, slamming doors, yelling, and just being extremely inconsiderate. My goodness we have the worst luck with hall mates when we travel. I don’t see how people can be so blatantly inconsiderate of everyone around them. That’s just not how I was raised. Shout out to my awesome parents for raising me so fabulously. I turned out pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. Anyway, after getting half a nights sleep, we arose and journeyed to the street where we were allegedly supposed to be catching this bus to the Aran Islands ferry. An address would have been helpful but they only listed the street name on the ticket so we made our way there, finding this wonderful bakery on the way! Extremely reasonable prices for literally masterpieces of the food variety. I just got coffee because I’m scrappy and packed bread, peanut butter, and nutella to make sandwiches for breakfast. I did get coffee though which was delicious and just what I needed to prepare myself for one of the most epic adventures of my life.

The bus ride was about an hour and then we arrived right in time to catch the ferry over. Now, before I rode on this ferry I don’t think I would necessarily have described myself as a boat person but now I can definitely say for sure that I am not one of those. I really did not expect myself to be such a baby but let’s get forreal it was actually terrifying. We decided to ride on the top deck because it had the best views so we sat right by the windows. Now the thing about ferries, which seems obvious, is that they rock..a lot. Back and forth, so far to each side that it literally feels like you’re about to plunge to your death at every moment. I literally could not handle myself. I ended up moving to the middle with Evie where it wasn’t quite so rocky and she let me listen to music with her in order to distract me. Nevertheless, I still found my self in a fetalish position holding onto the seat sides for dear life. It’s not even that I got seasick. I wasn’t queasy, I was just terrified for my life. So I am now definitely sure that boats are not for me. But we did make it there alive and that is when the real adventure started.

Right off the boat, there were a million tour guides right up in our grill trying to get us to pay them to take us around the island. We had gone there not really sure what our plan of action was but on the way into the dock, we had seen a sweater market so we beelined for that. Now that’s not to say that we didn’t get stopped by a bunch of people that wanted to give us tours. This is when I first met Johnny, the new love of my life. I should probably mention that Johnny is a horse. But not just any horse, he was the sweetest, prettiest, most lovely horse I have ever met. He was named after Johnny Cash. I immediately knew that we had to take Johnny around the island. His owner had a carriage thing attached to him and we decided that it would be a more legitimate experience if we took a horse drawn carriage instead of a car. So Johnny took the three of us and this other couple and started off down the road. Now, something we didn’t exactly foresee was how cold it would be. It was already much much colder on the Island than we were used to but adding in the wind in our faces sitting in an unheated carriage was a bit of a freezing experience. But lovely just the same. He had a couple blankets that we used to huddle together and cuddle with. Our tour guide actually lives on the Island so not only did he have the normal historical background information but he also pointed out where his mother lived and we waved to her. It was very sweet.

    

It really felt like we had gone back in time. We were surrounded by the most beautiful land with stone fences everywhere and beautiful houses, some with thatched roofs. There were also no lack of ruins for us to see. We saw numerous churches, houses, etc. We actually saw ruins of a church that people still got married in. Our guide still had ribbons on the inside of the carriage from the ceremony. It was beautiful. I would definitely love to get married in a place like that someday.

Our real adventure started when he told us to take this “path” to the first site that he wanted to show us. People don’t usually go there during tours, but he thought it was one of the coolest places so we were all for it. Our destination was this completely natural “pool” that is partly connected to the coast. Anyway, it’s a perfect rectangle; it absolutely looks man-made which is why it’s so cool that it’s not. It was just used in the Red Bull cliff diving competition. There’s actually a pretty cool video that shows some of the Aran Islands and has a great look at the pool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdKCB7E4M_w So check that out and you can see what I’m talking about. Now getting there was another story. He let us off and told us to follow this path between two houses that would leave us to the coastline. Which was all fine and grand until the path abruptly ended and led us through this huge rock field. I guess I shouldn’t have expected a nice laid path all the way to the coast, so I just laughed and started hopping from rock to rock. This is when it started raining. Not that that’s some huge shocker seeing as I’m in Ireland but it did make the rocks we were hopping on more slippery. It didn’t slow us down much though. I even had my own theme music going while I was hopping around. What’s the use in having an adventure if you’re not going to have theme music!? We were so spread out that no one could really hear me until I think our guide caught a little of it and he turned around and kind of giggled at me. I just smiled back and kept humming.

        

After we climbed through this rock garden, we had to walk under the cliffs in order to get to the optimal viewing point of the pool. This is where it started to get a bit dangerous. We were right on the edge of the Island with not a lot separating us from the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were not calm either, they kept slamming against the coastline and kind of exploding upwards. Which was a fantastic view, but also we had to be extremely careful to not get too close to the edge or we would be swept away forever. So we were smart about it but the couple that was touring with us were freaking idiots. They got way too close and it made me quite anxious. They didn’t get swept away but there were a few close calls. We got to the pool and the guide would literally not let go of my arm which made me realize how dangerous this actually was. I got a spectacular view but then the waves started getting bigger so we had to high tale it back to the rock garden where it was safer. We did get some great pictures though.

   

We were then supposed to journey up to the main attraction of Inis Mor, which is the island we were on. It’s this huge ruins of an old stone fort. I don’t know, it was supposed to be super cool. So he kind of points us in the direction we were supposed to be taking and we start off. However, at this point there is literally no path or markers for a path. It’s just countryside with a lot of stone fences and some cows. It was not exactly easy going. We had to climb over numerous stone fences that weren’t exactly solid or easy to get over. But we managed. At one point Evie was like, we are so in Lord of the Rings right now and it was just so obvious that we totally were. She was Legolas, I was Aragorn, and Kathleen who has never seen LOTR was Gimli. She was the slowest one though, so it totally fit. At one point, we decided that we should skip the site and head straight for the village that we were supposed to meet Johnny at because it was raining, cold, and honestly we had a pretty good view of it from where we were. Struggling through the country was so much fun, but it was also exhausting and none of us really wanted to climb up this enormous hill. So we beelined toward the town but then the land started to get more and more thorny, which was unpleasant to say the least. Then, we came to a straight up land height change where there was a pretty decent distance straight down. However, there really was no other way to go in order to get to the village so I kind of just went for it. I actually found a pretty decent way down. At one point, I had to sit and then reach my legs out so that I could make a part of the drop but it wasn’t too hard. So I helped Kathleen and Evie down and standing at the bottom, it was ridiculous that we had just scaled that thing but we were all super impressed with ourselves. Not to pat myself on the back or anything but I did find the way down. Woohoo go adventure Chlo!

 <— Cliff we climbed down.  

So we came to the village and there were these really cool craft stores! Some of which I did make some pretty awesome purchases in. We then went to this little cafe where it was super warm and we had some piping hot soup. Just what the doctor ordered. We had to wait a bit until Johnny got there and the couple showed up. But they eventually did, which was a relief because until that point we weren’t exactly sure we were in the right place. By this time though a lot of hours had passed (adventures aren’t exactly time minimal activities) and we had to get back to the Ferry in order to catch the last one off the Island. So Johnny took off and we went back along the coastline. It was an amazing view. There was a place where seals sometimes are but we didn’t get lucky and there wasn’t a seal in sight. Too bad.

We got back literally right in time and the Ferry took off. This time we sat on the bottom so it wasn’t as rocky. It still wasn’t pleasant, but I relaxed a bit more. I was also half asleep though. Adventures really take it out of you. We made our way back to the hostel and by that point we were all exhausted. We had planned on going to another pub that night for Evie to photograph but none of us were up to it at all. So we got a ridiculous amount of food from Papa Johns and ate in on our hostel room floor while chatting it up girl style. It was the perfect ending to an all around amazing day.

On Sunday, Kathleen was meeting up with her family that lives there and Evie and I were taking a bus tour up to the Cliffs of Moher and around the Burren. So we walked to the Coach Station and found the bus that was going to take us around. We only had time for a half day tour because we also had to catch the last bus back to Cork that night and it left at 6PM. The tour promised we would get back around 5PM, which was helpful because Evie wanted to photograph another pub. She’s trying to get a few from the North, South, East, and West of Ireland. Anyway, the bus took off and we had a funny tour guide that told us so much cool information. I wish I could have been taking notes because there was no way I was going to remember everything. We arrived at the Burren pretty quickly and we drove up into it. The Burren is a karst landscape made mostly of limestone. Because of all the limestone, the sun reflects off of it and onto the plants which make them thrive. I thought that was pretty cool. There is an old Irish saying that goes “There’s not enough trees to hang a man, not enough water to drown a man, and not enough soil to burry a man in the Burren.” It was actually very accurate. There were really none of those things. We drove past a lot of cool ruins and then we passed by this tomb of some sort that housed numerous burials. It kind of looked like a stone table but a lot bigger. Then we saw a man who wanted to be buried standing up so he could keep watch over his land. So there was this vertical stone structure that looked like there could be a man in it. Creepy, but awesome. We then arrived at the infamous Cliffs of Moher. I was pretty excited to see them; it’s one of the top sights to visit in Ireland and also some of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was filmed there. SO COOL.

     

I was expecting it to be a little overrated because I had heard a couple people say it was but honestly it was one of the most majestic sights I have ever seen. It was swarming with tourists of course, but the view was literally spectacular and took my breath away. It was very calming until I saw these three American girls around my age cross over the boundary to take a picture closer to the edge of the Cliffs. I was infuriated. If it was safe, then there wouldn’t be boundaries and blatantly ignoring them is just ridiculous! It’s shit like that that makes Americans look bad. I mean mugged hard core and then laughed when a Security Guard came over and forced them to get down. Idiots. But that didn’t take away from the experience. I could still get pretty close to the edge which made for some fantastic pictures while following the rules and being safe.

      

Then, as luck would have it, we stopped at this adorable pub in Dingle on our way back so Evie photographed it and got the number to call and have an over the phone interview. Luck as on our side! The food was also to die for. Our tour guide said that usually they put alcohol restrictions on the group because they usually stop for lunch before they get to the Cliffs but since we had already been to the Cliffs, he told us to drink as much alcohol as we could in 40 minutes. Being the rebel that I am, I had a whole ¾ of a pint of Guinness. I know, I’m such a badass. After lunch/dinner, we headed back to Galway. Although we did not get back at 5PM like we were promised, we got back at 5:30 so we kind of had to rush getting to our bus station. But we did make it and settled in and watched the first hour of P.S. I Love You. I thought it was fitting since we were in Ireland, and it’s just such a great movie. We both laughed and cried and then her laptop died which was super sad. So then I napped/read for the rest of the way.

So that is an account of my adventures. I hope it was enjoyable to read about. I can assure you it was more than enjoyable to experience. I’m so glad that I had time to explore some of Ireland! This weekend my study abroad group is taking a trip to Northern Ireland and I’m extremely excited! We leave tomorrow morning and I actually still need to pack..

A couple fun Irish facts: I don’t know if I mentioned this before but with their accents, Irish people don’t pronounce th’s. They pronounce everything that has a th with just a t. Some funny example that I hear constantly is “mats” referring to math. My Econ professor always says it and I giggle each time. Also a line here is referred to as a queue (pronounced Q). It wasn’t totally foreign to me but literally no one calls it a line. There are also a couple of annoyances that I feel I should share. 1) Students whisper in class all the time like it’s not distracting to anyone else. Which to be fair, are not always Irish, there are some foreigners too but it is infuriating. 2) Students will also leave class early before the Professor is done talking. That is just appalling to me. Along with students packing up their stuff before the Professor is done with the lecture. I don’t care what time it is, you sit there and listen until you are dismissed. That’s my take on it. 3) There is this hideous fashion trend that Irish girls are into where they wear tights and then super short jean shorts over them. To class. It’s ridiculous! Not only is that not fashionable in the slightest, but I think they are competing with everyone to try to get the shortest shorts imaginable. I have seen far too many butts. It’s appalling. They look like Ladies of the Night. Now, Dad, I know you don’t like it when I criticize girls’ choice of clothing but I couldn’t help it. It needed to be said.

Alright, phew, that’s all for now. I need to pack and get myself ready for Northern Ireland woot woot!! Much love to the U.S.

Some Pictures!

      

Those are pictures of the Blues Brothers Banned from the Jazz Festival, compliments of Anissa.

This is my beloved Cork. Also compliments of Anissa.

Skibberdeen, TMNT, and Macadamia Nuts

I think I’ll make it a habit of opening up my blogs with my health dilemma of the week since it’s starting to get ridiculous. This past week I discovered that I have an allergy to macadamia nuts. I found this out by eating chocolate bars with macadamia nuts in them and proceeding to feel my tongue start to burn and my throat start to swell a bit and then getting dizzy and sweaty. Whoa, good times. Luckily Celina was around and got me a benadryl which seemed to do the trick. She is prepared for everything, that girl. Although she’s also the one that gave me the macadamia nut chocolate so it could be like that scene from Horrible Bosses where he saves the person he’s actually trying to kill from an allergic reaction. Hmm, I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, I’m back to normal now. Well, my tongue still feels weird but I haven’t died yet so I must be out of the woods.

This past week has been one quite full of excitement. Anissa and I did not end up going to Cobh. My trip there has been thwarted so much that when I do finally get there it’s going to be a major accomplishment. Now I’m determined more than ever. Anyway, I got to meet Anissa’s sister and her fiance, both of whom are gems. I only say that about some people too. Not everyone is a gem. I’m sure all of my readers are though because who other than a gem would read a blog written by yours truly? Anyway, back to Nora (Anissa’s sister). She is so sweet and we got to have a couple meals together and we got along just grand. Her fiance is hilarious too. And her ring was gorgeous. I do have a thing for engagement rings. It was classic and perfectly suited to her personality. Those are the best ones. Anyway, we walked around town for a while which was an event itself; the sidewalks were packed with jazz street musicians and food stands. I probably should mention that it was Jazz Festival weekend which is a huge tradition that’s been going on for over 30 years. I made friends with our cab driver on the way to the pub that night and he told me about the history of Jazz Festival and that it doesn’t get as crowded as it used to but it’s still a grand time. I told him I didn’t mind a lack of people as long as the music was good. I would never describe Cork as having a lack of people so I shudder to think how crowded it used to be. We went to a pub called The Old Oak because they were having a jazz band play called The Blues Brothers Banned. It was just a fantastic time. The pub was packed and the band could not have been better. They played such fun dancing songs and the two lead singers were dressed as the Blues Brothers and they had choreographed dance moves and everything. It was great craic. We stayed for their entire set, dancing the whole time. Anissa, Kathleen, and I could not have had a better time. Nora and Andreas found a table in the back because they didn’t feel like dancing in the crowds but they enjoyed it too.

The next night of the Jazz Festival, we went to a couple different places, but eventually ended up back at the Old Oak. It just has such a great feel to it. It’s always full of fun, dancing people and we had had such a great night before, we decided to try it out again. We were not disappointed. A similar band was playing, some of the same songs but they had their own unique sound and the pub was filled with joy and merriment. We also made a couple of new Irish friends that were quite enjoyable company.

Alright that’s really all I have to say about the Jazz Festival. I can’t give enough props to the street musicians that I had the pleasure of hearing and occasionally dancing along to. It made walking on Patrick St. a completely different experience and I must admit that I miss them. Who doesn’t want to jam out while running around doing errands? I am always down for a jam session. Listening, that is. I don’t think they would have welcomed my musical contributions. Dancing I can do though.

Anyway, moving on. This week also included the day of Halloween, which of course is quite big in Ireland. I was excited to experience it in an Irish way since my past couple of Halloweens have been lack luster at best. Now I immediately knew that I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Halloween; Michelangelo, specifically. He’s of course my favorite. He’s hilarious and he loves pizza. Soul mates much? Now creating my costume was a different story. I googled TMNT costumes and got a basic idea of the direction I wanted to go in and headed out to Penney’s (super bargain store with the cutest clothes!) with a distinct goal in mind. Kathleen and I did get sidetracked on the way though because we wanted to check out the Irish wool sweaters at Quills since Anissa has the best one that I wear every time I’m in her apartment, and I must admit that it looks great on me. It’s like I was meant to wear this Irish sweater. So I thought I would go and check out the prices, see what was up. Well I never did find it, but I did find a great long sleeved purple shirt that was on sale for 5 euro! Woohoo bargain shopping. Kathleen also got the most comfortable corduroy pants. I tried some on but they didn’t fit me right, quite the sad story. Moving on, we did finally get to Penney’s and it was a crazy scene like always, full of insane women shoppers that are everywhere. But I was determined, so I pushed and shoved my way through the madness to find the articles of clothing that I needed. I ended up with bright green leggings, a long sleeve green shirt, an orange shirt that was cheap and I planned to cut up to make my head, waist, arm, and knee bands. I couldn’t find a yellow tank top that I was planning on making into my shell so I went with white and thought it would just have to be close enough. I got all of it for quite a bargain and left pleased with myself.

I realized at the end of that paragraph that maybe not everyone would be interested in hearing a long description of my Halloween costume but by then it was too late so I committed to it. Sorry for those who aren’t TMNT fans, but I would have to say that you should rethink your life choices. Because TMNT is amazing. Here’s a few pictures of the end product.

Overall I was quite pleased with the end result. We went out on the town to celebrate Samhain. We went to quite a few places and ended up at the Old Oak again; it was definitely my pub of choice last week. There were so many fun costumes. A lot of scary ones too which never fail to freak me out. Our cab driver was less than helpful. A couple of guys hijacked our cab and he took them where they wanted to go and didn’t take us to our destination. He also overcharged us like crazy. That was the first negative cab experience that I’ve had. But it’s not one that I’ll soon forget. The Irish guys were also talking crap about the US Economy when they found out we were American. One of them was like “oh yeah hahaa the US economy is just complete shite right now. It’s going to crash in a couple of days guaranteed.” And of course I had to respond to his ignorance. I said, “well actually no the economy is in a pretty stable place at the moment with increased employment and growth every month.” He said in a condescending tone that he studied economics and I said that I did too, and then he had the audacity to say “No, I actually study it in school.” Like for some reason it would be impossible that I did too and of course I was just talking nonsense with no facts to back me up. I informed him that I studied it in University too and for some reason he had nothing more to say. Asshole.

Halloween was fun, and the rest of the week passed quickly going to classes and studying in the library. I found a pretty good spot and Kathleen and I worked continuously for about 4 hours on Thursday. I got so much done. It was great. Now that I found a good location to buckle down and study, I’ll have to go there more often. Even if there is a sad lacking of comfy chairs. I always go there between classes. I have a thing for libraries. I mean who wouldn’t want to go to the library? It’s where the books are! If you don’t like books, you must have a sad life. Sorry for your loss.

Now, this weekend was quite an adventure. Kiah found this really cool place that was an hour and a half away and we decided to venture out there on the bus. So we bought bus tickets and set out for the town of Skibbereen. The scenery was so breathtaking that I didn’t even notice the time passing. I don’t think I could be bored on a bus through Ireland. It’s just too beautiful. We hadn’t really planned our adventure out that well. I usually plan everything to the second. But I kind of just wanted to go with the flow and see where our journey took us. I know, how zen of me. So we got off the bus and had no idea where to go from there. Which was uncomfortable but we just chose a direction and walked in it. We then stumbled across the coolest bookstore! Score! It’s called Time Traveller Books. They have a website that I’ll find and put on my next blog post, but they have a plethora of rare and cool books and they also have free shipping anywhere in the world! Can you say jackpot? So we spent a good bit of time there before realizing we were on a journey to Liss Ard. I made sure to jot down the names of numerous books that I now need to read. It was hands down the coolest bookstore I had ever been in. We asked the owners how to get to Liss Ard and they gave us very specific directions, so with a newfound sense of direction, we headed out. It just happened to be in the opposite direction of the way we went. But if we hadn’t of gone that way we might never have seen the bookstore! Ah, fate.

We walked for about a half hour, part of the way on a winding country road. We passed by numerous grazing cows, fields, and beautiful country houses. I do believe that I could very easily live there. We did finally arrive at our destination which I now realize I haven’t described yet. On the website, Liss Ard gardens are described as follows: “With acres upon of acres of gardens and trails, the woodland walks with their specially designed pathways offer guests a truly contemplative experience with enchanting vistas around every corner. Liss Ard has been planned to reveal a collection of ‘garden rooms’: the lakeside walk, the waterfall garden, the woodland garden, the water garden and arboretum and the wildflower meadow.” More details for the curious can be found here: http://www.lissardestate.com/liss-ard-gardens.html.

It was indeed a peaceful and serene experience. Exactly what I needed. Studying abroad can be a stressful experience. I know that I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, that’s not a new thing. However, any negative thing that happens is somehow heightened because I don’t have the automatic support of my family around me and while I can call them anytime I need to, the distance really sinks in during times of struggle. Especially with all of my health issues and some rather unfortunate incidents with certain people who will go unnamed here because it’s just not that kind of blog. All criticism and condescension are felt with a sharper edge. I can’t thank my parents enough for their enduring support during my time here. They have been nothing but encouraging and loving throughout the entire process. It’s really times like these that I truly realize how lucky I am to have them. I’ve talked through all of my travel plans with me before I finalize anything and I’ve received nothing but support and enthusiasm for me. They realize that it probably won’t be for quite a while that I get to travel internationally again and they’ve told me to experience as much as possible. They know that I’ve always been frugal with money and I can’t get away from having the responsibility gene. I will forever be thankful for their everlasting faith in me and all those who truly know me know that I take my personal responsibilities very seriously.

That’s really all I have to report right now. My internship has been going fabulously. I very much enjoy doing the research and I definitely plan on visiting all these places when I’m back in Ohio. I’m just surprised I haven’t really known about these places before. I’m sure if any were closer to Westerville, I would have gone on numerous field trips there, like we did to the National Historic Society. Those field trips were always my favorite. History is cool. Alright I will now attach some awesome photos from my time at Liss Ard for your viewing pleasure.

                       

Enamel, Rainbows, and Crunchy Leaves

Dearest readers,

I am so sorry for my extended absence on this blog. It has been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally recently. I won’t bore you with personal drama; on to the exciting Ireland stuff!

I will bore you with another medical crisis though. It won’t take more than a paragraph, I promise. So let’s review, I was sick for two neverending weeks which made going to class and socializing an incredible feat. Then there was the whole conjunctivitis thing that lasted far too long. Good times. Also super cute. Okay so that was three weeks of discomfort. Enter last week, with incredible tooth pain. Awesome, I just went to the dentist over the summer; I can’t have a cavity already. But as it being increasingly painful, I knew it wasn’t going to go away and when it got to the point where I couldn’t chew on one side of my mouth, it was time to find a dentist. I called Student Health and they gave me a couple of phone numbers I could try. One of the numbers didn’t work and the second number was answered by a foreign woman whose accent I really couldn’t understand. But she could get me in the next day and I accepted gratefully. So I went and filled out some paperwork and she screwed around in my mouth for about 40 minutes, knocking on specific teeth and asking me if it hurt. I know, sounds like a party right? No worries, I’ll invite everyone next time. Diagnosis time: the enamel on one of my teeth has completely worn off. She said it she had no idea what caused it but the enamel was completely stripped off one of my teeth which causes hypersensitivity. Awesome, so how do I fix that? Well, you can’t really. She tried to put a filling on my tooth but there wasn’t a big enough space. So she applied desensitizing gel on it and I had to chill with my mouth open for about 10 minutes while it dried. Super comfortable, I love going to the dentist. She also gave me a couple small tubes of this special toothpaste for hypersensitive teeth and it’s been helping. I have to go back two more times for more applications of the gel. She’s very nice though and I am forever grateful to her for restoring my ability to chew.

Okay so that was a long paragraph but sometimes you just need to talk about your teeth. In class news, I’ve received most of my assignments but none of them have due dates coming up very quickly. My first paper is due November 20th. So I’m having fun just going to class and learning stuff. I’m really exciting about mapping out my conflict for my Conflict and Conflict Resolution class. We were assigned conflicts this week and I got Ethiopia. So exciting! Shout out to Lily’s Ethiopian siblings, especially the adorable Helen! I promise to do my best work on the assignment. It’ll be fascinating doing the research. It’s still my favorite class but the professor is pretty intimidating which makes it hard to participate like I want to. We’ll see how that progresses.

Insert random picture of Chloe with friends here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news, I had my first meeting as an intern! We agreed to meet once a week and I would make a report on my progress. So I set up a meeting time with his secretary, Margaret who I’ve corresponded with numerous times over email and she is just the nicest lady. Anyway, I got to his office about 10 minutes early because his office is in the ORB (O’Rahilly Building) and that building is a freaking maze. No joke, there are like three wings and they’re all identical and sometimes it just takes forever to get where you’re going. So I got there early and I found his office and on it was written “Head of Department.” I didn’t realize my internship was with the Head of the Government Department! Big deal much!? So immediately, I got about 10 times more nervous and realized my outfit was completely wrong and why didn’t I bother to do my hair? But I was nervous for nothing, what a nice guy. He’s super chill and friendly so basically we just about a 10 minute conversation about what I’d found and I threw in some interesting facts for fun, a lot of which he didn’t know so Score Chloe! But yeah, it was just a short meeting and I mapped out what I planned to do each week and he approved, so he said to just make another appointment with Margaret and we can talk more next week. So I left his office in great spirits, because I felt like I kicked ass and he was impressed. That was pretty much the highlight of my week.

Now I shall talk about the weather. Let me just tell you, I was misled this morning by the sunlight streaming in my window. It was not warm and sunny out. That was a facade that Ireland put up in order to crush my hopes and dreams when I went outside. Okay, that might be a tad bit dramatic but it was superrrr cold today. It wasn’t even so much that the temperature was super low, it was the icy wind that came out of nowhere and took no prisoners. The weather is changing and it’s getting dark a lot sooner. Some Irish people told one of my friends that it will start getting dark at like 4pm soon. Awesome, that should be fun walking to class in the dark. Why can’t it be sunny always? With butterflies and rainbows. There are a lot of rainbows though. More than I’ve seen in any one place. Here is a double rainbow picture taken by my friend, Evie. She’s super great at taking pictures and also my camera broke so I have to rely on others for photos now.

However, although it’s cold and I’m a big baby I can’t say that I’m not liking the weather. It’s no Ohio fall which is gorgeous for those of you who haven’t experienced it. A lot of the leaves are changing colors but there are a good number still green and thriving. Although I have found no lack of crunchy leaves on the ground because of this. People that really know me well know that I can’t resist stepping on a crunchy leaf. It’s just too tempting and rewarding/fulfilling. Anyone who has denied themselves the simple pleasure of stepping on a particularly crunchy leaf can stop reading and go back to mourning their lost childhood. I walked home from campus today and it was brisk and windy but in a refreshing way and there were a plethora of crunchy leaves and the sun was setting in the sky ahead of me. What more can a girl ask for? It’s moments like that that give me a moment of inner peace. It’s just not possible to be filled with anything but joy and contentedness in those moments.

Anyway, I do have some interesting Irish news. I’ll post a link to the article I just read but I heard from my friend, Kathleen who is a kindred spirit, that there were some abortion protests in Belfast so I had to investigate. It turns out that Ireland’s first abortion clinic was opened last week in Belfast, much to the outrage of  Ireland’s religious citizens of which they are in no short supply. The clinic doesn’t offer anything illegal; In both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland it is legal to have an abortion when a doctor deems that the mother’s life is at risk or the pregnancy would have long lasting damages to the mother’s health. The clinic also offers contraceptives and STD testing. Lord knows, no one could use those things. There have been calls for the clinic to be closed down and there have been protesters outside the clinic since it opened. But they can’t shut it down unless they do something illegal, and I’m going to bet that the clinic is being extremely meticulous about following the rules. So we shall see how that plays out.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/10/18/ireland-abortion/1641323/

In other news, I am travelling to Cobh tomorrow for a day trip with my friend Anissa and her visiting sister and sister’s fiance. It should be a great day. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Cobh, which is a scenic seaside town about 20 minutes outside of Cork. It will also be nice to get to know Nora, Anissa’s sister. I’ve heard a lot about her and seen her in Anissa’s family pictures so it’ll be nice to get to know her. I now have three Norwegian friends. That makes me cultured right?

Alright I hope that was a decent enough post for now. I’m a bit emotionally drained right now so I do apologize for the lack of what little wit and entertainment I’ve been able to insert into these posts, but I hope it was informational nonetheless.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post more on Sunday with pictures of Cobh! This weekend is also the Cork Jazz Fest, so I’m definitely planning on going to some events and getting pictures there too. The next post will be exciting I promise.

Claddagh and Conjunctivitis

Why hello there everyone. I’m planning on this being a rather long post, so prepare thyselves. I think I’ll start this post with an overview of all my classes and then head into the super cool Irish information I’ve managed to gather this week and some very exciting news regarding an internship.

1) Conflict and Conflict Resolution- Whoa baby, my favorite class for sure. We critically think and discuss conflict and how to categorize conflicts in general. Today, we spent the whole class analyzing an article. I even participated. Woohoo go Chlo (Yes, I do cheer myself on sometimes). This class has about 30 people in it. I’ve found that every time one of them wants to make a point, the U.S. almost always comes up, usually negative. I guess that’s to be expected. Some have good points, but I don’t think I need to elaborate on the inappropriateness of the comment that “all Americans love war.” Moving on, today we were assigned our three projects for the semester. I’m really excited about the first one, which is completely mapping out a conflict, looking at all the parties involved, the historical context, and looking at how to go about resolving the conflict. It’s a very large project but I can’t wait to get assigned my conflict tomorrow.

2) Comparative European Politics- Also an amazing class. We started with defining democracy and looking at a couple of examples about how it developed in Europe. We also talked about how there are different definitions for democracy and it all depends on the perspective of the definer. Then we segued into talking about the State, the Nation, and Sovereignty. That’s something that was covered in my International Politics class last semester at Oberlin so I was interested in seeing how she chose to explain it. I thought it was more confusing, personally, but the main points were construed. Right now it feels like we’re laying the foundations of the class so we can move onto more exemplary work comparing European countries. The lectures just flow together though. It’s one of those classes where you don’t notice time passing and all of a sudden, it’s 50 minutes later. That’s a sign of a good lecturer.

3) Celtic Literature- This class is fascinating. The lectures so far about been about medieval Irish manuscripts and what is found in them. There are different cycles of manuscripts which is basically a way of classifying them based on their topics/themes. There are only three Gaelic manuscripts in Ireland: Lebor na hUidre, The Book of Leinster, and The Book of Glendalough. It’s easy to see how much the professor loves manuscripts. He shows a lot of pictures of them and points out the tiny details and reads some parts in Gaelic. Which obviously I have no idea what he’s saying but it’s so interesting to compare how the words are pronounced with how they look like they would be pronounced to me, the ignorant American. In this class, we’ll be studying The Táin, which is an incredible Irish Epic. I’ve already started reading it and it’s one of those assignments that doesn’t feel like homework. Yay reading!

4) Business Economics- This is an introductory course on Economics but it’s also Microeconomics, which I haven’t taken before. I’ve taken my fair share of Econ courses, being an Econ Minor but I love the way this course is taught. Since it’s Microeconomics, there’s so much more focus on the psychological aspect of Economics which is something that I haven’t really explored. I do get excited about the readings and the lectures are fun to go to, even if they are at ridiculous times of the day. What can I say..I’m an Econ nerd. This is true of all of my classes but it’s intriguing to hear about Economics from and Irish perspective. He uses a lot of examples about the EU, which is something I wanted to study while I’m here..so score!

5) Viking Archaeology in Ireland and Great Britain- This class hasn’t actually started yet, but it’s going to be so cool! And we get to take a field trip! Oh shoot..let’s so explore Ireland!

6) Aspects of Irish Folklore- The description was misleading. It was supposed to be interesting but instead we hear the same information repeated over and over. I’m probably going to drop it because….

I GOT AN INTERNSHIP!

Yes, you read that right. I, Chloe Elise Peeples am now an intern in the Department of Government at UCC in Ireland. Oh shoot, big deal much? I had my interview today, which got complicated when I contracted conjunctivitis (the medical name doesn’t sound nearly as gross as pink eye which is misleading because it’s mad gross yo) yesterday. I was able to email the Professor I was supposed to meet with and he suggested that we skype the interview. I hadn’t even thought of that. It worked well though; we skyped, he told me what he wanted his project to be and asked if I was interested. I said yes. The internship isn’t exactly what I expected but I’m thrilled that I was chosen out of the applicants. I’m going to be researching Presidential homes in Ohio. He wants to know who runs them, if they’re open to the public, what they put on display (especially with the not so popular presidents) and just basic information about them. I was like well, okay I can do that. So I’ll be meeting with him once a week to discuss my progress and by the end of the semester, we’ll have a folder of information on it. So that is going to be worth 5 credit hours, and I’m already taking the maximum amount of credit hours so I have to drop a class. Sorry, but Folklore, you’re out.

In other news, I am learning to cook for myself. Let me just tell you, I can now make a mean pasta and my salad is literally a masterpiece. Feel free to be impressed. I also got a claddagh ring, which is a neat Irish tradition for women. It is a ring composed of two hands holding a heart with a crown on it. Now the significance of how you wear the ring is important. If you wear it on your right ring finger, with the heart facing outwards then you are single and still searching for a love. If you wear it on your right ring finger with the heart facing inwards then your heart has been captured and you are not on the market. If you wear it on your left ring finger with the heart facing outward, then you’re engaged and if the heart is facing inward then you are married! How cool is that?! Now usually, Irish girls get these rings as presents for special occasions like birthdays or proposals or stuff but no one is going to buy me one so I got one for myself. Woohoo independent lady. I do wear mine on my right hand with the heart facing inward, so my heart is officially captured. Adorable right?

More news, I got my absentee ballot today! Oh heck yeah democracy! Voting is only one of my favorite things to do EVER! So I’m going to fill that out ASAP and send it back in. Gotta give them plenty of time to count it. I also watched the Ohio Senate debate between Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel. Infuriating little boy Josh. Did he actually answer any of the questions? Can’t wait for the next Presidential Debate. I just know President Obama is going to bring it. Sorry I don’t consider lying through all of your answers a win, Romney. But most Americans aren’t smart enough to check the facts on these debates and candidates can get away with saying anything that comes to mind..facts don’t really matter when it comes to swaying peoples votes right? I thought Vice President Biden did a great job  at his debate. Loved the use of the word Malarkey. Anyway, that’s my take on politics today.

Cool Irish fact: all Irish cars have license plates that follow the same format “Year made, City made in, and Number of cars of that model sold that year.” So an example would be “02 C 1389,” which would mean it was made in 2002, in Cork/Corcaigh (Gaelic), and 1,389 cars of that specific model were made in 2002 when that car was purchased. Cool huh? The oldest car I’ve seen was from 1986. It had character. If it was made in Dublin, it would have a D, Galway is a G, and so on. I thought that was an excellent idea. Let’s get it together America.

I am currently planning a trip with my American friends to Italy. We’ll spend one day and night in London on the way over and then we’ll spend the weekend in Rome with a day in Florence. I’m beyond excited but right now, being in the planning stages is a tad unpleasant. Why does everything cost money? I think more things should be free for students. Everyone knows we’re broke and just want to experience everything! Let’s be more kind hearted please World.

This wasn’t really a picture heavy post which makes me sad so here are some random pictures I like that show you I have friends and I love trees/nature.

                   

Oh you don’t pronounce the j in fjord?

This past week wasn’t all that eventful. I had an annoying cold that had me in bed for most of the time I wasn’t in class or eating. I’m not 100% recovered yet but I feel a whole heck of a lot better and I’m still taking my vitamins so I am feeling confident that I will beat this stupid bug! I did do one very important thing last week. Last Tuesday I registered with the Garda. It’s a requirement of all international students. They just need to know that we’re here, taking a full course load of classes, and we can sustain ourselves financially while we’re here and we have medical insurance. There were a ton of forms that I needed to bring with me including proof of residence and proof of all aforementioned things. It was quite a hike trying to get there. Kiah and I went with a vague idea of where the Garda station was and semi-directions from her Irish flatmate. Well we got lost of course so we had to ask for directions. The first man I approached was an elderly fellow who shook his head and darted away from me when I asked which was funny/confusing. I swear I didn’t smell. Kiah picked a friendlier looking guy and he gave us fabulous directions and we got there in no time. Well it was still a 40 minute walk altogether but we did triumph. We registered and had to pay a whopping 150 euro in order to get this international card that we’re supposed to take everywhere with us that says we’re legit. They even took our picture! It is a cute card, but hardly worth 150 euro.

    

The rest of the week was filled with class going and trying to beat my cold. By Friday I was feeling well enough to depart for our Adventure Weekend put on by our program, Ifsa-Butler. We hopped on a bus and 5 hours later we were in Connemara. We stayed at this hostel/adventure place that was very nice. Most of my friends from UCC were put into the same room as me so we were quite pleased. There were so many activities to choose from that sounded amazing and adventuresome. We decided to start out with a ropes course and zip lining because we all wanted to do that for sure. We started off on the ropes course with a very nice instructor named Graham. The group decided to do this activity where 4 people climbed up with 30 ft. pole and had to all stand on this tiny wooden square and then hold hands and fall back into a star formation. Much easier said than done. First off, I’m a huge baby when it comes to adventure things. I’m not athletic and I’m much more comfortable on the ground than climbing anything. So it took a lot of coaxing to get me up the pole in the first place. I was the third person to climb up so getting onto the tiny piece of wood was one of the biggest physical challenges I’ve ever faced. I straight up did not think my body was coordinated enough to pull this thing off. By some miracle and a lot of help from my team mates, I was eventually able to get up there. But then we all had to keep our balance. Thank goodness Dominic was the fourth person to climb up because he’s a freaking monkey and super skilled at balancing so he did it with ease. I was definitely not bitter that it was so easy for him.. We then got into the star formation which looked pretty cool from the ground.

     

The second activity I chose to take part in was laser combat. Which is laser tag but in the woods with camo jackets on and face paint. Not gonna lie, I looked pretty freaking badass. And I also low-key felt like I was in the Hunger Games. So yes, I did take it super seriously and my team dominated. I had a sniper thing going on where I was situated across this dirt path behind a tree where no one could see me and I just took aim and laser killed a ton of people. One guy did actually find my location, which was troublesome at the time but I took cover behind a bush and took aim of his location behind a tree and as soon as he stuck his head out, I shot him and took one of his laser lives. It was pretty impressive if I do say so myself. My team got 5 people out (each player had nine lives and had to go through all those lives before they were out) and the other team didn’t get any of my team out. So no big deal but really huge deal and we’re awesome.

The last activity that I chose was kayaking and cliff jumping in Ireland’s only fjord. It was hands down my favorite activity. To lay out the scene, it was absolutely freezing. It was winter temperatures for Ireland but Kiah convinced me that I would regret it if I backed out just because it was cold and she was right. We were given wetsuits so our bodies weren’t really that cold but our hands were still exposed and I was wearing rain boots because I didn’t bring any tennis shoes to Ireland. So they immediately filled up with freezing water. But Kiah and I were killing it in our doubles kayak. We were speeding past this other kid that was doing it with us..he was having a bit of a difficult time. We paddled around for a bit and then we went to do the cliff jump which at the time, I swore I was not going to do. I was cold enough in the kayak and I had no intention of getting even wetter. But our instructor convinced me to get out of my kayak and just take a look at the jump to get a feel for it. Then he convinced me to take my glasses off just in case they fell into the water from looking at the jump. And then by that time there was just no point in not jumping since I was all ready to go. Kiah leaped right in like it was no big deal but again I was a huge baby and made her come back and hold my hand. It was adorable. True friendship right there. It was actually warmer being in the water than on land, which our instructor had told us but I didn’t believe at all. Turns out he actually knows what he’s talking about..weird right?

Overall it was a fantastic weekend. I bonded a lot more with my program friends and made a couple new ones. Not going to lie, I didn’t like most of the other people that were there from different universities. It was easy to see why Americans get a bad rep while they’re in foreign countries. There was an issue with some guys next door not knowing what common courtesy meant and they were just being disrespectful to the entire hall. But it was just a minor bump in the weekend. I wasn’t going to let a few assholes ruin my weekend! It is nice to be back in Cork. It was very easy to see that I chose the right University to attend. Now I’m starting the week and looking forward to going to my classes and getting to work. I’ll describe each one of them in my next blog post because I think they’re all super interesting and who wouldn’t want to hear about them!? That is all for now. Much love to the US!