So a thousand times adieu, We’ve got Bono and U2, All we’re missin’ is the Guinness, and the rain

Okay. So. Here we Go. My final blog post to officially end my semester abroad. Apologies for neglecting the site these last couple weeks. With finals taking up much of my time, with any free moments I had I tried my hardest to be out of the house and making the best of my incredibly limited time. I’m currently flying 36,000 feet above the Atlantic, headed for JFK and I have no idea how I want this post to sound. But I want to start with this disclaimer: No matter how this post comes across, I truly am ecstatic to be home. If you were a reader of this blog or someone that kept in touch with me throughout my experiences here, you are 100% one of the people I am so excited to hug and see and talk to about everything going on at home! With that being said, I am heartbroken to leave the place that’s become my home over the past four months. It’s hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. The past couple of days have been nothing but nostalgia and hugs coupled with crying and laughter.

 

I spent my morning sitting out on our balcony (which is against the rules.. soo… sorry Gara and Laureth), with a coffee watching the sun move higher in the sky and trying to really reflect on my time here. Actually, that’s how I’ve spent most of my time these last couple days. I thought about my last night with the recent strangers that had become closer to me than people I have known my entire life. I thought back on a conversation we’d all had about how to describe exactly what we’re feeling. The best I could come up with was: “it feels like someone is breaking up with me and there’s nothing I can do to change their mind.” And once I thought about it the more I realized how true it really was. It’s like one of those great romance novels or Nicholas Sparks movies: It was love at first sight in Dublin. From the minute I landed to the minute I took off, I never once felt like I wasn’t home. It was so comfortable and so exhilarating at the same time. If this were a Nicholas Sparks movie, I’d have plenty of music-backed montages to show the incredible laughter and happiness and new experiences this Emerald Isle has brought me.

Just like in any relationship that comes to an end, it’s the little things that you miss the most. The walks to Tesco, topping up our leap cards, trying to make the DART on time, Dun Laoghaire and the 40 foot, the River Liffey, Grafton street and the incredibly talented street performers, Henry Street, the crazies on the corner across from the O’Connell Bridge, the proper voiced bus stop announcements in English and Irish, Temple Bar, the always interesting nights that come with Flannery’s, the communication barrier between the Irish texters, and of course our incredibly beautiful home, Ailesbury Road. This is probably incredibly boring for the readers that haven’t lived this, but that’s okay. I’m writing this for me, while everything is still crystal clear and fresh in my memories (sans the Flannery’s nights which have never been crystal clear .. sorry mom) because in the past week anytime one of the aforementioned little things came about, I’d get that tight feeling in my chest and the lump in my throat. I loved those little things and it’s important to me that I don’t forget what they are.

 

I thought about saying goodbye to our beautiful house and then I thought about the amazing family that came to be because of that house: the beautiful people who made that house a home. From that mildly awkward first day at the Guinness Storehouse, to our first night out, getting off at the wrong bus stop (Sorry guys), our less awkward trip to Belfast (Helfast for some), to the family we became in Galway, to the shared looks of boredom and giggles in Marnie’s class, and the laughter till we cried in the kitchen, we truly became the family that was so hard to part with this morning. I don’t think there’s much I can say that hasn’t already been beautifully worded by one of my housemates already. I just wanted to say, if you’re reading, Nicole, Cassie, and Tara, you’re ability and preparedness to help anyone, be there for anyone, and uplift anyone at the drop of a hat has taught me a huge deal about the meaning of friendship. Ashley N.  Your hilarious stories and sense of humor brought a smile to my face every time I got to hear a recap of our Dublin nights. Kathleen and Joanne although completely opposite, you’re ability to truly be yourselves no matter who’s watching and what you’re doing is something I hope never changes. Evan and Lucas were just the brothers I needed to keep me grounded and keep me laughing at myself. Cara and Meredith, You are both truly beautiful people. Cara the energy you always have about you even when you’re stuck in bed with strep throat, you’re still able to make me die of laughter. And Meredith I am so happy I get to call you my friend and to know someone just as obsessed with the Jonas Brothers as I am. Gareth was always around with travel advice, a funny story, help with our way around town, or just for a laugh and Laura was like the big sister I’d never had, constantly there to show her support, give advice, or just listen. And then there were my roommates: Ashley and Josie, I cannot imagine this semester without you. You two goofballs taught me so much. You cleaned up after my messy side of the room, you danced with me to countless songs, you pigged out with me in the worst ways possible: Ben & Jerry’s, Pringles, Potato Chips, and Chocolates. I wouldn’t have been able to share that beautiful room with anybody else. You’ve truly become my sisters and I’ll miss our spacious bedroom with our more than comfy Ikea beds in the beautiful St. Michael’s Mansion on the breathtaking Ailesbury Road. What I would do for one more kitchen dance party. Those goodbyes were not easy. And then my thoughts turn to my tearful goodbye to the breathtaking Dublin Bay, which has proven to become an amazing friend of mine. I know only crazy people and 5 year olds are allowed to claim inanimate objects as their friends, so maybe I’m crazy, but that place was always there for me and never ceased to amaze me from my first run in January to my last one on Thursday. I always ended up there when I’d need to get away from the house, or my homework, or technology and when things got hectic a trip to the bay made everything clear, it brought me back to the present, it shut my thoughts up and let me just be. Anyone that knows me in the house knows I never shut up about that place. Sometimes a 6 mile run would take up to an hour and a half because I would find a new place to just sit and watch the waves roll in and out, or the sail boats in Dun Laoghaire blow around, or a new glimpse at my favorite bright red lighthouse in the distance. The Dublin Bay was definitely one of the harder goodbyes I’d ever had.

Living here abroad and traveling Europe has changed me in more ways than I can even think of and I’d like to think it’s all for the better. I’ve figured out how to maneuver my way around foreign cities without the help of the ever so present iphone. I’ve learned about countless new cultures, met some truly incredible people from all over the world, and I’ve learned a shit ton about myself. I know I don’t have much of a right to be so sad to leave because of how lucky I am to have been able to experience this life in the first place and I count my blessings everyday, trust me.  Just two years ago the entire scope of my world was the drive from little old Margate to the halls of Atlantic City High School, but now, 24 months later, I find myself with three different places I’m lucky enough to claim as home: My quiet little South Jersey beach town, the skyscraper and river surrounded city of Pittsburgh, and the beautiful, breathtaking, buzzing town of Dublin Ireland. I’ve said it before and I know it’s cliché, but home is absolutely where the heart is and after this four month whirlwind, I’ll always have a piece of my heart on this Emerald Island. Until Next Time Dublin town

 

So much love,

Nellie

 

 

 

PS: I also need to send HUGE and incredibly heartfelt and grafteful thank you’s to the people who are making my departure from Dublin so much easier so look fo yo name!

 

Aunt Ceil: My friends and I always knew that as soon as a post with my name tagged it in went up, you’d be the first one on there to show your support and love. They would always say: you’re aunt really loves you doesn’t she? So thank you so much for constantly keeping up with me, and keeping in touch with me. For taking time to send me cards and money on my birthday! I’m so lucky to have you!

 

Aunt Beth: Always asking for the next blog post and always just as excited for my adventures as I am! You’re visit is something I would talk about to my last day in Ireland. My friends still ask me about my fun Aunt Beth. Thank you so much for all your support and love I’ll see you so so soon!

 

Kar-mom: Every time my blog post would go up I could count on you to share it right away along with an e-mail complimenting my writing and letting me know that you’re right along this adventure with me! Also incredibly grateful for the time you took to have everyone send me individual birthday cards with updates and love. And for sending me money in hopes that I could make these four months everything I wanted them to be. And I did so thank you.

 

Aunt Ellen: My G-mom. Thank you for the e-mails and all the encouragement on facebook and the texts letting me know that it’s okay to be sad I’m leaving, but that I also have so many amazing people to come home to! You’re financial assistance is also responsible for a lot of the amazing times I’ve had here and I have no idea how to thank you!

 

Aunt Jackie and Britt: I’m still so happy I got to see you here in Dublin. Thank you for taking your time to come over here and let me share some amazing memories with you. And for taking the time to send me the birthday card with all those pictures.. I think you can guess which one was my favorite.

 

Uncle Ed: I don’t even know where to start. Throughout all the time I’ve known you (so like… my entire life) you never ever let me make excuses or take an easy way out. You’re constantly finding the holes in my stories and forcing me to take the risks I may have been trying to find an excuse to avoid. You’ve helped me to become a better person in so many ways. I know we don’t do this sappy BS but I don’t know where I would be without your support.  You’re not just my uncle, but one of my closest friends and I constantly want to share what’s going on and my newest and most exciting stories with you. None of this would have been possible without you. So thank you so so so much.

 

Mom and Dad: For constantly supporting me, and never ever allowing me to limit myself to all the possibilities and adventures I experienced while I was here. For taking time away to come visit and allowing me to share my new world with you. I would be nowhere without your constant love and support and laughter. Another example of not only my parents but some of my best friends. I can’t believe I lasted so long without you guys around, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it if you didn’t teach me how to grow and be the independent person I am. I love you guys.

And also to Aunt Ruth, Nanny and Poppy, Patty Enright, and Suzie & Carl for all the mail. Everytime I’d see a postcard or envelope waiting with my name on it made my day a little brighter. Thank you so much for keeping up with my experiences here.

Alright readers, if you’re still with me, that’s probably about it for me and my adventures, I’m headed into a summer of two jobs and then an incredibly busy school year. Thanks so much for keeping up with me during my time abroad. My blog has surpassed 10,000 views over these four months and I’m sure to real bloggers that’s not a huge deal at all, but for me that’s incredible. So thanks for reading, even through my long rants like this one. Less than two hours until I’m home, I’ll see you all soon. Sláinte

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“And to sit beside a turf fire in the cabin And see the sun go down on Galway Bay”

Hey hey!

I’m writing to ya’ll on a train bound for Amsterdam Central Station! Ash and I just left Budapest and plan to spend four days in this Netherlands city. As I try to pass time on this lengthy train ride, I started scrolling through my Instagram feed featuring forty shades of green, orange, and white partnered with a crap ton of alcohol and drunk selfies. This can only mean one thing: it’s St. Paddy’s (Not patty’s) parade day! Which reminded me: I never updated you on my trip to Galway!! Hopefully I can pack in some irish facts for you guys just in time for the season!

SO I arrived in Galway a day earlier than my classmates because my parents and Uncle Ed wanted to see the West as well. After I said my sad goodbyes, I checked out of one luxury hotel and walked thirty seconds down the road to check into another. Rough life I lead I know. The first day with my classmates was spent getting acquainted with the city and the beautiful Galway Bay. We also did a group dinner, searched for claddagh rings, and enjoyed a night out.

The next day we got to experience some on sight irish history and culture. We took a beautiful ride out to a farm where we saw a beautiful view of the country side and then we were driven by tractor-pulled trolly to an old cottage once owned by famed farmer Dan O’hara. A farmer forced by tyrannical landlords to leave his home after he refused to pay the fine for increasing the size of his windows. He and his family packed up and left for America. Unfortunately, his wife and one of his children died on the boat ride over and he was left broken hearted and poor, forced to sell matchboxes on the streets where he would sing this song:

some irish info I learned at the cottage, if you are easily bored you may want to skip ahead a bit.
The man giving the tour showed us how to pull turf. A solidy/muddy substance found in the ground. The turf is packed so tight that oxygen can’t get in and due to the lack of oxygen, perfectly preserved bodies (bog bodies) have been found four times in the irish turf. The guide cut a piece in half revealing some plants that can date back to a time when Christ was walking the earth. When the turf sits out for a few days it’s eventually dried out and used in fireplaces to produce fire: a turf fire.

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The man also explained the story of wellies (rainboots) and why they call them such a strange name. (Sparked my interest as Uncle ed had just gotten me a pair and we did not understand the term at all) well General Wellington -the Irish-English general responsible for defeating Napoleon- died and as a sign of respect his boots were turned backwards in the foot holes of the saddle on his horse. This created a leather boot fashion trend, and when someone started making them out of rubber to cut costs, the name was born.

Once inside the cottage our guide pulled out some moonshine from a hiding spot in the ceiling. The irish call it: uisce beatha which literally means “water of life” and is thought to have influenced the modern irish word fuisce meaning whiskey. I’m assuming that was the drink of choice for most yesterday, so now you can say it in the irish language! (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it) After the introduction, he poured some people shots. I opted out. But I enjoyed hearing the familiar toast that he taught to the students braver than I: “Here’s to those who wish us well and those who don’t can go to hell” (familiar thanks to my abundant irish alcoholic family members.)

Then we left for Kylemore Abbey to see how the other half (the landlords) lived during those times. It was incredible. And also very nearby multiple filming locations from The Quiet Man. This was the mansion belonging to the Henry family. The owner was a landlord who had a bit more sympathy for the farmers than many others of his kind did.

The next day we left early morning for the Cliffs of Moher. I have zero words for them. It was a surreal experience. I managed to stray from the group and avoided picture taking in order to get to the best view in limited time. Once I reached my destination I stood in silence for ten minutes looking around in awe and feeling incredibly small. I wish I could find words or pictures to really do it justice, but I cannot.

After the cliffs was a lunch stop that I appreciated: the original Durty Nelly’s. Then a trip to Bunratty castle/village. The castle was really well preserved and had real artifacts from room to room. We also got the chance to walk around the little Bunratty village and pet some Irish wolfhounds, goats (the funniest animal ever), and a piggie.

Once we were done at the village, we packed on our bus and headed back home to Dublin. Finally all my essays, visitors, and trips were taken care of and I had two days to myself before packing up and leaving for my 3 countries in 12 days trip. Budapest to Amsterdam to Barcelona. I’m four days in and having the absolute time of my life. I can’t wait to write all about it.

Until then: I hope your parade day was a great Craic!
Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.
‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sláinte

Some (memory based and probably only half true) St. Patrick facts:
-he first arrived in Ireland from England as a slave.
-upon escaping/being freed he returned to his home only to hear a calling from God to go back and convert the Pagan Irish to Catholics.
-it’s believed Patrick May not have been the first to introduce Catholicism as a man named Palladius was documented as a catholic missionary in Ireland a few years before Patrick’s alleged return to the country.
-he became famed years after his death due to two writers, who are believed to have been the originators of the famed snake story among other myths surrounding the saint. They did so in hopes of making the saint of their church the patron saint of Ireland.
-America has adopted the holiday and some irish say the parades in America are bigger and better than the ones throughout Ireland!!!

To live above with the Saints we love,
Ah, that is the purest glory.
To live below with the Saints we know,
Ah, that is another story!

Okay bye for real this time!

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Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you

Hi peeps!

These past two weeks have been insane! I arrived back in Ireland from Norway with the rude reminder of why I’m actually living in Dublin, for school. I had four papers to write in four days if I wanted some free time to spend with my long list of visitors arriving at the end of the week; so Monday I hit the library and got to work. I finished one a day until my last paper which took a bit longer than expected, but my best friend Ashley was arriving that day and I was too excited to concentrate!

Ash arrived in Dublin on the last Thursday of February and Josie and I couldn’t have been more excited! Ashley’s spending her semester on the Duquesne campus in Rome and her stories sound absolutely amazing. I get to visit her during Holy Week so just you wait people. I’ll have tons of great and Godly and stories to tell ya’ll! BUT While Ash was here we planned out our spring break together! We’ll be spending two days in Budapest, four in Amsterdam, and four in Barcelona!!!! If any of you worldly readers have any advice or insight on any of the aforementioned destinations I’d love to hear them!! Getting to see Ash after her month in Italy made me realize just how much of a truly life changing experience studying abroad is. Ashley has a completely different mindset about her: Before she sucked. Now she’s just mildly tolerable. (kidding). My crazy, wired roommate has become this laid back, silver lining seeking, culture addicted wander-luster. And being abroad really does open your mind. It makes you realize how big the world is, and how much there is to explore. I hope I never find myself laying in my bed in Dublin unless I’m sleeping or trying to plan my next adventure because after how quickly this week has gone by I’ve realized how little time I actually have to explore this side of the world.

Annnnyyywaayysssss: On to my next set of visitors. Brittany and Aunt Jackie arrived in Dublin the day after Ashley (Friday) and my parents and Uncle Eddie just two days after that (Sunday)! Throughout the weekend there were plenty of dinners, laughs, and love! On Sunday we went to one of my favorite pubs called “The Old Storehouse” where we were surprised with one of my favorite pub singers in Dublin Jake Suleman. Aunt Jackie cheered him on and afterwards my dad decided to adopt him as the new Irish Kevin. He offered him up the basement for the summer and told him to drop the English accent and adopt and Irish one and he would find him plenty of places to sing in Atlantic City. If only my dad could remember the poor kid’s name for longer than five minutes. I really loved getting to see so many familiar faces in such a far away place because it’s something not many study abroad students get to experience and I’m so so grateful that so many people have taken the time to come and visit me. In fact the whole entire time everyone was here I noticed a recurring question popping up in my thoughts: “How did I get so lucky?”

Tuesday was the day that that thought was loud, and clear, and infinitely replaying in my head. Aunt Jackie, Britt,Uncle Ed, my mother, my father, and I all loaded onto a tour bus and spent the day in Northern Ireland. Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede bridge. After some coercing from the entire bus, my mom agreed to partake in the bridge crossing, so we hopped off the bus and were on our way. The walk down to the bridge was beautiful. I think it’s so important for people coming to Ireland to get the heck out of Dublin and really see the naturally beautiful sights that exist here. The mountains were green, the skies were clear (well as clear as you can expect in Ireland), and the ocean was a beautiful blue and even had a little seal swimming around! Unlike my mom, I found the bridge to be a lot of fun. I bounced my way along, it felt like a trampoline. My dad bounced a long as well, while my mom was an inch above crawling and repeating the words “don’t look down” over and over.

Next stop on our bus trip was Giant’s Causeway. We learned all about the legend of Finn McCool. He was a giant (ridiculously good looking cartoon) man protecting Ireland from invaders, but there was a Scottish (Not so good looking) giant named Benandonner who was threatening to take Finn’s wife. In order to check out his competition, Finn built a bridge/pathway across the ocean to Scotland to spy on Benandonner. When he saw how large Bannandonner was he ran as quickly as he could back to Ireland. When Benandonner heard that Finn McCool had been to Scotland without challenging him, he made his way over McCool’s pathway to Ireland to fight for Finn’s wife. Finn McCool and his wife devised a plan. She planned to dress him up as a baby and place him in a crib, telling Benandonner that the “baby” was McCool’s his son. When Banandonner arrived at the house and saw the size of what he thought was McCool’s son, he thought McCool must be huge and he ran all the way back to Scotland, smashing the foot path along the way.

Tuesday we said bye to Aunt Jackie and Britty and spent the day at the kilmainham gaol (jail). Loaded with so much interesting Irish history and Friday, we left for Galway. My parents and Uncle Ed were only in Galway for the night, but I’m here ’till Monday. The train ride here was beautiful. We saw so many beautiful farms, and fields. Last night (Friday) we walked around this adorable little Irish city. The Galway bay is beautiful. We had dinner and then went to The Spanish Arch for some drinks and I learned a very important lesson: The Welsh love my mother and my dad loves the Welsh. The second my dad left for the bathroom a group of Welsh men descended. They crowded around my mom to the point that my dad could barely get back to his spot back at the bar. When we introduced them to my dad, they ended up loving him more than me or my mom. Typical. BUT They (my parents and Uncle Ed) loved the friendly little city of Galway. And so do I. I can’t wait to explore it some more!

This Morning I said my goodbyes to my final visitors. I was sad to see them go, but this week we made some of the best memories I’ll have in my four months of being here. Between catching up and cracking up with Ashley, taking in the sights and laughing at our parents with Britt, peeking in windows with Aunt Jackie, eating incredible meals and making friends with our cab drivers with Uncle Ed, making friends with all of Ireland and Wales and romping around in our Wooly Jumpers with my dad, and cuddling with my mommy I really can’t believe how lucky I am to have so many amazing people with so much love and support and positivity. I’m so grateful for my visitors I’ll miss you guys so much!!

Next is my weekend in Galway and shortly after that, my spring break begins. Now that I’m about half way through this incredible experience I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here will entail! Until next time!!!

Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you!

Sláinte

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May you have love that never ends, lots of money, and lots of friends.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad!

Hey fam, friends, stangers, and others,

So my first of many visitors have come and gone without any casualties (other than some scraped knees on poor, drunk Emily.). And holy crap you Americans are crazy. 😉 I’d recovered from my tonsillitis and Aunt Beth (who asked me to stop calling her aunt), Emily, and Olivia arrived last Wednesday afternoon and had a non-stop week long party that I almost had trouble keeping up with. Wednesdays are a busy day for me with classes starting and 9 am and going till 8 pm, so when I arrived to their hotel around 9, I was far behind their pint count as they had started their party as soon as their plane touched down. Crazy crazy Americans.

So if the first day was any indicator, clearly we spent many a nights exploring pubs and trying to find Beth the best Irish coffee in the city (which we decided can be found at the Porterhouse). While Beth was falling in love with Irish coffee and Brown Bread, the girls were falling in love with the heartthrob bar staff of the Auld Dubliner. Barry, Warren, and Owen became quick friends to Emily, Bethy, and Liv, and we were sure to stop in for a pint every night so they could say their hellos. Some other pubs we frequented this week included O’Neill’s which has some great Trad music playing upstairs every night, Peardy O’Kearny’s where I was forced to sing – sorry, scream- a rendition of Valerie as per Beth’s not so optional suggestion, and the Old Storehouse which might have been my personal favorite. It screamed classic Irish pub culture with displays of old newspaper articles, pictures, and Guinness adds lining the walls as some musicians played some great Irish pub songs.

But contrary to popular belief, the girls’ entire time here, was not spent watching Barry and Warren run around the Auld Dubliner. We got some culture and history lessons in as well as my personal favorite part of the visit; some home cooked meals!!! We spent one of our days roaming around the beautiful Trinity campus, visiting the Book of Kells and the Old Library which looked like a scene out of Harry Potter, and of course an hour or so afterwards you could’ve found us drinking Irish Coffee and Pints at the Porterhouse, but quit judging, we needed an afternoon pick me up. Saturday was one of my favorite days here. We were picked up by Beth’s friends and Dublin residents Amanda and Diarmud, sister and brother-in-law to her boss and friend in Atlantic city, Ruth. Amanda and Diarmud took us to the Glasnevin Cemetery, museum, and botanical gardens. Diarmud is a huge history buff and told us all about Daniel O’Connell’s grave among other historically important figures buried there. We were also able to visit Amanda’s brother and father’s spots in the beautiful cemetery and afterwards roamed the grounds of the Botanical Garden nearby. Afterwards we headed to Amanda’s mother’s house where I enjoyed my first home cooked meal in over a month! Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread. I was in heaven. Their family and home was a fantastic environment to be around. The girls also spent a day touring Belfast, but I sat out of that trip in hopes of catching up on some homework I had been neglecting. I ended up watching hours of How I Met Your Mother, but hey at least I got to rest!

The last night of the trip was spent at Amanda and Diarmud’s. They made us soup and ribs. I think my enthusiasm for the Spaghetti meal aroused some pity in them and they decided I could use another home cooked meal 😉 . It was so so delicious. Amanda is an amazing cook. and They’re both great company. I’m so glad I have some friendly faces to turn to in Dublin and I’m so appreciative of the great time they showed all of us while Beth, Liv and Emily were here. So that was our week in a nut shell. Clearly lots of love and lots of friends!! I had an awesome awesome time with my first round of visitors. I leave for Norway tomorrow afternoon in search for the Northern lights. When I return on Sunday I have just a few short days of classes until my roommate and best friend Ashley, Aunt Jackie, and Brittany arrive on Thursday and just a few short days later Uncle Ed, and my Mommy and Daddy are finally here!!!! This is gonna be a fantastic couple of weeks and I can’t wait to write all about it!!!!

Until Next Time! xxx

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A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.

Hi world!

I’m writing to you from my bed, where I have been for the past 48 hours because I figure, meh Ireland’s cool and all but, watching 2 and a half seasons of How I Met Your Mother is like wayyyy cooler. Jokes. I’m sick. I have the Plague and I am dying. Jokes again. I have the ever so persistent strep throat. It feels like a burning hot curling iron is lodged in my throat and I haven’t been able to eat or talk at all, but don’t cry for me people. I will be okay I will make it out of this alive I promise you.

Welcome to my Pity Party! We have snacks!

Welcome to my Pity Party! We have snacks!

BUT there is good news (besides the fact that I can eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s without the usual self loathing that follows): Before the strep really kicked in I had the opportunity to do some super cool Irish stuff on Saturday (and it was all paid for by UCD. Win!) So we started our day at the Newgrange passage tomb in Co Meath. If you’re like me and you had no idea what that is, I shall tell you what that is.

Newgrange

Newgrange

The Newgrange passage tomb was built in 3200 B.C. Before the invention of the wheel, before the pyramids were even a thought in egyptian minds, and… Before Christ? (I couldn’t think of a third one). Anyway the fact that this thing was built before the invention of the wheel is pretty impressive because the stones they used were only available in other Irish counties. These stone age people had to carry these rocks from places miles and miles away to build this thing. The Newgrange tomb went unexplored for thousands of years until the 60’s when an archeological team was put together to do some excavating. Before then, Cows could still be seen grazing on the grass on top of the tomb. Something else incredibly impressive was the window-type structure above the entrance to the tomb. During the winter solstice, when the sun is rising, this window structure was carefully placed where it was in order to capture the sunlight to shine directly into the tomb. We could only see a reenactment of the event, but still very very impressive. While it is still unsure as to what exactly the tomb was for, it is believed that these people would cremate their dead, place the ashes in the tomb, and when the winter solstice arrived, the beam of sunlight (if they were sun worshippers) would carry their souls onto their afterlife.  While we were inside the tomb, the tour guide was sure to let us know that we were standing under thousand of tons of rock that were placed there without any adhesive assistance. Comforting. But still an incredibly cool experience.

After we finished our tour at Newgrange, we bussed to a place called Causey Farms. First we partnered up and learned how to make Irish Soda Bread (Psh I already knew how to do that). While we were waiting for our bread to bake, we went into a barn where we learned an Irish Dance and learned how to play an Irish drum a.k.a bodhrán. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t very good at either. We still had some time to kill so the farm owners took us to look at some baby lambs that had just been born where I fulfilled the long sung prophecy: Mary had a little lamb. Those things were so freakin’ cute I came so very close to sneaking one home with me. At that point the strep was really kickin’ in so I didn’t get to try our Irish Soda Bread, but I heard it was great.

I’m hoping for a speedy recovery because Beth, Liv, and Emily get here Wednesday!! I’m so excited to have my first visitors in Dublin! Hope all is well at home, or wherever you’re reading this from! Miss everyone a lot a lot a lot!! I’ve had my good laugh with writing this, now it’s time for a long long long sleep.

Sláinte!

 

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“Tis a beautiful land this dear isle of song, Its gems shed their light to the world”

Hey hey!!

It’s 9 a.m. here and while I should be getting ready for class I’m just way too excited to start this post. Quick UCD update: In hopes of meeting more students at UCD, we all decided to join some of the school’s clubs and societies that they offer. There’s some really cool options for students including wind surfing, mountaineering, and judo. I didn’t choose any of those. But I did join the boxing club (after they promised I didn’t have to compete if I didn’t want to). I also joined the Saint Vincent Di Paul volunteer club, and the music society. The music society kind of creates a network for musicians at the school and also holds open mic nights and provides vocal workshops. Can’t wait till they start up.

But anyway on to the fun stuff. Saturday morning Josie, Ashley and I headed off to Kinsale in Co Cork. I don’t even think words can describe how much I love this place. We arrived at our hostel Saturday afternoon and it was comedically terrible. We all sat in the room and laughed for ten minutes about our beds and the smell of the hostel and then decided we might as well get out of there and start exploring. We found Jim Edwards (thanks Karen) and grabbed lunch. Because it was so early we decided to walk around for a bit, but none of us were prepared for the rain and ended up soaking wet and seeking refuge in a little chocolate shop called Koko. We asked about a bar I had read about online… turns out it’s been closed for ten years.. not embarrassing at all. While we were using the man’s store as our protection from the rain, we figured we’d have to buy chocolate.. it’s the polite thing to do right? So Ashley and I bought “chocolate shots”: literally liquid milk chocolate in a shot glass. Clearly that was the official start to our fantastic night.

Since the owner of the chocolate store couldn’t figure out which pub we were looking for, (awkward) he suggested we go to the Greyhound. Mostly because they had fireplaces and we could warm up and dry off from the rainy weather. We headed over there, but didn’t take the France Vs England Rugby match into account and walked into and incredibly crowded pub. Just as we were about to leave due to a lack of places to sit, a group offered to share their table and as awkward as we felt at first, I am so glad we decided to stay. Our table-mates turned out to be a lot of fun. A comedian from Galway named Breda Larkin and a drummer in a local reggae band called Karma Parking from Zimbabwe named Jono. Jono’s been living in Ireland for almost 13 years and because we clearly had no idea what we were doing still searching for a bar from 10 years ago, he helped us out. He brought us to a pub called Seanachai where he literally knew everyone. It’s just like when you walk into a bar dad, except when he walks in the reaction from the bartenders is a little more welcoming than “shit he’s here, hide the scotch.” 😉 We made friends with the wonderfully gay surfer bartender Dale and the dreadlocked co-owner of the bar, Danny. We listened to Danny and Jono add a bit of a reggae sound to some Irish trad music with their drums and then danced to a reggae DJ until the bar closed. Then we got to hang out with a bunch of the bartenders and local people in Danny’s apartment above the bar. It was one of the first times we didn’t feel like the tourists that we are!

We woke up the next morning not even a little bit hungover (I swear Kinsale is magic) and decided to explore. The weather was so perfect: enough rain to make a few rainbows, and then sunny for the rest of the day. We made our way to Charles Fort and the views on our mile and a half walk were like looking at a 3-D postcard:

We still had some time before our bus came to take us away so we did some more exploring of the town. Here’s some pics from Saturday’s rainy exploring and Sunday’s sunny exploring:

On our way back we took a detour from Cork city center and found Blarney Castle. I wish we had more time to explore but we had to catch the last bus out of Cork at 6 so we had just enough time to kiss the stone!

The past few days have been so much fun. After a long day of classes, the rest of today will be spent catching up with some long lost sleep. Thank you so so much Karen, Torker, Ceil, and Ted for contributing to the “Nellie can’t afford to buy pints in Ireland” fund. It was put to great use this weekend!!! Hope everyone at home enjoyed their super bowl Sunday! How amazing was Bruno Mars?!

Until next time!

Nellie

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Playing Catch-Up

Hey peeps,

Haven’t posted in a week or so, so I thought I’d do that now! Not much to report this time… Last week was our first week of classes. I’ve already talked about my music and words class, but I’m also taking a class called Life in the Republic. The class is a look at the transition from the Irish Free State to the Republic of Ireland up until the bank failures in 2008. I’m feeling a bit in over my head on this one, but hopefully I can keep up.

Last week we saw another band at Whelan’s. This time a local group called Mojo Gogo who put on an awesome show. We also went to a club/pub inbetween called Flannery’s which we all loved. My roommate Ashley found a more European-style restaurant called the Winding Stair right across the river from the Temple Bar area. The food was amazing and the view was gorgeous.

The Winding Stair over looks the River LIffey

The Winding Stair over looks the River LIffey

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Ashley also found a cute little cafe called the Bell & Pot so six of us ventured there this afternoon and as my friend Tara put it, if Anthropologie had a restaurant, this would be it. We spent the rainy afternoon drinking tea, eating soup, and just talking about everything from ghost stories to family aspirations. Then we searched for a Gluten free bakery Tara had heard about called Antoinettes.

Clearly not a super amount of interesting things to report this week, but most of it was spent trying to get acclimated to the city. We’ve almost got the bus system mastered! My Irish friend from Duquesne, Harry, asked me yesterday if I’ve noticed any differences between Ireland and America. Although there definitely hasn’t been anything major quite yet, there are some little things:

1. People here drive like maniacs and would probably belly laugh at the term yield to pedestrians. When you’re crossing the street you better look left and right three times over before taking a step. Those cars come out of no where and the busses will kill you before stopping to let you cross.

2. The students dress differently here. Showing up to class dressed in clothes from the work out section of TJ Maxx (TK Maxx in Ireland for whatever reason) is a huge no no. The girls dress so adorably. I’ve seen a lot of black booties and white converses, Cigarette style skinny jeans, and over sized sweaters among other fashionable tops as acceptable class wear. I’ve been keeping up so far, but it’s likely I will return to my TJ maxx attire soon because putting together cute outfits is just too much damn work. The boys however still seem to be living in 2008. Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch are everywhere you turn. Remember DC sneakers? You don’t have to reminisce too far back over here because they still seem to be a thing. But obviously the accent makes up for any and all fashion faux pas.

3. The houses here. The houses I have seen in Dublin are absolutely beautiful. No one house looks like the next. They all have their own character to them and none of them are made of the cheap plastic type material you’ll find in the states. Sometimes I’ll switch up my runs from the bay to the streets just get a better look at all the gorgeous detail put into each home.

4. Dogs without a leash. The dogs here are so ridiculously well behaved! More often than not a dog is walking alongside his owner leash-less. I don’t know how they do it. If Rudy was off his leash for a second he’d be jumping on the first person that passed him or chasing the first squirrel he saw. These dogs could care less about any one else. All they want is their owners and their tennis ball. The dogs without a leash used to make me nervous, but now I find myself less trusting of the ones with the leash.

5. Alcohol is expensive as fug. (sorry mom). But really a pint here is usually between 5.50-5.70 euro. Which converts to about$7.80. A handle of Smirnoff is about 51 euro which converts to about $68 (we’re trying to find the Vlad equivalent, but no such luck so far). I’m definitely going to have to start looking into some more free/cheap activities to do here in Dublin before I spend everything I have on pints and cabs.

All in all I love it here. My views on my runs never get old and I found a yoga studio half a mile up the road. We’re hoping to plan a trip to Cork for the weekend. So I’m sure I’ll have some slightly less boring stories to tell after that. Until then here’s some more random pictures I had no where to place in this post!

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