When I finished my last exam and I had two weeks before I leave Cork. I would have traveled if I had any money to spare and friends (who weren’t studying) to come with me. So I guess I’ll take this time to explore free things in Cork by myself…? I leave this Friday.
Obviously the best part of the past two months was when my mom and dad came to visit me and took me to London, Paris, Geneva, and Dublin. It was hard for me to get out of the student mindset of spending as little money as possible. For the first time since I got to Europe, traveling felt like a vacation. And I really needed that. Thanks, mom and dad.
My favorite part of London was seeing Hay Fever by Noel Coward. The cast was incredible: Lindsay Duncan (Under the Tuscan Sun), Jeremy Northam (Mr. Knightly in Emma), and Kevin McNally (Gibbs in Pirates of the Caribbean), and more hilarious, talented people. It was about family quirks and manners and drama we create to entertain ourselves. But our London experience, as far as the tourism part goes, was almost a repeat of what I did earlier, with variations in accommodation and food. My dad loved the warm English beers and the mugs they came in. My parents ordered fish and chips a lot (and they would not order any in Ireland because they had eaten so much there). I believe I got burgers quite often.
Side note: I renounced my vegetarianism when I was invited to a barbeque and could not resist trying a home-grilled burger. I almost cried. It made me so happy. I also had been involuntarily sleeping about twelve hours a day and I hadn’t been taking any vitamins or iron pills. Switching back to eating meat before I went on this trip with my parents was a very good idea.
It was a very good idea because we got to Paris and my parents looked for the best food. We met up with my American friend that I met in Cork, Mary Ellis, and two of her friends from her college in South Carolina also studying in Europe. They said it was the best meal of their lives. I can’t even try to sum up my feelings about Parisian food. We went to “Bistro of Paris.” A few of us ordered ravioli for appetizers, but I didn’t know that until it came, and I was like “Am I really the person who just ordered Italian food in a Paris restaurant?” But it was unlike any ravioli I had ever seen because it was basically cheese soup. I barely noticed any pasta. Many of us ordered chicken as well, and it was an incredibly large (and delicious) portion. We kept asking ourselves how big the chicken was, because its leg was enormous. Mary Ellis cried because the duck was so good. For dessert I ordered profiteroles even though I knew I was full. Just how can you say no???
We had another delicious meal in Paris but that was the most memorable one. Our Paris trip was incredibly short. We walked around the Louvre gardens (but never ventured in for fear of crowds and overwhelming desire to see everything). Then we got up early the next morning, were surprised with sunshine, and saw Notre Dame, San Chappelle, the Conciergerie, the Holocaust Memorial, the Musée d’Orsay, the Notre Dame Basilica, and I’m sure there are a few more things I’m forgetting. I think the Musée d’Orsay was my favorite. I loved seeing all the impressionist paintings, and the progression through the decades (it also covers my favorite time period). The St. Jermain area where we stayed was lined with shops full of decorative art. It was so incredible, and I have never seen anything like it. My parents say they’re coming back to Paris for a week next time.
We were incredibly to get to stay in a place called Divonne les Baines in France, right near Geneva. We stayed with my dad’s college friend and his family. They are so fun and so kind. I even got to hike a little bit on the Jura mountains. And it was fun hearing stories about my dad in college in New York City in the 70s.
Then we flew to Dublin. We were hit by all the tourist stuff. My favorite part was the Kilmainham Jail, which had a long history but is famous for holding political prisoners after the Easter Rising and also during the civil war. We also visited the national museum, and saw the remains preserved in bog for thousands (?) of years! And they all had been murdered! But I have to say, Dublin wasn’t nearly my favorite place in Ireland. Maybe I just didn’t get to know it well enough.
When we finally came back to Cork, I took my parents to Cobh and Blarney. Yes, I finally kissed the stone! We found some good restaurants, too. I didn’t realize until I was eating out that Cork is the food capital of Ireland. The best part of that whole trip with my parents was the food (and I feel like that’s literally the only thing I’ve talked about). I stole my mom’s camera and there are tons of good pictures - but they will be uploaded when I go home.
Other than the two weeks with my parents past two months have been a little odd. But in my mind they will always be clouded with the guilt I felt whenever I didn’t study. And although I may laugh about it now, it was actually pretty tough. I feel like I didn’t deserve or have time for fun. But even when I told myself I would study and sat down to do it, hardly any information would stay in my brain. I would turn off my computer and stare at my books but my mind was just anywhere but my classes. And I’d feel so ashamed after a day of retaining hardly anything. However, the familiar pressure of a day or two before the exam kicked in and I started to concentrate. I think I did okay on my exams, and I was actually happy to take them so I could stop studying (or feeling the need to study). I recall having complained about the OWU one-week study-exam process. But now I am so thankful. I do not want it drawn out over a month and a half or even two months ever again. And I have to say, I just not adjust well to the style of learning here. But it’s over now.
I’m going home to no definite job or way of getting money into my empty bank account. But going home would not be nearly as exciting without my friends coming to see me. And it’s exactly what I need. I’ve missed OWU way too much and I’m lucky to have friends who will come to see me.
I want to do another post about what I will miss the most and what I’ve missed the most. Most valuable experiences, and all that. Hopefully that will come soon, but no promises. Most valuable experiences, and all that. Please send me a question and I will try to figure out how to read it (I still don’t really now how tumblr works)! Thanks y’all for reading.
President Bill Clinton. Proclamation 6533. March 6, 1993
March is Irish-American Heritage Month!
I haven’t updated - not because I drowned in a bog or captured by fairies - but because I am busy and loving life here in Ireland. The trip to Dingle seems so long ago. For three weekends straight I have been traveling and I actually have started doing work for classes. I’m rock climbing whenever I can.
Ballyferriter is a Irish-speaking village on the Dingle Peninsula, and the trip was supposed to be for students who had already taken a term of Irish, but they offered it to intro kids for some reason. So I didn’t actually speak any Irish there. It rained, but it was still beautiful. If you want to see the potential beauty of this place, I recommend the film Ryan’s Daughter. I recognized a lot of scenery after I watched the movie.
When I went to Dingle I realized that the Irish I’m learning with my professor is pretty different from what they speak down south, as he is from Belfast. But I think I’m just happy to be learning Irish, and if there’s confusion… everyone speaks English anyway.
Then there was the superbowl (oh god that was so long ago)! While most people at home think I’m pretty much an idiot when it comes to football, I was explaining the rules to the Irish lads! I have to say I rooted for the Giants. I knew nothing about the rest of the season, but neither did they! I think it was more fun because it was in the middle of the night. It was the most fun I’ve had watching the superbowl.
Two weeks after that I went to London. It was just so overwhelming. I was not used to such a big city and I actually got pretty grumpy at times. I was homesick for Cork! London is very international and it just felt like… a city. It obviously has a lot of history, and you do get a sense that it was the capital of an empire. I did not enjoy all the tourist/history attractions. Seeing suits of armor that Henry VIII wore doesn’t really tell me much about him, other than he was quite large.
My favorite part of London was finally meeting up with family friends I haven’t seen since I was twelve. They were my best friends and my second family. It really was a blast from the past. I would like to go back and visit them very much.
My second favorite part of London was English afternoon tea! We went to a hotel in Kensington and pampered ourselves with thirty pounds for tea. Don’t worry, it was a lot of food! Cocktails, tons of sandwiches, tea, scones, and loads of desserts! It was so nice to stop being a dirty tourist for a while. Afterwards we walked through Kensington Gardens, the most beautiful part of London I saw.
Those are the highlights I guess. By the end we were weary and homesick and crying because we had spent so much money. It was good to get back to Cork.
The weekend after that (this past weekend) I went on the Ring of Kerry, which took me on a tour through the southernmost peninsula in west Ireland. Although it seemed like it was on fast-forward, I saw so many beautiful places and we had beautiful weather for an entire day!!! Besides the beauty of the cliffs, ocean, lakes, beaches, and mountains, what struck me the most was a museum that had replicas of traditional Irish houses. I saw the dark, cold, and poverty and it was worse than I imagined. But other than that short stop, I was completely happy the entire time I was in Kerry. I want to vacation there when I’m old and rich…
I’ve gotten so busy that I’m not climbing as often as I want, not going to the gym every day anymore, and not going to the pub as much. I think these weekends away kind of psych me out. I’m going away again this weekend to Belfast but I don’t think I’ll be able to see much of it because I’ll be climbing in a competition. I want my weekends back and I want to stay in Cork!! But I’ll be working on final assignments soon so I probably won’t do any more traveling until April.
Classes are… not like they are at OWU. I really miss that. I feel anonymous, like the lectures are a business transaction. It’s nice to see what the rest of the world is like but it makes me appreciate OWU a lot more. I think I still don’t like European history. Womp womp.
I haven’t been doing any theater but I’ve seen some. I saw The Rhinoceros and it was awesome. I loved the set, sound, and lighting design, and the acting and directing was phenomenal. So that’s basically… all of it? It was really fast paced and it sometimes took me a couple seconds to laugh. But it needed that. The sound effects made the play. It was the rhinoceros’ biggest presence and it was beautifully done. I’m hoping to see more plays because they are seven euros for students!!
I know I’m already going to miss Ireland so much. I’ll complain that there’s no stout (certainly no GOOD stout) in America. I’ll say I miss how welcoming Cork is and how everyone is happy to be social and get to know you. Since April and May are a little hairy, I’m getting close to end of a regular schedule. I’m definitely going to try to come back here (not to study… OWU is the sh*t.)
Love you all! For visual documentation of my adventures, check Facebook for photos!
Jameson whiskey is made only in Cork and it is bottled in Dublin. So despite its popularity all over the world, it is only made here, and I believe it is the largest distillery in the world. We walked through the old part of the distillery that was used back in the day but not anymore.
Whiskey is made with barley (in Europe, and in America it’s corn) and then it is made into malt (through soaking in water and fermenting). The actual distilling process is when you boil the mixture, and the alcohol vapors, which boil first, rise up and go through some pipes and is cooled to be separated from the rest of the mixture. Irish whiskey is triple distilled, Scotch is double, and American is single (typical). Then it is put into barrels. In America, all the barrels have to be new, but the Jameson company buys used barrels that have held cherry and bourbon. While it sits in there for at least three years, the flavor from the oak wood and the previous drinks seep into the liquid, giving it a darker color. The longer it is in the barrel, the darker it gets. In Ireland, the liquid has to be stored in barrels for at least three years for it to be legally called whiskey.
At the end of the tour I got to compare Irish (Jameson), American (Jack Daniel), and Scotch (don’t remember) whiskey. Jameson is definitely the best! Jack is so weird. The scotch was smokey (due to some process of drying the barley). My friends recommend Jameson and cranberry or gingerale. I had it on the rocks :) At the end I got a little certificate saying that I’m an official whiskey taster (if that’s a thing)! The Jameson company motto is “No Fear”… what a philosophy.
Cobh (pronounced cove), also known as Queenstown
Cobh is where the Titanic launched its Atlantic voyage and was a huge emigration port. We went to a wonderful museum that explained the terrible conditions (before steamships), the push-pull factors, the Titanic, the Lusitania (sunk by German U-boats). I thought it was incredible and this is exactly what I want to study. Cobh itself is beautiful. We found a dog, whom Mary Ellis named Seamus, and he walked around the town with us. We stopped at St. Colman’s Cathedral and I actually took pictures of myself! Hurray!
I don’t know if you can tell, but I am at level - no, higher - than those mountains over there.
The type of hiking I’ve done in America didn’t actually require hiking boots, had paths, never actually involved ascending the mountains we were looking at. There were no paths here, I wouldn’t have survived without hiking boots, and I just walked straight up some mountains. Obviously I took the word “mountain” in “mountaineering club” a little too lightly. Sadly, I was the last in the pack and this was their easiest walk.
Thinking joining a club would be a great way to meet loads of Irish people, I was surprised when most of the club was international students - Americans, but many others were from Europe. There were also graduate students, which also surprised me. Clubs and societies at UCC seem to be really intense. Although they are run by students (undergraduate or graduate), I think they get a lot of funding and are really organized.
The hardest part was definitely the first. You just keep going up and up and up and up and up and up. You always think you’re almost there, but whatever you’re looking at isn’t actually the top. Apparently the reason why the climb was so difficult (you know, even for the people who actually do this) was the heather growing all over the mountain.
I remember thinking I was going to die. Or wanted to die. Not because of the height, but because I thought it would never end. I almost told the nice people who had to stay back with me, “Go on without me. Leave me here. I’ll either die or roll down the mountain and meet you back a the bus.” The worst part was, when everyone was taking a break and I had to catch up, everyone would turn around and - I’m sure it was to admire the scenery - literally look down on me. At least that’s how it felt, but not how it was. Everyone was sympathetic and supportive.
When we finally reached the top, I was quite ready to go back down and leave, but we climbed like four other mountain peaks. Also, when we finally did go all the way down the mountain, it was so painful! I kept stepping into holes I couldn’t see and my toes shoved into the front of my boots, leaving me with purple big toes.
These pictures can’t actually give you any impression of how it felt or looked to be up there. You feel how big mountains are. You need the third dimension, the wind, and the exhilaration of being on the very top of a mountain.
Very early in this hike I decided it was worth it, but that I would never do it again. I was surprised when I was actually encouraged by the group leaders to return. Apparently the hike this weekend is about the same level (but won’t have the heather! yeah!). I think I will do it again.
^ Sheep! They can climb to the top of the mountain too!
I didn’t actually eat it, but I went to a place called “The Chip Shop” or something like that, and I ordered a cheese and onion pie with chips. I watched other American and Australian girls eat their foot-long fish and vinegar chips in fascination. It was quite an experience… I don’t know how I feel about it. Wish I had brought my camera, but all I can tell you is that the fish was SO GIANT, and I think we have had our fill of cholesterol for our stay in Ireland.
Ireland is beautiful! I don’t even mind the constant mist that frizzes my hair. Flying in was truly magnificent: miles and miles of ocean and green.
Getting here was torture. I thought I would have no problem sleeping on my overnight flight but as soon as I sat down my legs immediately cramped up and I had no leg room. I sat next to two lovely British teenagers, who never asked me to get up, but everyone else on the plane kept on getting up. They fed us a full-blown meal in the middle of the night - I was so confused - but I was grateful for anything that might make me go to sleep. I got about three hours. Then I landed in Heathrow, frustrated that I couldn’t see London and that I couldn’t sleep (for fear of missing next plane). By the time I did board the next flight, I was in some sort of haze where I didn’t think about anything at all. I arrive at UCC at night, and my flatmate welcomed me by sharing the dumplings she had cooked.
Out of all the things that would be different, I didn’t think about the accommodations. There’s a manual on how to live in this place. Everything is eco-friendly here, and I didn’t realize until now that the website said something like “the world’s first green university.” You pay your bills based on how much electricity, heating, and water you use. To save money and energy, you’re only supposed to turn the heat on 12am-6am, and the hot water tank fills up at that time as well (I tried to take a shower at 11pm on the first night I was here… I was very confused). I live in a six bedroom apartment but I don’t really see my flatmates. Four of them are international and all of them have been living here all year. I met some American girls downstairs who are very nice as well.
The UCC campus is beautiful. I have not taken pictures yet because of misty weather/not wanting to look like an idiot. Both modern and historical buildings are made of stone and all the grass is bright green (I don’t think it’s possible to produce a patch of yellow grass in Ireland). It is windy, misty, and overcast, and not really that cold, but that is what I expected so it doesn’t bother me.
All the women here wear high heeled boots to class. How do they do it? I wear sturdy lace-ups and my feet are killing me at the end of the day.
Today I walked into the Cork City Centre. It is marvelous. All the buildings are bright, different colors and there are very few modern or tall buildings. I went grocery shopping like a big girl! There’s a bus stop 20 yards from my apartment and it goes right into Cork, and it’s very quick and only costs 1.60 euro. Being able to explore Cork really boosted my mood.
I also attended to classes today, although I am not registered for any. The first one was Women in Early Modern Europe (1500-1800), and I think it is right up my ally. The second one was a literature class titled Romanticism and Realism and it was quite giant. Probably one hundred people or more in that lecture room. I really want to take an acting class, but the drama department is apparently undergoing some changeover, and no one has presented any information to me. I’m going to attend a variety of different classes before I decide which ones I want to take.
I haven’t been to a pub yet, but I’ve been so exhausted that I’m afraid I’d fall asleep after one pint. I’ve also been pretty busy. But I’m sure I’ll go soon!
I miss everyone from OWU and I wish you guys could share this adventure with me.
Happy New Year!