Ireland

Ireland
My favorite picture of the Irish countryside

24 October 2009

Med

I'm writing a short story for my Medieval Mediterranean class. It's going to be about Irish people in the Crusades - I think I can get into this! Now...just for the motivation to start!

04 August 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I successfully made sticky toffee pudding yesterday! I was very proud of myself. This is not the type of pudding Americans think of as pudding. It's like a very moist cake with wonderful toffee sauce on top. Absolutely delicious! One of the things I forgot to tell my people before coming to Ireland was to order this dessert somewhere along the way. Oops! Here is the recipe - I think it tastes pretty authentic.
Toffe Sauce:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons molasses

Pudding:
6 ounces chopped dates
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup carmelized ginger
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and butter an 8 1/2 inch porcelain souffle mold, or similar-sized baking dish. (If it's metal, you may want to decrease the baking time.)
2. Make the toffee sauce by bringing the cream, brown sugar, and molasses to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often to melt the sugar.
3. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick and coats the spoon. Pour half the sauce into the prepared souffle mold and place the mold in the freezer, and reserve the other half for serving.
4. To make the pudding, in a medium saucepan, heat the dates and water. Once the water begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Add the ginger, then set aside, but keep it slightly warm.
5. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
6. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, heat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla.
7. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the date mixture, then add the remaining lour mixture until just mixed. Don't overbeat the batter.
8. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
9. Remove the pudding from the oven, and let cool slightly before serving.

Serving: Spoon portions of the pudding into serving bowls and douse with additional warm toffee sauce. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are good accompaniments, although it is also good just as it is.

Note: To make the pudding in advance, bake the pudding without the toffee in the bottom. Let cool, then cover until close to serving time. Poke the pudding about fifteen times with a chopstick. Distribute half of the sauce over the top, cover with foil, then re-warm in a 300F oven, for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

28 July 2009

Pictures!

I apologize for my lack of picture posting on here. I am going to put links to my facebook albums as it takes a very long time to upload pictures to this site. You do NOT have to have a facebook account to view these pictures (although, please let me know if you can't open them as I could mess this up...I'm a little technologically challenged sometimes.)

The Parents (+ some) Visit:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2017985&id=65101530&l=24aa1f1af0

Connemara
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2017984&id=65101530&l=0fcd804955

The Aran Islands
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2017983&id=65101530&l=3a507a1633

Agus anois...Hamburg!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016788&id=65101530&l=41272e8b0c

Spring Break - "Why are you going to Frankfurt?"
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016787&id=65101530&l=1f44d02b0b

Spring Break - Lyon
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016786&id=65101530&l=c327918910

Spring Break - Paris! Part Deaux
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016785&id=65101530&l=773a9c0d50

Spring Break - Paris!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016784&id=65101530&l=b355adfbd4

Spring Break - Brussels
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016783&id=65101530&l=eef5c5c15c

Spring Break - Dublin
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016782&id=65101530&l=ef3d988901

Belfast
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016534&id=65101530&l=6b24e62f36

Northern Ireland trip
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016533&id=65101530&l=de4bd30f09

I have a Phi Mu Castle...
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016531&id=65101530&l=5839af4fa4

The Burren/Cliffs of Moher
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016064&id=65101530&l=baa08057d2

Life
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015689&id=65101530&l=8579c04080

Pre-Ireland and Cliffs of Moher
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015612&id=65101530&l=c47e53a011

10 July 2009

Ireland...The Final Day...

My last day in Ireland. :’( We started off the morning by going on a tour of Connemara. It was nice for me that we took a different route than the tour that I took earlier in the month with the only repeat sight being the Quiet Man bridge, which our bus almost didn’t make it over. We also went to the Connemara Marble Factory where many indulged in “retail therapy.”
That afternoon, we returned to Galway where I had 3 hours to show my parents a semester’s worth of stuff. We have to go back.
We ate at the King’s Head off Shop Street, then walked to Gort. Mom thought that was entirely to far so she and Dad took a cab to campus while Ashley and I walked. After showing them the Quad (that’s the only pretty part of campus) we walked to Galway Cathedral, then downtown. Since it was a bank holiday, the market was in place, but not very many of the people were set up so it was nothing like the Saturday Market. After doing a little souvenir shopping, we rested in Eyre Square while waiting for the bus to pick us up.
The next morning we left the hotel at 5:00am in order to get to Shannon in time for the people with 8:45am flights. Sarah and I did not leave until 11:30am so we got to hang out in the Shannon Airport for quite some time.

Ireland Trip Day 6

We left Killarney this morning for GALWAY!!!!! I was a little excited. And a little impatient throughout the journey. Just a little, though. ;) David, our tour guide, gave us instructions to write Limericks throughout the long journey and we would have a contest later that day. I was very entertained that we drove through Limerick as we were writing Limericks.
Our first stop of the day was at Bunratty Castle. This is a restored castle between Limerick and Galway. All of the restorations are period appropriate so we could see what a castle really looked like in the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. The castle is surrounded by a folk park in which you could see how the villagers around the castle would have lived. We saw quite a few buildings, then discovered by looking at the map that we hadn’t even made a dent in viewing the park!
After this we moved closer to Galway with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher. Forgive me if I’m not too excited – this was my fourth visit in two years and third visit since January.
We then proceeded through the Burren to the Aillwee Caves. Again, been there done that, caves don’t change much in three months. See my post on The Burren.
After this visit, David read the limericks aloud and awarded a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and booby prizes. My Uncle Pat won the booby prize which got him a piece of turf! Here is his limerick:
He traveled so far ‘cross the sea
Seeing sites ‘til weak in the knee
then Guinness and whiskey
got him feeling quite frisky
He woke to find “she” was a “he”
After an agonizingly long journey for me, we arrived in Galway! (In case you can’t tell, Galway is probably the best city, not only in Ireland, but in the world.) We stayed at the Hanley Oaks Hotel, which to my disappointment, was in Salthill (a suburb) and not in Galway. Town was a thirty minute to an hour walk. L Tonight I was able to take a lot of our group to the Crane Bar, one of my favorite pubs in Galway. They have a traditional session every Sunday night, which usually includes a wonderful Irish singer named Steven James. Sadly, Steven was not there that night, but we had a good time anyway.

Ireland Trip Day 5

Today, we went on a tour of the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a circle driven around the Iveraugh Peninsula on Ireland’s southwest coast. Absolutely gorgeous scenery! We traveled from Killarney to Sneem (I kept calling it Smee – lol) in a counterclockwise direction around the peninsula.
On this day we stopped and watched a man named Brenden give a sheep dog demonstration. The dogs were amazing! The first part of the demonstration consisted of Brenden showing us the different kings of sheep they raise in Ireland (he had at least a dozen). He then took us over to a field that went up the side of the mountain. Through a series of whistles he demonstrated how he could communicate with each dog in order to bring the sheep down the mountain. Not only could the dogs bring the sheep down, but they also could separate the sheep into the groups dictated by Brenden! I think I got an overload of sheep pictures there.
We also made a stop at the Bog Village. This gives tourists an idea of what life was like in a little community in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. We also found out that when fireplaces burn turf, the smell can get quite strong and the smoke very thick! We were also able to try Irish Coffee or Bailey’s Coffee here. I do not care for coffee so I did not have any.
We went to Mass at the Catholic Church in Killarney tonight. Some were brave enough to sit in the front row, but I was not one of them! I thought I was doing good on warning people that they don’t stand as much as we do, but that must have just been a thing at the campus center. Going to church in Ireland does, however, test how well you know the responses because as soon as the priest’s done with his bit, everyone races to the end of the congregation’s response! It’s quite confusing, even during the Our Father! Everyone was also amazed that we were out in 40 minutes rather than the usual hour allotted for Mass.
We went back to Danny Mann’s tonight, but didn’t think the band was as good as the night before and the microphone was REALLY loud so we didn’t stay long.

17 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 4

My two uncles and my dad took advantage of staying at the Blarney Golf Resort and played 9 holes of golf before breakfast. Breakfast was followed by a trip to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone. The Blarney Stone is supposed to give you the gift of gab - the difference between Blarney and Baloney is that Blarney is Baloney spoken eloquently. This was decided by Queen Elizabeth I when the Earl of Blarney would send word back of great flattery, but not do the things she wanted. Dad and I kissed the Blarney stone, but Mom took one look at it and said "No way!" This is because you have to lay down, lean back over the side of the castle, grab two poles while a worker holds your torso, and kiss the stone opposite your head.
We shopped and ate lunch at Blarney Woolen Mills - a massive souvenir shop with very good Irish Stew. Our next stop in Ireland was Killarney. Our first order of business after checking into the hotel was a jaunty ride (a ride in a horsedrawn carriage) through the Killarney National Park to Ross Castle. Our jarvey (the driver) was hilarious! Here are a few of the jokes he told/sights we saw:
Those woods over there are the Monk's Woods. The ones on the other side of the road are the Nun's Wouldn't.
(After seeing a wedding party drive by): There goes another sorry man.
It only rains twice a week in Ireland. The first 3 days and the other 4.
There are two types of deer in the park: male and female.
A trough that was filled with water - that's the leprachaun's swimming pool. The olympics were held there last year.
He also proposed marriage to a girl from the Minnesota part of the group. He asked her what time should he come that night and she responded with "We're going to get married tonight?!" and he said "No, not for the wedding!" He also gave her a boquet of wild irises and one of the other jarveies asked if he could be the best man.
There are three lakes in County Kerry, and the Lower Lake is beside Ross Castle. We took a boat tour of the lake, which was gorgeous.
That night, Ashley, Sarah, Manda, and I walked down to Danny Mann's pub in Killarney and enjoyed live music. When the waiter came to take our drink order, he pointed at me and said "Ok, Heinekin," which I corrected by saying, "No, Guinness." He then came back saying he had missed someone and I said I wanted a Guinness. He came back with the drinks and gave me a Heinekin so I just drank that.

Ireland Trip Day 3

Day 3 we left Dublin and headed to Blarney, via Kildare, Cashel, and Cobh (pronounced Cove). At Kildare, we visited the National Stud Farm. I had my doubts about how interesting this would be, but I was pleasantly surprised. This farm houses many champion racehorses who are now retired and breed more champion racehorses. Our favorite horse on the farm was actually a Pony named Tommy. His nickname - Tommy the Teaser. He was dubbed this because it is his job to tell if the mare is in heat. If the mare stands still, rather than kicking Tommy away, Tommy is led away (or, rather, dragged) and the mare is taken to the stallion. Our guide, Dee, did assure us that sometimes they do have ponies there for Tommy.
We stopped at Cashel for lunch. The Rock of Cashel is a very old monastery and is one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Ireland. We didn't get to go up to the Rock since we ate lunch in the current town (down the hill), but we got good pictures from where we were. This was probably one of the best meals we had on the trip. Ashley and I both had tuna melts while others had Irish stew and Shephard's Pie. My Aunt Diann though it was funny that you could get Shephard's Pie (that has mashed potatoes) with vegetables that included chips and mashed potatoes. Thus, proving that the Irish really love potatoes.
In Cobh, we saw the museum commemorating the emigration of thousands of Irish to the States, Canada, and Australia. The town had been named Queenstown by the British, but once the Irish gained independence, they changed the name back to the original Irish. David told us that the Titanic sailed from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Southampton in England, and on to Queenstown to pick up Leonardo DiCaprio. Outside the museum was a statue of Annie Moore and her siblings. She was the first person to be processed through Ellis Island into America. They also had a lot about the Lusitania, which was a commercial oceanliner that sunk not far from Cobh after being torpedoed by a German submarine.
We then arrived at our hotel in Blarney. We stayed at the Blarney Golf Resort, which was probably the nicest hotel we stayed at. We had a very nice meal, but no dessert so not at the top of my list. :) Each "room" was more like a townhouse and had 2 rooms for 2 people each. After dinner, Ashley, Sarah, Manda, and I stayed at the pub in the hotel since it was fairly far out of town.

09 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 2

The morning of day 2 we discovered that just because Ireland is famous for its breakfasts doesn't mean their hotels serve them. Our breakfasts at almost every hotel consisted of Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Weetabix, and some sort of bread. Tea and coffee were also available (as they were everywhere).
Our first activity of the day was a bus tour of Dublin. We had a day tour guide, Sally, who explained some of the things we saw around the city. We saw lots of Georgian architecture, which is very prominent in Dublin. The Georgian doors are a famous site because of the different colors and knockers of the doors. The reason, Sally claimed, for the different colors was for the men who got "confused" after spending the night in the pub, and confused a different door with their own (along with a different bed and a different wife). The women's solution to this problem was to paint the doors different colors. When the problem persisted, the men claimed they were colorblind! :) We also saw the ha'penny bridge (pedestrians had to pay a half penny to cross the bridge, which spanned the River Liffey), the Molly Malone statue, a.k.a. the Tart with the Cart (a very busty interpretation of the figure in the song Molly Malone), and The Phoenix Park (a very large park that holds the President of Ireland's house, the U.S. Ambassadors house, and the cross erected for Pope John Paul II's mass in Dublin). We stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral and had a guided tour provided by Sally. Some people of interest here were: Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) and the Boyle family (think Boyle's law in chemistry).
Our next stop was Trinity College (my favorite place in Dublin). This was mainly to see the Book of Kells. Book of Kells, pretty, old, cool, but then you go upstairs. The first time I walked in, I said, "It's the Beauty and the Beast library!" It has floor to ceiling books (2 floors), the oldest harp in Ireland, and is simply freaking awesome. George Lucas used the image (without the permission of Trinity, big no-no) in Attack of the Clones for the Jedi Library.
Some had considered paying for a Castles and Cathedrals Tour after the bus tour. Since I knew where the things on the tour were and we'd already been to St. Patrick's, I led people around. First we went to my favorite fish and chips place in Dublin (they give you a bag of fish and chips the size of a small child...Ashley and I shared). We sat on a wall in front of Christchurch Cathedral to eat, and fed pigeons chips throughout that time (I was entertained by the pigeons, as usual). We then proceeded to tour Christchurch where I reminisced about playing in the Cathedral last year and experienced the crypt (very cool). I then walked a group down the street so we could see where Handel's Messiah was first performed. Granted, the building is no longer there, but there is a plaque outside commemorating the event. We then went to Dublin Castle and took a guided tour. I enjoyed the tour partly because I have become obsessed with the movie Michael Collins (great movie) so I enjoyed seeing the actual Dublin Castle. We also saw an area of the original castle structure that had recently been excavated.
Our dinner was at a pub called the Portobello in Dublin. The main problem with this venue was the fact that there was a football (soccer) match between Manchester United and Barcelona. I think there were people hovering behind me just waiting til I left the entire time I was eating. We thought we should of auctioned our seats off! That night Ashley, my Uncle Pat's niece, Manda, and I went down to the pub at the hotel. It was so packed because of the match, but it was fun! Barcelona won, but the ManU fans didn't riot too much. The best part of the experience was a drunk guy who wanted us to come to a karaoke bar with him and his friends and thought Manda was Ashley and I's ma. It was entertaining.

07 June 2009

Ireland Trip Day 1

I think I'll put each day of the trip with my family in a different post in order to avoid an extremely long post! Thanks to Diann for sending e-mails to refresh my memory!
I met my parents, my Aunt Mikey and Uncle Terry, and others at the Dublin airport at 7:00am on Tuesday 25 May. We met our tour guide, David, at the airport. He said he was waiting for Mom and I to hug so he would know the right group to meet! David is English, which threw us a little at first, but he was a wonderful tour guide. We waited in the Dublin airport until around 11:30. Four more from Concordia got in around 9:30, Ashley's flight came in at 10:30, and My Aunt Diann, Uncle Pat, and cousins Katelyn and Aidan arrived at around 11:30. We then left the airport and headed to the small monastic settlement of Glendalough (pronounced Glen-da-lock). This settlement was started by St. Kevin and is famous for it's round tower. These round towers were built for the monks to take refuge in during Viking invasions. Each floor was accessible by ladders that could be pulled up, thus preventing intruders from reaching the monks at the top. Some were built with round stone staircases that always rotated clockwise so as to give the advantage to the victims at the top.
One of the buildings at this site was entitled "St. Kevin's Kitchen." This building was actually a church, but after the monastery was closed, the surrounding townspeople thought that only a kitchen could have a tower as high as the church's. Thus, the building came to be known as St. Kevin's Kitchen.
The cemetery here is absolutely massive! There are only seven more people who are allowed to be buried in the cemetery before the grounds are closed to future buriels. It has been open for buriel for the longest time in Ireland - about 1600 years!
We stayed at the Abberly Court Hotel, which wasn't as close to the city centre as was desired, but it was nice. Since everyone but me had jet lag, bed time immediately followed dinner. I think that's the earliest I've gone to bed since arriving in Ireland!

P.S. I changed my last post so Oh Beautiful Sunshine actually links to Oh Beautiful Sunshine rather than the Money Song!

03 June 2009

Home Again

I am officially at home in Concordia as of this morning! I got into Kansas City at 6:00 last night and was met by Abby, Avaree, Dana, Jessica, and Janine! We went out to Abuelo's for supper since I haven't had Mexican (or at least good Mexican) for five months. I nearly fell asleep at the table! I got back to the hotel about 9:00 and Mom, Dad, and Sarah were completely passed out! We left about 7:00 this morning, dropped Dad in Topeka for his meeting at 10:00 and got home about 11:30. We had an amazing nine days in Ireland - I'll write more about that once Diann sends the e-mail compilation of everyone's memories. I think the weirdest thing about being home is that it's not that weird. I'll miss Ireland and Galway like crazy, and I will probably cry for a few days when I realize I can't go to the Crane that night or walk down Shop Street and see all the musicians, but I'll live.

25 May 2009

I have officially vacated my home in Galway and am in the Charleville Lodge in Dublin... :'(
It was so hard to leave Galway today. Knowing that I'll never be in 85 Gort na Coiribe again really hit me a little harder than I thought. Katherine and Viviane walked me to the train station at 5 today. Preceeding this, I carried all of my luggage down the stairs of my house...4 bags...in one trip...I have scraped arms and a bunged up knee...
Saying goodbye to Katherine and Viviane was not all that easy. It's hard to go from seeing someone almost everyday to not knowing when the next time you'll meet will be. I can only hope and pray it's sooner rather than later!
I would definitely recommend taking the train - it may be more expensive, but it was a whole lot more comfortable than the bus! When I got here, the taxi driver didn't know where the hotel was - thank goodness for GPS! It wasn't very far from the train station at all. It's not the nicest place, but it's very quaint and has wireless and a double bed. That is all I need!
I celebrated my last night in Galway with a trip to the Crane Bar with Katherine and Viviane. In order to understand our obsession with the Crane Bar, I need to tell a little backstory.
In February, Katherine and I went with some other friends to this pub they knew - the Crane Bar. While there, we heard the most amazing song of our lives (not even kidding). That's when Katherine and I fell in love with a musician.
Progressing through the semester, we tried to recreate that night at the Crane for Kelsey and Viviane, but it never seemed to work out. Finally, when Kelsey's family came, we took them to the Crane...who was there, but our friend the amazing song writer! He sang one song that I thought was the original song I heard, but then realized same guy, different song. The next song, however, was that same awesome song! After singing this song, he went outside so we got Kelsey's brother to go after him and see if he had a cd. That's how we found out that his name is Steven and he's working on a cd and the best song in the world is "Oh Beautiful Sunshine." That's when Kelsey and Vivane fell in love with Steven.
Saturday, Katherine, Viviane, and I were walking down to the Spanish Arch, look over, and there is Steven, carrying his guitar. After maybe following him for a little while (which he may or may not have noticed) we quit our stalking and go down by the bay to watch the boats come in.
Last night was probably the best night of my life. Steven James (yes, we found out his last name) spoke to us. Conversation:
Katherine: Your music is really great! Do you have a CD?
Steven: Not for about 7 months...if I had it tonight I'd give it to you for not!
Viviane and Me: *mesmorized*
So, in Decemeber, Steven James should be the most searched for person on Google as a result of the four of us. I would encourage you to do the same.
Here are some YouTube links of the songs Viviane taped on her camera last night (just to prove to you how good he is):
*Names made up by Viviane except for "Oh Beautiful Sunshine"*
Oh Beautiful Sunshine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMcGKDi55Rw
Patriot Games http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrKQiUR5_vE
Money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ4aDflqryE
Silver Street, Copper Lane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=025tYVxkE_I

14 May 2009

Wow - it's been awhile! I wish I could say I haven't posted on here because I've been working on my papers, but we all know that didn't happen! Somehow time just slips away from me, and before I know it, I have an essay due in 4 days that I've barely started on. Here's what I have been doing the past few weeks.
Kelsey's people arrived 9 May. We proceeded to spend the next 4 days travelling and frequenting pubs. Our first trip was on 10 May when we went to the Aran Islands. If you ever get the chance, go! They are so beautiful. Viviane and I were very happy because we could get the gist of a lot of the signs that were in Irish. We did a biking tour around Inismore (the big island). If you can ride a bike, do this tour! I'm sure the bus tour is just as good, but I really enjoyed biking around. I did get to experience my first ferry ride on this trip. It made me a little queezy. . . the return trip was much better, probably because I slept for most of it.
On 12 May we went on a tour of Connemara. That was also very cool. The region has lots of mountains and many examples of what Irish life used to be like. It was very interesting to go on small mountain roads in a big tour bus. . . we met another bus once, and I wasn't sure we were both going to stay on the road!
Sadly, those are the only days we were doing anything all day so I don't know why I am so behind on my papers. Obviously, if they're not due in the next week, I don't pay attention to them! On another sad note, Kelsey went home the 13th. It was much harder to say goodbye than I anticipated. It's funny to think I've seen these people almost every day for the past 4 1/2 months, and now they're going to live roughly 1,500 miles from me. That's really depressing. It's going to be very bittersweet when my family comes because, although it will be exciting to see them, I know I have to go back with them. I'm not ready to leave Ireland. I'm just getting settled, and now, it's time to leave.

29 April 2009

Exams - check

All of my exams are done! woot! Now on to writing two 5,000 word essays....no woot...
It shouldn't be too bad. After my exam this morning, I went to the library and checked out two of the memoirs I need to read to write my Northern Ireland Problem paper. They are Bernadette Devlin's The Price of My Soul and Bishop Edward Daly's Mister, Are You a Priest? The paper is supposed to be about how valuable memoirs are as sources to events, concentrating on good and bad aspects of them. We're supposed to read at least 3 for the paper, but I would like to read 4 to 5 since I don't have very much background in the situation.
My exam this morning was ok. Not great, but not bad. I managed to write around 2 pages for all 3 questions (and was able to answer all 3 questions - that's a plus!) All of my exams are done, that's what really matters (even if there were only 2 of them!)
Now I need to summon my motivation....still summoning....uh-oh....

27 April 2009

Nevermind

In case some of you didn't see the comment on the last post - Katherine is not leaving! yay! She did some soul searching and realized that she could not possibly leave me until the very last possible minute...ok, Kelsey and Viviane might have had something to do with it, too, but it was mostly me. ;)
My roommate has her last exam tomorrow - how crazy is that?! She'll be done with absolutely everything school wise. Granted, my last exam is Wednesday, but I have two 5,000 word essays to write after that so I will be far from done. The library is so crazy right now it's hard to get motivated to go so hopefully I will be brave enough to fight the crowds soon so I can get my essays done early so I, too, can be free from school.
I'm not sure how much more traveling I'm going to be doing. Katherine and I might take a trip to England, but we're still working on that. We also may take a trip to Donegal, but again, we're still working on it. I'm for sure going to Connemara and the Arran Islands with Kelsey, Vivianne, (maybe) Katherine, and Kelsey's people, which will be fun. I'll of course also have the 9 days with my family here that will be far too short for what I want to show them.

23 April 2009

My Mid-Tudor Crisis

I was in a class this semester entitled the Mid-Tudor Crisis. The object of the class was to produce a 4,500 word essay due 22 April. I did quite a bit of research last week (note, not before break like I probably should have) and had quite a few notecards (my system is to put one fact per notecard and then put them in order the way I want it in my paper). I thought the stack would give me about 2,500 to 3,000 words - wrong! it gave me 1,500 and by the end of the night I had it bumped up to 2,000. This was on Monday night....and it was due Wednesday! So on Tuesday, I went to the library (I went around 4:00 and actually got a seat - the library is absolutely packed right now!) did some research and got almost 3,000 words with that. My plan when I left the library was to come home and research like crazy on the internet and finihs my paper Wednesday morning (wow, I'm still in paper mode....my mind was just trying to figure out how not to have all these being verbs). When I got home, the internet was out! This happened the night before my Rome mid-term was due, also, so I've decided the internet likes to hide when I have a paper due. Fortunately, I'd sent the paper to my mom for proofreading Tuesday morning so I just had to wait until Wednesday to go to the library and finish. My dad also got on and e-mailed me a bunch of websites so I didn't have to find sources on Wednesday. Fortunately, all of this helped, and I finished my paper at 4,149 words at 2:00 (it was due at 5:00). Talk about a stressful time! This morning was my final for Celtic Mythology, Religion, and Folklore - 2 classes down, 3 to go! I kind of don't like that these classes are finished (especially the Mid-Tudor one - I really like it). It means that the semester is really coming to an end. Next Wednesday, I have an exam for my Rome class (not gonna lie, I'll be glad to be done with it) and Katherine leaves. Then, it's May! When did that happen! Kelsey's "people" will come and Viviane and I will accompany them to the Arran Islands and Connemara, then Kelsey leaves on 13 May. On 26 May, my "people" come...and 7 days later, I go home. :( It's all gone by so fast. We have our farewell dinner from Butler tonight (last chance for free food!) I don't want to say farewell...we need to have another welcome dinner! It's going to be so depressing to say goodbye to everyone...maybe I should have come for a year...

13 April 2009

Spring Break

Warning: this post will probably be insanely long!

Our Spring Break adventure started on Sunday, 5 April. We took the bus to Dublin and immediately had a good omen for the trip as it was only 5 euro instead of the usual 15! Our flight to Brussels was also 5 euro so we decided it was the 5 euro trip. :) Our hotel in Dublin was in a fairly good location and was very tiny and cute. We honestly probably wouldn't have been nearly as excited if it didn't have a spiral staircase with a loft (yes, we are easily entertained). It also had a submarine bathroom - porthole in the door and the sink was actually IN the shower! We then went on a walk around Dublin - first stop, St. Patrick's Cathedral. We didn't go in because we are cheap, but we walked around the gardens, which were absolutely gorgeous! After passing a creepy statue and the place that sells fish 'n' chips the size of a small child (sadly, we did not eat there), we saw the place where Handel's Messiah was first performed and then on to Dublin Castle (I'm very disappointed that last year we didn't realize we were staying a block from a castle!) The Castle had a labrynth design in the garden so naturally we walked through it. On the way back to the other side, we ended up walking in a single file line and, I think, really entertained a guy who was sitting on a park bench near by. We decided to go to the Temple Bar area for supper and waited for 2 hours to get into a place that served Boxty - it was worth it. Naturally, no dinner is complete without a trip to get gelato!
Monday morning we woke up at 5:00 in order to get to the airport in time for our flight to Brussels - yuck. The cab driver was very nice and asked us where all we were headed. We explained our plan of winging it, but we were flying from Hamburg to Dublin on the 13th. He was surprised that we were coming back to Ireland and in my head I was thinking, "Why wouldn't we come back? We live here!" Obviously, I am well adjusted. :) Our hotel in Brussels was in a very sketchy area, but it was nice. While trying to sightsee in Brussels, we ended up getting on the metro, heading to what we thought was towards the city centre, walking from the metro stop to where we thought the city center should be, and ended up exactly where we started! Turns out, we get turned around on a metro...Once we found the city centre, we enjoyed Belgian Waffles IN BELGIUM! It was very exciting. The Grand Place in Brussels is very pretty, but it's really the only thing in the city worth seeing. Kelsey and I decided they made it the capital of the EU because it didn't have anything else going for it. On the way to the train station to figure out our tickets for the next day, we had many sketchy men around us. Our response to this, start speaking random Irish. Three of us had taken an Irish language course so we taught the other one a few phrases (mostly she just said slan, which means goodbye) and spoke in nonsense Irish until we got back to the hotel. We had lots of stares on the metro....
Tuesday, we went by bus from Brussels to PARIS!!!!!!!! I love Paris, in case you couldn't tell. :) On the way, we got stopped at the border for passport check, then again about a half an hour outside of Paris. After they had brought the drug dog onto the bus, they started checking the bags...evidently the dog liked Katherine's bag because she got pulled off the bus and had her bag searched. Good thing she could speak French! She was asked several times when we were in Amsterdam (we've never been) and was told she better just tell them because they saw the map of Amsterdam on her seat....map of Amsterdam = map of Brussels. The rest of us were very entertained and took pictures from inside the bus. Our hotel in Paris was perhaps my favorite on the whole trip. We had an awesome view of Montmartre from our window. The elevator was super tiny, though, and could only fit one of us with our bags, but we were on the sixth floor so we waited and took turns. After making plans to go to Lyon, we went to see the Eiffel Tower. It sparkles every hour - I was happy! We didn't go up in it, but we took LOTS of pictures.
Wednesday we saw a million things and walked 100 miles! Our first stop was Notre Dame. I didn't get any pictures inside because they were having mass and when I was there in high school I was annoyed with the tourists walking around taking pictures so I just walked around and tried to stay away from the congregation. We then decided to go the Paris Pantheon. EU citizens get in free so...we decided we are "Irish" and gave them our NUIG IDs. It worked! We then spent the rest of our time there practicing our Irish accents. Turns out I can only do an English accent. Our next stop was the Louvre. They had the same deal for EU citizens, but it turns out we're not Irish so it didn't work. :( After spending 3 1/2 hours in the Louvre and seeing the Egypt wing, the Venus de Milo, Nike, and the Mona Lisa, we walked down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe...turns out that is a looooong way, but, we got crepes so it was ok. We then went to Montmartre and, after initial sketchiness, enjoyed walking around the little village. We went to the Sacre Couer Church and became very ashamed of our fellow citizens as some American students were having a party on the steps leading up to the church. Our response was to shout insults at them in Irish. We then finally went back and collapsed into bed. Wednesday was also my mom's birthday so I got to call her and wish her happy birthday from Paris!
Thursday, we took a train to Lyon. If you EVER get the chance to go there, DO IT! It may have surpassed Paris as my favorite city in Europe....I haven't decided yet. Our hotel here may qualify as the sketchiest hotel of the trip, but the city made up for that. Our first stop was to sit by the river and watch the little kids play in the water - they were so cute! We then walked around the city looking for a place to eat. The deciding factor was the fact that they guy came out and explained the menu to us (well, to Katherine as she was the only one who spoke French!) and it was actually open at 6:00 (most of the restaurants weren't open until 7:00 or 7:30). It was an excellent choice! We ended up sitting there for over 3 hours! The waiter also joked with us a lot (the language barrier made everything funnier), and we made the chef happy by taking pictures of our food. We then bought wine and apples to take back to our hotel room - very French!
Friday, we decided to go up to the big church on the hill above Lyon. We climbed 230 stairs - yes, we counted - and then continued up a sloping rosary garden. We didn't actually go in the church as we were worried about making our bus to Frankfurt, but the view was well worth the climb. After we checked out of the hotel, we became vagabonds! We took a night bus to Frankfurt Friday and a night bus to Hamburg on Saturday so we really had no home...it was fun! Kelsey and I also discovered to just use the bus's bathroom as if you get off the bus, the bus may leave you, and Vivane may have to frantically run up to the driver and tell him to stop. Thanks Viviane!
Saturday morning we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. Evidently the Germans trust the French more than the French trust the Belgians because we did not have our passports checked upon entering Germany. It made us nervous because people kept asking us, "Why are you going to Frankfurt?!" but it turned out to be a lovely city. We decided to go the zoo - I'm not sure which was more entertaining, the animals or Kelsey being really excited about the animals. On the way to the zoo, we stopped at Starbucks for breakfast...the chairs were so comfy Katherine ended up taking a little power nap (which, I'm sure, was much needed!) After lounging for a couple hours in Starbucks, we went to the zoo. At the zoo, I realized that my bank card, garda card, and driver's license were no longer in my pocket. Bad realization. After the zoo, we found a place that served Frankfurters. We discovered that our idea of a Frankfurter and there idea of a Frankfurter are quite different so we had sausages instead. We also discovered that Germany has very expensive water. Water is usually free...In Germany it is 2.50. Good to know. After dinner we proceeded back to the train station where we hung out in front of the storage lockers and took vagabond pictures. This is when I realized that the cards I thought I'd lost were really in the pocket of my other jeans. Good realization.
Our bus for Hamburg left at 12:45 AM and lasted 7 hours. Upon arrival, we found our hotel almost immediately (first time that had happened all trip) and found out the room would not be ready until 3 PM. It was then 8 AM. Our dreams of sleep and showers were dashed. They did, however, have a breakfast room where we sat and ate and checked e-mail and maybe even slept a little. We also looked up Mass times as it was Easter and Kelsey and I really thought we should go to church. We found a 12:00 Mass that was in English (yay!) so we went to that, then walked around Hamburg and ate lunch. By the time we were done with that, our room was ready so we went back and took showers and really long naps. We then thought we should try to eat hamburgers in Hamburg so we went in search of a restaurant. Turns out very little is open at 10:00 at night on Easter Sunday. We ended up eating at a little restaurant that served Croatian food (we think), which was very good. The waitress was adorable - she was so impressed that we were American and tried to explain the menu even though she didn't speak any English (good thing Vivane speaks German!) We then collapsed into bed yet again and had the best night's sleep in the world. This was probably my favorite hotel of the trip, and it was also the cheapest!
This morning we left for the airport at 9:00 and arrived in Dublin at 2:00. We then found a bus going directly to Galway so we got on it and arrived home at 6:00. It was a wonderful trip, but I am glad to be home!

02 April 2009

School is OVER!!!!!!

Wow....it's only April and school is over! Yes, I still have three 5,000 word essays and 2 exams, but I only have 1 class tomorrow, and I'm done! My exams are 23 and 29 of April, one of my essays is due 22 April and the other two are due 18 and 20 of May! The scary part is it still doesn't feel like I'm in school. This whole semester I haven't really felt like I'm actually in school - I'm just kind of hanging out in Ireland with some classes thrown in. I'm really sad that my Irish class is over. We got certificates today to prove that we'd taken the class - It was exciting. :)
I leave Saturday morning with 3 of my friends for Dublin to start our Spring Break! On Monday morning we fly to Brussels, and from there, who knows! We're going to go to Berlin and Paris for sure (I think...lol) and maybe Amsterdam. I'm so excited! A week and a half gallivanting around Europe - how exciting is that! We're going to come back on the 15th because Viviane has an exam on the 17th and Kelsey and I have papers due the 22nd. That weekend, however, we are going to London, and the next weekend Kelsey and I are going to Italy!
On a sadder note, Katherine leaves the 29th...I think that's when it will really set in that this whole experience is almost over. I don't want it to be over! I would rather start over and do it again! I still have so much I want to do...I want to go to Scotland at some point (if my bank account holds up...this is looking more and more questionable), the Arran Islands (which should happen the second weekend in May), Connemara (this is just a day trip from Galway so it should be easy enough to get done), and Kilkenny (I went there last year and really want to go back!) So much to do, so little time and money. Sad day...

18 March 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was awesome!!! We started out the morning by fixing a big breakfast at my house around 10:30, then heading to the parade that started about 12:30. The parade was really cool - the red sails of Galway Bay and the swans on the River Corrib were all represented. They also had the different ethnic groups marching (i.e. the Asian-Irish and African-Irish). There were a lot of schools that had their kids playing the tin whistle, snare drum, and bells - that was cool! After the parade we went to eat at the Skeff (a local pub) where they had St. Patrick Day specials - surprisingly enough, there were no traditional (well, what an American would think of as traditional) foods on the list! We then went back to Katherine and Viviane's apartment and watched P.S. I Love You much to my enjoyment! :D We then decided that it was time to go out as the Traditional Society was doing a session at the Crane Bar, which ended up being packed and the musicians didn't play that much. So we decided to grab dinner (we had pizzas - how St. Patrick's Dayish is that!) I then came back to my apartment as I had an essay due today and needed to finish it... :( It was so nice outside, though - we really couldn't have asked for a better day! I was walking around in short sleeves WITHOUT a jacket! I was amazed.
Today after our Irish class, Katherine and I took her friends to the bus station and then lay in Eyre Square and people-watched and enjoyed the beautiful weather that continued into today - let's hope it stays this way for a long time!

14 March 2009

Yesterday, 3 other girls and I had a music session with out Irish language lecturer. It was so much fun! It was kind of interesting for me because I don't play any of the instruments we had so I kind of tried to play the tin whistle...I'm not sure how many notes I got right, but at least I tried! 2 of the other girls just knew a lot of songs, but they did have music books so Katherine and I could play too. I learned how to play the bohdran and the spoons! I'm not sure how successful I was at either one, but it was still fun!

09 March 2009

Belfast

Northern Ireland was pretty amazing! I really wasn't sure if I would like it - I've been taking a class entitled The Northern Ireland Problem, and I've found myself taking on the Irish Nationalist view of Northern Ireland and the UK. Belfast was definitely a lot more industrialized than Ireland is - it had more of a big city feel to it and it's actually smaller than Wichita! It takes 6 hours to get there because we have to drive across Ireland to Dublin, then up to Belfast. We left about 10:00 in the morning on Thursday and got to Belfast about 3:30 - 4:00 that afternoon. We then had a welcome dinner at the hotel - we all gorged ourselves at the group meals since it's the last free food we get until the farewell meal! Kelsey and I then walked around Belfast looking for an internet cafe....we discovered that the map lied and we were not going to find one in the area we were in so had to backtrack to the hotel and go the other way! I thought it was amazing that two girls could walk around Belfast today, alone, at night, and feel perfectly safe (we're even both Catholic!) - that view will soon change - I will discuss in a minute.
Friday was our excursion day! We started out going to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It was a little scary when you were walking across and the bridge was bouncing up and down, but they had lots of nets and ropes to catch you if you fell. The scenery around it was beautiful - I'm a little fascinated with the ocean so I have a LOT of pictures of the waves (Kansas is landlocked - give me a break!) The next stop was Dunluce Castle....it was soooo cool! It's definitely just the ruins left, grass floor and no roof, and the kitchen fell into the sea a long time ago, but it's still pretty cool looking. We only had 10 - 15 minutes to explore, which was not even close to enough time, but I still got some really good pictures. After lunch we went to Giants Causeway. This was the only part of the day that it rained, but it was still a lot of fun! Again, I took way too many pictures of the ocean, but I was really entertained that we were right on the coast (I've always been looking at the ocean from cliffs, never actually right up next to it!) Kelsey and I decided we've never been so wet and cold and happy at the same time!
Saturday was our free day in Belfast. We started out by going to Belfast Castle, which is absolutely gorgeous! They were setting up for a wedding, but they still let us walk around and take lots of pictures - I think all of us decided we wanted to get married there, too! :) It had a princess staircase in the back so we all lined up and took "prom" pictures - it was a lot of fun! After we were done at the castle, we went to the market and the mall and did a little shopping (I got new flats - I was pretty excited about them!) We then ran back to our hotel in time for the Black Cab Tour because we were not watching the time carefully enough! The Black Cab Tours take you around parts of Belfast and show you the murals painted on the walls that deal with the Troubles. Before leaving for Belfast, I was under the impression that there really wasn't anymore violence in Northern Ireland and that the wall was still up more as a tourist thing than a necessary thing. Nevermind. The first thing our cab driver told us we needed to know was, "If I say run, you don't ask where, you just run!" I'm not sure how much of this was a lets see how much we can scare the Americans thing, but it worked! I got to sign the wall and they explained to us that even though a ceasefire was declared in 1998, that didn't mean the Catholics and Protestants ran into the streets and gave each other hugs. These two groups still hate each other and the wall is still needed. There are a lot of gates through the wall that are open during the week, but all but one of these gates are locked from 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 a.m. Monday to lower the tension between the two groups. That tour was definitely worth making the trip to Belfast.
After our group meal, we decided to go to the Belfast Wheel (basically a smaller version of the London Eye). It was raining a little, but nothing too bad so we got on and started going up. We stopped at the top and realized the storm was a little worse up there! The wind was blowing the box around and the rain and wind sounded horrible inside. It was probably one of the scarier things I've ever done! We went around all 5 times, but then when we got off, the workers were going to go up and test it to make sure it was safe....I guess we were the guinea pigs!
We left Belfast at 11:00 Sunday morning and got back to Galway at 5:30 - a fairly decent time to start working on my paper again.....except the internet was out! Thankfully, I have a very loving dad and brother who took pity on me and e-mailed me several sites that I could look at this morning when I came to the library! So my paper's turned in and all is good in the world - now lets hope I get my other stuff done before the night before it's due!

04 March 2009

Snow!!!!!

It snowed today!!! Thankfully, none of it stuck (I don't think I would enjoy walking to and from school in snow!) but it came down at least twice in big puffy flakes!
I'm going to leave this post short as I am still working on my mid-term paper for my Rome class and would like to have it done before I leave for Belfast tomorrow!

21 February 2009

Good thing we didn't go to Dublin this weekend! There were over 100,000 protestors in Dublin's city-centre protesting the way the Irish government is handeling the recession. Needless to say, this could have put a damper on our trip! We didn't end up going anywhere this weekend, which is kind of a good thing because I have a lot of reading and researching to catch up on...the bad news is that I haven't been motivated to do anything all day!!! Hopefully after I'm done writing this I'll have some motivation. My roommate's scheduled to be back soon (she had a field trip for her castles class - how awesome is that!) so maybe I'll be motivated with someone else home...
I have a random funny story to share. The other day, I was sitting in my Irish Language class and Daithi (pronounced Da-he) was teaching us how to say Irish-American. Then, he was going to tell us how to say, "My people are from Ireland," so he asked us how many of our ancestors left during the Great Hunger. As we were raising our hands, a German girl said, "Is that even relevant anymore. Americans are American - what does it matter that their people passed through another country a long time ago?" Pretty much every American in there went on the defensive. She then had about 6 of us explaining why it is relevant and why we feel a connection with whatever countries our families are from. Daithi handled it really well by telling stories of him growing up in England and his identity as an Irish-English. It was kind of funny to see everyone's reactions when she said that, though....

20 February 2009

Enough about the internet

We have the internet back at Gort! That is all I'm going to say because if I get too excited about it, it might go away again...

Now that the problem is fixed, I will tell you about our trip to the Burren we took on 7 February! We started out waiting at reception for the bus at 9:30. We saw a bus drive by, then leave, so we got a little nervous that it was our bus that left - so we call the tour company, they say he'll come back, random guy comes and asks if we're going on a tour. We say yes and get in the van (unmarked, white van...maybe not a good idea?) Halfway to Eyre Square, Katherine gets a call from our bus driver asking where we are. We start thinking we are epic failures at tours and that we're on the wrong bus, but it turns out they just had two people coming after us! We left Galway at 10:00 and our first stop was at the Aillwee Caves. They were discovered by a guy chasing his dog in the 1930s who then proceeded to keep them a secret for 20 years! We got to see 1000 year old bear bones (bears are now extinct in Ireland) and lots of cool rock formations. We then met up with a group that started the tour at 11:30 in Ballyvaughan and saw a cool church while we waited. We then went to see the Dolmen (our tour guide described it as the Irish Stonehenge). It's basically two slabs of stone standing upright with another slab ontop like a roof. The Celts used to sit inside it to connect to the other world without the distractions of this world. The terrain in the Burren is so rocky! To get up to the Dolmen, we had to kind of hop from rock to rock....we kind of felt like mountain goats! Our next stop was the Cliffs of Moher...this was my 3rd time there! On the way to the Cliffs we saw some pretty cool castles and a fairy ring! Legend says that if you tear down a fairy ring and build on top of it, your house will be cursed! Naturally, people tend to leave them alone. We went to some other cliffs after the Cliffs of Moher that I liked a lot better...probably because we could actually go out to the edge of them and get really cool pictures! I wouldn't go out to the edge, though, so Kelsey had to take a picture for me! :) Then, on our way back to Galway, we stopped by a castle where my camera died (actually, the batteries became exhausted) so I didn't get very many pictures of it. :( Here are some pictures from our trip:


A cool waterfall inside the Aillwee Cave


The Dolmen


Fairy ring!


Cool cliffs
Just a pretty picture :)

19 February 2009

False Alarm

The internet is out, yet again....They say we may have it back tonight, but that is highly doubtful. Hopefully by tomorrow we'll be good. Speaking of tomorrow, we're going to go to Dublin for the weekend! Or somewhere, anyway - we're still debating over where...We're trying to make it a short trip, though, because we have homework we need to work on this weekend. I have two mid-term essays due on 9 and 10 March that I have yet to really start on. That wouldn't be too bad except I'm going with Butler to Northern Ireland starting on 6 March and lasting through 8 March. I'm glad I'm going o nthis trip, though, because I just found out the tour my family's coming over to take won't be able to go to Northern Ireland.

I will be very excited when this whole internet thing is figured out for good....

18 February 2009

Internet!!!!!!!!

The internet has returned!!!! It may not be back permanently, but it's back for now!

16 February 2009

Internet

Day 21 of our disconnection from the world....The internet has apparently died at Gort, and there is a very slim chance of its revival anytime soon. We got a flyer in out mail slot last Friday stating that the problem was bigger than anticipated (no kidding) and that if the problem wasn't fixed by next Friday, we will get another update then. I don't think that's a good sign if they're already telling us we'll be updated next Friday. Our options for internet right now are Subway (which requires us to buy something in exchange for their internet...good thing for 70 cent cookies!) and Campus. Subway closes at 9:00 (or 10:00...they kick us out at different times) and Campus closes at 10:00....everyone at home gets done with work/school by 11:00 here, which means I can talk to virtually no one unless I call them on my mobile (15 cents a minute to the U.S.) And, I only have 5 euro left of mobile credit and am too poor to top-up at the moment....I feel extremely disconnected from the rest of the world! I am also extremely tired of carrying my computer on that 20 mintue walk to and from campus EVERY DAY! I really need to make more friends who do not live in Gort so I can use them for their internet...and free laundry, which I believe, we should get out of this deal! I guess this way I am forced to go to the library and study although, obviously, if I'm writing this, I'm not studying. I also hope that if this situation continues, I don't need to pull an all-nighter (or half-nighter for that matter) as the library is only open until 10:00 and I may get cold and wet and possibly arrested if I sit in the middle of campus in the middle of the night. Hopefully, the internet will decide to grace us with its presence soon, but I'm not holding my breath...

08 February 2009

Granddad

Ok, sorry I haven't posted on here in a while, but I haven't had internet at home for 2 weeks and I've been in America for the past week. As many of you know, my granddad, William Carter, died on January 30th. I found out 5:30 on Friday evening and was on a plane home at 9:00 the next morning. Three of my friends and I stayed up until 3:30 so I could take the bus from Galway to Shannon, then I called my mom and brother (much to their delight) to entertain me until I left at 9:00 (at least I'm six hours ahead of them). I flew into Newark, NJ, had a five hour layover, then flew into Denver where my brother picked me up. My friends here definitely think I live in the middle of nowhere now because I was explaining to them that I could fly into either Denver or Kansas City and still have about a 6 hour drive to Jennings - they couldn't believe there wasn't an airport closer! On the way to Newark, I had a whole row to myself! Now that's the way to fly! Unfortunately, the rest of my flights were full. I got into Shannon at about 7:30 in the morning, took a bus to Galway, and arrived at my house at about 10:30. It was really cool when I came through customs into Ireland, the guy told me "Welcome home!"
I'm going to put the bio in the pamphlet on here:

William Penn Carter was born February 22, 1916, on the family farm three miles south of Jennings, Kansas. His twin brother, Willard, and he were the youngest of four children born to Jesse and Grace (Tice) Carter. William passed away Friday, January 30, 2009, at the Decatur County ospital in Oberlin, Kansas, at the age of 92.
William and his siblings were reared on the family farm and attended school in Jennings. He graduated from Jennings High School in 1934. During World War II, William and Willard joined the United States Army. They went to training in Texas and served with the 359th Infantry, 90th Division.
On June 6, 1943, before he left to go overseas, William was united in marriage to Rachel Carlton in a double ceremony with his brother, Willard, and Rachel's sister, Naomi, at the Methodist Church in Jennings. The two brothers left shortly after that to serve in the European Theater. They were honorably discharged and returned home in December of 1945.
William and Willard then began working together for Home Oil and Gas Company with Jess Tacha. In 1948, they built a duplex in Jennings, and the two families lived side by side from that time on.
Family was important to them. William and Rachel were blessed with two sons, two daughters, 11 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Besides his family, William's other love was his horses.
He was a member of the Jennings United Methodist Church, American Legion Post #351, Masonic Lodge, Order of Eastern Star and Charter Member of the Jennings Lion Club.
Survivors include his wife Rachel of the home; four children and their spouses, Ann and Richard Graner of Benthany, Missouri, Allan and Sherry Carter of Overland Park, Kenneth and Julie Carter of Jennings, and Jane and Jim Wahlmeier of Concordia; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; nephews and nieces, other relatives and friends.
William was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings Nettie, Lawrence (Carney) and Willard.

It was hard being this far away while he was sick. He found out last year that he had lymphoma in his knees. They did one round of chemo, which alleviated the pain in his knees, but he never did really recover from that. In a way, I knew I'd be going home for his funeral at some point this semester, but I didn't think it would be this soon. He's also rallied so many times when we thought he wasn't going to make it that part of me really didn't expect this. It is comforting to me to know that he's in a better place and he's no longer in pain, but it's still hard to know he's not going to be there when I get back.

25 January 2009

Tour of my House

I decided that it would be nice to record a tour of my house so you all can see where I live! I had to use my mic so I kind of look like a telephone operator (or like Garth Brookes, right Mike?) and I couldn't edit out the end when I set the camera down so I can turn off the video so you get a nice view of my duvet cover at the end! :)

I went outside earlier today and didn't even have to put my coat on! It was glorious! It also hasn't rained all day and the sun has been shining so let's hope that trend continues!

video

21 January 2009

And School Begins....

The past few weeks I have kind of forgotten that the whole reason I am here is to go to school. I was reminded of this yesterday. I have decided that the history department thrives on papers....I am semi-used to this, but not quite at this intensity. I will have 2 mid-term essays of 1500-2000 words and 2 final essays of 5000 words. Also, 2 classes are a little vague on the finals so I may have to write essays for those, too! In reality, this may not be so bad, I have no concept of how many words make how many pages, but right now, I'm a little intimidated by the number of words required! Another reason this makes me nervous is their semester ends in April!!! That's a very short length of time to write 4 essays.
On a happier note - I had my first Irish language class today! It's definitely different from anything I've heard before, but it's so much fun! My friends and I have been practicing since we left class. I think one thing that makes it so fun is that it's a non-credit class - we pay 40 euro and we take the class without having to worry about a grade. So far I've gotten really good at Tá mé go maith (pronounced ta meh go mah) which means, I'm well. That's the only one that I think I pronounce even remotely correctly. I'm enjoying my other classes, they're just freaking me out a little bit at the moment. I need to remember that it's only January, I have time! I really like the colliquium that I'm taking, the Mid-Tudor Crisis. I've always focused on Henry VIII and Elizabeth in my Tudor studies. This class focuses more on Edward VI and Mary I and a little bit on Elizabeth's early reign. It's absolutely wonderful!

18 January 2009

Home Stay

My home stay was amazing! I was with Breda (pronounced Breeda) and Sean Ansbro in Tuam. They have three children, their oldest, Carol is studying in Australia right now, but we met their two other children. Adam attends the NUI at Cork and was home for the weekend, and Grace is 17 or 18. Grace's friend Sarah was also staying for the weekend. Sarah is from Hamburg, Germany, and is studying in Ireland this year. I'll try to keep the chain of events in order soas not to confuse anyone, including myself!
We left Galway at 6:00 pm and arrived in Tuam at about 7:00. We were paired in two's. I was a little nervous because I hadn't seen the girl I was supposed to be with, but it turns out she's studying, through Butler, at the art school in Ballyvaughan, which is across the bay from Galway. Sean picked us up and drove us out to their house, which is just a little outside the city. Supper was waiting when we got there and was delicious! Breda always fixes something the first night that we can fix ourselves when we return to college - how great is that! We then watched tv with Sean and hung out with Adam, Grace, and Sarah.
On Saturday we got up early because we heard them say Adam had a rugby match at noon. We got downstairs about 9:30 and Sean was the only other one up! It ended up being really windy and rainy all day so we didn't go watch the rugby match, although we did you with Breda to pick Adam up. Last night we watched Mamma Mia, P.S. I Love You, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This morning we decided we didn't need to get up as early as we did on Saturday! We went to the Cathedral in Tuam for church, which was really cool! Mass wasn't too different than what we have at home, but it was hard to say the responses because the congregation didn't really say them together. Plus, Irish people kind of mummble and talk fast (that's where I get it!) so they were probably saying what we say, I just couldn't follow it. Before Mass, Breda drove us around Tuam and showed us a plaque put up by the city for a local girl killed in 9/11 and the seat of the last high king of Ireland (which was really tiny!) When we got back in her car after Mass, I found a Garth Brooks CD! I don't think I've heard country music since I've gotten here (other than my own iTunes)! The CD also had a DVD with it (the ultimate hits collection) so we watched that while Breda made dinner. We then departed for Galway at 3:00.
I had such a good time with the family! They were a little hard to understand at times, but we got by :) I kind of wish it had been a long weekend since it seemed like the time just flew while we were there!

15 January 2009

Random info

I've been realizing that I've been talking to people individually and leaving some info out of my blog so I think I'll catch everybody up now. I also think of things during the day that I should write, but then forget by the time I get home so hopefully I remember everything!
Our Irish housemates got here Sunday night. Their names are Marion, Maura, and Amanda. Everywhere I go, there is always another Amanda! When I went to Jr. CYO camp in junior high, the only other Amanda in the entire camp was not only in my cabin, but in my room! I was pretty excited when I got here because there were no other Amanda's in the Butler program. I then thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if one of my housemates was named Amanda?" I didn't think it would really be, but it is! The girls are really nice! They made us feel right at home so I don't feel like a squatter anymore! :D Amanda is studying English and Maura and Marion are studying science (I think....I could be wrong). It's very interesting living with them as we see the Irish culture we were warned about. One of the ladies at orientation told us that Irish students will tell visiting students that they never go to lectures, they hardly do any outside work, they just show up for exams. One of the very first conversations we heard was one of our housemates saying to another, "Do we have college this week? I'll figure out my timetable later." This was on Sunday.
Speaking of college, I've discovered I have to add another class. The Irish language course doesn't actually count for credit so I need one more to have 30 ETCS. I've decided to take Women in Medieval Society. I got the syllabus today, and it doesn't look too bad. It's hard to schedule all of my classes because each class has a tutorial you must sign up for. The tutorial is basically a study group that you discuss the lectures with. The first time I made out my schedule I didn't think it looked too bad, but adding in all of the tutorials is making it fill up fast!
We have a family stay this weekend. I'm staying with Breda Ansbro, her husband, and their three children. She is a housewife and her husband is retired. There kids are high school and college age and I'll have one other American student with me so it should be fun! They live in Tuam, which is north of Galway.
I think I shall now end this really long post and go get my laundry (6 euros to wash and dry! Not good when I'm used to $3 for that!)

14 January 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away



Taking the 15-30 minute walk to campus is not so much fun in the rain! Not that it's much fun any other time, but it really becomes terrible when it's raining. I only had one class today so convincing myself that I needed to walk all that way to stay there for an hour and walk back took quite a bit. The class should be an interesting one, though. It is Celtic Mythology, Religion, and Folklore. The lecture hall was absolutely full! Most of us in the class are visiting students so I feel kind of bad for the Irish students who are in there, too. I also don't think I dried out at all during class. My bag was soaking so my notebook paper absorbed a little bit of water. I could still write on it fine, but I could tell it was a little water-logged. Right now, my jeans are hanging over my closet door trying to dry...I'm not sure how successfully....I also don't think my bangs will ever be the same again. My hair is wavy and, when wet, will get wavier and frizzier. I may live in pony tails this semester!


12 January 2009

So, yeah...I may have exaggerated a little on the rain situation - but it does rain at least once a day! Today was a little boring because it was the first day of class so nobody was around, but I didn't have any classes today so I was the only one here. I have two classes, however, tomorrow, one at 9:00 a.m. Normally, as in Baker terms, this would not be bad, however, campus is about a 30 minute walk (my speed - I'm getting faster) and finding the building could take a very long time so I will need to leave my house, at the latest, by 8:15. Then, I sit and chill on campus (highly doubt I'll have any homework) until 1 when my other class is. Starting next week, I'll then have to sit from 2 until 5 as my seminar starts at 5. I'm used to being able to run back to my room and grab something or take a nap in between classes, but my house and campus are a little far apart for that! Also, some of my friends experienced some problems today. They have experienced everything from imaginary rooms to empty rooms that are supposed to be full. This could be a very good venting tool tomorrow...hopefully I won't need to vent!

11 January 2009

Life in Ireland

It rained yesterday for the first time since we got here....I don't think it will stop raining until I leave. Now to understand my dismay at this, you have to know that I spent at least 16 years of my life in drought. Rain to me is 30 minutes of drizzle, not continuous all day and all night. I've given up on thinking I will ever feel fully warm or dry again!
With all the problems with the heat and hot water and rain you would think that I am miserable, but I'm not! I absolutely love it! It could get old really fast, but currently I am really enjoying myself.
School starts tomorrow....I forget I'm not just on vacation and that I actually have to work while I'm over here! I don't actually have any classes tomorrow. I want to take an Irish language class that's offered on Monday, but it doesn't start until next week. My colliquia doesn't start until next week either so I'll only have 3 classes this week! How awesome is that! The classes I am planning on taking are:
Intro to the Irish Language
The Northern Ireland Problem
The Mid-Tudor Crisis
Celtic mythology, religion, and folklore
Rome and the Conquest of the Mediterranean
I don't think I'll die. Now, the challenge is going to be finding where these classes are. Rooms here are not set up in a typical manner. There really is no rhyme or reason to where things are located. Also, the class schedule set up is very different from what I'm used to. There are no set days like MWF classes and TR classes. Classes are just on two random days during the week. And just because it's the same class on two different days does not mean that they are in the same room. I'd better never forget what day it is because I could very easily get myself lost!

09 January 2009

School

Today we had advisory sessions with NUIG staff. I found out the history course that I really wanted to take (The Tudor Conquest of Ireland) was cancelled. The only other Tudor course was a colliquia (The Mid-Tudor Crisis, 1547-60) which is worth 10 ECTS credits instead of 5 and will probably be twice as much work. My philosophy right now is if I survived 20 hours my first semester of college, I can survive this....we'll see how that turns out! They usually only accept 3 or 4 visiting students in a seminar or colliquia and I was fifth in line for the Mid-Tudor Crisis so I might or might not actually be in it.
I'll put some of the better pictures of the Cliffs of Moher on here. On the way there I saw two tractors and lots of cows so I felt at home! :) I was really excited because on the way to the cliffs last year, I took a picture of the Irish countryside that I absolutely love! We rounded a bend while we were headed to the cliffs this time and I thought, "It's my picture!" I'll also include that picture! :D







07 January 2009

Finally!!

Ok, Ok, sorry I haven't posted on here yet, but today was my first day to have free internet!

I made it safely to Shannon Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. I only got about an hour sleep on the plane, but I took two naps later in the day so it was ok! When we got over Ireland a lady called across the aisle to her husband and asked, “Can you see Irish?” I don’t know why, I just thought it was neat! I sat next to a girl on the plane who is studying at Galway as well, but she was directly enrolled so she wasn’t coming to Limerick to do Butler orientation.
I got to Limerick shortly after noon on Sunday. There were about 10 of us on my flight so we were able to figure out the bus schedule and how to get to the hotel together. We came into Limerick and passed the Jury’s Inn, and then kept going and going and going until we got to the bus stop. I’m glad I packed as light as I did because some of the girls were having a really hard time lugging all of their luggage.
We had a welcome dinner at the hotel that night. It was kind of strange because the Butler people never actually introduced themselves or welcomed us so we only met the people at our table. So far, I haven’t met anyone from Kansas, but my roommate is from Colorado and I’ve met a couple of people from Missouri, so at least those are close.
Monday and Tuesday we had orientation at the Marriott hotel (I know - orientation is not only not at our city, but not even at our hotel!) We learned a little about registration at our university and registration with the police. Then, that afternoon we went to the Cliffs of Moher (this is also kind of ironic because they are actually closer to Galway, but we came back to Limerick!) The Cliffs were absolutely beautiful! Last time I was there I didn’t walk up to the tower (there’s a lot of stairs and I had a big boot on at the time) so this time I went up and got some really good pictures of some cliffs I didn’t see last time. Some of the pictures didn’t turn out because the sun was just above the cliffs – it looked really cool in person, but didn’t turn out very well in pictures.
Today we got to Galway! It is absolutely wonderful. Currently, my roommate and I are the only ones in our townhouse and it is COLD inside. It's sad when you feel like it's warmer outside than it is in! We'll have 3 more Irish roommates come back on Sunday - I can't wait to meet them! We had a tour of the campus today...I'm not sure how effective it was, but at least we know where the campus is and we do have a map!
Ok, it's now 1:15 in the morning (even though the post time says 5 in the afternoon - I can't figure out how to change it) and we have more orientation tomorrow so I will try to write more on here then...