Dorothy, I think we are in Kansas.

I think Toto already was swept up by the powerful winds of the Irish for his wagging tail and saddened barks are no where to be found. I find my 5’11” frame veering from a straight line and occasionally stumbling into a fellow friend walking with me to and from campus. Sure it rains, every day, but the wind sure is an epic cultural shock as well. When crossing the waving Shannon River beneath the bridge we walk on, our voices trail off with the booming air causing non-convertible savvy hair. I’m making do though.

The cold was a downer in the beginning of my travels, however with pain comes beauty. Ireland didn’t coin itself as the ‘Emerald Isle’ for a mountain of literal gems; in fact the gem of this beautiful country isn’t something you can really buy. Here is a preview of Saturday’s epic travels.

The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher standing over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher standing over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

Though this day trip certainly was calling my name, Thursday marked another eventful visit to the city centre in Limerick. Hoping to fix my locked cell phone with the worst network available in Europe, Tesco, Sofia[my fashionista Italian roommate], Vicky[my hilarious Greek roommate] and Yves[the dapper Swiss man] all traveled together on the 304 bus. Public transportation truly is fantastic here, simple to use to and from the University and only 1.80 euro each way.

[pic of my hat]

After purchasing the cap to heat my frozen head, we ventured to Dunnes, my new favorite grocery store combining clothing, food, and cosmetics into one conglomeration. For only 25 euro[I’m sounding like such an American with these noted prices], I bought a pair of Dr. Marten’s rip off boots which not only were comfortable, but replicate the expensive brand quite nicely. Especially since this was the day my right knee began hurting[I’m currently elevating my leg on two pillows on top of a bag of frozen peas], new shoes were in order.

Sofia had to venture out of the city before Vicky, Yves, and I for a class, so we decided to test the local coffee shop I was so enamored by every time our bus would pass its location. Arabica Coffee Company is a bit cramped and a tad overpriced, but in general, it was cozy for our tired feet.

Yves's cappuccino.

Yves’s cappuccino.

Always ready for a photo opp.

Always ready for a photo opp.

Of course when we arrived back on campus, I would discover that I had missed the lecture for my Irish Music + Dance class which actually was:

A recital-lecture by Mícheál Ó Súilleabbháin on the first published collection of Irish Music – Neal’s A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (Dublin 1724)
 Only one copy of this book survived – among the papers of the 18th/19th century collector Edward Bunting in Queen’s University Belfast. Older than any surviving manuscript collection, A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes Proper for the Violin, German Flute or Hautboy was published in 1724 by John and William Neal in Christ Church Yard in Dublin. Containing the earliest versions of tunes now familiar through the revival of Irish traditional music over the past fifty years – such as Tabhair Dom Do Lámh/Give Me Your Hand, and Molly St. George Mícheál Ó Súilleabbháin uses his knowledge of Irishsean-nós (‘old style’) oral tradition to bring these tunes alive within the Baroque context of the collection.
Bummed, without a phone to communicate, my lost puppy senses triggered sending a swift wave of fear through me…then I remembered I had Wi-Fi. Phewww! To finalize the day, we finally convinced several of our friends from the Kilmurry Village across campus to experience the festivities Robin 59 has to offer.

Yves being a loner before whipping out his secret weapon.

Yves being a loner before whipping out his secret weapon.

Consisting of Swiss cards, ‘american’ chocolate chip cookies, and expected laughter, I instantly forgot about my worries and breathed a sigh of social relief. Little did I know TGIF was around the corner to heighten my already memorable weekend.

What is this ‘education’ you speak of?

Yes, after an entire week of never ending activities, staying up until the wee hours of the mornin’, and having some good ole craic, we all quickly discovered that the shenanigans would have to eventually end…sort of. The Irish truly never stop partying and going out to the pubs. Literally every night; well Tuesday and Thursdays and Sundays apparently are when if you’re anybody, you’ll be out with the rest of the chummy lot, but in terms of those who actually decided to show up for class, the Eramus and Study Abroad students definitely were representing!

Monday marked my first class[bright and early…maybe not so bright] at 9:00am though Kellianne and I decided we would leave an hour early to explore the spread out campus before attempting to discover where our classes would reside. Luckily we found the doors with our investigative skills despite the tricky systems. There is the Ground floor(G), M floor(M), O floor(O) THEN, 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors. Apparently the Irish count with letters as well? Nonetheless, I was able to make it my first class, Branding in the Kemmey Business School. My Swiss roommate Yves was shocked at the ‘small size’ of the lecture being able 40-50 students which to someone used to 12-20 students per class, I was a bit out of my element. The professor showed us a fantastic short called, ‘Logo-o-rama’ featuring 2,500 different brands with Ronald McDonald as the vulgar antagonist. Several of the crude jokes were hilarious, but from an American’s perspective; I quickly discovered I would be the only one laughing among the international and Irish students…maybe the 9 o’clock hour had something to do with their attention span?

Next came Historical/Cultural Geography of Ireland after a delicious meal at the Scholar’s Club, a pub/eatery on campus. I was ecstatic to find out they not only had chili, one of my favorite meals, but that it was made with Quorn, a myoprotein substitute mimicking the texture and flavor of meat without actually being meat. At only 6.50 euro for the chili, rice, and vegetables, I was a happy college kid upon arriving to the class.

I was just a tad excited for a meal geared toward vegetarians[and my pescatarian diet!]

I was just a tad excited for a meal geared toward vegetarians[and my pescatarian diet!]

 

After learning that the class would be about how the land has changed/endured our society and what attributes have remained over the generations walking across its green paths, I made my way to Irish Music + Dance. Remembering the instrumental treat we received during Orientation, I was quite excited to further delve into the traditions Ireland has saved and coined for thousands of years. I had originally hoped to perfect my two left feet dancing skills, but was thrilled to hear they would offer a ‘song’ tutorial for students to focus on. The professor explained that we will be singing noted English songs while also heavily dabbling in the Irish melodic language. I haven’t perfected the accent, but maybe I can start with the words to become a pro? Wish me luck…oh wait I’m in Ireland.

Finishing around 3:00pm, my Lyons Irish black tea still was kicking hard, but as I made my way to a potential 5:00pm Consumption + Consumer Culture class, the energizer bunny definitely was taking a nap in my system. By the time I made it back to my flat in Robin 59, I barely could take my boots off…luckily I had Ben and Yves take my boots off~they each got to play Prince Charming taking one off. It’s so funny what they find amusing. After their appreciated help, I was ready to take a load off for the evening.

Tuesday morning began bright and early again at 9:00am with Interaction, Relationships, and Networks, another fantastic marketing class. From what I have gathered, we will be creating an entire marketing plan within the Adventure/tourism sector benefiting charities through fundraising. This is the simplified version of the group project; though it will take a tight fit of our thinking caps, I am excited to use the knowledge of an international market to return with fiscal coursework for a potential internship this Summer. I’m nearing my senior year, and though study abroad is filled with consistent craic, I have to consider how I am receiving these opportunities. Hooray, education!

Wednesday finalized my schedule with a sociology class labeled Social Approaches to Gender and Multiculturism. Burrowing into the politics of European countries and the feminist oppositions featured in each varying culture, I was incredibly intrigued to discover more of what this particular professor would lecture about this semester.

So there you have it friends. I have classes among the laughter and shenanigans. Now comes the weekend festivities…Wednesday evening at UL means Karoke night+ A Pub Crawl with the International Society on campus! Sadly I didn’t become famous with my always harmonizing vocals, yet our usual crew met some good ole Irish students and a dear friend named Bulmers.

My favorite apple cider ale.

My favorite apple cider ale.

Our fantastic tour guide Kee-ran for the evening; always seems to find me on a path of UL with a smile.
Our fantastic tour guide Kee-ran for the evening; always seems to find me on a path of UL with a smile.

 

Karaoke, and hanging with friends in a pub on a Wednesday…boy we were just getting started for this weekend. Stay tuned lads…

 

It all hits on Sunday.

Whoever coined the name, “Sunday Funday” seriously had some luck. I find when ever this week day rolls around, I accumulate a stream of anxiety through my system in anticipation for the procrastinated essentials I put on the back burner all week. I have attempted to suck up every ounce of Ireland in the never ending events, parties, and festivities meaning I have submitted myself to late[or actually early morning] bedtimes so once I finally gave myself a moment to breathe, Jet-lag finally set in.

Luckily I had some time to just chill out at home while my other flatmates ventured into the city yet again. This meant I had to actually face UL’s time table module system aka registering for classes. For the most part I was able to finalize a good schedule, but this took about four hours between the constant check of Facebook, editing photos, and socializing. At least I was somewhat productive…

Oh so much more than Milk.

I can’t believe I was able to rise at 9:00am the next morning[Saturday] having gone to bed at 6am the previous day, yet I had been looking forward to the this event all week!

I fell asleep with my phone in hand...typical.

I fell asleep with my phone in hand…typical.

A visit to a ‘Milk market’ had been thrown around all week and from what I gathered, it would be similar to a Farmer’s Market/Mexican Flea Market. Cheap fresh produce and jolly vendors? I think yes.

The beginning of the infamous Milk Market.

The beginning of the infamous Milk Market.

 

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Only the cool kids sit in the back of the bus. From the left: Amy Grief, Lisa B, Emily Bandi, ME, and Chloe my love!

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Where are my avocados and beautiful marbley heirloom tomatoes?

I wasn’t expecting an exceptional variety of produce, yet I wasn’t necessarily thinking the offerings of fruit and vegetables would be so limited. Luckily, the incredible spirit and happiness radiating from the vendors made up for their lack of Fuji apples…sort of. We found great deals on oranges[5 large Navels for only 2 euro! About 5 oranges for 3 dollars!], onions, zucchini, and loose tea. Yes, Chloe put up with my obsession for the loose leaves and their smells; literally about twenty minutes spent simply smelling a delicious array of teas ranging from Sencha to Oolong to Robust Early Grey varieties.  It will take some getting used to, but hey when in Ireland, do as the Irish do right?

Of course while we were among the Irish, I experienced what seems to be a common string of misunderstandings when attempting to communicate with their mumbles and slurs. The Irish accent is incredibly difficult to distinguish! When I asked a vendor what kind of apples she had, I heard, ‘bacon apples’ and instantly was quite confused. Non-vegetarian apples? I questioned her saying ‘bacon apples? Do they have meat on them…?” She replied, “No, no deary. Bacon apples.” I turn to Chloe still in disbelief. The woman repeats, “Bacon, Ba-KING apples…” A lightbulb appears over my head. “Like in pies?” “OHHHH!” Associating with the Irish definitely is an adventure…

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Perfectly powdered bread ranging from puffs of dough and sunflower seed sprikled brown bread. Mmm.

Feast your eyes on Ireland's assortment of cheese. Irish porter being: can you guess? But of course~ Guinness! Near by on the same table lied a Chocolate cheese! With just a small hint of these flavors lingering in the sharp notes of the cheese, I truly was craving some bread for a grilled sandwich pronto.

Feast your eyes on Ireland’s assortment of cheese. Irish porter being: can you guess? But of course~ Guinness! Near by on the same table lied a Chocolate cheese! With just a small hint of these flavors lingering in the sharp notes of the cheese, I truly was craving some bread for a grilled sandwich pronto.

 

IMG_1236As we were starving at this point, the smells of authentic Indian spices and flavors overtook our nostrils leading us to this genuinely kind lad. Though a bit too spicy for Chloe’s liking, she claims the chicken tikka masala was still delicious. Thank goodness this market is every Saturday so I can save my appetite(and money) for  a taste of the vegetarian option next time! Once leaving the market, we ventured around Williams Street, a nearby shopping area featuring Dealz!, a cheap store filled with consumer deals where I finally bought Lyons Irish Black Tea(yessss.), and also an electronic store where we were treated to the forward and cursing personality of the Irish. The f word could be replaced with the world food for all I know…regardless, by the time we finally found the bus again, we were thankful to rest our feet before having to carry our heavy bags across the Shannon Rover and back to Thomond.

Once acquainted at home again, we decided our systems had gotten the most out of the events available, and to skip out on outdoor festivities in favor of at home games. Yves whipped out a deck of Swiss cards so we could play the game, ‘Asshole’. Essentially we are assigned positions, [the President, Vice President, Neutral, Vice Asshole, and asshole], and you place the cards in the middle in order similar to Uno. With only 36 cards, it ranges from 6-Ace with Jack being ‘Under’, Queen being ‘Ober’ and King as the ‘Kijong’. We are not supposed to answer questions from the asshole, and if we do, we must switch roles; the asshole also has to give the President their two best cards, and the vice asshole has to give up one. The President also gives the asshole their worst card. Lots of rules, but it was oh so fun!

I have found that staying at home and enjoying the continuous fun, humor, and cultural differences of my flatmates has made me easily forget about our fair distance from campus and the other villages. Robin 59 is so tight and it’s only been a week. Ireland for the win ya’ll.

I am a Lyons gal.

Within the first steps of becoming integrated into the Irish way of living, the topic of tea perked my ears up in an instant. Everywhere you go, it seems tea is the equivalent of, “Would you like a glass of water?” They consume the magical warm drink like it is going out of style…these are my kind of people. I love telling those who I meet on this journey about my nickname: Annie Green Tea. I was aware they would have tea here on this beautiful green isle, yet now I have been schooled on how to perceive it: you are either a Barry’s or Lyon’s gal. These being the two leading brands of Irish black tea, aka the incredibly strong robust pyramid shaped tea bags battling for your approval, I was offered a cup of tea at my buddy Cam’s apartment the other day and instantly fell in love with its effects and lack of bitterness[despite no sugar or milk]. Now my nickname is catching on even abroad…figures.

Though I have adjusted to the 8-hour time difference between Limerick and California, a fix of caffeine surely is appreciative especially when meeting so many new and exciting individuals. On Friday evening, the study abroad students, Eramus students, and exchange students were treated to a night at the Stables Club for ‘International Speed Dating’ which was definitely different than what movies like ‘Hitch’ or american television present. Once at the pub, we simply put name tags on also writing our country/state of origin and then were thrusted onto the dance floor where we were to talk to someone we had never met before until the iconic Stables Club DJ Burr[a stout little Irish man with a heart of gold] would tell us to find another person we had never met. You would think it could instantly turn awkward having to find someone to talk to especially since you’re ultimately judging everyone by their appearance, however I found since we were all so incredibly open to meeting new people, I was able to ‘meet and greet’ some new Americans and International students.

I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic it is being in the vicinity of such a surplus of International students. From the accents, to their fashion choices, to their conversation, I constantly am enamored and intrigued to find out more. Cultural differences for the win ya’ll.

Becoming acquainted with a variety of interesting individuals was ‘quite a craic’, but once DJ began spinning his tunes, I discovered that he really deserves the reputation he has acquired. He played an exceptional amount of American music ranging from ‘Grease’ to Rihanna to Mumford & Sons. At the end of the evening, apparently the song, ‘Little Lion Man’ is the Stable’s Club anthem to finalize the evening causing every one to come together and scream our hearts out to the roaring banjos. Sadly our roommate Yves did not know this song, and once it finished, immediately told me he wanted to memorize it when we got home.

The Stables Club ended around 2am, but time constraints don’t stop the Europeans. Every one remained socializing outside[luckily it wasn’t pouring its typical buckets from the sky], which added an additional hour or so to our walk home. It’s funny; I have found a ‘go to group’ including Ben, Yves, Sofia, Vicky and Chloe and though we may part into groups of two or three, we always find each other at the end of the evening.

I found another Annie. :)

I found another Annie. 🙂

My all time favrotie thus far~ a picture taken on the bridge over the Shannon river.

My all time favrotie thus far~ a picture taken on the bridge over the Shannon river.

Once we actually began walking at a decent pace back to our far off village of Thomond, I had a deep conversation with Ben whose English suddenly was fantastic…[we think his diet of pizza, beer, and cigarettes is quite the helpful combination] Ben is actually nationally recognized in his home country of Hungary for football or soccer for all you Americanos, and he currently is struggling to follow his passion for the sport or follow his studies of sports medicine and personal training. It’s remarkable how intelligent he is and the improvement of his English in such a short period of time! I have the utmost respect for all of my international roommates! Especially with my additional consumption of caffeine, the speed of my speech must be insane! We’ll see where Ben’s path will take him, but so far I think his residence here at Robin 59 will do him quite a bit of good.

After the long evening of intense talks, we still had enough energy to stay up until 6am dancing to Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Don’t You Worry child’, sing along to Mumford & Sons so Yves could memorize it for Stables, and various techno pop favorites of mine Kaskade and September. I am the biggest music snob around, so it’s always exciting when others jump on my bandwagon and pocket my picks as their own.

The 'duck face'.

The ‘duck face’.

Oh hey Ben.

Oh hey Ben.

The crew of Robin 59 plus Cam + Chloe honary members.

The crew of Robin 59 plus Cam + Chloe honary members.

Yves calls him Benny. They're adorable.

Yves calls him Benny. They’re adorable.

Caramelomena Kremidia : καραμελωμένα κρεμμύδια

University of Limerick will harbor another 17,000 students from across the world on Monday, yet for our week long adventure meeting those studying abroad from the States, we also have encountered students within the Eramus program otherwise known as the individuals attending the institute from a country outside North America. As far as I have gathered, non-Americans[or exchange students] are residing in areas off campus much farther from us and the Irish who are integrated into our villages as well. Somehow ‘Robin 59’ as we call ourselves(the name of the apartment and number of the apartment within our village Thomond Village] collected myself, Kellianne who also goes to Chapman and 4 other International students. With the luxury of having access to the various cultures of my flatmate’s countries, a dull moment never passes between the language lessons, laughter over accents, and often commonalities we constantly seem to discover among ourselves.

You could say I’m having a blast and a half[one of the many American phrases I have taught my flatmates].

Let’s see; it has only been a few days since I last posted a lengthy blog post of my never ending adventures, yet I truly am not exaggerating when I say I am busy every minute. I barely have had an hour to actually jump onto the website listing our modules[Irish word for classes or courses] to figure out what I’m actually doing here. Oh yeah, education? What tis this thing you speak of?

Unfortunately several of the modules I had had approved by my California institute are not available this semester, so I have found I have to review the Book of Spring courses yet again. Bah. Well so far these are a few I hope to dabble in this semester:

Imagined Spaces: Irish Cultural Texts

Branding

Consumption and Consumer Culture

Historical/Cultural Geography of Modern Ireland

Irish Music + Dance

I will only be taking 5 modules over the course of my stay, however, all five happen to be on the best day of the week! Sarcasm my friends. Monday is when you roll out of bed without access to the function capabilities of your system. The awakening tea bags of strong Irish Tea sit oh so close in the kitchen, yet oh so far at the same time. Basically now comes the part when I look into classes that fit the 300 or 400 level requirements that I need for my major despite the lack of interest I thrust toward them and the unfortunate day they fall on. Commencing the possibilities are

Inequality +Social Exclusion[sad day…]

Sociological Approaches to Gender + Multiculturalism

Interactions, Relationships, and Networks

I will keep a positive outlook since at UL, you can ‘sample’ the classes for the first two weeks to see if you wish to take them for the entirety of the semester, and if that is the case, continue to enjoy the impossible to understand Irish accents of the professors. Hopefully I will develop an ear or two for their way of speaking…where is my four leaf clover guiding the way? Blarney Stone visit anyone?

Though I have had a fair amount of difficulty deciphering the tipsy tongue of the Irish, official Orientation occurred with speakers easily comprehendable and as always with the kindest of hearts. We reviewed several subjects ranging from the adjustment to culture shock, to buying a new phone[yes putting away my iPhone 5 crotch and heading back into Dinosaur phone territory], to more commonly used words by the Irish. We were also treated to an overview of the ‘Irish Music + Dance’ module by a small woman, and a man with probably the biggest beer belly I have ever seen. Sure he seemed intimidating by this attribute and his powerful height upon first walking out, but when he joyfully exclaimed, ‘I know I am a fucking good teacher’ , explained the concept of the course and finished with a performance on one of the instruments descended from this beautiful country[and one that a student can potentially pick up and learn for the class to eventually perform at the end of the semester or do the same with dance as well], I mentally slapped myself for being a judgmental American. Yeah, I know. The Irish are just a little awesome.

This jolly man played the wooden flute like no one's business; a piece similar to Flight of the Bees. Wowzah.

This jolly man played the wooden flute like no one’s business; a piece similar to Flight of the Bees. Wowzah.

Following this first piece of Orientation, we were allocated to groups of about 12 students and taken on a tour of the quite large campus. 250 acres to be exact. Chapman is incredibly condensed and you can walk from one side to the other in about 8 minutes. It takes me at least fifteen minutes just to walk from my village to the edge of UL[University of Limerick noobs] and another twenty to reach the opposite side. You could say my calves have noted the increase in walking distance. Luckily I had several people on my tour whose company I really bonded with despite our tour guide’s lack knowledge of where he was going, and the accommodating spirit of the Irish. Even though he was upset by my trailing of the group to take pictures[I really was only ten feet behind], I was able to capture a few to show the lovely people reading this mammoth of blog.

The view from our Library and a thankful Annie for Wi-Fi.

The view from our Library and a thankful Annie for Wi-Fi.

Our tour guide posing with 'Brown Tom', a statue made my an artist who claims the shape is up for interpretation. This statue is randomly placed in the middle of the Main Building's plaza making me think there is a person there every time.

Our tour guide posing with ‘Brown Tom’, a statue made my an artist who claims the shape is up for interpretation. This statue is randomly placed in the middle of the Main Building’s plaza making me think there is a person there every time.

'The Slopes' as they call this area of campus or formally known as the Main Building.

‘The Slopes’ as they call this area of campus or formally known as the Main Building.

A candid photo of our tour group.

A candid photo of our tour group.

I found another Annie who lives up to the name. I predict we will be great friends; she empathized with my wimpy perception of the cold despite being from Wisconsin. :)

I found another Annie who lives up to the name. I predict we will be great friends; she empathized with my wimpy perception of the cold despite being from Wisconsin. 🙂

As we crossed the 'Living Bridge', we discovered even more beauty: the residence of swans.

As we crossed the ‘Living Bridge’, we discovered even more beauty: the residence of swans.

I must say, a huge chunk of my decision to attend Chapman University stemmed from my instant connection with its modern architecture and well crafted landscapes.  California has nothing on Irish buildings which also might I add feature the Futura typeface[I’m a typography nerd]

Such a mix of materials, shapes, and levels~This is one side of the Health Sciences Building...I would feel better just staring at this epic building.

Such a mix of materials, shapes, and levels~This is one side of the Health Sciences Building…I would feel better just staring at this epic building.

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The back of the same building as above; could it be more futuristic?!

The colors.

The colors.

A long tour indeed, yet by the end, I had made so many more friends. After the tour, I met up with my buddy Cam who hails from the land of the Aussie. Yes ladies and gents he has an Australian accent. I would be lying if I didn’t say I swooned just a tad when he first began talking, but since meeting him earlier that day, I knew we be great ‘mates’ from our common obsession with tea.

I ended up parting ways with the group and Cam, and had initially planned on hitting the Stables Club again, yet with the pouring rain outside and far walk we would have to endure, our flatmates decided it would be best to chill at home. Robin 59 for the win. I honestly think I am going to lose ten pounds just from laughing. I can not say enough good things about my flatmates. For all you music buffs out there, I myself am a music snob so first let’s put it out here in the open and now I recommend as one music snob to another, Yves pick of a Swiss band known as ’77 Bombay Street‘. Up in the Sky is absolutely fantastic.

Several more events have commenced seeing that it is Sunday and I have only discussed up to Friday…this blog business is going to challenge me, but I will try my best to document my eventful travels as soon as possible. Until tomorrow,

Cheers.

The little green thing with the jelly-cake. Hashtag, craic.

Pronounced like, ‘crack’, the Irish constantly heavily sprinkle this word into conversation explaining its connotation as fun like, ‘What great craic!”, “It was craic!” Hilarious when we offered its popularity to our Hungarian roommate Ben who immediately shook his head exclaiming, “No. no, not for me thank you.” Definitely one of the most common terms of fun used by the Irish, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I start use it just as often. It’s just craic.

So about the title of this post. Yes, delirium had set in with all of my flat mates and myself especially after doing what you’re apparently not supposed to do: drinking on an empty stomach. After a long day in the city of Limerick yet again, we arrived back to campus around 6:55pm but still wanted to attend the International Society[most popular society on campus with more than 700+ members integrating and encompassing students from all over the world]’s showing of, “The Commitments”.

A great film it was and thankfully broadcasted with subtitles to aid us poor Americans drowning in the at times indecipherable phrases and pronouncation of words. Following the efforts of a jobless and aspiring manager, a band is formed to bring back the ‘soul’ in music. Hilarious, witty, and vulgar humor, the Irish really are the full package.

Afterwards, despite our lack of nutrition in our system[I only had a bowl of oatmeal which they label as porridge and a dollop of Honey Peach greek yogurt, and my black tea with a splash of the most delicious milk tasting of liquid nutella[hazelnut milk]], we still headed over to the most popular bar in town known as the Stables Club.

When I went to the bartender to order a drink, being the social butterfly I coin myself to, I attempted to harmlessly flirt with him, but ended up foiling my plan as the American who couldn’t understand what he was saying. Finally I heard him say Guiness, and I figured since I hadn’t had an authentically poured Guiness in Ireland yet, this night would have to be the night.

Enjoying my beer with Julia, Leanna, and Emily.

Enjoying my beer with Julia, Leanna, and Emily.

I enjoyed the foam surfacing on the dark cold beer which inevitably left a small moustache for my friends to poke fun at. I could only stomach a few sips before I had to stop, and thankfully my buddy Gavin obliged quite willingly when I offered him my hefty glass of the remains. Despite the frigid cold when we left the pub, we were welcomed by our flat mates which turned into a hilarious evening of cultural banter.

I truly enjoy the cross pollination between languages and our slang. We as Americans don’t think twice about using such phrases or words like, ‘Whaddup’, ‘shwasty’, ‘I’m in your boat’, ‘gazillion/million and one’, but to my international living partners, they constantly are fascinated to know what they mean so they can use the unique dialogue in conversation. I get a special kick out of teaching sarcasm.

Today I was joking with Yves when he started by saying, ‘Ah, yes when I was with my friend Rusty..’ and I interuppted him by saying, ‘You have friends?’ Vicky was confused at my mean spirit and I explained to her how you can use what I believe to be witty banter in conversation. Mixed with her greek accent, it was priceless.

We also have a running inside joke now about Ben…and his pizza. He claims he doesn’t like it and says ‘I have had enough’ but will randomly get up from a table or wherever we are conversing and go to the fridge to get his pizza. A diet of pizza, beer, and now a cigarette~we love poking fun and he is always one to take it lightly knowing we are only kidding. Ben is too funny when he does speak up and I enjoy his humor. He claims he doesn’t like my camera because he doesn’t want me to capture him when he gets drunk tomorrow. Mwahaha. I love documenting everything so we’ll see.

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Ben and his pizza. He literally said good night to it. 🙂

Also when asking if they knew what jell-o was due to the river having the same appearance when it was quite foggy upon our first arrival at the Thomond Village, Vicky and Sofia thought it was ‘jelly-cake’ which caused Yves to talk about the movie ‘Flubber’ and try and explain what it was as the ‘little green things’. Truly hilarious the variety and depth our conversations have had, and it has only been two days. We also sat down together like a family; I really feel comfortable with everyone and feel so blessed for this adventure to continue. Until  tomorrow,

Cheers.

How aren’t you asleep?

The consistent rebuttle to the afternoon and evening’s festivities in Limerick, Ireland.

Yes, I have arrived on the island not of pure green beauty but of a thoroughly frosted environment of leave less winter trees bathed deeply in a thick blanket of chilled fog. Several of those who already know this campus as home have commented on the additional hype of the frigid air and its unlikely hood of lasting for even a few more days, yet as a Californian born and bred, this doesn’t stop the current effect of the cold from uplifting an unnatural form of [wimpy] numb pain in my system. It’s cold here indeed.

Prior to finally arriving an hour early amidst the to the ground fog causing an abrupt braking to our landing at the Shannon International Airport, I said goodbye to my parents at the SFO airport and hello to the difficulties of towing too much baggage. My double lined Marmot lilac jacket went inside out, I didn’t have everything out of my pockets, I had to somehow pull of my knee high Ralph Lauren boots, and somehow keep a hold of a passport, boarding pass, and other various forms of identification. Thank goodness that leg was over!

Through an overall smooth flight through to Newark/New York, New Jersey, I was welcomed by my traveling companion Julia where we proceeded to discover a fix to our hungering appetite. Little did we know upon sitting in the middle of a food court, overpriced chick-pea hummus wrap wrapped to devour, we would be near over 30 students about to jump our flight to Shannon as well!

Super excited to fly off to Shannon International Airport!

Super excited to fly off to Shannon International Airport!

The United staff was uncannily energetic and ‘sunny’, a term coined by the warm enthusiasm for serving his patrons on the flight despite it being an obvious red-eye. With only about 40-minutes of shut-eye, and I literally mean shut-eye without a wink of sleep, the lights came up in the aircraft alerting our vicinity to Ireland. I could have complained for a few more moments with Julia and our two new fellow UL students eastern Erin, and sassy Gavin from Minnesota, yet we were to touch down in Ireland!

From left: Gavin from Minnesota, Erin from Massechusetts, and Julia.

From left: Gavin from Minnesota, Erin from Massechusetts, and Julia.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

 

They even had a Vegetarian meal featuring an Indian concoction of basmati rice, and garam spiced lentils and other vegetables. Not bad for mile high food if I do say so myself...maybe it's the jet lag talking.

They even had a Vegetarian meal featuring an Indian concoction of basmati rice, and garam spiced lentils and other vegetables. Not bad for mile high food if I do say so myself…maybe it’s the jet lag talking.

 

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I had to document the first sign of Irish culture! :)

I had to document the first sign of Irish culture! 🙂

We made it[documenting every moment with my wonderful camera on my iPhone 5] to our customs line where I inevitably was the very last person to pass through after the witty banter and heavy Irish tongue of an Irish judge. The baggage claim literally had stopped moving and only my two fifty-pound bags remained confirming my entry into the country officially.

Making my way on a bus [driving on the wrong side of the road] to Thomond Village, a european modern scope of wood paneled apartments each including six individual rooms[on each level] equipped with a lengthy desk, full size bed, bedside table, and own water closet[bathroom], of course I would be given the village that would drop its students last after arriving at the University. But hey, they save the best for last right? Hello view of Ireland’s largest river, Shannon River.

Every five minutes or so for the 30 minute drive from the airport to our villages(apartments), we would comment on the mind boggling fact that we were ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!

Every five minutes or so for the 30 minute drive from the airport to our villages(apartments), we would comment on the mind boggling fact that we were ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!

 

Doing California proud by yoloing. Yes, I decided to take over the bus as other students were dropped off at a village separate from mine.

Doing California proud by yoloing. Yes, I decided to take over the bus as other students were dropped off at a village separate from mine.

The first event was to include a coffee meet and greet of the newly arrived Study Abroad students at noon marking my continuous caffeine fix somehow stabilizing my energy levels to function despite my exhausted body. Before leaving my apartment, my social butterfly instincts told me to introduce myself to the man across from my room who I heard would be there from my neighbor Kellianne[another Chapmanite]. Incredibly humble, and charming despite his lack of confidence in the English language being from Hungary[“My English is shit”], Ben agreed to come along with Kelli and I. After sharing several shaky Irish tea infused laughs with new friends at the event[when my friend Jill spoke of T.K. Maxx, I immediately proceeded to be taken aback gasping TJ MAXX??!!! They have those here?! I was very excited…] I found a group of hilarious and similar minded women to venture to ‘the city’ with.

We knew we wanted, no needed food to function at this point and quickly discovered a hole in the wall, yes literally just a doorway among the street shops leading to a downstairs featuring authentic Irish cuisine. At first I was quite apprhensive, but heaved a sigh of relief when the Soup of the Day was revealed to be Vegetable Soup and that they served breakfast related items. My final  ‘linner'[it seems the Irish like to eat lunch and dinner very early as a combined meal] added two fried eggs, and a piece of toast to my order.

Ever had one of those meals where you think it could undoubtedly be the most amazing, palatable, and tasteful combination of culinary items morphed into one plate of delight despite your actual reasoning based highly on your level of hunger and exhaustion? This was one of those times.

After a regained wind of energy[going on 21 hours of no sleep], we skiddattled over to Penny’s, a cross between a H&M, and drugstore. I was able to retreive a duvet cover[UL provides the comforter], a few towels, hangers, and two well cusioned pillows. Following this fashion temptation, we headed toward Tesco, the local main grocery market featuring produce relative to Ireland’s availability[aka no resemblance to California’s lush array of produce and brands] and little competition among products mostly featuring only a few brands. Most interesting find? Rhubarb flavored greek yogurt.

With our items retreived and exhaustion setting in, we climbed aboard the back of the public transportation[after my American move of giving the driver a 20 euro bill and receiving coins back thinking that was my change…little did I know I needed 15 euros back] and made our way back to campus. Carrying the heavy bags back through the cold freezing runny icicles on the tip of my nose, I somehow made it into my dorm after the twenty minute walk past Dromroe Village.

The next expected event included a ‘traditional Irish Music Session’ at the Scholar’s Club, a local bar on campus. While debating whether I should thrust my body back into the cold and reality of using my fading mind, Kelli alerted me of our Swiss roommate, another male. Expecting to quickly do a meet-and-greet, my knock-knockknockknock-knock opened the door to an illegally attractive man sporting soft eyes, a warm smile, light olive hued skin, and a San Francisco graphically designed shirt.  Um hi? Initiating a conversation lasting for about thirty minutes, I discovered the beauty within his exterior and excitement to further get to know another new [beautiful] friend.

Once we FINALLY left for the bar, I was going on 31 hours. Luckily ran into my gang of gal pals from our adventures in the city, and Katelyn[my fellow prince-seeking, fire warming, Tangled watching wing woman good friend today] recommended the Bumler’s Hard Apple Cider beer. And what a great recommendation it was! Met several members of the International Society which I hope to pursue after Allie Pangbourn and Sammi Dawson made such impressions[Chapman/UL Fall 2012], spoke with Gavin about life topics including his hopes of tattoo sleeves and the outdoor Pursuing society, and of course hung out with Julia. I love how Gavin seems to have a mini crush on Julia; he’s a witty gem himself so they’d make for a fun loving couple. Let’s see where this goes.

So I sit here having gobbled handful after handful of Tesco fruit & fibre cereal pondering the luck I’ve had since entering the nicest nation I could ever imagine possible. Did I mention the renowned DJ of the Stables club will be giving me a Tesco phone for free? Who does that? The Irish.

California time wake up: 3:21am

Current time in Ireland: 11:12pm

Total time awake: 42 hours.

Just getting on the level of the Irish.

Frozen spider webs. Beautiful and eerie at the same time.

Frozen spider webs. Beautiful and eerie at the same time.

I should be sleeping for the adventure ahead.

In the midst of last minute preparations for my 4 month extended study/stay/adventure in the green country of Ireland, I hunch over our kitchen sink gargling a base of hot water mixed with too much cayenne pepper, a generous splash of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and a few shakes of ground ginger.

Of course I would get sick a week before flying, the most avoided practice of my life. I trully despise the off an on flutter of the airplane’s engine just taunting me, and me alone knowing I am a huge wimp when it comes to being anywhere off the ground. Why must I have the added fix of a sore throat and ballooned headache foiling my perfect plans of entering the island in good health.

I could complain, but I am much too excited.

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With two fifty pound suitcases, a stuffed backpack, and a heavy messenger bag filled with neon green headphones, Balance Gold S’mores bars, and various magazines, all that is missing is my Irish prince awaiting my arrival across the international border.

So I may not find my prince that quickly, but Julia, my sorority sister and fellow traveler + attendee of UL will have to due. With my newest fix of music in toe[including Two Door Cinema Club’s fantastic new album ‘Beacon’ and the guilty pleasure of T Swift’s album ‘Red’], I say goodbye America, hello Limerick.

The daunting task of packing made easy.

Is there such a thing? We face an empty abyss known as a suitcase, but I would rather call it luggage. Staring at us, its storage supposedly able to fill all of the things we like to think we’ll be utilizing while we’re away, it taunts us challenging us to think up just what we want to fill it with.

It seems I always bring too much stuff I don’t need and forget the essentials. Luckily[maybe the Irish are upon me already!], I discovered this handy-dandy PACK-LIST outlining the basics as well as the nitty-gritty details we pass over in our rush to pack. I’m posting this so I myself can reference it in the future[especially when I’m attempting to pack the accumulated items throughout my 5-month stay], & hopefully you all can steal a few tricks from it as well!

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