I’m still trying to play catch-up with my life via blog, so please forgive what promises to be another long-winded blog entry…
I finished my last post by talking about Sunday, November 20, so I feel it’s only appropriate to start this one on Monday, November 21. A rather uneventful day, I went to research and put in some time studying for Animal Form and Function (AFF). The only interesting part of the day was our dorm-room inspection – apparently, our room was not only unhealthy but also unhygienic! We were instructed to “sweep all floors, scrub the hob (stove), and remove all tape from the walls.” Whoopsies…
Tuesday was pretty jam-packed – I started out with an exam for my AFF Practical (I got an A!!), research, and then my last lab for The Microbial World (basically, a 9-5 day.
It was all worthwhile, as my parents and sister, Krystina (Kyna) arrived on Wednesday at 7:30 am to visit me for Thanksgiving break!! They took the AirCoach from the Dublin Airport straight to the UCD stop, where I retrieved them to bring them back to my dorm. My parents took a nap in my room while my sis and I watched the movie “Taken.” After naptime, I showed my family around the UCD campus, which culminated in breakfast in the Arts Café in the Newman (Arts) Building. I grabbed a banana and a coffee for my mom, like she had asked me to – and it turned out the banana was half-rotten!! I felt so bad…sorry Mom! I called my parents a cab to take them to their hotel, the Maldron on Cardiff Lane, and left Kyna in my room to take a nap while I was in class. We had a relaxing afternoon, and then my parents came back to UCD so Sarah and I could feed them some of our stew (which they loved!). We hung around for a while, and then my parents headed back to the hotel; Sarah, Kyna, and I decided that it would be a good idea to watch “Tangled” at this point – Sarah had never seen it!! However, halfway through, Kyna fell asleep! To her credit, she had been awake for 31 hours straight, so we couldn’t be too upset at her…
Thursday started off with a tour of the veterinary building at 11 am, guided by Mr. John Buckley, the MVD Programme Manager. I have met him a few times in the past (he gave me my building tour at the beginning of the semester), and he was very gracious in giving us a full hour-long tour of the building, with a corresponding explanation of the Irish approach to learning about veterinary medicine. My parents especially loved the building; I think my mom really wants me to come here for vet school…but we’ll see about that. After the tour, I guided my family onto the 39a (the Dublin Bus that runs into the city) so we could get them each a 3-Day Freedom Pass, which provides unlimited use of the normal Dublin buses as well as the Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour bus. Our original plan was to take the bus around and get off at each location, taking in the sites; however, after lunch at Bewley’s Café (love that place!), we realized we didn’t have quite the length of time to devote to the tour as we thought. Therefore, we decided the best course of action would be to get on the bus and simply stay on it for the entire route. The driver/guide was very knowledgeable and funny, and it was nice for me to finally get around most of the city and see the very tourist-y places. After the tour, Kyna and I left my parents in the city and headed back to UCD to shower and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner ala the International Students Office. The meal was preceeded by a mulled wine/punch reception – my first time drinking mulled wine. It was decent, although very strong – the warmth was what kept me drinking. My parents met us there, and I introduced them to Stephanie and Elaine. When it was time to take our seats (everyone had been kept out of the seating area beforehand), I ran in and claimed six seats…with nothing to put on them (no coat or scarf or anything!), I kept having to tell people “I’m so sorry, those are taken…yes, all of those!” It couldn’t have been more than a minute until my group traipsed in, but it felt like an hour…so nervewracking (‘will I be able to save all the seats?? What will happen if I can’t?!’)! I did manage to hold onto all the seats (we ended up needing seven, but it worked out perfectly), and the meal, once served, was delicious. Delicious soup, a heaping portion of turkey with stuffing (who cares about mashed potatoes?? Not this girl – stuffing is where it’s at!!), and a plate with multiple choices for dessert was just enough to induce the traditional Thanksgiving Food Coma. The president of the university spoke before we were fed – nice, short, and sweet – and the International Office staff recruited students to sing the National Anthem afterwards. Following the US anthem, the office staff sang the Irish National Anthem, which is, of course, in Irish; while I may not have been able to understand a word of it, I did enjoy hearing them singing!
Following the meal, Kyna decided to take the balloons off the table we had been seated at (red, white, and blue – yay America!), and we headed off into the night. I had called my parents a cab to meet them at the bus stop, so we dropped them off there, and Sarah, Kyna and I walked back to Merville. On our way back, we encountered a group of (inebriated) guys, one of whom decided to attempt to take the balloons from Kyna – SUCH a fail on his part. We arrived home with all three balloons intact, laughing hysterically. After making some popcorn and sprinkling M&Ms in with it (melts the chocolate for even more delicious popcorn), we again attempted to watch Tangled…just to fail, again! This time, Sarah was the one who fell asleep…it was actually a pretty funny process. She was curled up on my right on my bed, with Kyna on my left, and we had warned her against sleeping. Right as we got to the same part of the movie where we had stopped the night before, I made sure Sarah was awake. Five minutes later, Kyna said, “Sarah?” to which she responded, “…oops!” We knew she was a goner after she acknowledged that she was basically sleeping, so we decided to call it quits and try again the next night.
Friday morning dawned bright and early for me, as I had to deliver a group presentation worth 50% of my final grade at my Exotics class at 10 am…Kyna and Sarah took that time to go into the city and shop around in H&M. Once class was over, I met the girls at a café on Bachelor’s Walk (adjacent to the Liffey River), and then we walked over to board the Liffey River Cruise, where my parents met us. The cruise was about an hour long and really informative, but I was so tired because of my insane adrenaline rush from my morning’s class that I nearly fell asleep a few times; I would recommend going, but not while exhausted. After the cruise we all wandered over to the Leprechaun Museum, where we toured through some pretty epic exhibits (including a room depicting what it would be like to be among giants, full of giant-sized furniture!!) and learned about Irish myths and folklore. The hotel was the next stop for our group, where we hung out and watched TV (again – TV! It’s like we’re real people!…) for a bit before dinner. My dad had gotten reservations through the headquarters of the company he works for (which is located in Dublin) at Il Posto, which is a great little Italian restaurant in the basement of a building on the perimeter of Merrion Square. Wenjun and Kate met us there (actually, they beat us) for their introduction to Italian food (neither of them had ever had Italian food before – the horror!!!). The meal was terrific – delicious food – and so fun! My parents really liked my roomies and vice versa, which is always a pleasant occurrence; plus, I got to sit next to my sister, who just so happens to be the best little sis in the world, so I was pretty happy. After dinner, my parents cabbed it back to the hotel and the rest of us headed to the Nassau Street bus stop…on our way, Sarah asked how far away the bus was, so I checked my phone and learned that it was “Due” – as in, would be arriving any second. We started speed-walking until we could see the bus stop, when we discovered that the 39a was already AT the stop! Not being willing to wait 20 minutes for the next bus, we took off running down the street, much to the amusement of the other people waiting for buses (some of whom started screaming “Go, go, go!”) – and MADE IT! We decided after the epic nature of the night, we had to finally watch Tangled all the way through so we made popcorn, melted peanut M&M’s into it, and watched Tangled. What a fantastic movie; seriously, I recommend it to anyone.
Saturday was another full day, starting with dropping Kyna’s suitcase off at my parent’s hotel room so she would be able to stay with them that night (as their flight was early on Sunday, so they were planning on taking a cab at 7 am – not exactly conducive to prior travel). This merits a small note – I accidentally left my wallet at the reception desk, and didn’t realize it until much later in the day. We called and they managed to find it, but when we went to reception around 8 pm they had a different wallet on hand that they thought was mine – oy! Eventually it turned out that my wallet was also at reception, but it was quite a crazy/terrifying experience.
We made our way over to Avoca so Kyna could experience the adorable little shop over brunch (at that point it was nearly noon), and then we attempted to catch a bus to the Guinness Factory. However, none of the three buses listed by the Guinness Factory as leaving from the Aston Quay actually had stops on Aston Quay, so we ended up taking a taxi instead. This was Sarah’s and my second time at Guinness, but it was much more enjoyable than the first time – we weren’t dead on our feet from travel this time! The tour was pretty neat, and the Gravity Bar at the very top (which has a panoramic view of Dublin) is just amazing – the city looks lovely from up there. After Guinness, I brought everyone to the Kilmainham Gaol – my second trip was just as good as the first one because we had a different tour guide who spouted off different info than I was given on my first tour, and everyone enjoyed it immensely. We finished up the day by introducing my family to Penney’s, the best, cheapest clothing/accessories store in Ireland – my sister got a fancy black shirt and I got flats – and then heading to Eddie Rocket’s City Diner for dinner. This name may seem familiar to those of you in America – that’s because it’s the Irish version of “Johnny Rocket’s” at home! Other than the name, it’s the same – a 50’s-style, American diner. Yum! After dinner, Sarah and I escorted my family back to the hotel (where the wallet fiasco finally ended) and we all watched The Omen (what a bad idea – I hate horror movies!). When the movie finished, Sarah and I headed back to UCD so my family could sleep in preparation for their early flight back home…I can’t believe how fast the week went!
My family’s visit to Dublin really made Thanksgiving special for me this year – it was so sad to think about spending such an American holiday abroad, but they turned that frown upside down.