Hello again from the Emerald Isle – please forgive the delay in writing. Life is flying by at a slightly terrifying pace, and I keep pushing off writing in favor of other random things. Desolée.
Let’s start about..11 days ago? Which is, of course, when I last posted (whoopsies) – the weekend of the 20th of October. Sarah went on a “Shamrocker” tour (google it), but I wasn’t able to go because they left around 8 am on Friday. Dang class…so I hung around UCD, instead. Saturday was an epic day in the city centre with Elaine and Abby, another American who Sarah met during a class trip. We got on the 12 o’clock bus and didn’t get back to UCD until after 5:30 pm – quite a day! We disembarked at Grafton Street and ate lunch at Avoca, this adorable mini-department store with super-girly kitchen/household goods. There’s a small café in the basement and a larger restaurant upstairs (the bathrooms are also upstairs, so I got to see both of the eateries). I had a cheese and caramelized onion quiche, which would have been amazing had it contained about ¼ of the onion that it actually had…slightly disappointing. I’ll definitely be going back there in the future, though – it’s SO adorable. After lunch, we wandered around the market that Sarah and I usually visit every weekend, and Abby perused the jewelry and prints in the craft-y section. Next we stopped into a quaint bookstore and perused the selection for about half an hour. I picked up a few Christmas presents for mi familia at that bookstore – can’t really elaborate on those, for obvious reasons, but they’re pretty hilarious! Then Elaine introduced me to the fruit market, which boasts 15 apples for 1 euro at some booths! (I got a selection of 12 for 2 euros, which I was quite content with…) Abby bought a pumpkin for 5 euro from a vendor for carving, and then we realized that the grocery store was selling them for 99 cents – darnit. I ended up carrying the pumpkin because I have a humongous bag that fits just about everything in it – it was pretty heavy, I’m not going to lie, but totally worth it. We stopped into the Post Office on the way back so Elaine could send a package, and Abby schooled me in Irish historical knowledge (guess I should have read that history book – sorry, Daddy!). I ducked into the flower shop next to the bus stop to grab a stem of lilies again, of course, and then we boarded the 39a back to UCD Belfield again. It was a great day (although I’m still completely befuddled about how it ended up being more than 5 hours!!).
Sunday was spent being a Hopkins-student-wannabe – I actually went to the library! So, so strange – it’s above ground! I could see grass and trees and some dogs and people walking, which was definitely a (welcome) distraction. J Wenjun showed me her favorite seat in the library and I stayed there from 1 to 5 (with one 40 minute break for unproductive activities, of course); after that, my brain wanted to explode so I headed home. Also, I freeze if I sit in one place for too long so I could barely use my hands to write after the four hours, so I needed tea and a blanket when I got home! (Wenjun finally showed up at home after 7:30 that night…crazy woman). Sarah got home that evening and we made dinner, no big deal.
The week was semi-normal – we got groceries delivered and had classes – but it was also not the best. My oboe stopped working properly on Wednesday, the day of our orchestra rehearsal (which the other oboist, Becky, couldn’t attend…the conductor thought I was crazy and couldn’t play L ), so I brought it to a repair man in the city centre this past Saturday. I have yet to hear anything good or bad about the diagnosis (dang bank holiday!), but I’m praying it will be good news. I also got sick to my stomach around the same time. That lasted until yesterday – it wasn’t queasiness or a stabbing feeling or anything, just general unease, so I didn’t work out much and eating was really weird, also. I didn’t attend the dissection after my Exotics class on Friday because I figured that could be a terrible decision. Thank GOD that’s over….
It was also a really awesome week at the same time (such a strange, dichotomous life): I started doing research in the Veterinary Parasitology Lab. The lab is actually run under the auspices of the Vet School Dean, Grace Mulcahy; I think it’s slightly ironic that, as a pre-vet, I’m working in the Dean’s lab…but I’m definitely not going to complain about it. The purpose/job of the lab is to take samples (can be skin or fecal, etc.) from sick animals and test them for parasites; these samples come from companion animals, a nearby wildlife preserve, and the Dublin Zoo! So far I’ve tested samples from dogs, a cat, a mara (aka, capybara), and a kangaroo – super exciting. I’m working under the guidance of Amanda Lawlor, a technician in the lab; she was really excited that I knew how to use a microscope and could tell the difference between debris on a slide and parasite eggs (score one for ALL of my Hopkins teaching labs, I suppose). I’m going in this week, by myself (read: unsupervised), on Tuesday and Wednesday morning – it’s crazy to me that, after working in the lab three times I’m trusted to go in by myself and not mess stuff up! (They didn’t even check the slides I plated out last Thursday to make sure I knew what I was doing, they just said – ok, Claire said it’s negative for these parasites so the parasite isn’t present).
Now onto this past weekend – Amanda, one of my best friends at Hopkins (who is currently studying in France), is visiting for the whole week! She got here Friday morning (right as I was going to class, of course, so Sarah was kind enough to meet her at the main entrance to the school and walk her back to the room), after an overnight travel experience (from France to London before Dublin); we both took fairly long naps, and then ordered pizza for dinner. Two guys from the IFSA program showed up unexpectedly and hung out for about half an hour, but we weren’t really in the mood to go out that night, so they headed out to find something to do and we just hung out. On Saturday, we went into the city centre to check out the market, and then we had lunch at The Ha’penny Bridge Café. We managed to knock the saltshaker off the table when we sat down, so the waiter took the salt and pepper off our table…whoopsies! We were sitting there enjoying our meal (minus the fact that the bacon on the club sandwich Amanda ordered wasn’t actually cooked) when a group of four American girls came in and demonstrated why Europeans think we’re obnoxious – one girl asked for nearly every ingredient in the dish to be changed (cheddar instead of swiss, mustard instead of mayo, etc. ad nauseum) and they were all ridiculously loud. Grr. Giving us bad names and whatnot. After lunch we headed to SuperValu for some groceries, and then back home. Sunday was a TON of fun – we headed north of the city centre to Malahide Castle, owned by the Talbot family from 1185 to 1975. The story of the last two owners (a brother, Milo, and sister, Rose) is quite interesting – as he became older, Milo started to travel throughout the Indies. He found, on the island of Tasmania, an area named after the county in which the Malahide Estate is found – after retirement, he bought up land in this area and became a farmer there. His younger sister, Rose, maintained a farm on the 500-acre estate at Malahide until Milo’s death in 1973; however, to offset the death tax incurred upon his death, Lady Rose sold the property to the Dublin County Council. The 500-acres were set aside for “amenity and sporting purposes” (according to the Malahide Historical Society), and the Castle is open to public viewings – for the moment. Amanda and I were actually extremely lucky in our timing – Malahide will be closed, from October 31, for the next 2-3 years for renovations! Just another reason to return – we’re going to need to be able to do a comparison! J
I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed my commentaries for the moment! Off to make dinner…