Greetings from Ireland!!
Hi y’all!! So, as of tomorrow at 8 a.m., I will have officially been in Ireland for a week! I kept meaning to make a post before this, but we’ve have been so inundated with orientations and jet-lag and what-have-you that I have barely had a chance to breathe.
So yes, I got into Dublin at 8 a.m. on Monday (the 5th) morning, and met IFSA-Butler staff at the airport. Seems so long ago now! Dublin was really lovely but it went by incredibly fast. We got to our hotel and then had some introductory orientation and then got sent on a scavenger hunt to find different places around the city, which was a lot of fun, because we had a map and literally just walked around and took pictures in front of different things on the list that they gave us. At the end, we all met up at a restaurant, and then we all just went back to our hotel (we were so jet-lagged) and stayed up as late as we could (9 pm) before we passed out.
Then up in the morning, breakfast at the hotel, more orientation, then walked to lunch, then to the Guinness storehouse; it was kind of a museum about Guinness and the creation of Guinness. We got tickets and we had a lot of different options of how to use them – we could go into a tasting room, learn how to pour the perfect pint, or get a pint at the bar on the 7th floor. I did the “learn how to pour a pint” thing, which was fun, and I now have an official certificate saying that I am capable of pouring a beer. The bar on the 7th floor was amazing – it’s round and completely glass all the way around, so you can see the entire city, and it was just around 5 o’clock, so it was darkening but still light enough to see things and all the lights were coming on, so it was beautiful and you could see so far. I don’t really drink though, so that’s going to be an interesting thing to navigate here. I’ll keep y’all updated.
I was actually getting really anxious at that point, because the Wifi wasn’t working on my American phone, and the lil brick-like Irish phone I had gotten the day before had died, and Sian (my Irish penpal) and I had made plans to meet, for the first time ever, at the hotel we were staying at for orientation. I was a little late getting there, because the Guinness storehouse was about a 35 minute walk to the hotel, and everyone who I was walking back with stopped at a little shop street about 10 minutes away from the hotel, so when walking back by myself I accidentally took a wrong turn and then had to find my way back. So when I finally got there, I rushed in, and there Sian was, sitting on a couch in the lobby. She looked up and saw me, and we both just covered our mouths with our hands and laughed and then she jumped up, and we just hugged and hugged and hugged. It was surreal. It was like being in a movie. She took me to a nearby café, and we sat and talked for almost five hours. It was one of the most magical things that has ever happened to me. As of right now, I don’t know what is going to be able to top it.
Wednesday morning we got up and ate breakfast at the hotel again, then had more orientation meetings, and lunch. And then at 2 p.m., it was time to send everyone not staying to go to a university in Dublin off to their respective locations. The bus ride from Dublin to Galway was only just about 3 hours, which is really nice to know.
The lot of us going to NUI Galway are staying in the Menlo Park Apartments, about a 20 minute walk from the campus. The apartments are very nice, but also quite cold, because we’re not supposed to turn the heat on a lot to save on the utility bills of our Irish housemates. It’s also quite damp, so in order to stop mold (“mould”) from growing on the walls and the curtains, we have to open the windows for a couple hours a day. Lots of socks are being worn and lots of tea is being drunk. Also, the hot water heater is only on from midnight until 9 a.m., and then after that is our store of hot water for the day. It’s a lot to adjust to! I’m living in a room with one of the other American girls who came over on this program and she’s nice. Then there’s an Irish student living in the room off our little kitchen/living room area, and he is lovely – when we came in on Wednesday he immediately offered us tea and candy (“sweets”). He also plays the guitar (well) and sings (quite badly, but in a cute kinda way). We’re supposed to have two other Irish students, a couple, coming back to live in the other room upstairs – hopefully today, so we can meet them and see what they are like!
We’ve had two orientations at NUIG so far, one on Thursday and another on Friday, to learn about classes and tour campus and so on. Classes start on Monday (the 12th), but almost all but one of the courses I’m interested in don’t start until the Monday after that, the 19th! “Official” registration for almost all classes isn’t until the 26th, so basically we all get this time to run around and just go to a whole bunch of classes that we think we will be interested in, which is very different than what I’m used to. All the Sociology classes, and the Beginner’s Irish classes (which I definitely want to take!) don’t start until the 19th, but I’ll have to be running around and pre-registering and all sorts of things anyway. At NUIG, Sociology is put in with Political Science, so everyone refers to is as “Soc and Pol” (pronounced “Sock n’ Paul”). There’s also going to be a Club fair this week, (“Clubs” are all the sporty-type organizations on campus), and a Society fair (Societies are all the more “interest-based” groups). The LGBTQA club here is called GiG (“Gay in Galway”), and I’m definitely excited to become a part of that, and to learn about the queer spaces on campus and hopefully throughout the city as well. I think I’m getting a handle on it all (which I say before I even go to a class). Probably means I’m forgetting something massively important. I’m gonna be excited to start officially meeting Irish students and having classes and spending time on campus!
Yesterday we got to a go on a free tour of Galway city – it was cold and windy, and went from sunny to dark and rainy in the blink of an eye, off and on, the entire time, which is what we’re all going to have to get used to. It was great to finally get to go into town and see everything and to learn about all the good places to go and good things to do. I also got a proper raincoat and a raincover for my backpack, and another sweater, a fleece, and pair of slippers. They’re definitely all going to come in handy.
We’re already starting to learn tons about Irish culture and language and terminology. The most useful so far has been “craic” (literally pronounced “crack”), which means “fun”, or “banter”, or “a good time”. It’s very confusing the first time you hear someone say they “had great craic”, though – this happened last night, when we all met a bunch of Irish students who live in Menlo as well and who had just moved back in for the semester. They have all been very lovely and crazy and friendly so far, which is really good. To “go on the lash” means basically to go crazy, usually in some kind of way involving being drunk. Also, when it’s raining heavily, you can say “it’s lashing out”, or “the rain is just lashing”. And if someone or something is “sound”, then it means it’s good: like you can say that a lecturer (that is what most university teachers are called – “professor” is an earned title here) is sound, or that a person is sound, and so on. I’ve already noticed things like this slipping into my own vocabulary, even saying things with an Irish accent, especially when I’m speaking to someone who is Irish, which is really fascinating, especially with my love of sociology and language.
I’m going to make some posts with pictures as well, because I do have a lot of those. It’s going to be a learning curve to keep up with everything I’m going to want to post here, because I just want to say everything! I’ll write soon.