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Free Laughs in Dublin

Time November 1st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello All!

This weekend I had a grand old time going to a free comedy show in the basement of a pub just off of Grafton Street. I believe it was called “Stag’s Head”, but the event was certainly named Comedy Crunch. All of the acts were Irish folks, but interestingly there were equal number Irish people attending the event as there were performing! That equals 6 Irish folks in the audience to 6 Irish comics. It was shocking considering the basement was jam-packed with likely over 80 people. The first comics decided to take a survey of the room to get a feeling for the makeup of the crowd, which was quite diverse. There were a pair of Dutch gentlemen, three bankers from Scotland, a handful of English ladies, a couple tables of Spanish people, an Argentinian fellow, a Brazilian couple, a few Canadians, a couple of French Canadians (friends of mine), a couple of French people, an overwhelming number of Italian people, and a handful of Americans (including myself). Yet, there were only two small groups of Irish people, one group was a rowdy bunch of Dublin marathoners and the other a group of college aged kids. Impressive in the amount of diversity there was, but strange in the lack of local attendees. The comics were all entertaining, I noticed each of them made a joke about America likely because I and a few other Americans happened to be sitting right in front of the stage. A couple of them were also quite critical of Ireland’s financial situation often relating it back to the EU’s financial situation as a whole. I was surprised as one of the comics was quite dour the entire time he was on stage, not sure if it was part of his act or if it was his personality, but his jokes fit well with his demeanor. In any case it was interesting to see and my friends and I had a great time, plus it was free!

A few other things I noticed while walking in Dublin this weekend were the people, mostly about the modes of transportation. Recently, I’ve noticed that, despite the stereotype that Europeans all drive tiny cars, that seems to becoming less and less true. I keep seeing larger sedans (Mercedes), SUV’s, and even a few mini vans; they’re not hard to pick out either in comparison to the numerous tiny cars that still populate the streets. It may be that the large-car craze is catching on in Europe. Secondly, although Dublin is a big city, by any standards, the people don’t seem to walk as the stereotype is for city-folk: FAST. I’ve never lived in a big city (Philadelphia, New York City, etc), but I’ve been to these places and the people there do tend to walk quite quickly. I tend to walk fairly quickly, but not at an NYC pace. It was only this weekend that I noticed people in Dublin, on average, walk noticeably slower than I do. I was a bit surprised by this as I was expecting fast paced, big city walkers. But, I suppose it’s hard to do that when people are stopping to listen or watch street performers, which is definitely one of the coolest parts of downtown Dublin. Additionally, it could be that the volume of people walking on the sidewalks is too much to maintain a fast pace as many of the sidewalks are narrower than those found in more modern big cities, much of the architecture, including the streets, is quite old in Dublin (another facet of the city’s charm). ┬áJust a few more observations, Halloween is tonight, going to a few events, Halloween is huge in Dublin, but more on that later.




Quick! The parents are coming! The parents are coming!

Time June 11th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello friendly readers! Well, I am quickly winding down my study abroad time in London, but the month of May has been quite interesting. On the very first day, my parents arrived in London for a week of adventures. It was beyond wonderful to see my parents after four months; it’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from home and I was so excited to share the London I’ve discovered with them. Of course, being the marvelous daughter I am, I marched my jet-lagged parents across half of London their first day here just to show them the sights. Trust me, they didn’t look this awake at the end of the day. Parents first day

We stopped in on the current production of ‘The Sunshine Boys’ one of their first days here. Perhaps it wasn’t the most ‘British’ thing we could do, considering one of its main stars is Jersey guy Danny DeVito, but the production was fantastic and I’m really glad I had the chance to see it with my parents rather than with my British friends. Because we understand the Jersey thing better. (Same goes for seeing Zach Braff’s ‘All New People’ with my American flatmate; it’s something that just clicks from your youth.)

In all seriousness though: I wore my parents out with everything I showed them. Especially since their middle age dictates that bedtime is before 11pm, however, I’m quite proud of them for keeping up with me. And if I’m being truly honest, I was ready for bed early most nights too. My parents visited Westminster Abbey while I handled the pesky thing called lecture, but perhaps the best attraction was the Churchill War Rooms on the very edge of St. James Park. We essentially stepped back in time to walk through the underground bunkers at the heart of Britain’s defense in World War II. It’s painstakingly hard to imagine daily life beneath the turmoil of the Battle of Britain, where you can see the reinforced concrete slab in the ceiling meant to protect the bunkers from missiles. I also took my first trip to the Tower of London with the parents to see the Crown Jewels and walk among those historic caverns and popped by the British museum to see the gold medals that will awarded at this year’s Olympics. (And you can see which parent my looks take after most from our picture on the London Eye.) War Rooms War Rooms trap door Olympic medals in British Museum Parents and me on Eye

We topped off our experience by trying the best of British fare through fish and chips at Ye Old Cheshire Cheese in the City of London near St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sunday roast at a pub and watching my dad plan a Friday night dinner while exploring one of my favorite places in London, Borough Market. On our final few days, per suggestion of my dad, we pub crawled throughout London, stopping every few hours at the closest pub. I got to show my parents some of my favorite little places in London, like The Blackfriar, an old Dominican friary saved from demolition hundreds of years ago so we can now appreciate its Art Nouveau style. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese caverns The Blackfriar

Having my parents in London for a week was one of the best experiences of my time here because they are such a huge part of my Hopkins experiences. I loved the opportunity to introduce them to the city and explore it further with them. It certainly helps seeing them with six weeks to go until I return home. Now if they could have only fit my six-foot-four little brother into their suitcases to tag along….

Next up: the London bucket list and Jubilee celebrations! Houses of Parliament from the Eye