Wow, what a trip so far. Not really sure where to start… I guess I’ll pick up on the day of my departure. I woke up at the crack of dawn on Tuesday (okay actually 8 am) and begrudgingly got ready to go (if you didn’t already know, I am not a morning person). So my parents drove me to the airport, hugged me goodbye, and watched me go through security. On my flight to Newark I sat by a really nice pilot who talked with me about my impending journey. I slept most of the flight then woke up in Newark, where I got to experience a great 5 hour layover, finished the third book in the Game of Thrones series, and promptly started the fourth one.. Exciting right???!!! Anyway. On the flight overseas, I sat by another girl on my program on the last row of the plane (whaddup), so it was nice to finally know someone I’d be spending the next four months with. I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a movie about seven British people in their sixties and seventies that suddenly decide to move to a hotel in India owned by the guy in Slumdog Millionaire. It was really good, actually; I definitely recommend it. I thought it was a pretty fitting movie considering my own journey was just now getting under way. Then I fell asleep for an hour and woke up to a little girl crying for 45 minutes. Frustrated and unable to fall back asleep, I watched the movie Hemingway and Gellhorn, which depicted the real life affair between the famous novelist and a war correspondent in the 1940s. Also highly recommended. Finally, the plane landed and I set foot on Irish soil. I went through the long lines at customs, picked up my bags, and was ready to make the drive to Galway. Or so I thought.
Amanda, the fellow API student I sat by on the plane, and I eagerly met the lady holding the API sign outside of baggage claim. She introduced herself as Finn, our group director for the semester. She gathered our entire group around and told us, “Don’t think of me as your mum. Think of me as your big Irish sister!” And she explained to us the basics of what we were doing for the rest of the day and what to expect overall in Ireland. She spoke with an adorable Irish accent and seemed very excited to meet us all. However, the last flight with API students wouldn’t be coming in until noon, and it was only 8 or so in the morning, so the group was pretty much left to its own devices for four hours. So naturally a small group of us wandered over to the airport coffee shop that just happened to sell alcohol and ordered some Guinness. I, of course, with my not-so-hardy taste for beer ordered a nice little glass of Sauvignon Blanc. It actually tasted very good for airport wine, and I was happy with my first legal drink. It feels pretty cool to be legal two and a half months earlier than I would be in the US… Kind of as if I’m cheating the system.
Anyway, the glass of wine made me feel pretty sleepy so I somehow ended up contorting my body to fall asleep on one of the awkward airport benches, and before I knew it, the last group of students had arrived and we were finally heading out. It took forever for the bus driver to pack all of our bags on the tiny little bus, but eventually we got moving. I luckily got a window seat and was able to get a great look at the Irish countryside on the way to Galway. It was a misty day, which made the grass seem so much greener, the squat, square houses so much quainter, and the horses, cows,t and sheep so much happier. The earth here seems to have a life of its own, almost as if it breathes. This country is beautiful.
We got to Gort na Coiribe (pronounced gurt na carrihbuh… Weird) at about 2 that afternoon, and I quickly proceeded to nap directly on my mattress with my coat as a blanket. My roommate, Katie, and I then went to Dunne’s (Ireland’s equivalent of an upscale Target) and bought bedding and food for the night. I got the best fuzzy blanket ever. And then I fell asleep at 6 pm. Katie and I slept so well that we overslept the our orientation the next morning and had to be taxied over to campus by Finn. We then listened for two hours about various important things about the university and were basically bored to death, but somehow we survived. There was a break in between the seminar and the campus tour our group was to go on, so a bunch of us got lunch at the College Bar. Some of the people in our group also grabbed a drink; I got Bulmer’s hard cider which ended up making me a bit giggly for the tour, along with a couple of other girls, but all in all it was a great afternoon.
Later on Thursday night, our group met at Milano’s restaurant for dinner on API. I decided to get a “leggere” or light pizza, which they boasted was only 500 calories. When it came to the table, it looked like a normal sized pizza with a mound of salad greens on top. However, when I moved the greens aside I found that there was a large hole in the middle of the pizza. That’s 500 calories for ya, I guess. I made up for it by getting the Chocolate Glory for dessert, complete with brownie bits and a chocolate straw. Yes, it was good. Afterward, the group went out to a pub called Tis Coili (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), famous for its traditional Irish music. The pub itself was quite crowded with a somewhat older clientele since the students had not arrived yet, but it was a really great atmosphere. We then wandered to King’s head, known for its live cover bands and more modern music. We all walked home after that, excited to have made a great first night out.
The next morning, we went to an academic advising seminar, and that was pretty boring. We were done at three that afternoon, and I finally got to meet up with this guy:
It was great to see a friendly face in the middle of a strange country, so I was really excited to chill with Ivan for the weekend. We cooked pizza and had wine for dinner, then met up with the roomie and Hannah, another student from William and Mary, to get ready to go out. We went to King’s Head and listened to a great band play some live music from the upper floor, then went to a club called Karma to take a look at a different side of Galway nightlife. We were unimpressed.
Saturday, we all woke up at 2 pm (it was a little bit too good of a night). Katie, Ivan, and I all bummed around the apartment till dinner, when Ivan treated us all to dinner at the Spanish Arch. I got the appetizer/entree/glass of wine special for 20 euros; it was delicious. I got Lousiana chicken wings for the appetizer–literally the best wings I’ve ever had–and spinach and ricotta ravioli for the entree. Seriously, Ivan, my stomach thanks you.
After that, we met up with some other kids from our program at a pub called the Front Door (apparently a local hotspot for people that are “on the prowl”), but we just sat and talked with people in our group. I yelled out in excitement when “Sweet Home Alabama” started playing on the speakers, talked a bouncer into letting me dance on a table, and we all went home around 2 am. Overall, a great night. Sadly, Ivan had to leave this afternoon, but our other apartment-mates moved in, and Katie and I introduced ourselves and they all seem very nice. Now it’s time to get ready for classes to start tomorrow and get into the groove of being a student again! Toodles for now from the Emerald Isle.