Ireland and The Cliffs of Insanity

*Sección de español al final

Ireland. To me, the word conjures up images of rolling green country sides, small, lively pubs, and old men with caps, pipes and charming accents. I have only been to Ireland twice now, and I have fallen in love with it both times. Most recently, I traveled with two friends, Mary and Catey, and stayed in Dublin for about 4 1/2 days. It was, to put it simply, pretty awesome.

We left extremely late Thursday night to take a bus to the airport in Madrid. The bus was not the most comfortable unfortunately, but we did end up sitting next to a couple of American girls who were also studying at the University of Oviedo.

We got to the airport in the quiet morning hours of Friday, and, after having some trouble locating our gate, finally made it onto the plane. The flight wasn’t particularly bad, but my admittedly freakishly long legs were pretty cramped. After touching down in Ireland and going through customs, we got to the baggage claim area where I immediately noticed all of the Halloween decorations adorning the walls. In Oviedo Halloween isn’t that big of a holiday, although it has become more popular in recent years, so it was a nice shock of familiarity to see the pumpkin streamers and skeleton cut outs.

After talking to an extremely nice man at the information desk, we took a double-decker bus to our hostel in Dublin.  Mary and I were staying at Isaac’s Hostel and Catey was staying at Spire hostel which was only about an 8 minute walk away.

My experience at Isaac’s Hostel was a good one overall. The entrance room/ dining hall was completely decked out in Halloween decorations–streamers, skulls, pumpkins–the whole bit. Mary and I stayed in a 16 person room on the third floor. The beds were fine, as were the bathrooms. My only complaint was that the room had a weird and rather unpleasant smell (not entirely unexpected when sleeping with strangers), but apart from that, everything was fine.

After settling in and picking Catey up from her Hostel, we had a fish and chips lunch at a restaurant. For dinner, we found a cute little pub and I discovered my new love of a hard cider called Orchard Thieves. For anyone like me who has the taste pallet of a five year old, I highly recommend Orchard Thieves. It’s basically apple juice with a nice zing.

The next day two really cool things happened. First, we went on a free ‘Irish Folklore and Myths’ walking tour which was absolutely fascinating. Our guide was really funny and a self proclaimed alcoholic scholar. He told us all about the legends of the Tuatha Dé Danann (Irish Fairy Folk), Darkey Kelly, The Hellfire Club, and Molly Malone, among others.

 Second, and this was really odd, I ran into one of my high school classmate’s exchange students. Her name is Franziska and she’s from Germany. She was visiting Dublin with a friend and if I had taken any other street, or had stopped to tie my shoe, or done anything differently, I would not have seen her.

After making plans to meet with Franziska later that evening, Catey, Mary and I headed to church and then started looking for a place to eat dinner. There weren’t many options and I was pretty hungry and had to pee. Thus, I suggested TGI Fridays because believe it or not, I had never been in the states and Mary and Catey told me it was pretty cheap. So we went. It was way more expensive than I was expecting but the atmosphere was nice and they had warm bathrooms. My favorite part of the night was halfway through the meal when the song Get Low started playing. For those who don’t know the song it’s not exactly what I would call family friendly. The lyrics go something like ’to the window, to the walls, till the sweat drop down my balls all these bitches crawl, till all skeet skeet motherfuckers’… yeah, it was pretty fun.

On Sunday, we took an all day trip to the cliffs of Moher, or as some of you may know them ‘The Cliffs of Insanity’ from The Princess Bride. The cliffs were absolutely stunning and we were lucky enough to have really good weather.

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P1020905.jpgP1020931.jpgIMG_5314.JPGOn Monday, we took a tour of Dublin Castle. I adored the castle and spent a good deal of time pretending I was a guest at a royal ball, dressed in a fancy gown, and holding a glass of champagne (or hard cider). 23517670_1123139517816857_4550301336902798633_n.jpg

Later that evening we toured Kilmainham Gaol, an old prison that had been turned into a museum. This visit was a little more serious than our castle wanderings. We learned about the Easter Uprising and the fight for Irish independence. Do you know that the Irish Declaration of Independence is the first document of its kind that explicitly mentions women? It begins ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen…’ and the uprising was full of badass ladies. 23456577_1123138114483664_3127798052309746974_o.jpg

Our final day in Dublin, we explored St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Now as impressed as I was with everything we had seen so far, I must say I was a little disappointed in St. Patrick’s. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and big, but it felt very commercialized. For example, there was a gift shop inside the church as well as a play section for kids. I’m still very glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t put it on a list of must-sees.

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We left Ireland late Tuesday afternoon (Halloween for those of you not paying attention), and flew back to Madrid.

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A stop on our way to the cliffs

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Taking a tour of Trinity College

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I can’t resist Christmas lights

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finding my love of Orchard Thieves

Ireland is a place of warmth, of magic, of good story-telling, loud laughter, and lots of bars. It has beautiful countrysides that seem untouched by modern times, as though they have been preserved in their own little sheep infested snow globes. Dublin itself is the perfect balance between the intimate feeling of a small town and the hustle and bustle of a large city. If you are ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit, take it. You won’t be disappointed. And who knows? You might come to love it just as I have.

Español

Irlanda. Para mi, la palabra evoca imágenes de paisajes con colinas verdes, bares llenos de gente y música, y abuelos con gorros, pipas y acentos encantadores. Solo he ido a Irlanda dos veces, pero cada vez me encanta más. Recientemente, fui con dos amigas que se llaman Catey y Mary. Nos quedamos en Dublin durante 4  días y medio y fue increíble por no decir menos.

Salimos el jueves por la noche y cogimos un autobús al aeropuerto en Madrid. Desafortunadamente, el autobús no era el más cómodo, y no tenia espacio suficiente para mis piernas tan largas (si, soy una freaky≤,).

Llegamos al aeropuerto la madrugada del viernes, y, después de tener algunos problemas para encontrar nuestra terminal, subimos al avión. El vuelo no fue horrible, y solo duró un par de horas. Llegamos a Irlanda por la tarde. Lo primero que noté, fueron las decoraciones para Halloween. Halloween no es una fiesta muy grande en Oviedo (aunque es más grande ahora que en el pasado), entonces me gustó ver algo familiar.

Cogimos un autobús (con dos pisos!) a nuestro hostal. Mary y yo nos quedamos en un hostal que se llama Isaac’s Hostel y Catey se quedó en uno muy cerca, que se llama Spire.

Mi experiencia en el Isaac’s Hostel fue buena. Nos quedamos en un cuarto de 16 personas en el tercer piso. Las camas eran un poco cortas para mí, pero los baños estaban limpios y había wifi. La mayoría de la gente era amable y respetuosa (había algunos Australianos que no paraban de hablar toda la noche).

Después de dejar nuestras maletas en las camas, salimos a comer con Catey. Encontramos una tienda de ‘pescado y papas fritas’ un plato típico de Irlanda. Estaba rico. Para cenar fuimos a un bar y ahí fue donde encontré mi amor por la cerveza que se llama ‘Orchard Thieves’. Para alguien como yo, que tiene el sabor de un niño de 5 años, Orchard Thieves es la bebida perfecta. Sabe como jugo (zumo) de manzana con un extra ‘zing’.

Al día siguiente dos cosas extrañas pero realmente geniales pasaron. Primero, tuvimos un tour de ‘Folklore and Fairytales’ por Dublin. Eso fue muy divertido. Aprendí mucha mitología y muchas historias de Irlanda como Los Tuatha Dé Danann (La gente del mundo de hadas), Darkey Kelly, The Hellfire Club, y Molly Malone, y mucho más.

La segunda, y esto es muy extraño, encontré el estudiante de intercambio de una de mis compañeros de secundaria. Se llama Franziska, y es de Alemania. Ella estaba visitando a un amigo en Dublin, y si yo hubiera caminado por otra calle, o hubiera parado para atar mis zapatos, no la habría visto.

Después de hacer planes con Franziska para encontrarnos esa noche, Mary, Catey y yo fuimos a una iglesia y después, empezamos a buscar un restaurante para cenar. No había muchas opciones y yo tenia hambre y también necesitaba orinar. Por eso, fuimos a un restaurante que se llama TGI Friday. Era más caro de lo que  pensaba, pero la atmósfera era buena. Mi parte favorita de la noche fue cuando la canción Get Low empezó a sonar. Para las personas que no la conocen, la letra es algo como “a la ventana, a la pared, hasta que el sudor caiga desde mis bolas, todas estas zorras se arrastran, skee skee motherfucker”…sí, no es un canción para familias y por eso, fue muy interesante oírla en un restaurante lleno de niños.

El domingo, fuimos a Los Acantilados de Moher. Eran absolutamente asombrosos. Tengo muchas fotos. El lunes, fuimos al palacio de Dublin e imaginaba que era una princesa, bailando en un baile real. Luego, ese mismo día, fuimos a una cárcel vieja que ahora es un museo. Aprendí mucho sobre la revolución Irlandesa. Sabes que la declaración de independencia de Irlanda es el primer documento de ese tipo que dice explícitamente ‘mujeres’? Empieza con ‘Los hombres y mujeres irlandesas…’ Eso me gusta mucho.

 Nuestro ultimo dia, fuimos a la Catedral de San Pedro. Para ser honesta, no estuve muy impresionada. La catedral es bonita, pero si tienes que escoger entre eso o Los acantilados de Moher, Los acantilados ganan por mucho. Salimos el Martes y regresamos a Madrid.

Para terminar, quiero decir que Irlanda es un lugar de magia, de historias bien contadas, de risas duras y muchos bares. Tiene un paisaje hermoso que parece como si no hubiera sido tocado por ningún ser humano, como un lugar sin tiempo. Pero, por otro lado, Dublin es una combinación perfecta de los tiempos modernos y el pasado. Si tienes la buena suerte de tener una oportunidad para visitar Irlanda, hazlo. Quién sabe? Tal vez vas a enamorarte de ella, exactamente como yo.

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Life of an Exchange Student

I write when I am either frustrated and need to vent, or inspired and want to share. For example, I was inspired to write ‘Finding your Happy Place’ and frustrated enough to write “The Weekend from Hell’. For a while now, however, I have been neither inspired nor incredibly frustrated, which means that writing requires a lot more effort. That’s not to say that I haven’t been doing anything, au contraire, I’ve been pretty busy with volleyball, tutoring sessions (yes, I am now a tutor!), school and weekend excursions with the rest of the students from Rollins. I definitely have a lot of material to work with, but for some reason every time I sit myself down to write, I find myself distracted by other things. Thus, instead of writing in great detail about one experience or place, I’m going to break this into sections and write a little bit about everything I’ve been doing.

Siempre escribo cuando estoy estresada y necesito desahogarme, o cuando estoy inspirada y quiero compartir mi experiencia. Por ejemplo, yo estaba inspirada para escribir “Finding Your Happy Place” y estaba tan estresada que escribí “The Weekend from Hell”. Pero durante un tiempo ahora, no me he sentido estresada ni inspirada así que escribir es mas difícil. No quiero decir que no he estado haciendo cosas, al contrario, he estado muy ocupada con voleibol, la universidad, las clases de ingles (si, soy profesora ahora!), y los viajes con los demás chicos de Rollins. Entonces, tengo mucho material con el que puedo trabajar, pero por alguna razón cada vez que siento e intento escribir, no puedo. Entonces, en vez de escribir solo una experiencia o un día con pelos y señales, voy a romper este blog en secciones y escribir un poco sobre todo lo que he estado haciendo.

Volleyball

I guess I’ll begin with volleyball. It’s been about month since I started practicing and playing with the team, and it has been interesting to say the least. I played volleyball in high school and wasn’t half-bad, I even played club ball for a close to a year. Unfortunately, my long absence from the sport combined with my inability to understand the coach (his accent is especially difficult), has made me less than stellar. Because of my height (especially obvious in Spain), the coach thought my level was close to professional and because I could talk to the girls on the team, he thought I was basically fluent in Spanish. This led to me playing in my first game, not knowing the names of any of the positions, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Not my proudest moment. Apart from disappointing the coach however, it has been a pretty positive experience. The girls on the team are awesome. One of them is even teaching me French to help prepare me for my trip to Paris. So if you see a tall, female American wondering around Paris speaking French with a heavy Spanish accent, don’t be afraid to say hi, it’s probably me.

Voleibol 

Supongo que empezaré con voleibol. Hace un mes más o menos, que comencé a practicar con el equipo, y ha sido interesante por no decir menos. Jugué en secundaria, incluso jugué en un club por un año. Desafortunadamente, mi larga ausencia del juego combinada con el hecho de que casi no puedo entender al entrenador (su acento es muy difícil de entender), me ha sido menos que fantástico. Por mi altura, el entrenador pensaba que yo era una profesional o algo así, y porque podia hablar con las chicas en el equipo, él pensaba que era casi bilingüe. Esto me llevó a mi primer partido sin saber los nombres de las posiciones, corriendo como un pollo degollado. Sí, no es mi momento más orgulloso. Pero a parte de eso, ha sido una experiencia muy buena. Las chicas en el equipo son la leche. Una de ellas esta enseñándome francés para prepararme para Paris. Así que ustedes ven a una Americana alta, andando por Paris, hablando en francés con un acento español, deben decir hola porque, probablemente, soy yo.

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School 

I am currently taking classes in a specific part of La Universidad de Oviedo which is called La Casa de Las Lenguas (The House of Languages). Here, exchange students from all over the world take classes that help them learn Spanish. I am currently taking Art, History, Oral Expression, and English to Spanish translation. Although I should be in the advanced levels for all of my classes, I chose to remain in intermediate for several reasons. First, advanced and intermediate count for the same amount of credit at Rollins College, and second, with everything else going on, I simply don’t have time for too much homework.

The classes themselves are pretty good. I’m especially enjoying Art, where I’m learning the latin roots of a lot of words, and History where we just finished watching Gladiator in Spanish. The students in La Casa de Las Lenguas are usually American or Chinese and in their late teens or early twenties. It’s absolutely fascinating to hear the accent of the Chinese students and I find it impressive that there are so many in my English to Spanish translation class.

La Universidad

Estoy tomando clases en La Casa de las Lenguas, que es una parte de la universidad de Oviedo. Aquí, estudiantes internacionales de todo el mundo, estudian y toman clases para aprender español. Yo tengo clases de Arte, Historia, Expresión Oral y Tradución Ingles a Español. Las clases son muy buenas, especialmente Arte, donde estoy aprendiendo las raíces de las palabras. Los estudiantes en La Casa de las Lenguas son normalmente americano o chino y de edad joven (como 19 o 20). El acento de los estudiantes chinos es muy interesante y estoy impresionada que hay muchos chinos en mi clase Traducción Ingles a Español.

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Me, Catey and Sara (my conversation partner), taking a break from school and enjoying a club night in Gijón

Tutoring

The classes in school are fine, but they pale in comparison to my tutoring skills! (just kidding, I’m still figuring this whole teaching thing out). My host mom put a tutoring add on some website when I first got to Spain, and I finally got a a response about two weeks ago. So now I am the proud tutor of a fifteen year old boy named Sergio. He’s planning on spending the next year in Ireland, but he still isn’t comfortable having a conversation in English, so it’s my job to prepare him. I will admit it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. For one, it’s very hard to figure out his level of English; sometimes he seems to understand everything I say and sometimes he’s entirely lost. For another, it’s very hard to not speak to him in Spanish when he doesn’t understand my English. I constantly have to remind myself that I can’t just repeat my statement in Spanish, I must find another way of rephrasing what I said in English. The hardest part, however, has been finding fun vocabulary games for two people.

So far we’ve played ‘memory’ using different English verbs, good old twenty questions, and boogle. I’ve even had him listen to English songs while reading lyric sheets that I gave him and filling in the blanks. Does anyone know any other games we could play?

Las Clases de Ingles

Las clases de la universidad son buenas pero son nada en comparación a mis clases de ingles (estoy bromeando todavía estoy aprendiendo como ser profesora). Hace un mes, mi mamá española puso un anuncio online que dijo que yo era un nativo en ingles y que yo podia enseñar, y por fin, recibí una respuesta hace dos semanas. Ahora, soy la profesora de un chico de 15 años se llama Sergio. El va a vivir en Irlanda durante el próximo año, pero todavía falta mucho con gramática y vocabulario. Tengo que admitir que enseñar no es fácil. Es muy difícil averiguar el nivel de ingles de Sergio porque a veces al puede entender casi todo, y a veces ni una sola palabra. También es muy difícil encontrar juegos divertidos de vocabulario para dos personas. Ya hemos jugado ‘memoria’ usando palabras en ingles, 20 preguntas y Boogle. Alguien sabe mas juegos que podemos jugar?

 

Excursions

Finally, to end the post I’m just going to quickly mention that I was lucky enough to visit both Ribadesella, (almost as beautiful as Santiago de Compostela–definitely a must see!),  and León, which has beautiful cathedrals.

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I only have one picture of Ribadesella, but If you go to my friend Mary’s blog, there are a ton

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Catedral de León

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So that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope you have enjoyed reading and if you know of any fun vocabulary games, please let me know.