Totally meant to get this blog done before leaving for Spring holiday, but unfortunately this didn’t get checked off my to-do list. I have a ton to say about my adventures in Eastern Europe, but that will have to wait. In the meantime, the Facebook album I posted today can give you a preview.
I have gotten into hiking here in Ireland. I even broke down and bought a pair of hiking boots! They give me super great grip and are entirely waterproof, which is a must considering that wet socks is a pet peeve of mine.
This year, my Valentine’s Day belongs to the February 14th Hall of Fame. Ali and I set out for Howth. The train out to Howth was completely packed. At first we worried that we had chosen a hotspot for couples, but then we realized that the majority of the population on the train were men dressed in sports fan gear. Turns out there was a huge rugby game between Ireland and France, so Dublin was packed with people from both countries going to the game.
When we got to Howth, the weather was slightly warmer than it was last time we visited. It was just as beautiful as before, and this time we found the actual hiking trails. They ran right alongside the cliff and you could look out into the water and see all of the ships going by. As it got darker, the lighthouse shining along the shore could be seen.
Ali and I shared a sweet Valentine’s day moment as we sat on the rocky hill eating pasta and bean salad with our hands. Ali told me that she hadn’t gotten tired of me yet, which is probably best considering we still had around three months left with each other at that point. We didn’t hike the full extent of the trails, partially because the path is hard to follow and partially because we had gotten a later start, which isn’t ideal when the sun sets around 5:30 pm.
This doesn’t really count as a hike, but I want to include it in this blog anyways– on the Sunday after Valentine’s Day, we went to the farmer’s market. Kelly’s mom was in town, which is why Ali and I had hiked alone the day before. But, they told us they were going to a farmer’s market in Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Done Leery) and invited us to come along. My favourite place to be is a farmer’s market, so of course I was going to go! After church, we hopped on the bus and headed over to the market, which was actually pretty big! They have it every Sunday, and I would love to go again when it is warmer.
The last Saturday in March, Ali, Kelly, and I decided to try out somewhere new for hiking. We ended up going out to a place called Greystones. This was a unique hike, as it was along the water. We started out having to climb over huge rocks. I was certainly glad to have my hiking boots here. The rest of the walk was over sand and pebbles. The various little stones were really neat, so I had a pocket full of rocks by the end of the hike. At the end of the beach, we climbed up on a wall of rocks and looked out over the water. A sea lion popped his head up and stared at us. He kept watching us and then would disappear for a while before resurfacing.
The hike back was a bit more challenging since we were going against the wind! But it was all worth it, because at the end we were rewarded with a roadside fish stand. It was undoubtedly a place where the locals go. They only took cash and knew everyone by name. People did double takes when they heard our accents. You could tell the fish was fresh from the taste, and there were even still some scales on it! On the way home, we invented two point systems called “Clutch Points” (for when you do something really awesome) and “Idiot Points” (for when you have a duh moment or do something incredibly embarrassing). We have taken to awarding each other these points, and I have my fair share of Idiot Points. Major idiot points were awarded to me when I printed off my boarding pass for Spring Break on poster sized paper because I haven’t gotten the hang of their printers here. On the bright side, I now have a poster to decorate my white walls with, and a lot of people have gotten a kick out of it 🙂 The great thing about studying abroad is that you learn to laugh at yourself for making stupid mistake or having no idea as to what you are doing.
I am not homesick, but I have still come to appreciate reminders of home or just the feeling of being in a home. Whether it is letters, cards, or packages of peanut butter (thanks Uncle Jay!), it always makes my day when mail slips under my apartment door. I have had a few opportunities to be able to spend time in homes here in Ireland. It is such a nice feeling to be outside of the student residence apartment and instead in an actual house. It makes me feel all warm and cozy.
The first home visit I had was way out in the country side to Gillian’s house. I met Gillian in my Animal Physiology class here in Ireland. The first day of class the teacher asked if there were any international students, I raised my hand and said I was from Indiana. It just so happened that Gillian was sitting behind me and had spent the previous Fall semester in Indiana at none other than Purdue University.
One Friday we were working on a class project, and she asked if I wanted to head to her home town of Tulsk for the weekend. Since Ali also goes to Purdue, she came along as well. We learned to load up the turf burning heater, hung out with Granny and Patch the dog, became “proper” tea addicts, ate a ton of food, explored, and watched Gillian play Gaelic football like a champ! Ali and I each had our embarrassing moments on the trip. One of mine was getting locked into the bathroom because I couldn’t figure out how to work the skeleton key. I was stuck in there for about 15 minutes and was pretty sure I would have to spend the night on the floor or crawl out the window and explain to her family why I was coming from outside. Ali sat outside the bathroom door laughing and making sure there was video proof of my terrible moment. The next day, she had her moment, as she slipped and fell in a mud puddle after climbing on the horse statue.
The Monday before we left for break, Ali, Kelly, and I were invited to the Hannings’ house. Ken and Jody are originally from Texas, but are living in Dublin. Ken is a church planter and serves as an assistant preacher for Dublin Vineyard, which is the church we attend here. The Hannings are such a friendly, hospitable family. We had a fantastic time talking, playing games with their daughter Ava, and eating a spectacular meal. They were even so kind as to come pick us up from the bus stop we got stranded at in the cold and then drive us back home after dinner. Being inside a family home was so relaxing in general, but Ken and Jody really made us feel at home.
There is no telling when I will get my Eastern Europe blog up considering that tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s day (well today technically for me) and I also have my Animal Physiology final on Thursday. Hopefully soon!
***A big thanks to Ali and Kelly for letting me steal their pictures 🙂 ***
Cool Words and Phrases:
- “Ahh Sugar!” = “Dang it”
- “Lads” for guys
- “How did you get on?” = How did you do?
- Gilet= Vest
- “That’s class” = that’s nice or awesome
- “That’s handy” = that’s nice or easy or something like that
- “Some stage” for some point