Yes, it was a wonderful relief to arrive in Ireland after a brutal summer in Montana – a summer of no rain. When I left, the air was practically solid with forest fire smoke. So the green of my chosen country was a sight for sore eyes, literally!
Anyway, I have just finished out my first week here. I landed in Dublin on Monday morning at the ungodly hour of 6:30. All of the IFSA-Butler group was abuzz with the thrill of arriving, but as we stood and waited for our bus the energy level went straight downhill. Some of us had enough determination (or caffeine) to go out to the pub, but I know I wasn’t the only one who crawled in bed for a nap once we reached O’Callaghan’s Hotel. We all had five hours to get our bearings before we headed out on a Viking Splash tour of the city. You know those amphibious tour buses in Seattle? Same name, same game. We climbed in and put on our Viking helmets to indicate our conquering intent as we gave pedestrians our best rrrrrrrrroooooooooooooaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrssssss!
Our DUKW bus took us around some historic parts of Dublin – Georgian houses, cathedrals, you name it – before heading down into the river for a troll around the water front. My lasting impression of Dublin is the contrasts: those old, Georgian houses side by side with post-modern architecture; battered fishing boats moored in front of glass condominiums.
We didn’t eat any haggis for dinner, but we did have Chinese. My first experience with real Irish food was at breakfast on Tuesday morning. The eggs were soggy, the tomatoes were grilled (I think), and the black and white pudding was…odd. ‘Nuff said.
By Tuesday evening we University College Cork students had arrived at our final destination for a three-day orientation before the start of classes. We are about twenty minutes’ walk from the city center, where multi-story shopping centers offer wrack upon wrack of bargain clothes, shoes, and other necessities. Do I really need to say that I’ve already spent a lot of money there?
But my week of relaxation is over. Classes start tomorrow, and I will spend my days on the lovely UCC campus, chock full of old stone buildings and coffee shops (not to mention the campus-run distillery). Registration is much more relaxed here, which is to say, you find the classes you want, stick them on a timetable, and email them to the right person. Classes, too, are more like two-a-week lectures, with three hundred students attending. To make up for large classes, we have awesome apartments – about four bedrooms per flat with a full kitchen and lounge attached to each flat and a separate bathroom for every bedroom. I’m up for an imitation of that in American student housing. Anybody with me?
Apart from the fact that I can’t get my heater to run, I am ready to get this school year off and running. I intend to have something wild and crazy to post about next time, but here’s the introduction. Cheers, mate!