Journals from National University of Ireland
2010-01-19 First weeks in Ireland!
As of tomorrow we will have been in Galway, Ireland for two weeks! The trip over was a long one with three flights and a bus ride. With a quick run to Dunnes for blankets, we weathered out that first night in cold apartments since the heaters were difficult to figure out (electrical switches operate backwards compared to those back home). The first week brought several days of orientation programs with tours around the National University of Ireland campus and Galway. Both the university and downtown Galway are within a ten to fifteen minute walk from our apartments at Cuirt na Coiribe, though the stroll seemed a little longer when the temperature refused to climb above freezing for several days in a row. Apparently, this is the coldest winter that Ireland has seen in 40 years.
The weather has thankfully gotten better and we have been able to do some exploring. There is an amazing mix of the brand new and the incredibly old all around us. Every time we walk to campus we pass by the ruins of Terryland Castle. The Kings Head Pub (so-called because it was given to the executioner of Charles I) sports a placard claiming its building is over 800 years old. Just down the street, however, are both T. K. Maxx, which seems to be the same thing as T. J. Maxx, and Supermacs, a fast-food restaurant that can have lines stretching out the doors and into the street at 2 a.m on a Tuesday morning.
The course registration process at NUIG is much different from back at Linfield. We spent last week going to any classes we liked the sound of and wanted to try. If we did not like a class there was no obligation to ever go again. It was not until this morning that we actually signed up for the courses we wanted to take for a grade. In many of the courses, the overall grade will be determined by a single essay only. That means there is no graded homework, midterm exam, or, in some cases, final examination. I can definitely say that it is going to be a challenge to keep up with my reading and studying when I do not have to turn anything in and there is so much else to get out and do around here.
Speaking of which, several of us went to Dublin last weekend! The bus ride only took about three hours and we stayed two nights in a hostel that may as well have been a hotel but was super cheap nonetheless. We managed to see way more on foot than I thought we would have time for, including Trinity College, the Post Office where the 1916 revolution began, the Guinness Storehouse, the Jameson Distillery, St. Patricks Cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, the Temple Bar District, and much more. My favorite part may have been getting free pints at the Gravity Bar, which is located at the top of the Guinness Storehouse. The bar has a 360-degree view of Dublin and we happened to get there just as the sun was setting.
This is getting a bit long so I will save writing about the people and what I have seen of the culture for a later entry.
Cheers (as the Irish say),
Fun facts o the day:
1. It is not a bathroom or a restroom, or even a loo. It is a toilet.
2. If the jar says jelly, do not expect jam. Be prepared to spread jello on your toast.