Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Today is a pretty crummy Halloween due to the hard pouring rain. Last night my roommates and I went to a Halloween party downstairs, and our way to the liquor store (we had to stock up!), the rain came down and eventually turned into a real storm of disappointment, and has continued to be the same throughout the today.

I bought myself a Crunch bar a week ago, and have now gotten around to munching on it's American chocolaty goodness. I rarely if ever purchase candy around here, because as I've said before, it's very thick and packed with tons of sugar. Especially their soft drinks, which can be very tiring after sometime. Oh, and huge note: If you buy the juice drink Mi Wadi, do note that you're supposed to add four parts water to one part juice. I learned that the hard way and ended up with a very sour expression on my face.

I've finally got my schedule for next semester done! I was originally going to tackle 18 hours, but then I found out my future roomie and good friend was taking Biology, and I decided what better than to take it now and have a study buddy? I've been wanting to get out of the way for the longest time anyhow, so now my hours are cut down to 16. My original schedule included Intro to Fiction Writing, and Improv, but those got cut out in the final drafting. I really, really want to take improv, but graduating on time is much more important. Here's what I'm taking next semester:

Theatre Forum
Intro to Philosophy of Religion
Fundamentals of Technical Production
Intro to Theatrical Design
Principles of Biology
Intro to Womens Studies

I feel like a Freshman more than I do a Senior! I guess it's because I haven't been doing my best here at UCC. I have two written exams, and despite trying to answer questions on the novels I've read, I just can't seem to understand what they're asking me to write or coming up with antiquate answers. Oh, for those of you who are not extremely fluent in the complex language of English (and I'm talking about big words like ambiguity or aesthetic ambition), do note that the questions they want you to answer are no walk in the park. Not because the answer is difficult, but the actual question is ridiculously hard to unscramble. I know that most people in college are genius or have a very wide range of knowledge beyond my very own, but it's still frustrating not being able to do this because I'm a little on the slow side. Ugh. Double ugh.

Wednesday night was a blast! UCC Dramat and all the other societies have what are called "Mystery Tourers." Usually the meeting place is at Bailey's Bar, and everyone hops on a bus to an unknown destination. The place in particular will be a pub or a club, where every drinks and has fun. Since this was for Halloween, everyone dressed up, danced to live music, played bobbing for apples (on strings), and cheered for those who won costume prizes. My first try at biting the apple on a string turned out to be unsuccessful, with the apple breaking off the string! The second time (which was more of a competition), I managed to swing the apple on my shoulder and get a slight bite on the upper part near the stem. My prize? A swig from the chilled bottle of Yeager, which I had never had before, but was most delicious. Yeager is a chilled German Liquor that should be tried once in everyone's life time. Unless you're opposed to alcohol, which is fine, too.

I learned something last night: Never push my limits with wine. At the Halloween party, everyone was playing drinking games, and I just let myself go. Normally I wouldn't, but since my apartment was upstairs, I saw it fit to have some fun. I managed to down three glasses of wine in an hour, and I ended up getting really sick. I had this happen during the summer, although at a much slower rate and with a larger alcohol content. After last nights episode, I've come to realize the importance of knowing when to stop and to be responsible. Drinking games are fun, but no one would take it too far, especially just because everyone else is doing it. They might just have a higher tolerance than you.

Guess what? I've got my K-State basketball tickets!! The sad news is I will be missing the first six games, hindering me from possibly attending the KU game. I went to every single game, and one person in my group didn't go to very many (maybe 4? or 5?), and we got seats in the second to last row. I don't even know if anyone will add me to their group, let alone have enough points to balance everything and allow us entry. Hopefully so.

Welp, I need to continue my studiousness and answer practice exam questions before the real thing on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also have to read for my voice class tomorrow, and figure out how I'm going to warm up for tomorrow's audition for Snow White. It's going to be a Pantomime show for kids. I'm not sure when the dates of performance are, however, so I might not get to do it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Irish food suggestions

If you want to know what to eat around here, please read this. :)

1. Bacon. It is an explosion of goodness! You have never tasted bacon until you've had Irish bacon. I had my first tasty morsels at a B&B in Bantry, and let me tell you that both myself and my companion couldn't agree more that this was the best piggy we've ever had.

2. Bailey's Haagen Dazs ice cream is scrumptious. Smooth, silky, and best of all, Bailey's flavored. I haven't looked at the label yet, but I'm wondering if I could get drunk off this tub of ice cream...

3. Irish breakfast. I guess all you need to do is revert back to my little convo on bacon. It consists of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I don't like mushrooms, and putting that aside, this breakfast is still very enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone in passing or staying here for long periods of time.

4. Mark and Spencer's pastries. I just bought a caramel eclair and a round doughnut that has pink frosting and sprinkles. The best part is that this isn't just pink frosting, but actually raspberry flavored! Cap that sweet tooth with tasty doughnuts.

5. Cadbury hot chocolate is your friend. Now I've grown rather tired of Cadbury chocolates, mostly because I'm so used to munching on Hershey's, and simply because it's very, very rich. However, I noticed at a restaurant in Bantry, that they served me hot chocolate using Cadbury cocoa mix, and I have to say, it was very good.

NOTE: Do not, I repeat do not buy a Cadbury Crunchie bar. I don't even know what's used to make it honeycomb like in the center, but it doesn't taste so great. It doesn't hurt to try it, but don't spend lots of money on it until you do.

6. Sausages ahoy! They are juicy, flavorful and down right amazing. There's a place inside the English Market that sells them on a hot bun. Now I'm sure other parts of Europe have even tastier pork, but it doesn't take much to love the ones in Ireland.

7. Chocolate croissants are the best thing ever. Yes, it is a French creation, and yes, the label on the packaging does say "Cuisine de France", but let's face it- you don't get this stuff in the States, and if you come across it while in the local convince store, do not hesitate to buy some! Also, the Mark and Spencer's bakery has their own version of this tasty treat in a four pack for 2.30 euro.

8. Honey glazed ham is superb. Now I'm not talking about the lunch meat, because it's just the same as in the States. They make it here with a slightly crunchy/flake like texture and sweet, sweet, honey. Oh so good!

9. Paisley, buttered mashed potatoes. You will find this instant meal in the Tesco "ready to go" isle at the front of the store. I was surprised at how yummy they were, considering it was sealed up in plastic, resembling the lame tasting TV dinners we so often indulge ourselves in.

10. Tacos with refried beans. Again, not Irish at all, but if you love Mexican food and have that special craving, I highly recommend not just going with meat and tomatoes as I normally have been doing. The taco shells usually taste stale (I have no clue why), but by adding that extra filling, it can turn out rather nicely.

11. Sparkling grape and apple juice is oh so delicious! Just saying. :)

Somethings to take very careful note of:
-Milk expires before the expiration date! Sniff, look, and take precautions. I just took out a jug that expired yesterday, and let's just say the content inside wasn't liquid anymore. The jug before that didn't smell right on the day it expired as well.

-Butter/sour cream/cream cheese lids are horrible. They don't snap back on unfortunately, leaving your goods to expire way before they're supposed too. Yesterday I had to throw out half a thing of cream cheese because it was already molding due to the lid not staying on. Buy some plastic bags to put the containers in if you want your spreads to last.

-Buy bread by the half. Put bread in the fridge! I have some bagels that expired five days ago, but they're still good because I put them in the fridge. If you keep them in dry places, they will start to mold the day it expires!

-Most things with sauces will be bland. Make sure to purchase lots of salt and pepper, or your mac n' cheese, and chicken alfredo will be very disappointing. Spaghetti should be good, however.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All I want for Christmas is a Narwhal.

Back in the Cork of things.

For all of those who love cheese on their fries: Don't order it in Cork, or any place in Ireland for that matter. Forget all that amazing, gooey hot cheddar dripping all over those tasty hot fries, because believe or not, this doesn't exist. When you go into a line peeping up at that sign that reads: "chips with cheese" do not be fooled one-single-bit. Instead of what your taste buds desire, those fries will come with shredded cheese sprinkled on top. Yep. There goes 50 euro cents down the drain, and not to mention, your hunt for melted cheese still persists.

This weekend I spent two nights and three days in the lovely town of Bantry. There really isn't anything to do in Bantry, except for a good two hours spent in Bantry House and some jumping around on stones near the ocean. There's also this amazing restaurant called The Brick Oven, which is a must go to place if you miss American pizza. Their pizza is the best thing I've ever had in so so long! They also have dessert, which is very tasty and includes Bailey's cheese cake, and chocolate fudge brownie sundae in a large glass. My friend Sarah and I ended up dining there twice, because their food is seriously amazing!

Also, the sad plan truth about living here is not being able to drink Dr. Pepper. However, out of all the places I've been, included the two largest cities in Ireland (Dublin and Cork respectively), Bantry, a tiny town filled with fish and amazing American pizza just so happened to have them in stock at the local Centra! You should of seen my face. In fact, I will later post my picture in this blog just to show you how relieved I was of my cravings. I even planned so much as to grab three or four bottles of this mana of life, but my bus was early and I didn't have time. So I pretty much had my one and only bottle of Dr. Pepper until I go home or find more of it in some teeny tiny middle of no where town. Please, oh please, let me find it in another teeny tiny middle of no where town...

Funny story happened while I was in Bantry. As the sun started going down last night, Sarah and I head for the beach. We were making our way around the outskirts, trying to get to the other side of town, when we were warned by a nice couple that the tide was starting to rise. Thinking nothing much of it, we kept going along. Eventually, we ran into a bush filled with bees, and since we didn't really want to go walk in the water, we turned back. After twenty minutes of hoping around on large boulders, we finally get back to the sandy beaches, where the tide has almost engulfed them completely. We make it alright until we hit a rather large branch that ended up in our way, and even further down the coast, there was still water in our path. So basically we had to pull off our socks and shoes, roll up our pants, and spend five minutes walking in freezing cold Bantry ocean water. At the time I was crying about how much it hurt, while Sarah was getting amused by it all because she's from Maine. In the end we made it, and I'm kind of glad it happened, because it really is a fun story to tell.

Well, I have more homework than time, and my mac n' cheese awaiting me. So bon voyage I go!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An emotional rollercoaster

Hello world!

As I mentioned several days ago, I went on a Sunday to visit the small fisherman's town of Cobh. This was the last place where the S.S. Titanic anchored it ship to pick up and drop off passengers. However, it never really did stop next to the dock, because it had to beat out all the other ships when it came to delivering mail. So in order to save time, passengers had to wait on an old rickety wooden dock, board a smaller ship, and ferry away towards the Titanic. There were over a hundred passengers from Cobh, and only 20 something survived on that deadly night when she sank.

After the tour, Sarah and I went to a local cafe for lunch. If you take the Titanic Tour, they give you a complementary tea, and oh boy is it complementary! We were given our own pot with a side of milk and lots of sugar packets. It was delicious! I ended up getting a BLT on a toasted bagel with a side of potato chips. What was interesting about this sandwich was that the bacon was very thick, and meaty, unlike how we normally do it crispy at home. I enjoyed it very much, and I have to say, it was one of the best BLTs I've ever tasted.

The best part about visiting Cobh was the trip to Spike Island. The same man who does the Titanic tour has campaigned for ten years to allow people to visit the island because of it's rich history. It was only this year that he was able to give tourers, and I was very lucky in that the tour ended in September, but he asked for permission to keep it going until the end of October.

Spike Island was used by Monks during the time of the vikings. It continued to be a sanctuary for these holy men up until the 20th century, when it became a place to hold temporary prisoners. However, there were periods in which prisoners were held there for 36 and 19 years, which isn't so temporary. Stationed on the island during this time period as well was men of the Navy. Each man and his family was allowed to live in a small cottage or share one with others depending upon his rank. The houses are still standing, although they're crumbling on the inside. Up on the top most hill is where the forts and prison cells sit, along with a very fancy house, but I can't remember who lived in it. If you ever visit Cobh or have any interest in it, I highly suggest looking up Spike Island and getting to know it's history.

I've been feeling horrible about my studies. My theatre classes conflict with my other lecture courses some of the time, and I'm just afraid that I'm not being a very good student by allowing this to happen. I could change my schedule, but I've already bought my books and read some of them for Victorian Literature and 19th Century American Literature. The other issue is that we don't even know when the times of the rehearsals are. The professors pick times that don't conflict with the classes that students have to take that year, so for those of us international students who take whatever we want, it becomes quite difficult. Also, I haven't been keeping up with the readings. I still have 13 pages left from the first book for Victorian Lit, and I'm already supposed to be at least 100 pages into Tess. I've been so caught up in planning trips and not sticking around during the weekends that I've neglected some of my studies. I've been pretty good about going to class, except when I had a cold the week before last and I skipped Victorian literature and 19th century to rest. I have two essays on November 2nd for both of those courses, and I just don't feel prepared as I should be. Balancing out the fun and work is such a hard thing to do, and it makes it even more difficult when I wasn't in school for nearly 4 months! Ahh. /end rant.

I have to say, I totally misjudged Tesco grocery store. Before I said it was very like Walmart, and I didn't like it at all, but after taking another late night trip over there (all the other stores close around 6pm, and Tesco is open until 9), I've changed my mind. Firstly, the prices are amazing! Secondly, they have way more variety in food. I was so happy to find canned soup (all the other stores carry it dry in plastic packets), as well as sparkling grape juice, Nestle Crunch Bars, Capris Sun, LAUGHING COW CHEESE!! *jigs*, mac n' cheese (they don't have Kraft in a box or anything in a box, but they do have it in the refrigerated isle), and eight packets of hot chocolate for only 3 euro (it was on sale)! The downside is having to carry it all back, since it's further away, but the savings are great. I was able to get several meals, cereal, snacks, and stuff to drink for 41 euro. If I had gone to Supervalu or Mark and Spencers, it would have cost double that more than likely.

I haven't been so happy lately, because my roles are so tiny in the class production. I'm usually one who will take up a part without complaint, but I feel like the roles were unevenly distributed. Also, the lady who teaches the class kept forgetting me when she was telling us who got what roles in what play. I have three lines between my two parts, none of which are funny, witty, or really have an important meaning. I'm willing to speak up on my behalf, because I would like to do something more than just ask if so and so is home, or give a simple nod when answering a question with two lines of speech.

On a better note, I visited my voice instructor yesterday, and she helped me find my natural way of breathing. I was also able to get my voice down low in a state of peace and calm. That's my natural voice, and now I'm going to be working on not talking in such a high pitch. I'm just so grateful that I finally have this opportunity, because I've been wanting to do it for so long- 5 years in fact. I have specific exercises that I'm supposed to be doing daily, and I plan on working as hard as I can. I can already talk in a low pitch, it's just difficult for me to do it seriously, because whenever I do, I'm usually imitating someone who speaks that way.

Guess what! I've finally booked my flight for Paris, France! I'll be traveling there from December 3rd-5th. I have no clue what the plans are yet, but Sarah has a friend who's studying there and will be hanging out and giving us a good tour of the place. I'm really hoping that The Louvre and The Eiffel Tower aren't closed when arrive, since there's a high terror alert around those areas...

Facts of the day:
-Sometimes I find that Cork people are some what ignorant when it comes to the confederate flag. They wave the old Southern symbol during rallies and times of celebration, and just today I saw someone wearing it on a T-shirt, who was clearly not American. I don't really take offense to it, so much as I'm puzzled as to why they promote the flag. I tried looking this up, but nothing relevant is appearing in my searches.
-As I stated before, there is NO MAC n' CHEESE! I almost cry every time I go down the isles and realize there will never be such a thing in the pasta section. They don't even have ravioli in a can, or Speghettio's. Some stores carry mac n' cheese in the refrigerated isle, but it's very bland.
-Something I learned from an Irish woman yesterday. Never tell an Irish boy you want to have dinner. Breakfast and lunch is ok, but never dinner. Why? Having dinner means you want them to meet your parents and get married. Also, Irishmen are quite shy! Most of them will talk to your friend instead of directly asking you out.
-Irishmen will also leave you at the pub. They don't really "leave" you there, but they'll sit you at the bar, order a few pints and hang out with their buddies out on the dance floor. You can join them, I suppose, but I find it very odd that the guy wouldn't want to court his lass throughout the night, ya know?
-Have you ever noticed that most people stop breathing when listening in on a conversation? Random fact. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

When all good things come to an end.

These past few minutes have been a mind numbing wake up call. Out of the blue I couldn't help but confront the very thing on my mind: I don't want to do theatre anymore. I've said it before, many times in fact, but for once it's different. Those past moments were followed by failed attempts at getting parts in a show or not having the skills to impress in drama class. However, I have a strange feeling that after taking my second voice class session, that the desire I once had has flown away, maybe never to return.

Now the big question is, what do I do? Hundreds, if not thousands of college students change their major more than once, but now that I'm a Senior, it's kind of hard to change course. I fought so hard for a dream that just doesn't exist anymore. For years I've pondered what to do with myself, and yet nothing comes to mind. I really thought this was it, but now I'm certain it's not at all. If there wasn't so much debt tied to being educated, I would be more than happy to change things the way they are, but I can't now. It's so frustrating, and I can't just pick up graduate school on a whim, either. It's a very serious thing.

What's ironic is that I came here thinking that I'd have better opportunities to expand, and now that I do, it's made me realize the inevitable. At one point I even thought that I was running away from my problems, but somehow I've embraced them even more here, making sense of my true self. Would I still jump at the chance to do a film role or join the cast of a television series? Of course, but you see, I no longer have the desire to keep training for years and years, for the work ahead doesn't interest me anymore. I've become content with who I am, and I wouldn't change it for the better. Theatre is all about change, developing a new sense of self that I'm just not cut out for. So there you have it. I'll still continue with my classes here with just as much passion to work harder, but unless something new comes along while I'm doing it, that will probably be the last of it all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Honey Ham, and Everyman

It's been awhile since my last blog. For once this week didn't fly by, but rather took it's time to end. On Wednesday I went to 19th Century America class and found out the book I read wasn't due until next Wednesday, but the other book we have to read is due on Tuesday. So I was a little bummed out about that, since that's 70 pages to get done on Monday in addition to some extra work for my Victorian Literature class.

That afternoon I purchased some amazing fruit from the English market. For five euro I was able to buy 2 plums, 3 bananas, a container of strawberries, a coconut, an apple, and a tomato. Later that day was Victorian literature, and then I spent the rest of the night reading for class.

Thursday morning was spent going to my three hour theatre class that's working on the play Misery and Fear in the Third Reich. I got two parts in the play, a small role as a maid in the one act called "The Spy" and my other part is a physicians assistant in "Occupational Disease." At first I was somewhat disappointed with the roles I was given, but I've learned to just roll with it and enjoy what I've got and work as hard as I can.

Afterward, my friend Sarah and I went to lunch at a really nice restaurant, although I cannot remember the name. It's right by Waterstones Bookstore on St. Patrick street. I ate my first real Irish meal, which included honey glazed ham, coleslaw, potato salad, mayo and tomatoes, and some amazing whole grain soda bread. Ever since I got here, I haven't really had anyone to go out with, and I always felt weird going to restaurants by myself. So I was really happy to finally go out and taste what Cork has to offer. When were done eating chatting, we went to Waterstones (I needed to order a book, but unfortunately they were out of stock), and then to Penny's for some clothes. Sarah got a dress for her Halloween costume as a Pride and Prejudice zombie, and I bought a turquoise sweater dress to wear with leggings for my yoga class (I've been wearing jeans, and I got told I couldn't). I also got some much needed socks, and a really cute skirt to match a shirt and sweater I got on sale at The Gap. Oh yeah! I was so excited. The Gap had a 60% off sale, and I managed to buy two sweaters, one of which was originally 70 euro for only 20. In total I got the two sweaters and a really pretty navy shirt for 55 euro, which is about 60-70 dollars. Not bad for great quality, and certainly cheap for The Gap. :)

From 12:30pm to 4am, I was up watching the K-State V.S. KU football game. It was worth every minute, despite almost falling asleep an hour and a half before it was over. 59 to 7. Such a beautiful thing! It felt really good, especially since we lost to them at K-State my Freshman year.

Yesterday I had my French film class, and we watched a really good movie about multiple love triangles. It was really funny, especially towards the end of the movie when all of the husbands/lovers starts fighting each other and the women are screaming and throwing themselves on them to stop.

Later that night I went to see a play called The Silver Tassie. It was performed in The Everyman Place Theatre, which is located about a block from Mark and Spencer's. I didn't care much for the play itself, but it was really fun sitting up in the balcony. I was to the very far left, so I couldn't see that side of the stage very well, but I did love getting to watch the show from up above. The actors spoke in a middle lower class Dublin accent, so it was funny to find that even my Cork friends/fellow acting students also had a bit of a hard time understanding everything that was being said. The most fascinating thing for me about Ireland is that each county has it's own accent, as well as an accent for each class! Someone who's rich isn't going to sound the same as someone who's poor in Cork or anywhere else for that matter. So basically each county has 3-5 different accents. Crazy, no?

That's been it for the most part. I've been really tired and sore today, and I went grocery for a lot of things. I'm making my first meatloaf tonight, and I just baked some really good chicken tenders from Mark and Spencer's. I've found that if you purchase a 2 euro bag of honey chicken tenders from Tesco, they'll last you for three meals. The chicken tenders I bought from Mark and Spencer's cost twice as much and only lasts for two. However, the quality of chicken is way better and it's so tasty! I haven't shopped at Tesco since the second or third day I got here, because it's so far away, and I didn't like shopping there at all. I actually panicked because I thought that all grocery stores were exactly like it. It was twice as crowded, they didn't really have a whole lot of prepackaged goods, the bread was wrapped in wax paper instead of in a plastic bag, and the isles weren't very organized. So yeah, Supervalu and Mark and Spencer's is the way to go for me. :)

Facts of the day:
-Healthcare is a pain. The free health clinic at UCC is usually booked for two weeks when you come in. Unless you're dying, they won't accept you any sooner than that. My roommate told me about it yesterday morning, and I was disappointed because I needed a prescription for a cough suppressant due to my constant coughing at night (I have a sinus infection).
-Every Monday morning there's a guy who plays beautiful music on his guitar out on Father Mathew Quay bridge. At night, there's usually musicians out and about with their guitars, accordions, and banjos, playing for money near most of the shopping districts.
-Get involved! I've found that most people don't make friends here because their lecture classes are so huge, and there's really no other way to meet others. There's hundreds of societies and clubs, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find something to do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bon Appetite!

After searching endlessly through four bookstores, I finally managed to obtain Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I've wanted a copy ever since I saw Julie and Julia a year ago. The great thing about this book is that it has several recipes that I could easily make, such as an omelet or simmering chicken in a cream sauce. Well, it will get easier with practice, since mastering such an art is not a simple thing to do.

Yesterday I dragged my sick self to my first Kristin Linklater session. It's a technique that focuses on breathing and learning about ones inner self. I am truly honored to be taking this course, considering the fact that our instructor is the only one certified to teach it in Ireland! Also, learning about my voice is something I've really wanted to focus on, because I never liked it's high pitched sound. I don't expect to change it over night, or maybe even change it at all, but perhaps I'll learn to appreciate it's uniqueness and individuality.

Here is something very important that everyone who wants to travel should know: You can't purchase anything with an American credit/debit card online. American stores will deny the card because they can detect that you're from another country and everything has it's own copyright law. Stores in Europe or in this case Ireland will deny the card because it's American and the site will tell you it's invalid. This also includes itunes and movie downloads from Amazon. I've been trying to purchase a book for class on three different irish/uk websites, all of which denied my card. I'm crossing my fingers that Waterstones can order it for me, because other wise I'm doomed.

I finally found art supplies at a place called "Cork Art Supplies," located on Princess Street. If the artist in you is dying for colored pencils and drawing paper like I did, or any type of paint/pastilles/charcoal/whatever, they've got it. :)

One of the things I'm having trouble with around here is spending my money wisely. I still have more than enough to get by, including my 400 euro trip to Paris. The problem is buying food without spending too much each week. You end up spending more money buying the ingredients for tacos or spaghetti than you do for a 3 euro sandwich at the local convenience store. There are leftovers, but they spoil fast. Food around here does not last long, which makes it hard to cook for just one person. It's nice that there's the English market, since I can probably get food for much less, so I plan on doing more shopping there. I'm starting to figure out a budget plan, so hopefully that will work out.

The one thing I miss about home is having space. Shopping for things makes me tense and uneasy, because there are so many people wiggling their way past me or trying to get whatever it is that I'm standing in the way of. I can't shop for a thing of milk without there being two or three people coming my way for the same thing! Eventually I'll get used to it, but for now it's driving me bat crazy.

I do miss watching American television, too. All of these copyright laws hinder me from watching The Office, Project Runway, and Family Guy. I could watch South Park if I had a TV, and we should because we have free cable. It's difficult living in another country, because it feels like everything that keeps me updated with what's going on in America is being blocked from my viewing. I was lucky enough to have Yahoo! Ireland switch back to Yahoo! America after I cleared my computer's cache. My Google homepage has decided to turn into Google Ireland, which is actual a plus, because I'm always searching for Irish stores and terms, but then it gets complicated when I want to check out something from the states and it won't come up first thing like it normally would back home.

It's getting to be like Fall around here! There's this gorgeous lush tree that stands tall near the entrance of UCC, and it's already shedding it's leaves, which have turned into beautiful shades of orange and red. I keep meaning to take a picture of it, but it's just so much nicer walking underneath it instead. I haven't seen much change aside from that, but I assume it will come around soon enough. There's also lots of Halloween shops opening up around here, and I bought my costume already. I'm going to be a nurse that cut up the body parts of a dead cat and sewed them to her face/head/behind (cat mask/cat ears/cat tail). I'll also add blood and stitch marks for special effect. It's really weird and makes no sense whatsoever, but I always wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, and I've always wanted to be a cat. So why not do both?

But yes, Halloween is a big deal around here. There are many different shops that sell costumes, decorations, and accessories. All of the pubs have Halloween balls with food and drink at discounted prices or for free! There's also contests and just some good old rock n' roll music. The dramat society is having a mystery Halloween party, but that's before the 31st, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do just yet.

Facts of the day:
-Cookware is not cheap in the least. I had to spend 18 euro on a baking sheet, which I plan on bringing home with me just because it was that pricey. FYI: 18 euro = 25 dollars. The good news is that it is a great baking sheet with a lifetime warranty.
-Buying things in liters is much cheaper than buying them from a can or a bottle. A bottle of Coke costs 1.50, but a 2 liter of Coke costs 2 euro, sometimes 1 euro if it's on sale. Also, a can of soda costs 1 euro or more, depending on if you purchase it from a pop machine or a convince/grocery store.
-Tesco is the equivalent of Walmart in terms of pricing, but it's not as nice of a store. If you want decent prices with quality food, I highly recommend going to Supervalu. Mark and Spencers is another great grocery store, but their stuff is more expensive. Also, buy meat from Supervalu, you'll get more bang for your buck!
-If your roommate gets snippy at you because you asked them not to move your stuff without asking, stand your ground. I never stand up for myself, but today I did and even though the result was not a good one, I still feel like I did the right thing. This trip has given me more confidence than I normally have, and it's something I'll always be proud of. It's certainly true when people come back from a foreign country and declare that they've changed simply by moving far away. I've only been here for four weeks, and I can already feel it. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Miserable weekend.

This weekend has been nothing but iffy. My cold has raged onward, growing worse by the day. I've learned that zinc and vitamin C is key, so I plan on venturing out today in hopes of finding these wonderful cures. Boots pharmacy should have them, and if for some reason they don't, I'm doomed. That's the thing about Cork, everything is in one place and if it's not're pretty much SOL. What? Sadly out of luck. ;D

I feel like a dirty hobo for living off the couch two days straight and it's about to be a third. My attempts at sleeping around 8pm were useless, and so I watched movies until midnight and was finally able to fall asleep. Then around 2am my roommates were being very loud, and it took me about half an hour to knock out again. It's difficult sleeping in our room because it's freezing cold all the time, and then there's the various sounds that stem from the complications of roommatehood. Yes, childhood is followed by adulthood followed by roommatehood and then you're finally out on your own, free to do as you please. That is if you make enough money to leave the roommatehood nest. Please pray for me that I may one day leave the roommatehood nest. Please, please, with sugar and an xbox on top. That is if your prayers for an xbox are answered. I really can't afford one right now, but do feel free to ask for a cup of sugar.

Please, unless you are an English major or deal with a major that involves reading galore, do not take multiple English classes at the same time. Due to my illness, I am still 300 pages behind and I don't plan on finishing them plus the additional readings that I have by Tuesday. If you are as healthy as an ox and never fall ill, then please do take these courses. I've had to do 200+ pages a week before, but it never occured to me that my work load was not going to be a walk in the park. I love my classes though, because they're very interesting but it doesn't help that I took more than I could handle. So just be aware of that...

Facts of the day:
-There is no such thing as personal space in any store. Think of it as black Friday meets Cork on a daily basis. If you're looking at something, don't be surprised when a large crowd starts to gather around you looking at whatever it is you've taken an interest in.
-Barry's tea is THE tea to buy. In fact, it will be one of the very few teas that you can purchase, unless you like Lipton. I'm drinking it right now in fact, with peppermint flavoring. :)
-There sadly is no Pillsbury doughboy goodies. However, a Ms. Betty Crocker is located in the bakery isle for your American sweet tooth. (I'm guilty...I bought cookies)!
-The 2 euro store is your wonderful friend. It has all your needs for cheap. In fact, it is better than our dollar store! I bought paper, colored pencils, snacks, and a pack of 20 papermate pens for only 10 euro. Normally that would of cost me about 25 dollars at home, and this was about 13 dollars in euro.
-Vanilla extract isn't with the spice rack. It's near the flour in the bakery isle.
-Jellies and jams are usually placed by the breads from the bakery inside the store.
-Ziplock bags are meanies. It took me two trips to the store to find them, and even then I couldn't do it without asking for help. They're hiding with the paper goods and trash bags.
-Gas stations are called "Petrol."
-Don't be alarmed when the River Lee surpasses the foundation of the bridge. It normally floods every now and then.
-Batteries are not the same here. If you need them, bring plenty with you before hand!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a week.

Since Monday I've been down with a cold. Yesterday I spent most of my time in bed, but that didn't do much good. This morning I woke up with a runny noise and a slight cough, but I managed to get up and go to my three hour acting class. I'm glad that I've already done yoga once, because the second time seemed less tense and easier to deal with. Still a challenge, because I about passed out from all the downward facing dogs we kept having to do.

I've decided to drop my Italian film class. Having to fight amongst twenty other students for one or two copies of a DVD each week, plus the fact that I don't have enough time between classes on Thursdays makes it rather difficult to do. I dislike being late for things, especially when it disrupts class, so I think I'll just stick with taking 15 instead of 18 credit hours this semester.

Random facts of the day:
1. If you need a pharmacy, go straight to Boots. They have everything you need!
2. Blackcurrant is a very popular flavor here in Ireland. I just bought blackcurrant cough drops, and they're very tasty. They have a grape/raisin flavor to them.
3. Don't misjudge Cork weather. It rains when it's cloudy, it rains when the sky is clear, and it rains when it's sunny. So be sure to take your umbrella wherever you go.
-Don't follow people into traffic without looking first. It's very common for people not to mind the traffic lights and go walking across the street, and most times it's safe, but there will be moments when the car is turning right behind them. So pay attention!
-Coffee tastes horrible here, and everyone brews the same kind. Dublin happens to have Starbucks, but Cork is unfortunately deprived of this specialty. However, there is the Desk Cafe in the ORB on campus, which proudly serves Starbucks as well.
-Everything expires within 2-5 days at a time. Bread in particular. I've gone through four loaves in the few weeks I've been here because they spoil so fast. Keeping them in the fridge helps to maintain their longevity, but it's still hard to shop for one person. I did discover half loaves at the store the other day, so I'll probably start purchasing those instead.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good times in Dublin

This past Friday I hoped on a bus with the two roomies to see the busy city of Dublin, located in the upper east of the Republic. I spent two nights in a hostel, sleeping in bunk style beds in rooms that housed six, and eight people. The first night was spent in a room that was situated right next to a pub, which had blaring music accompanied by a man singing opera. Although it was very entertaining, it surely hindered my going to sleep.

The idea of sleeping in a hostel scared me somewhat. I've heard stories of people having their things stolen in the middle of night when they're least aware of their surroundings. Both nights there were a couple of girls, so I was less skeptical. I kept my purse with me underneath the covers just in case. The first hostel I was in had noisy metal racks, so if someone were to try and take my backpack, I'd most likely wake up to the screeching noise. Another precaution that's taken is actually done when you pay for your lodgings. The person at the desk will take down information from you or someone else in the group, in case there's any issues or reports of stolen goods. For the most part, I didn't mind it too much, except for the fact that I had to carry my backpack everywhere. I just plan on saving my money, so that I can pay for a cheap hotel in order to drop my things off before sightseeing. For pricing, it's around 17 to 22 euro, depending on where you go and what day it is.

The places I visited were Dublin Castle and chapel, Dublin Gaol (jail), the city park, and Guiness Brewery. We took a tour bus that had two day tickets for 14 euro, and just made our way around the city while jumping on around stops. The only thing was that sometimes the buses were too full because the price was favorable for a lot of tourists and so sometimes the wait was longer than the normal 10-15 minutes. Anyways, the tour was fun, especially when it came to sitting up on the second level of the double decker bus! It was chilly, but definitely worth it.

Dublin Castle wasn't very impressive, being rather small. However, one interesting detail was the design of some of the rooms throughout. There was lots of inspiration drawn from Roman art, particularly pillars and the use of classic colors, along with gold. This is also apparent with one of the buildings on the Trinity College campus. It's structure is made entirely of white bold pillars that curve in that Romanesque design. The best part of the castle was the ball room, which was constructed of the same patterns, but with three beautiful murals designed above on the ceiling. So breathtaking. My advice is not to go see Dublin Castle because of it's structure, but because of it's historical context and interesting furniture, paintings, and elaborate ceiling art.

The Gaol in Dublin has a brutal past. Just looking into the tiny cells that housed up to eight people at a time would make anyone shiver. Throughout the years it consisted of both men, women and children, some as young as five years of age due to stealing bread and clothes. In the main room where the walls are lined with doors on three separate floors lies two staircases, one vertical that leads straight to the top floor for the prison guards, and another one that goes into a spiral that marks the way for the prisoners. During a time when women were imprisoned there, guards would drag their bodies up these stairs while beating them along the way. Several hundred people were hanged, shot, or had their head cutoff on their last days there. Very few managed to escape. I highly recommend going to see this place of historical cruelty, not because it's so grim, but because there's so much Irish history to be learned, and it gives you the idea of what it was like back when times were very hard.

OH! Brief note: The main room as mentioned above has fantastic acoustics (it was so prison guards could hear of any mischief that may occur) and at one point was used by U2 to record some of their albums.

Visiting the Guinness Brewery was more for the experience than it was to see the museum part of the distillery. There were several floors, the first two showcasing all of the ingredients that goes into the stout, as well as a bit of history about the man himself: Author Guinness. Then the third floor displayed several advertisements throughout the years, as well as toys, coloring books, and figurines of the Toucan and other various zoo animals. Moving on up, one was rewarded a sample of the tasty porter, which I didn't particular care for but drank it all up none the less. The next floor had a special area where you can "pour the perfect pint." An instructor would demonstrate how to properly pour a pint of Guinness, and if you succeeded on doing such, the winner would receive a certificate. I decided to go to the very top floor, where I could trade in my ticket for either Guinness or soda, and since I'm not a stout drinker, I went for the fizzy stuff. My favorite part of the gallery was the room that featured all of the advertisement art. One in particular that made me giggle depicted a kangaroo that placed her young one in the apron pocket of a porter in exchange for a bottle of Guinness that was tucked neatly in her pouch. For the most part, I enjoyed going there the most out of everything I did while in Dublin, and I highly recommend it, even if you're not much a stout drinker such as myself.

The bus ride to and from Dublin wasn't so bad. It's a three hour route from Cork, and at the start I was somewhat motion sick but got used to it pretty quick. The seats are very comfortable and easy to sleep in, much unlike the Grey Hounds we have back in the States. It's great transportation, and tickets only cost 11 euro or more or less, depending on where you're going. :)

Differences between Dublin and Cork:
-Accents! Dublin natives speak more plainly than those from the far south.
-American shops are much more plentiful here. Aldo, American Apparel, and Pizza Hut to name a few.
-Very touristy. There's plenty of Irish shops to buy goods in, and the majority of people walking around speak different languages. Cork does have some Tourist, but not nearly as many.
-Lots of art. Sculptures appear on just about every street corner, and there's also plenty of modern buildings in comparison to Cork. Croke Park Stadium is a must see for those who enjoy architecture from the 21st century.
-Beer is expensive. Expect to pay at least 5 euro (About seven to eight dollars per bottle). Cork charges between 3 and 4 euro.
-Streets are much more dangerous, and cars/buses are less likely to stop. Jaywalking is still common, but not as safe.