Top Ten Tuesday

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Yesterday was easily the most frustrating day I’ve had since being in Dublin. Since we will be in Ireland for more than 90 days, we had to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau and it took 5 hours, and most of that was just spent sitting. (I’ve heard it’s pretty similar to waiting at the DMV, but I’ve never had to do that, so here’s hoping my DMV luck stays with me the rest of my life!) Thankfully, we only have to do that one time while we are here and if that is what a frustrating day in Dublin is like, then I’m sure the rest of my time here will be pretty smooth sailing.

But, since yesterday wasn’t such a good day, I decided that today I would focus on all of the positive experiences I have had so far, and so I present to you Top Ten Tuesday, which combines my love of lists, talking about myself, and being abroad in Ireland. Everyone needs a little bit of happiness in their day, so here are my top ten bits of happiness from the past 17 days:

10. The song “Galway Girl.” It’s in PS I Love You and is great. You have to give it a listen!

9. The receptionist at the gym. This bit of happiness actually just happened about 2 hours ago when I decided to hit the gym for the first time. Before leaving, I asked my roommate if she knew where the locker room was and she explained it to me, but warned me it was really confusing to find. Having too much pride to ask for help when I got there, I decided to wander around til I found it. What a mistake! I made my way into the Ladies’ Changing Room, but it honestly looked like someplace I was not supposed to be (the gym has designated areas for sports teams, and this sure looked like one!). So, I decided it was time to swallow my pride because I looked like a bigger idiot wandering around than I did asking someone for help. The receptionist was this little old guy who directed me to the short term lockers under the stairs (literally I had walked right past them) but asked if I had 20 cents to pay for it. I did bring 5 euro with me just in case, but I needed to exchange it for coins. Instead of going into the register to get me coins, he pulled a 20 cent piece out of his pocket and said “Here, it’s on me.” It literally paid for me to ask for help, and I was once again reminded of the kindness of the Irish.

8. Netflix. Because of property rights, some of the shows and movies on Netflix are different than they are in the US. And let me tell ya, it’s awesome!

7. The City Centre. UCD is a bit outside of the city itself, which is very similar to how UW is situated away from downtown Seattle. The City Centre is a quick bus ride away, and it is an awesome and exciting place to be. There are a lot of things to do and see. One of my favorite things to do in the city is walk along Grafton Street, because not only is there some excellent shopping in the area, but there is also a lot of live music, which is very cool to hear. The City Centre is home to some great  restaurants, shopping, scenery, and good times.

6. The Irish accents. I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

5. Being able to cook for myself. Even though dinner usually consists of plain pasta, it has been really fun trying to teach myself to cook. I’ve only set off the smoke detector once so far when I decided to get adventurous and try to make caramelized onions, but that’s a whole other story. I’ve made it into a bit of a game to see how many different ways I can spice up my pasta, and I think my favorite so far is a garlic and mushroom combo I made last week.

4. Cork. Cork, located in the southwest of Ireland, is the second largest city in the Republic. To celebrate making it through our first week of classes (I’m very much in denial that I am here to go to school) some friends and I boarded a bus from Dublin to Cork on Friday night (now that’s a story for a later time) and spent the weekend exploring Cork and the surrounding areas. Cork is an awesome place. If you are ever in Ireland, I would strongly recommend making it down there. Since it is a smaller city than Dublin, I found the pace to be a bit more relaxed, which is definitely more my cup of tea than the hustle and bustle of a big city. But Cork is definitely not underwhelming! There is still a lot to see and do, and it is truly beautiful.

3. Getting back in touch with my Catholic roots. As some, most, or all of you know, I am a confirmed Catholic, but I haven’t actually gone to Mass since I was in high school. Until Sunday, that is. Because Ireland is primarily a Catholic country and since UCD was founded as a school for Catholic students who were unable to attend Trinity, the Protestant university in Dublin, I promised myself I would make it to Mass at least once while I was here. So, while in Cork, we decided to go to Mass on Sunday morning… in Irish! While I couldn’t understand a word they said, it was neat to be able to follow the flow of the service since that is standardized. I’m big on keeping promises, and so I’m glad I actually held to this promise.

2. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone! According to (many) legends, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will get the gift of the gab (eloquence) and never have another awkward silence in your life. Who knows how much of the story is true (the Paddywagon driver told us at least three stories about Lord Blarney and how kissing the Blarney Stone became something to do while in Ireland), but it was high on my list of things to do while here!

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1. Being able to say that, at 20 years old, I have followed through on a lifelong promise. When I was looking at study abroad programs, I chose Dublin for a few different reasons, but the main reason behind it was a promise I made to myself in second grade. My favorite teacher in elementary school was from Ireland, and she spent a lot of time telling us about her life there and reading us the same stories she read growing up. She taught us how to Irish dance and we listened to Irish music, and I was hooked on the Emerald Isle. So, in second grade, I promised myself I would go there one day. It’s still really surreal that I am actually here, experiencing the place I’ve only dreamed about since I was seven years old, but here I am, on the greatest adventure of my life, and it is incredibly fulfilling.

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