First off, important news! Saw some sheep today. It was very exciting.
Which also means that I survived my first ridiculous blur of a week! I went to class on Labor Day, and then on Tuesday, and then Wednesday – you know, how you do. The weirdest thing to get used to at UCD is that classes are often at different times and in different classrooms each day of the week they meet, just to keep you on your toes. I also have the privilege of attending all my class meetings except one in the Newman Building, a giant concrete labyrinth of a building that is filled with a crushing mass of humanity the size of the entire Yale population between every class. It literally has lines painted on the floor to lead you to the different hallways, because otherwise no one would ever figure it out.
In case anyone cares, here are my classes this semester: Environmental Archaeology (think we get to go dig around in peat bogs!), Social Policy and the Environment, Folk Religion and Belief, Irish for Beginners (Dia dhuit! Is mise Natalie), Cross-cultural Psychology, and Advanced Cognitive Psychology. I am especially excited about Folk Religion because the Irish National Folklore Collection is on the floor below our classroom and I am a huge nerd.
Oh yeah – and last weekend. Saturday was spent touring Dublin city centre on foot and visiting the Guinness Storehouse, a classic touristy thing to do that is also actually pretty cool. Having never tasted Guinness before, I figured I might as well do it right the first time (don’t worry – the legal drinking age in Ireland is 18). So having learned how Guinness is made, how to taste it, and how to “craft the perfect pint” (I have a certificate that says so!), I will say that it is pretty decent as far as beverages go. 8/10 stars, would do again. Honestly, the best part was probably the giant animated fish on a bicycle.
Wednesday I met the staff and student leaders for StudentLife, the campus ministry I’ll be involved with here at UCD. We had a “coffee crawl” in the city centre before our real meeting, and one coffee shop/art gallery had this cool exhibition going called Gaeilge (“gwayle-guh”) Tamagotchi. The idea is that they give you an old Irish word that is completely out of use, and you have to keep it alive by using it in everyday conversation – you’re basically the only one in the world who knows this word. So I’ve been trying to find occasion to say mangarsach more often, which is made more difficult by the fact that I don’t even know what “buxom” means – what kind of definition is that?
And then we had four quite pleasant hours of meetings, in a staff house right in city centre overlooking the River Liffey and the giant spire on O’Connell Street (of course I forgot to take photos). Everyone in the ministry is super cool, excited about working together this semester, and largely very Irish – I felt so cool when people said things like “it’s good craic” and “they’re always slagging me for going to UCD” and I knew they meant “it’s quite fun” and “they’re always making fun of me because they’re jealous that I go to an awesome school that Natalie also goes to.”
And now for the photo feature of the week: an exciting solo hike adventure in which I made questionable choices. The plan was to get up fairly early, take a bus to the coastal town of Bray, just a 40-minute ride south of Dublin, and hike up to a giant cross on a hill above the town before walking along a cliff trail to Greystones, 6 kilometres further south. Then I would walk around, maybe eat some fish and chips, and either walk or take the train back to Bray, and from there a bus back to UCD. I ended up making myself an all-Irish grilled cheese (see below), packing some fruit, and leaving the apartment around 12:30, getting lost on UCD campus trying to find an exit I hadn’t used before. I should have realized then that it was going to be a rough day.
Got to Bray alright, though, and walked around the pebble beach a little.
Hiked up the hill.
Saw this freaking gorgeous view.
Made it to the cross!
Was about to climb this other lovely hill to eat my lunch and have some quiet reflection…
When it got super windy and started raining a tiny bit. So then I was like, well, it probably won’t rain that much. It’s not like I’m in Ireland or anything. It’ll be totally fine! I didn’t even bring a rain jacket, but I have three shirts and that’s basically the same thing. So, I kept going, until I got to this also lovely hill.
Those of you who are friends with me on Snapchat may have had the pleasure of seeing parts of my ensuing decision to try to find the cliffside trail and scramble down the hill to it through a solid thicket of blackberry brambles, and then my decision to walk five more kilometres in the rain to Greystones instead of turning back to Bray. I will reproduce the whole thing here in annoyingly small size for your enjoyment/my continued shame:
So I did complete my planned journey, eventually! Point of the story: I’m an idiot but Ireland is beautiful and God saved my dumb butt from falling off a cliff in the rain. And, I learned that my waterproof backpack is not waterproof when you open the zippers outdoors while it’s raining, and my waterproof boots do a great job of keeping your feet entirely surrounded by water when it rains into the tops of them. All in all, an excellent day!
And I did get to sit in a small puddle and eat overpriced mozzarella sticks and salsa in a McDonald’s ranked by USA Today as one of the top five coolest in the world! Basically it was a beautiful town hall built in the 1800s and they turned it into a fast food restaurant.
It wouldn’t be a Natalie blog post if I hadn’t forgotten everything important I wanted to say, so here’s to forgetting everything! Yay okay byeeee.
Oh and some bonus photos.