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Coming Home

Time June 2nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, after 5 months and 8 countries, I am back on US soil.  It took two planes and 12 hours in the air, but I am finally home.  I keep finding myself pointing out every single difference to friends and family as I acclimate, and luckily they haven’t become bored of my random exclamations yet.  Some of the more common ones are ‘I hate dollar bills, why don’t we have coins’ ‘Everything is so cheap here’ ‘I keep looking the wrong direction while crossing the street and almost getting hit’.   I already miss Ryanair’s 15 euro flights to Scotland, and the walkability of Cork City.  I live in LA, which is pretty different from Cork.  I find myself melting in the heat, confused about the fact I have to drive everywhere, and sad that I can no longer chill in the city centre and then be home after only a 30 minute walk.

Cork was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I hope I can go back someday.  Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, even with its rain.  Studying abroad allowed me to pause for a moment and discover myself without all the societal pressures of America (although Ireland has their own unique ones).  I learned how to be an outsider, a completely new experience for me.  I have a newfound appreciation for being able to drive to the store instead of walk 30 minutes, but I will miss how healthy those walks made me.  The European education system was terrifying, but I learned to navigate it.  It may be a cliche, but Ireland honestly made me more independent, and I’m so glad IFSA-Butler allowed me this opportunity.


Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So contrary to what I had been told, the Irish do in fact take St. Patrick’s Day very seriously, especially in Cork.  St. Patrick’s Day (or St. Paddy’s day, but NEVER St. Patty’s Day) is officially a religious holiday for the country, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland.  Surprisingly enough, rather than being a solemn religious event, the locals put on a multi-day festival of merriment with activities including a street fair, live bands, traditional music, and even a parade.


DAY 1:

To be honest, I completely forgot about the festival, and was locked up in my room trying to complete an essay that is worth 100% (yes, ALL) of my my grade for the semester.  Ironically, the essay is actually on St. Patrick in literature, so if you want to know more about St. Patrick than you ever needed to know, hit me up! (spoilers: neither the driving out snakes nor the shamrock is mentioned in any official literature about him).


Luckily, one of my apartment mates was kind enough to ask me to join her on an adventure to the City Centre, where we partook in ice cream with green cones, baklava, sausages, pork pies, and free green tea.  We parked ourselves right next to the live band (who was actually phenomenal, and I stayed long after I had finished my food just because I enjoyed their music that much), and stuffed ourselves silly.  We then wandered the streets, watching all the street performers (a man seemingly sitting on nothing, a woman on stilts, many different musicians), before heading home to rest up for the next day.


Emily: So what are you doing for it?
Me: …do something for it???

And that’s how Emily reminded me that people actually do things on their birthdays with friends, not just be excited about it.  Usually my birthday falls during Spring Break, and most of my friends are off campus, so I’ve never really celebrated it with anyone but family during college.  I fixed that this year with an awesome Japanese birthday dinner at Wagamama’s where I pretended like 21 meant something and ordered a plum wine spritzer (they didn’t even card).  We then explored multiple pubs searching for trad music, and found some pretty awesome bands (including country, jazz, and one even sang Avicii’s Wake Me Up in Gaelic), but no trad music.  Our night ended sitting on the court steps eating Chipsy Kings, and watching the drunks dressed in green singing and dancing in the streets.


(So something I learned here is that you NEVER, NEVER EVER, NEVER EVER EVER call Saint Patrick’s Day ‘Saint Patty’s Day’.  It is always St. Paddy’s Day, after the original name Padraig.)

Anyway, my actual birthday/St. Patrick’s Day was actually the best day of all.  Heather, Sam, and I picked up Heather and Emily in the City Centre, and we all headed to the parade route, making sure to pick up some silly paraphernalia on the way.  The parade was phenomenal, but oddly enough only had one marching band?  What it did have was acrobats, many different ethnic groups, and even a fire breather!  The street was lined with children and adults dressed in green, and the parade went on for an entire hour and a half.

After it ended, our feet ready to fall off, my group searched for a restaurant to warm up in and grab lunch.  Unfortunately every single person who had also been watching the parade had the same idea, and it wasn’t until our fourth restaurant that we found a table free.  It was a cute little Chinese restaurant (that I’m planning on going back to, they had dim sum!), where we had our fill and headed back out.  After checking out the main street of attractions (food and music galore), I went back to my room to watch netflix, eat popcorn, and try to write an essay.  Not the most exciting way to end my birthday, but most definitely the most satisfying.


Dublin, Ireland

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This week’s weekend adventure was going to the capital of Ireland, Dublin!


Heather and I took the 9:00 am Friday bus to Dublin, and arrived at around noon.  After getting lost for about an hour on what should have been a 20 minute walk to our hotel, we finally settled in to the gorgeous O’Callaghan Mont Clare hotel.  My roommate turned out to be in Poland and skipping this trip, so I got the room all to myself! (I indulged in this freedom by taking 5 baths in the span of 3 days, the next time I have access to a bathtub won’t be until Budapest).  We headed out with the rest of the IFSA-Butler Study Abroad group to a 3 course meal and wonderful play.  At first I disliked the play, because it seemed slow and heavy handed, but as I started to accept that it was meant to be a traditional Irish parable, and the bluntness and cliched nature of the plot was due to the fact that is was very old, not because it was poorly written.  After the play I headed home exhausted, although I made sure to observe the local nightlife, even if I wasn’t participating.


IFSA-Butler gave each of us a free bus ticket that looped around the city, so Deanna, Heather, and I took it to the Guinness Storehouse.


The storehouse was significantly more fun than I expected, and we spent about two hours exploring the different exhibits (that were both informative and fun), as well as participating in the ‘Guinness Tasting Experience’ (where I found out it was not a drink I think I will ever partake in again).

I also learned how to pour my own pint (tilt the glass 45 degrees, aim at the harp, fill to the bottom of the words, tilt the glass up, let rest, then top it off).  What I didn’t know was that in order to get the foamy top, Guinness actually loads their taps with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

After the Guinness experience, we sought out a nice pub to relax in, and watch the rugby match of Ireland versus Italy while eating steak and guinness pie (I felt so Irish!)

After being fed and watered, we headed over to the Gaol, a historical Irish Prison that was one of the first to use the idea of ‘one man one cell’ that is so common today for reform.  Before that point, prisoners were put into large rooms were they were allowed to freely mingle.


Day 3 started with a bath and a lazy brunch downstairs of irish bacon, white pudding, and delicious baked goods (I love when IFSA pays for our meals).  I then set out on a 3 hour walking tour around Dublin, hitting places such as Christ Church, Stephen’s Green, and Temple Bar.  Our guide was ridiculously funny and charming, and I happily soaked in all the tales he had to tell of the history of Ireland.

Since I had eaten such a late breakfast, I chose to wander the quirky Temple Bar while the rest of the group ate lunch.  As stated by their website, Temple Bar is one of the oldest parts of Dublin.  The city of Dublin, as we know it, was born in and around Temple Bar.  Some of the earliest Temple Bar residents that we know about were Vikings and the area is rich in Viking and medieval history and culture, including early urban design and planning.

After the tour, I went straight back to the hotel and snagged the 3 pm bus with Heather back to Cork.  On the way to the stop, there were a group of Irish protesters literally holding up all the traffic on that particular street, protesting the fact that the Irish now have to pay property taxes.  Quite an interesting and contemporary end to my journey after spending the whole weekend in the fairytale world of tourism and history, rather than truths that face Dublin today.


Killarney: Day 2

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Day 2 was when our Killarney Adventure really started.  We rented a pair of bikes, and biked from the city all the way to the Torc Waterfall.  I’m going to mostly be sharing my own photos, with a bit of background information from Wikipedia.

First up was the Castlelough Castle, hidden behind a hotel but one of the most beautiful and serene sights I’ve seen in Ireland so far.

Then the Muckross Abbey:

Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor.

It has had a violent history and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often subjected to raids by marauding groups and were persecuted by Cromwellian forces under Lord Ludlow.  Today the abbey is largely roofless although, apart from this, is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard, which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.

We also visited the Muckross House, but you aren’t allowed to take photos inside, so here’s some random photos I took of places of no importance. (I highly recommend the tour if you ever go, I usually hate history and even I found the tour extremely engaging and fascinating, with a lovely tour guide).

One of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions, this magnificent Victorian mansion was built in 1843 and forms the centrepiece of the equally renowned Killarney National Park. The elegantly furnished family rooms in the upper floors and the spartan servants quarters in the basement, clearly depict the ‘upstairs – downstairs’ divide of that era.

After about 5 hours of biking/exploring (which was mostly spent enjoying the sights with our eyes and ears, not with my camera, sorry), we finally finished our trek at the Torc Waterfall, where I just sat for a bit and took in the sheer power of it.  Our day finished off with local oysters at Murphy’s Bar and a pint of cider and traditional music at The Grand, winding down after a day of exciting exploration.


Killarney: Day 1

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As I already wrote about in a post earlier this week, last weekend Heather and I took an ‘adventure weekend’ to explore Killarney.  Killarney is one of the most touristy towns in all of Ireland, and a must see for anyone all who visit (it’s strangely authentic for a place so driven by the tourist industry).


Day 1 consisted of us taking a 1.5 hour bus to Killarney and arriving at our hostel.  Neither Heather nor I had ever stayed in a hostel before, and it was significantly nicer and cleaner than I ever expected.  We stayed in a 6 bed room (3 bunk beds) with two other male americans and one female german.  The hostel had a spacious kitchen and dining room, a cozy tv room with lots of comfy seating, and a beautiful common room with a computer and free wifi.

After checking in, we wandered down to the Killarney National Park, and found it to be ridiculously flooded.  Areas that were once parking lots now looked like lakes.

Me:  No, that couldn’t have been a parking lot, see, there are life preservers in the middle of it!

Heather: Alicen, why would they put life preservers in the *middle* of a lake??

Me: Oh, right…

Luckily the Ross Castle grounds were still opened (although the inside was closed), so we wandered around that.

After exploring the freezing and flooded park, we decided the next logical option was to head back into town and grab Murphys Ice Cream, which was SO WORTH IT.  I got brown bread ice cream (which tasted like butter with brown bread flakes in it), and I know I shall miss that flavor forever more.  The rest of the night was fairly low key, just exploring town and eating dinner at a tiny little Chinese restaurant (the first nonwhite food I’ve had in Ireland).  We wanted to be well rested for the adventure that started on Day 2.


Secret of The Auld Sweet Shop

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Heather and I visited Killarney last weekend (one of the top tourist destinations in Ireland), and ended up wandering into a tiny little sweet shop called the Auld Sweet Shop.

Me: Gee, this place looks like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The instant we walk in, cashier starts recommending candies to us, and while Heather is waiting for him to weigh her blue raspberry and peach bonbons (which are like taffy, but yummier), I pull out my camera and start snapping photos.  Suddenly, the cashier’s eyes light up.

 Want to see a secret?’ he asks us.  

A secret?  From anyone else, this might have come off as creepy, but only pure innocence radiated from this guy, so sure, why not?  We said yes, and he he smiled like a small child as he walked over to a seemingly solid wall of candy and PUSHED IT OUT OF THE WAY.


Heather and I just stood there flabbergast, looking at the secret set of stairs that had materialized, decorated with multicolored mushrooms, an oompa loompa, and Willy Wonka himself.  The cashier (who turned out to be the owner of the store) then proceeded to hand us a golden ticket and a Wonka bar, encouraging us to take photos of the magic.

One of the more surreal experiences I’ve had in Ireland so far, and I still sometimes wonder if it was all a dream.  Definitely not to be missed if you ever happen to find yourself in Killarney.


Black Taxi Tour – Belfast, North Ireland

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The last part of our Belfast Trip was a Black Taxi Tour around the city.  This wasn’t just a sightseeing tour, on it we learned about the political history of Ireland, one which I never knew was so violent.  The most interesting part was that although a type of peace has still been reached, the fights were not long ago, and there is still a lot of tension.


Much of Belfast is divided into Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, a division that is more about Loyalists (those who want to be part of the UK) versus nationalists (those who want to be a free nation like the rest of Ireland) rather than religion. There is a giant peace wall (taller than the Berlin Wall was) dividing the two sections, and gates close every night between the neighborhoods.  The residents of the neighborhoods don’t see it as themselves being trapped, but rather a safety precaution to keep the other side out.


One set of the gates that close every night

The Peace Wall that divides the neighborhoods has been signed by the likes of Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and President Clinton, and we were allowed to add our own names to it.

The atmosphere was very tense, especially because we were surrounded by murals celebrating those who died.  It used to be a very violent time, where members of each faction were sometimes murdered while doing something as simple as changing a tire on their car.  Even now, there are still metal cages on the outside of the houses facing the peace wall so that stones and bottles thrown over won’t break windows or damage property.  I highly recommend reading up on it, I don’t think I could possibly give an unbiased opinion on both sides of the story, and the history is both bloody and fascinating.


Dunluce Castle and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The second part of our North Ireland trip including visiting the Dunluce Castle and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (which is actually right over the mouth of a volcano!).

The real reason I went to Ireland was to climb around castle ruins and pretend I'm a hero of legend

The real reason I went to Ireland was to climb around castle ruins and pretend I’m a hero of legend

The rope bridge used to be used by fisherman to get to the small island of Carrickarede right off the coast of the mainland, and is now a prime spot for tourists to get both a thrill crossing the bridge, and a chance to take some really beautiful photos.

The Dunluce Castle was just a set of ruins we were allowed to explore, and a place that has actually been used in Game of Thrones!


Giants Causeway

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

IFSA-Butler periodically takes us on trips, and this past weekend we went to to Belfast, North Ireland.  Remarkably enough, the island of Ireland is actually two different countries.  One is The Republic of Ireland, and the other is North Ireland, a part of the UK.  One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Giant’s Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

It is said that a giant from Ireland built the bridge of interlocking basalt columns to fight a giant in Scotland, a bridge that was later destroyed.  From wikipedia: 

The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than him. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

And here is the scientific reason the Giants Causeway formed (again with help from wikipedia):

Around 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene Period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensivelava plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which are also fractured horizontally into “biscuits”. In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called “ball and socket” joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today.

At the causeway I didn’t actually know these facts, and mostly just had fun scrambling around the strange looking rocks and getting blasted by sea spray.


Blackrock Castle Observatory

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Anyone who’s a space geek is going to love this next post.  Last weekend, I went to a science museum/observatory housed in a CASTLE.  Yes, you heard me, stone walls and all.

The Blackrock Castle Observatory was filled with videos covering topics like the big bang, black holes, and even where scientists think the moon came from.  We then headed to the roof (not the tallest tower, one of the lower ones) and into the dungeon to listen to a lecture on how the castle was once the protector of the second largest natural harbor in the world (second only to Sydney, Australia), and how the soldiers would routinely fight off pirates attacking the harbor.

The castle also houses a number of academics doing research on space, and I think it’s brilliant that Ireland managed to save such a beautiful piece of history by donating it to the cause of science.


Fish and Chips

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This is a short entry, but I felt I needed to celebrate that I had a truly European meal today, fish and chips!

I had to walk half a mile in the rain to get it, but it was 100% worth it!  Please excuse me while I pass out in a grease food coma.


Cliffs of Moher

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I decided to play tourist and visit the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most visited locations in Ireland.

Allison and I started our day by walking in the dark to the tourist office in the Cork City Centre.  It was slightly eerie to walk the almost completely deserted city at 7:30 am, but we made it safely and stopped off at one of the few open stores to pick up provisions.  We were then loaded into a Paddywagon (bus) with approximately 20 other people from all over the world (off the top of my head there were Italians, Spaniards, Malaysians, Chinese, and French).  We had a lovely tour guide named Yvonne (who apparently people often call Fiona?), and we were off on our adventure!  Yvonne was kind enough to both talk about lore and history of Ireland while she drove, as well as intersperse it with periods of classic Irish music so we would have time to relax.  Our first stop was to pick up 3 more passengers across from King John’s Castle (named after the same King you hear of in Robin Hood tales).

After that was a small pub for lunch, and exploration of the Burren on the Atlantic Ocean.  All of the rock you see in the image below was limestone, slowly being eaten away by the rain.  It actually reminded me of the lava fields of Hawaii.

We finally ended up at the actually cliffs, where it wasn’t raining too hard.  We first explored the Atlantic exhibit inside, then headed out to the castle.  The wind was so strong at one point that we were forced to kneel on the ground so as not to be blown into the fence or stone wall, and couldn’t escape it for about 5 minutes.  Absolutely terrifying, but since we survived it was totally worth it.



Ireland’s Fota Island Wildlife Park

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past weekend I went to Fota Island Wildlife Park with Heather and Emily, which was only a 15 minute train ride from Cork City Centre.

As stated by Wikipedia: Fota Wildlife Park has more than 70 species of exotic wildlife in open surroundings. Animals include ostriches, giraffes, kangaroos, zebras, and antelope. Just about all of the animals who inhabit the island are allowed to roam throughout more than 202,000 square metres (50 acres) of mature grassland.

When I originally read this, I assumed this just meant it was like a giant zoo where the animals had more space to roam, but you were just as far away and separated by fences and glass.  How very wrong I was.


Unlike American zoos where the owners are afraid of liability, I could have essentially jumped into any of the enclosures of the park without an issue, and some of the animals even decided to jump out! (as shown above where Heather and I are chilling with the mara and peacocks).  We were able to get extremely close to all of the animals, and the variety was incredible.  Although I knew there were ‘exotic’ animals, I never expected penguins, harbor seals, or kangaroos to be roaming next to peacocks, lemurs, and zebras in an Irish wildlife park.

I highly recommend the park to anyone in the area, it reminds me again of the fact that Irish is so different from America.  It’s significantly more easy-going, and a lot more trust is put into the citizens of Ireland than in America.  I’m from LA where everything is fenced in and regulated with security all around, yet at Fota you could probably walk right into the enclosures and hang with the animals.


Space Jam Movie Night: When Irish College Events are Funded by Whiskey Companies

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So at my college at home, many of the clubs host movie nights.  Unlike my college at home, movie nights hosted by the University College Cork Film Society are also funded by Jameson Whiskey (good way to build brand loyalty?)

Emily, Marine, and I made the trek to Cork City Centre, climbed up the stairs of an out of the way pub, and were instantly each handed a drink ticket.  The room was set up with about 50 chairs facing a screen with the UCC Film Society logo.  We made our way to the back room (which was a bar), where we were each handed a glass with Jameson Whisky in it, and one bottle of lemonade to split between us.  I was still a little sick, and I don’t even like whiskey on the best of days, so I only managed to drink about a third of the glass through the night.

At each seat we received free popcorn and a goody bag filled with 90′s paraphernalia (pixie sticks, random candy, and pokemon cards).  Space Jam was just as strange as I remembered it (perhaps even more so now that I am older), but it was a perfectly enjoyable movie.  After the movie, the seats were cleared to make room for a dance floor and dj, but since I was still sick I bounced for the night back to my room.

Do these types of events happen on bigger campuses in America?  I just can’t imagine alcohol companies funding social events going over well, but perhaps it’s just because I’ve never experienced it before.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how Irish college life is so different from American.


A Night at the Irish Theater

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of the reasons I really appreciate IFSA-Butler is the fact that they take us on outings every so often, and this week they decided to go down the culture path and take us to the theater!

Our night started at Gourmet Burger, one of the few places in cork to actually sell a decent burger.  Almost our whole study abroad group attended, meaning we filled up two whole tables and most of the restaurant.

We then headed over to the Everyman Palace Theater, which was surprisingly enough teeming with college aged students (I’m used to theaters being filled with middle aged patrons).  At the beginning of the play, the actors had such thick accents that I feared I’d have no idea what was happening, but luckily context and getting used to the accents meant the play was (mostly) coherent.  It told the story of two ex-cons recently out of prison looking to turn their lives around, until they are both tempted by one last heist…  The play had the remarkable ability to tug on my heartstrings while still being hilarious, filled with the dry wit specific to Ireland.

The night ended with a trip to a local pub, where Jamie promptly stole my camera and went on a photography spree.  People sure do get goofy around cameras!


University College Cork Ireland 32nd Annual Business Conference

Time May 19th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Being the business lover that I am, I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend a business conference in another country, and that’s how I found myself at the University College Cork 32nd Annual Business Conference hosted by the UCC Commerce society.

The conference was hosted at the Hayfield Manor Hotel near Cork City Centre, approximately a mile walk for me.  I was greeted by a room of 20-somethings in suits and blouses quietly chatting over tea and biscuits, perhaps 75 students in all.  Each chair was laden with promotional material, chocolate, and a notebook.

The conference itself was divided into two sections, the first portion had Bill Liao (CoderDojo), Barrie O’Connell (KPMG Cork), Lisa Domican (Grace App Communication), with John O’Doherty (AIB) moderating.  The second section had Cullen Allen (Cully & Sully), Deidre O’ Leary (IDME), Alan Gallagher (Voxpro), with Conor Healy (Chief Executive – Cork Chamber of Commerce) moderating.  Both parts spoke on the idea of the Irish ‘Brain Drain’ – the fact that Ireland now has the highest net outward migration of all of Europe, and what can be done to stymie this flow.  Each individual had their own take on what needed to be done to help Ireland grow.

Some Important Points from the Conference:

  • Due to its small population (about 4.5 million), Ireland has a wonderfully tight knit community.  This means that most everyone knows someone affected by something, and can lead you to the people to help, which is why the business community is so strong.
  • ‘Is the point of education to develop people to be rounded regardless of future, or to develop them to support Ireland?’ Ireland provides cheap education for its citizens, so to be educated in Ireland and then emigrate is actually a drain on Irish resources.
  • Ireland needs to start looking internationally for immigration, not just focus on stopping emigration.
  • We also need to recognize our lens.  Who is our network?  Our community?  Is it Dublin? Ireland? Europe? The world?
  • The only way to keep Ireland growing is to start doing our best now, while we are young

I’m almost tempted to move to Ireland for the start-up scene, it seems like there is a lot of potential and brilliance here.  I managed to connect with one man who’s involved with the Irish Start-Up scene and knew of The Kairos Society, and I hope that I can meet with him to discuss future directions.

The highlight of the conference for me was probably winning a free Kindle for ‘best question asked’ as voted on by a panel from Accenture.  I knew the Irish were friendly, but I never expected it to go this far!


Hurling: A Traditional Irish Sport

Time January 27th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Have you ever wanted to play a game that seems to be the bastard child of soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey? Well then, the traditional Irish sport of hurling is for you!

Hurling (Irish: Iománaíocht/Iomáint) is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic and Irish origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for over 3,000 years, and is thought to be the world’s fastest field team game in game play.

The object of the game is for players to use a wooden stick called a hurley (in Irish a camán, pronounced /ˈkæmən/ or /kəˈmɔːn/) to hit a small ball called a sliotar /ˈʃlɪtər/ between the opponents’ goalposts either over the crossbar for one point, or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper for one goal, which is equivalent to three points  The players can either carry the ball, balance it on the stick and run, kick it, or smack it across the field with their stick. (thanks, Wikipedia!)

The game was hosted at Mardyke Arena, UCC’s recreational facility, outdoors on their huge field.  The weather was actually quite nice, mostly overcast or sunny with only slight raining.  I parked myself behind one of the goals and spent the game snapping shots and trying to figure out what the rules were.

During halftime, a game for the younger players was held, which was both adorable and remarkably violent (which I guess is true for all sports, not just Ireland).

I commend the players on their uniform, although the weather was nice today, I can’t imagine wearing those shorts in the rain.


Blarney Stone & Castle!

Time January 20th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This weekend Heather, Vé, Emily, and I decided to play tourist in Ireland and visit Blarney Castle (which was only about a 30 minute bus ride away) and kiss the Blarney Stone.  I’m going to let photos do most of the talking for me, because the area was absolutely stunning.

In summary, we went to Blarney Castle, kissed the Blarney Stone, and walked in the Poison, Irish, and Fern Gardens.  I never expected the area to be quite so beautiful, and if this is what the more rural parts of Ireland are like, I look forward to exploring more!



Orientation for Cork, Ireland

Time January 9th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So last week we had IFSA Butler & UCC orientation, and I must say I have a great group.  We have 3 Scrippsies, 4 Colby students, and 9 students from various other colleges.  Day 1 (New Years Day!) consisted of meeting at the airport (I had to take the shuttle back from my hotel), taking a bus to Cork from Dublin (there was a full size rainbow), and having a dinner together.

Day 2 was held in a conference room of the hotel, where we were given the most incredible breakfast I’ve ever had in my life (it was called an Irish Breakfast), as well as the rundown on Irish Culture and Academics and what to expect for the coming year.  We were then transported to our flats (which were surprisingly large) and shown the way to Tesco, basically this country’s version of Walmart.  It was when we were left alone there that the trouble started.

First of all, I’ve never had to feed just myself in my life.  Sure, I’ve cooked often, but I usually make family dinners, and the excess ingredients are used up within the week.  Suddenly I had to deal with the fact that if I didn’t eat it, no one would.  I had absolutely no idea how much to buy, and muddled about picking out things I might like to eat.  Second problem was the fact that you shouldn’t use paper bags if you are going to walk home in the rain.  Yes, Heather thought we were clever at first for not purchasing the bags the store was selling, but in reality those things rip fast.  Luckily those with plastic bags were willing to help out the idiots of the group (including me).  Second, if you are buying a phone, realize that our generation texts, not calls.  I got unlimited calling to all Irish mobiles and landlines, but unfortunately (and intelligently) everyone else in my group got unlimited texting.  Luckily I can change it next month, so all was not lost.

Thursday was our University College Cork (UCC) orientation, which gave us most of the same rundown that Butler did, except it was for all international students.  We also got a tour of the campus in the rain, and our computer accounts.  Classes started on Monday, and luckily I got the ones I wanted! (more on that later)


Meet Alicen Lewis: Ireland

Time January 3rd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So, this is my first post, and to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified to go abroad.  I’ve been outside the US a total of one time, and that was for less than 24 hours to Mexico.  But enough about my fear, here’s a little about me:  My name is Alicen Lewis, I am a Junior and a Media Studies major at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and I love technology, feminism, and general geeky things (if you also have an interest in any of those things, you should totally shoot me a message!) I will be studying abroad at University College Cork in Ireland, and would love to hang out if you will also be there!

Back to the fear (because honestly that’s what’s preoccupying my mind right now).  I’ve A. Never lived anywhere where I didn’t have a close friend near by B. Never lived anywhere where it goes below 35 degrees Farenheit C. Only been out of the country once (as mentioned above).  Despite these fears, I’ve also never been so excited to go on an adventure.  I look forward to really being able to explore my surroundings and discover both myself and the country, so wish me luck!