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July 18, 2011

Only two weeks left! What?!

I've been a little neglectful lately, so sorry! Time goes by so quickly and suddenly it's midnight and I realized the post I was going to do got pushed out of the way. So anyway..

Galway was fun last weekend, even though we made the unwise decision to take the 7.30am train, which meant we were up at 5. I think we forgot that Galway isn't nearly as big as Dublin, so there is less to do there. Kind of unfortunate. Don't get me wrong, Galway is beautiful, but it was a rainy weekend, and that's never fun, plus we were exhausted by the time we got there. Our hostel was nice, but it was a little awkward sharing our room with a guy, Richard, from Kerry (translation: we had no idea what he was saying to us because Kerry accents are so thick. YouTube it and you'll see what I mean), and another guy from France who spoke minimal English. I put Allie on the spot when I told him that she's taken 8 years of French, but it was in an effort to try to make him feel more comfortable. We went to this famous pub called The King's Head (or at least I think it's notable, anyway), but we didn't stay out terribly long because we all just wanted to sleep. The next morning we woke up and got breakfast after meeting up with another group of our friends. I bought some gifts at a little market that was set up, and then we wandered some more. Our train didn't leave until 7pm or so, and we were finding it more difficult to find things to do with ourselves, so we got a late lunch at this really cool little restaurant and sat there for like two hours. We were all really relieved to get back to Dublin that night, but because the buses run so infrequently on the weekends we caved and got a taxi back to the apartments. The unanimous verdict was that Galway is fun when you aren't running on 5 hours of sleep and it's not constantly raining.

(Here, for the sake of brevity, I'll leave out my paragraphs-long review of my experiences during last Thursday's Harry Potter premiere, even though I think the entirety of last week was devoted to hyperventilating, tears, and excitement.)

We went to Kilkenny on Saturday, and it was a beautiful day despite the on and off rain. We took a little tour of the castle there, and then took a walk around the grounds. Getting fresh air and seeing some grass and trees was a nice break from the concrete in Dublin. Thinking about that now reminds me that I still want to see Phoenix Park. Yesterday we went to lunch on CIS at a really great italian restaurant, and then went to the National Museum, and that was super cool. I love museums, and I think I could see myself working in one. The Ancient Egypt part of the museum was AWESOME. That kind of ancient history and Greek and Roman mythology have always been my favorite things to read about. Then we finished up our gift shopping, and it's nice to have that out of the way. We spent the night back at the apartments because it was pretty rainy and chilly last night, which is apparently a far-cry from the heat wave back home. That's too bad. Hahahahaha. Just kidding, I'm with you all in spirit, and I feel for you.

This week marks the last before the Dáil rises on Thursday night, and I'm still not entirely sure what I'll be doing next week. I'm pretty sure I'll be helping with some canvassing in Celbridge on Thursday, which could be kind of interesting. I'm a little nervous because 1. I just don't like knocking on doors to begin with, and 2. even though I've been learning a lot, I don't think I know quite enough to be able to answer any policy questions in detail. So we'll see how that goes, I guess. Hopefully we'll get the constituency database, FINALLY, and I can help work on that because that is going to be a serious project. I had to man the stations for a couple days last week as Eimear was out of the office, but luckily nothing too complicated came up.

I know I say this a lot, but really, where did the time go? I only have two weeks left here! How did that happen? I mean, honestly. It feels like I was just getting of the plane yesterday. And if I think back now, I remember feeling like I would never get back home during those first couple days, but now I've already been here for over a month. I'm not really counting the days in Edinburgh and London because they'll go by outrageously quickly. And then I'll get on that plane home and crash because that will be the longest that I haven't been moving or doing something. Wow. It's becoming more and more bittersweet because I'm ready to get home now, but it's also hitting me that I love Dublin, the people, my job, the country (and I'm sure I'll love Edinburgh and London, too), and I don't know when/if I'll be back here. So that's a little sad.

Ok, that's it for now. See you all soon!

July 6, 2011

Halfway!

We're already halfway through our internships, how outrageous is that?? It's like light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel time, now. Except I don't like that phrase anymore because I really love Dublin. It took a week or two, but I'm comfortable with everything, and I don't want it to end. Everything is set for Galway this weekend, so I'm pretty pumped for that I've only ever heard good things about Galway. Everyone wants so badly to get out of Ireland, but I can't wait to see as much of it as I can. There's a reason it has a good reputation, so why not be intensive travelers, rather than extensive travelers? That's my new thing, anyway. Just immerse myself in the Irish culture, and worry about seeing other places afterward. Plus I think it's difficult to try to fit seeing London or Barcelona, etc etc in 36 hours. That doesn't do those places justice. And you just end up with sore feet.

Work was pretty uneventful today, although the research I came up with for the Deputy's speech for last night's session went pretty well, so I'm excited about that. It's about a new electoral amendment they're trying to pass. I'm doing more research on mental illness and suicide in Ireland, so that's what I did. All. Day. Now, I know that's part of the job, but it still gets kind of mind-numbing after awhile. By 5.00 all I could do was stare blankly at my computer screen. Hopefully I'm finding the right kind of information! I'm always nervous that I'll be sending the Deputy to the Dáil with bad information, and that would obviously be no good! I honestly love where I'm working, and I say that with confidence. Yes I put pressure on myself to do well, but I think that's necessary in an internship like this. I'm learning a lot, and everyone is so helpful when they learn that I have to write a research paper based on what I'm learning. Like one man, I'm pretty sure he's a PA, he offered to find me materials that might be useful. How great is that? So great! I got extremely lucky with this internship, I really did. I realized that the other day, like I'm working in the Irish Parliament. That's an insanely cool thing to be able to tell people.

I'm so exhausted this week, so I'm planning on going to bed early. Keyword in that sentence being planning. We'll see how that works out. Let's hope my second wind kicks in soon. But what happens when I get on the plane home and can just stop moving for nine-ish hours? And what's going to happen when I get home and don't have to do anything? All that momentum that I'll have had to push me through the last half of this trip is just going to be gone and I'm going to crash. So let's also hope that I can get my paper done as much as possible BEFORE I get home. That's a not-so-subtle hint to myself. So that's the goal: get as much done with my paper as I can before I leave here, and continue to do well at work.

The end. For now

July 2, 2011

Expect the unexpected.

Okay, so, I have never written a blog before, I barely write letters, so I have no idea how or where to even begin so I will just jump right in.

On the 8 and a half hour plane to Paris, I had a lot of time to think and collect my thoughts and during that time I was thinking what to write on this very blog. I had NO idea what i was going to write! I didn't know what to expect what would happen in Paris, let alone when I arrived in my town of Montpellier. I guess I assumed I would go to class, do homework, and hopefully hit the beach and shop. I'm not really sure what type of mindset i was even in because I only got a half hour of sleep on the plane, so I am sure I was thinking many complete thoughts. But my point was that I had no idea what I had gotten myslef into and when I stepped off the plane from Paris that brought me to Monpellier, I was greeted by a giant, very gorgeous, man with an even bigger gun. At that time I was ready to go home, he completly freaked me out. But after the encounter with him I made it to my dorm and got settled in then fell asleep. Moving on to the next morning, we had to be to school by 9 am for our 3 tests. So intense. But these tests, in my opinion, were horrible. So many of the people i met here were placed in the wrong skill level class, me included. I was placed in "Groupe A" (all the students are divided into groups and they are lettered on skill level). When I saw I was placed in A, I was okay with it becuase I did only have 2 semesters of French and many people were on like their 7th year of French here so I assumed it would be tough but where I needed to be. WRONG. The first few classes we did numbers and the alaphabet. I got out of that class as soon as i could. Now I am in "Groupe B" and it is much much better!

Moving on from boring class things, as i was saying before i began to ramble was that I had no idea what i was goign to blog about, but little did i know that so many things would happen within a few days! From the time I was in the air over Fracne until now, I have been sneezing and had an insane stuffy nose. Turns out I am allergic to some random french thing that is still unknown to me. And on top of that, I got a random bug bite that hurts so bad. Someone thinks its a spider bite, but I doubt it is. Needless to say it is healing now and doesnt hurt as much. But ignoring my lovely list ,that keeps getting longer, of health issues there are so many other things I could say or talk about because so much has happened. The program I am with keeps us all so busy from morning until night. It is great but not always because some days we do want to rest but dont want to miss what is happening. And with being so busy, we go all around and outside of Montpellier and that forces us even more to adapt to the culture. It's not a bad thing that we are adapting, it is quite fun but very challenging and I think i will have a harder time adapting back to our culture because things seem more intense with culure than ours. Maybe it only seems that way to me because its all brand new...I guess we'll find out as time goes on. But the two biggest things for me are the bathroom and eye contact. The bathroom here is so different in size and quality and where you sit even. There is no literal toilet seat, none that i have uesd so far anyways, you actually have to kind of balance. That isnt even the worst part about toilets though, at the university there is bathrooms with not toilets you sit on, but ones you squat over! yeah, that was an experience in itself....so gross. Now eye contact, it is a no-no here. The people either think there is something on their face or you are tryign to seduce them. And eye contact is so hard to avoid because the creepers try to make eye contact and they hold it! One time i amde eye contact on accident when a friend and i were at an outside pizza place and they guy sat down next to us and just looked at us constantly, we left as soon as we could from that situation. Strangers here are just like the cities in the US, you must stay away. But here, it is hard to tell creepy people from ones that arent goign to stalk you. Another time while waiting for the tram, a lady came up to me and was talking and gave me something to read and such and I told her I dont speak French becaus ei wanted her to go away. I had to ask for help to get her to leave, and when she finally did i found out she was a gypsy and was trying to steal my stuff. I was so shocked. Luckily she didnt take anythign because of the bag i have and where everything is in it but just the encounter was scary enough. So, ending yet another rant, i wear sunglasses allllll the time now and look everywhere but most faces (some men are so hot here you have to look for at least a second)

Alright, I think I will end this before it gets too long. Sorry for having no blog experience and not so good fast typing skills. I will do a blog everytime i can and fill it with the things I find important but may forget to tell people when they ask for all the things that happen here. There is so much goign on and only so much time i have to tell these stories to people. And if you are readign this part right now, thanks for reading the whole thing, (unless you skipped to this part, in that case oh well) I kow it isnt the most intresting, but its the little things that make this trip so great!

au revoir
-RaeAnn




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