Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Good Craic

Hi everybody!

It's been hard to keep up with the blog, it's too easy to get sidetracked! I can't believe I'm starting my 5th week in Europe, it's going so fast! I've done quite a bit recent around Ireland. We went to Blarney castle, which was only about 15 minutes away from the bus station in Cork. The tour also took us around Cork, too.

The next weekend we ended up going horseback riding with our friend, Robin. She's one of the girls that I work with and she lives outside of Cork.

The people who ran the stables also had a really nice house with a lot of land and a beautiful garden!

I promise I'll put up more pictures soon. =]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting to Know Cork

After settling into our new apartment with new roommates, we went to our first day of work last Monday. We all are working at Tyndall National Institute, which is a research institute that partners with the University College Cork (UCC). UCC is the main university in Cork. There are 12 of us in the program. 7 of us are in the apartment and there are 5 others from Cork. Everyone is super friendly and we've all kind of hit it off. I was really glad to see there are two other girls in the program, too! Shelly and Robin have helped all of us a lot with getting settled in Cork and showing us around.

It hasn't been all work, though. I've spent a lot of time exploring the city and just walking around. The Irish don't really bother labeling their streets, and if they are it is in Gaelic, so looking at a map isn't much help. This means I am lost 90% of the time. Lucky for me, as long as I can find the river, I'll find my apartment eventually. Asking for directions is really no help either, all conversations go something like this: "Oh, yere lost, are ye? Don't werry love, just down dis stret take a shake left down the alley, it's a bit bockety but you may get a good craic outta it." People in Cork speak very very fast with a thick accent and use a lot of slang. If I can understand them, many times they use slang that I have never heard of. All of the surrounding towns are named similar things (ex: Ballybrack, Ballynagual, Ballyhasta are all nearby) which makes it even more confusing! Even with all of that, the Irish are endearing and generally well-intentioned.

The Irish are serious about their butter, alright?

There are nice little parks like this all over the city.

This church tower is called the Four-Faced Liar. There is a clock on each face of the tower, each set to a different time, none of which are correct. This is allegedly why no one in Cork is on time.

Some of the few and not-so-clear street signs in Cork.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Greenest Place on Earth

Five days in Germany simply didn't feel like long enough, but alas, there were planes to catch. My flight to Cork, Ireland was the only one I've experienced thus far that wasn't absolutely packed, and I recognized some people speaking English! Well...sort of English. I was faintly aware that they were saying words I should understand, but the actual Irish accent is pretty darn thick. Smile and nod has been a good method for me in times like that.

Flying over the ocean and then a small part of Ireland confirmed that (at least from the sky) the country is almost entirely green, spotted with a few houses here and there. Leaving the airport, I was greeted by what may have been the world's friendliest taxi driver. He gave me a brief history of the country, pointed out major landmarks and places to avoid. My toll was probably about 2 Euro more expensive because he needed to tell me about the transition of his family farm from horses to tractors when he was a boy.

I arrived at my apartment and met my landlord, who is a really lovely lady named Brig. She started talking about a mile a minute ( all I could really understand was "love" , "dearie") but she showed me my room and the rest of the place. I actually got the biggest room and a bathroom all to myself. Oh, and I have SIX male roommates. I was expecting the worst but they are all perfectly nice, and they even do their dishes! There are two others from the USA. Preston is from Salt Lake City, Utah and Matt is from Northern California. Thomas is from Dublin, and Lucas is from China. Lastly, Victor is originally from Nigeria and Kie Zen is from Malaysia. Obviously a pretty diverse group, but we've had a lot of fun. This part of the blog will be a little more detailed since I'll be in Ireland for three months, but I'll make sure to have plenty of pictures!

The River Lee. This is taken on a bridge I cross on my way to work.

Tyndall National Institue. I work here!
home sweet home =]

This is my view from my front door.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Busy Days in Germany

My last couple days in Germany were lots of fun. We spent a lot of time looking around the city, going to biergartens, and trying to get some sun. We went to the English Garden, which is a huge park right in the city. There were surfers hanging out by the river. I also saw one of the few Nazi buildings that were left from the war, which had been converted into an giant art gallery. We also took a trip to Regensburg where a couple of my other friends live. They were having a bbq and we all were able to get some food and hang out outside.

The day before I left, Stephan (Julica's roommate) was having a party for his birthday. We all went to his parent's house and had a cookout. Lucky for me, almost all Germans speak English and so I was able to talk to most everyone. Most were watching the first games of World Cup Soccer and drinking authentic German beer, of course! Many of them were just as curious about America as I was about Europe and Germany. I've lost count of how many times I've been told "You're not in Kansas anymore". Overall, people in Germany are friendly and talkative. All that beer probably doesn't hurt, either

Oh, and there are many, many more pictures here:




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trying this out!

Hi guys,

I've been in Ireland for a few days, and am finally getting around to updating this thing, which I promised myself I would update every few days.

I spend about five days in Munich, Germany before Ireland and stayed with my friend Julica. I had an amazing time, both seeing old friends and seeing the beautiful city. Julica has a cute little apartment in the city and let me stay there with her. The first day I was trying to beat my jet lag, and was able to stay up until close to midnight after about 12-15 hours of traveling. I met her roommates and we shared a bottle of wine and caught up.

The next day I went on a really great tour of Munich. We took the subway (my first time, ever!!) which was perfectly on time, of course (I was in Germany) and traveled to near the downtown area. We saw the old entrance to the city, which was from the 1300's and then walked around a bit. I was surprised to immediately see a Starbuck's and an American Apparel store, but it got much more authentic after that. One of the first things we saw was a Jewish monument and church as well as a couple other things that were pretty interesting:

After walking around the area for a bit, we ran into one of Julica's friends, Ian. He just happens to be a tour guide for Munich, and we decided to go on one of his tours. He knew so much about the city and it's history, it was well worth walking around for a few hours in the heat. Here are a few pictures:

My first impressions of Munich were really wonderful, as you can see!