Well it's true - the wind has seemingly blown into this strange little country called Ireland where the skies are grey and rainy and the people are strangely happy to talk for ages! Don't get me wrong, they're more than friendly and that's a great thing but gosh, I see where my family gets it! In all honesty, it's been a very crazy weekend since getting here and as such I'm a bit tardy with my web responsibilities. Thursday morning was our first taste of what it meant to be in Ireland. After a long flight over night from Logan (surrounded by screaming babies mind you) we arrived to be greeted by a rather disinterested Guarda (Police office of Ireland) passport inspector who told me gruffly that I was authorized 30 days in the country... this would be only the beginning of the confusing revelations from over the next 4 days. Finally we met up with the others in our group and collected our bags. It appears that I packed much less than most of the others (this would come in handy in the next leg of the trip).
Obviously, after baggage comes communication so our group of 8 (3 had arrived at 5am) descended upon the poor Vodaphone store where we picked up sim cards and cell phones. Speaking of, my new number here in Ireland is +353 87 656 7404 for those of you that are interested. Next, we were introduced to the weather - POURING RAIN!! We got soaked whilst waiting for the correct AirCoach to pick us up. Of course, as soon as we loaded onto the luxury bus, the sun came out... for a while. We ventured forth to the city center and beyond, eventually coming to the UCD Belfield stop. Unfortunately, the rain decided this would be the perfect time to start pouring it on again. We were caught out in the open when the coldest, most bone chilling rain I've ever experienced fell down on our heads. It gets better - the reception desk decided we looked smart enough so she gave me the campus map... in Gaelic... :-(.
It took us about half an hour to find out accommodations on this campus but we were pleasantly surprised when we did. My apartment is AMAZING!! HUGE common room and kitchen (no oven though :-() with each room having their own bathroom and shower. The beds are tiny but we have ample storage and a nice big desk to work on - things were on the up and up. The group on campus met up with the off campus kids (they're staying 2km north) at around 2:30 to pick up our student ID cards after which we wandered over to one of two student bars on campus. Darts, pool, Guinness, and the like were the cure to our travel hangovers and signaled our arrival. Of course, we decided the campus pub wasn't good enough so we ventured into the city center not really knowing where we were going but knowing what we needed - food and SHEETS! Luck would have it that we got off the bus at St. Stephen's Green right next to a large mall where we found most everything we wanted. Then it was back to the dorms and to our beds. All told, we were up for a good 45 hours and I was BEAT!
Friday was our orientation to UCD which included a briefing by the directors and coordinators within the Quinn School of Management, a campus tour in the rain, and a rather tasty bag lunch. Shopping and pubs were the order of the evening... but we had a bit of a twist. The first came as we were walking in a large group to the pub in Raneliegh where the off campus people are staying - I was egged... that's right, one of these previously mentioned nice Irish persons decided that I was too good of a target and threw an egg at me. Luckily it bounced off my arm, struck another person in the back and then broke only after hitting the ground. Needless to say we were all a bit shocked and didn't really understand what just happened. We made it to the bar - it was filled to the brim with 40's and 50's (year olds) - and we were immediately met with people carding us. Unfortunately not everyone in our group is 21 so they wanted us to leave... we were packing up to go when the bar keep came over and asked for our order. Apparently the owner couldn't pass up 11 Americans looking to spend a few Euro at his establishment.
Later that evening Larry and I had the walk of our lives. Back in the rain - the cold, drenching rain, we walked back to campus from the pub. We started at about midnight. After an hour of walking, it became clear that we weren't where we should have been... we were lost(ish) in Dun Loughaire and we were getting tired. After finding a map at a local bus stop, we were about 1.5-2 km off track and needed to get over a "mountain" in order to make it back to campus. Thanks to my superior powers of navigation (haha... that's a laugh) we were able to get back to campus in one piece but not before confronting another danger of the Irish 'burbs - Teenagers. There was a large gang of teenagers beating each other drunkenly on the same road that we needed to take to get over the mountain. Being smart, we kept moving quickly without making eye contact and got away. Well, we thought we had... until we looked back behind us to see a few of the group running after us. Lucky for us we were able to get away and keep the from catching up but it was a scary experience none the less.
Saturday was our orientation to Dublin from our program coordinator for BU. This consisted of a monument scavenger hunt all over the city center... in the rain. Are you starting to see a pattern? It was fine and fun but we were ready to get back to home since it was already dark when we were leaving... a 4:30... Before we hit the bus back, we went in search of the 2 Euro store and the Lidl supermarket. Finding bargains at both, we made our way back home finally and called it a night. Sunday would be a day of rest until 8 when we found ourselves at a bar watching the Pat's topple the Chargers in the AFC championship. It was a good day to be sure - rainy, but good.
Today is gorgeous outside - the first day of blue skies and sun that we've had and it's the first day of classes. It must be a good Omen. However, when there isn't rain, there's wind and as our UCD coordinator put it, "it's blow'n a gale" out there. I was almost taken off my feet as I crossed the open field between my dorm and the Quinn building. In any event, I've been at this for a while and now it's time that I got on to my first class. I'm hoping that the rain will hold out until I can get out of class so I can get some photos of the campus and such put together and posted up. Thank you all for your emails and phone calls. Don't hesitate to get me on one of the connections I listed under the contact page.