I was walking to class and saw a man down by the river surrounded by pigeons. One was flying around his head and another was on his arm. I watched him for a few seconds and then he caught the pigeon in his hands! I have no idea what he intended to do with it, but I immediately thought of a carrier pigeon. Then, on my walk HOME, I saw a HUUUUUGE swan fly over the water and tap the surface with its little flippery feet. It was grand and special.
So, after my first week of classes, I'm pretty excited! I have about 7 novels to read for one class alone (woof) and a couple others for another lit class. I'm slightly overwhelmed with the amount of books I have to read in 3 months, but it'll be grand. My Irish roommates use "grand" and "brilliant" to describe many things, and I've taken to saying it, too! Anyway, how am I supposed to read my Irish guide books and search other European destinations if I'm constantly reading gothic literature? We'll see how it goes.
I finally got fish n chips at a famous place called McDonagh's and it was delish! I split the huge platter with a friend, and half of it was the perfect amount. We walked around, befriended some ornery swans at the Spanish gate and just enjoyed ourselves. I'm excited to wander around the city by myself to get tea at different pubs and find the best place to buy an Aran sweater. I'm also looking forward to meeting more locals and branching off from the Arcadia group a bit more.
Wednesday night a few of us headed into town to listen to tradition Irish music at Tis Coili and Taaffes. There was great craic, and I loved the fiddles and bodhrán (cool Irish drum). Then last night we headed to the Quays bar and heard some good old American rock, where I enjoyed a Guinness that made me feel warm and cozy after a few short sips. We met an adorable American couple from D.C. who were celebrating their recent engagement. It made me smile to see such love and happiness, but slightly homesick. I also met an Irishman from America. It's very strange...he was born in NY but moved to Ireland, moved back to the States, back to Ireland, back and forth back and forth! He has an Irish accent, and I would definitely have said he was Irish, but he says he's an American. Strange.
Today I went into town with some friends to buy bus tickets for Killarney, a trip I'm sort of planning for the last weekend in January. I like to plan in advance and know exactly what is going on, so I thought it'd be a good idea to buy tickets beforehand. We got to the bus station and was told we can only buy tickets on the day we want to leave. SO we trudged out there for nothing in the rain, but it was a learning experience! Won't make that rookie mistake again. Then headed to Fox's Porterhouse for lunch and bought chocolates for my host family stay this weekend! YAY!!! I hope it won't be too awkward. And I hope they ask me if I have any dirty clothes to wash. My jeans are all kinds of stretched out now.
I've noticed Irish people are very into asking your political stance moments after meeting you. The library security-desk-man was very sweet and chatty, and after asking where we were from, asked us what we think of Pres. Obama and if he's doing a good job or not. Sorry, what's your name again? I also met with the priest to talk about singing at church (he was delighted that I wanted to and even suggested I give a recital!) and he too asked my political stances and what not. I've also noticed Irish girls dress up a LOT to go out. I mean, ridiculously high heels that only women of a certain profession wear, and tight TINY little dresses/skirts. And TONS of makeup. It's cRaZy to seem them shrug off the rain and drunkenly prance down the street in these outfits. They also dress up a lot for class! Heels, tights, skirts...I rarely see one in sneakers or jeans. Guys seem to be into wearing warm-up/track pants a lot.
Alright, off to pack for my homestay! I'll keep ya'll posted!
Teal Ruland, PB
(In my 20th cent lit class, we learned that some women would sign their names PB for "professional beauty." It meant that they were exceptionally pretty and would hand out business cards of their faces and sell postcards of their faces too. Very funny.)