Boppin' Round the Green Hills
So finally did my laundry... in my sink cause it's so much cheaper than actually paying for it. Shampoo really does the trick. On the upside classes went well this week and I was finally able to catch up on sleep and the Bachelor. On Monday we went to the Roost, which was almost empty but had an amazing guy playing the guitar doing covers. I was taught the Rock n Roll by my French friends and it is not what you would expect. It is an intense twisty dance with a partner which I compare to Rumba, but I don't even know what that is either; I clearly still have a lot to learn.
One thing that I am not used to here is the way the classes work. Classes are more or less "optional", most of mine having over 100 students in each. There are however tutorials which are mandatory out- of- class times that meet to do homework and review the class material. I'd rather have classes be mandatory and not have to go to tutorials separately, but there are worse things. I really enjoy my Theology class taught by a priest over on South Campus. Half the class is seminarians (dudes), half are Saint Mary's girls and we sit on opposite sides of the classroom like middle school. My Irish History class is interesting but very fast-paced. I definitely am at a disadvantage to the other European/Irish students because I never really learned about their history in detail.
In my Intro to Irish Studies class we discuss poems of fairies and old Irish men, haven't exactly done that before but will become a pro by the end of the semester. I have a Law class on Evidence which is taught by a young lawyer and it is fascinating. I am pretty sure the policies and legal system are the same as in the US (If not that'd be a little inessential for me), and we compare the systems to other European countries that aren't the same like France. I was tricked by my Anthropology of Food class. I was under the impression we would be creating Irish delicacies, but instead we sit through an uber boring lecture with a Nigerian/ Irish man whose impossible to understand and talks about strange food habits. There are quite a few older folk, I mean over the hill old, in almost all my classes. This is because college here is virtually free for them, because the government pays for it, so its easy for them to go back to school. I have found that this is similar for all the other foreign people I have met and they are astounded by how much Americans pay for their education.
It also snowed a few times this week. None of it stuck on the ground, but I guess this is unusual for them! The wind got over 50 mph and shattered one of the dorms glass doors. I am half expecting tornadoes to spawn out of thin air, but so far they haven't existed in Ireland. Thankfully every time we go out for tours and sight seeing its been beautiful and sunny!
This weekend was a full agenda of touristy -places. All the Saint Mary's girls ride in a bus with Eugene, who is our awesome Irish bus driver and listens to us sing for hours on end, at the top of our lungs. He is also a pro at getting our large bus around the single lane, winding country roads. First we went to Kilkenny, a town where we toured the Kilkenny Castle, which was restored in the 20th century. Some of the tudors lived there and it was used as a fortress for protection and to show wealth. This tour was before I had had any coffee so I don't remember a whole lot of the details... I have had to become a steady tea- drinker but it has far less caffeine then I'd like. We went to an amazing restaurant for lunch; we love going on travel days because our food is paid for and a lot higher quality than we ourselves would pay for here. Afterwards we went to Dunmore Cave which was super cool. I didn't actually know there were caves in Ireland but it was used to hide from the vikings and store ammo for wartime back in the day.
Sunday we took off again for the monument, Newgrange. It was built by Irish natives in the BC's and used to hold the cremated ashes of their ancestors. They would only use the structure during the winter and summer solstice because how the building was made, this was the only way light was let in. This huge mound was made from stone, carried up the mountain and put in place with no mortar. The structure itself is about 80 meters in diameter but only holds a tiny room in the center which is only a few feet big. Beats me why they took 50 years to haul up all the stones for just this little chamber, but I guess they were pretty smart for their time.
Later we visited an old Monastery, Mellifont Abby which was in ruin. There so many old stone structures that still stand today among Ireland along the country sides and in the hills. There is a lot of history built up in Ireland, I forget America is still a young country where here they have thousands of years of history!
My favorite place we went was Hill of Tara. I honestly wasn't interested in seeing this mound of dirt in the middle of Ireland but it was fascinating learning about all the ancient customs and traditions of the people who lived in that time. The people wanted to connect with the earth and be united with their ancestors and the spirits. It was a very sacred place and we saw the ancient wishing stone. We also met a story teller, a tall ginger man who told us the myths of the hills and played his flute for us! Roberta also showed us the wishing tree where we all tied a piece of grass to it and made a wish for our time here. This whole experience was very neat and apparently rare to hear from an actual story teller here in Ireland. As we were getting ready to leave, the story teller hopped on our bus with a guitar and starting singing to us. What a lad. Eugene and Roberta had to nicely usher him off the bus of 30 young females. Even though it was a long weekend, I have been very blessed for all my opportunities here!