77 Days, 5 hours

I have surpassed the busiest weekend of the summer at the Mystic Seaport without injury, save for one large blister from unsuccessfully twisting a tacky-glue cap. Working with children, hot wax, and hot glue leaves one exhausted and constantly peeling away webs of adhesive. This in-between summer job has made me question the what-ifs. What-if I stayed at Champlain College and pursued a professional writing career? What-if I gained impressive experience and inspiration from the professors there in Vermont? Would I be here scraping glue from counters and kindly asking visitors to leave their beverage outside for the thousandth time?

77 days and 5 hours. By that exact day, I will know my placement in Dublin. I want to try something completely new – but something I know I was meant to try long ago.

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First Ireland Interview: Check

I am more nervous about over the phone interviews than I am about meeting in person. Lucky me – the phone interview for a position at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland actually turned out to be a video call! I anxiously awaited my 9:30am appointment by sending the man a “I’m ready when you are” message. We started ten minutes early. *Phew* All tension melted away when he smiled and welcomed me back to Dublin.

While a position at the Maritime Museum seems most fitting to my current career path and experience, I am hoping for another interview opportunity with a journalism company. My current battle is between sticking to familiarity or pursuing a curiosity. Whatever position I land, doors will open while I’m there and I will seek a permanent position in the field (sea) I love.

The In-Between

I am 100 days away from landing in Dublin for my Global Experiences internship. To me, that seems a life-time away! In the coming weeks, I will have an interview or two with potential employers. Usually I do not like the unknown, but I am embracing the possibilities because I know whatever I obtain will be positive. Can I start packing now? Of course I can.  I already slipped a few sweaters into my blue duffel bag when I packed away my winter attire. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The excitement between my graduation from the University of Connecticut and this internship will be filled by a summer of fun at my second favorite place to be – The Mystic Seaport. In a week, I begin the summer season at America’s Museum of the Sea for the third year in a row. My first summer there involved learning all about the 38th voyage of the old wooden whale ship Charles W. Morgan and traveling to Boston to assist with a dockside exhibit for her port of call. All the ship-fitters, interpreters, and staff were buzzing around to help out with the Morgan’s voyage, so my first summer naturally fell into the hectic flow as well. Last summer was also busy, as I took on the seaport internship and worked for the Exhibits Department – while also traveling once a week to a New England museum. I think this summer will fair differently! My assignments include interpreting all the areas that attract children – Art Spot (care to make a candle?), Toy Boats, Children’s Museum, and the Discovery Barn (come in, I’ll teach you about the mechanical advantages found on the fishing schooner L.A Dunton). I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my summer.

From the Mystic River to the Irish Sea, I am right where I want to be. DSCN2600.JPG

Fourth Time is the Charm for Immigration

Every international student must register at some point with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). This task generally lists in the top 5 things to do promptly when arriving in Dublin.  We all know students like to procrastinate! I waited until the last week before my passport said to register. Not so bad, right? As I mentioned in my previous post, the early bird does not get the worm when it comes to registering with the garda.To my shock and dismay, the line wrapped around the building twice on my second attempt to register. Day two: Still no ticket. I decided to go the next morning, leaving half an hour earlier. Let it be known – this day was already a day past my passport stamp. My heart swelled with hope as I saw a shorter line than the day before. This could be the day! The line was moving quickly and before I knew it, my feet were a meter from the door. Ten minutes passed before a man came out the door announcing the news. Yep…day three: Strike out.

I wandered down to Dawson Street and found a quaint Italian bakeshop below one of the buildings. The sign advertised tea and a pastry for just 3 euro. My lucky day! A scrumptious chocolate chip muffin and green tea to warm my stomach before heading back to UCD as an illegal. I thought I would be deported for not getting to the garda on time. But as the Irish say, it’ll be grand!

Tea in hand, I hopped across the street to St. Stephen’s Green. The park was quiet and soothing for a Tuesday morning. A bevy of swans drifted in the pond as buttery morning light melted through the still thickness of leaves. I let my mind take me down an obscure path, not knowing where I was headed. A man, about 50 years of age, sat on a large rock facing the pond. Pensively sitting, leg over knee, hand clasped around his knee. “Good morning,” I say as I carefully step down the rocks. He stops me, wanting to engage in conversation. He starts explaining how every morning he comes here to watch the swans and feed them. Before I know it, a common ground is reached where we both discover that we are writers at heart. As he sits there giving me advice for dealing with life and following my desires, all I can think about is the calming trance I am in. All the stresses over immigration and college have vanished for the morning. The kind man instilled a balance in me that morning. I was drawn to the park for the very reason to encounter this wise ‘ghost.’ He was right when he said everything will turn out how I want it to. The power lies within my mind. Synergy.

The following day I arrived to immigration at 6 am and got ticket 207 out of 500. All worries are out the door. What needs to be done will be taken care of in due time.

Take the time to say good morning to a stranger. Who knows what they have to tell you.

swans

A Ticket to Anywhere

If you can’t get a spot in the immigration bureau queue, hop on a bus to Glendalough.

I rose from bed at 6, before the sky lights turned on, and caught the 39A to city centre. Today is the day I will get my student visa card! Well, tough luck. I had no problem finding the building. The stone structure with a two-stranded necklace of bundled-up people? Yeah – I found it no problem. The end of the line was as hard to find as the start of an infinity symbol. Everyone in line carried either a hot coffee, a book, or an umbrella in one hand. Thank goodness the morning mist dissipated after ten minutes. I was about to melt into the sidewalk from despair. Isn’t the early bird suppose to get the worm? Looked like every bird in the town flocked to grab the grub.

The line moved quickly as numbers were taken and people left with their documents. Hopeful I was at receiving a number, by the time I got close to the door, a man in a suit and tie announced that all numbers were taken for the day. In disbelief, I looked at my new friends from the line and smiled, “Well, see you on Monday for take two?” The Turkish man I got to know, who wants citizenship because his children were born in Dublin, waved good-bye and wished me luck.

After two hours of standing in the cold, I went in search of a bus to Ballinastoe. What else was I to do on a sunny Friday morning? Along the way, I met a student from Nigeria, who was afraid to cross the street because she was use to her driver back home taking her everywhere in a city. We parted ways to find our bus stops. To add to my unfortunate morning, I was led on a wild goose chase to various bus stations all over town. I bought a ticket to Ballinasloe, misreading one letter of the alphabet. Fortunately, I figured out I did not want to head 2 hours to Galway in order to reach my destination. Upon returning the ticket, a wonderful woman at the information desk answered my prayers and gave me exact directions to the Glendalough bus (St. Kevin’s) – which stops directly in Ballinastoe. The clock read 10:30. I had one hour to walk to Dawson Street, parallel to Grafton Street. Every day at 11:30, the St. Kevin’s bus leaves to Glendalough for a fair price of 20 euro round trip. But for 8 euro, I went to Ballinastoe –  a sweet gem just a few towns before the final stop. Most of the passengers headed to the end of the journey, while a man and myself hopped off early to find Biking.ie. On our walk up to find the biking and walking trails of Bstoe, we talked about what brought us to the same place. Come to find out, this man was the tour manager for Joan Baez! For over 20 years he has toured with musicians all over the world. During the daytime, he simply wants to get out into the countryside, away from all the hustle of the city. I feel the same way…sometimes the city life can be stressful. As a student, spending a day off campus and out of Dublin can be refreshing and rejuvenating.

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Having a bad day? Need to get away from people? Maybe indulge in a spontaneous day trip to the Ballinastoe area or Wicklow in general. Fancy bikes? Biking.ie can sort you out with top-notch bikes for a road spin or mountain trails! Perhaps you will find yourself walking along the trails, and stopping at a vista point to take in the sheep grazing on green patch-work. Breathe the country air and escape into the emerald landscape!

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Galway Getaway

Remember: Hookers and lots of craic make for an adventurous weekend in Galway! (I’ll explain what I mean by hooker shortly). My housemates and I, plus an adopted member of our family, planned two nights to the West coast of Ireland early this September. What a great way to bond and get to know each other! Our family unit consists of 2 Australians; one from the ‘bad side’ and one from the ‘good side,’ – already you can imagine the friendly disputes and banter that go on between them. A French Canadian and Californian consist of the other half of the pod. For this trip, we adopted a German lad to come along as well. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting such a diverse group of international friends. I imagined living in a house full of Irish students! At any rate, planning a trip with my multi-cultural family proved to be a learning experience because we knew little about Ireland.

First stop – Nimmo’s Hostel. Right in the middle of medieval Galway city. In fact, we could not have been closer. My housemates can attest to the screaming loud pubs right outside our bedroom window. If you plan on sleeping while on your travels, try to find a hostel a few blocks away from the nightlife. Indeed, once the rock bands stop playing at 2 am and the drunkards stagger home by 4, be prepared for a half-hour of sleep before the street-cleaners rumble by with their heavy trucks. The crunch of broken beer bottles will soon disappear, and you’ll be ready for your day at 8 sharp!

On to the Cliff’s of Moher we went. The tour was absolutely brilliant. Our Galway guide, Gary, spoke non-stop as he took us through the Burren, past ‘The Golden Collar,’ down through Doolin, and up to the Cliffs. Every so often he would let us off at different sites, like at the Dungaire Castle – a 16th Century tower house – for about 15 minutes. To ensure promptitude, he threatened us that if we were even 1 minute late, we would be forced to sing and dance for the whole bus. Everyone was on time!

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Care for seafood chowder? Let me tell you the best place to order a piping hot bowl of Irish chowder! O’Connor’s Pub in Doolin (where Gary the driver dropped us off for lunch before the Cliffs), served up a creamy bowl filled with chunks of prawns, salmon, cod, and mussels. On the side, scrumptious brown bread and butter waited to be dipped in the thick sea of heaven. I almost forgot about our next destination!

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Ah yes, hookers. While on our drive to the Cliffs of Moher, Gary pointed out some Galway Hookers floating in the water. These unique fishing boats have a jet-black hull and dark red sails. The boat is so named because of the way fishermen caught fish. Long lines with baited hooks dragged through the water to catch the prey. I was stoked to learn about these boats, as I come from a maritime background.

Gary the guide got us safely to the Cliffs of Moher after lunch. My housemates and I trekked along the cliffs, taking in our luck for having such a sunny, clear day. The sights were breath-taking and heart-pounding at the same time. One wrong move and over the edge you could go. “I am about to have a heart attack,” exclaimed one young man, who was watching out for 4 children running around the cliffs.

Safe and sound, we made it back to our new home on the UCD campus after an exhausting and thrilling weekend. I highly encourage planning trips with your housemates, as well as participating in events planned by the International Student Society. In between studies, take a break and get to know the culture and people around you. There is nothing wrong with adding hookers to your list of things to see while in this beautiful country! Expand your family and explore the terrain!

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Exchanging Places: UConn to UCD

Avery Point
Avery Point
UCD
UCD

Dia duit! Or ‘god to you,’ as the literal Irish translation goes.  As part of my cultural experience here in Dublin, Ireland, I have picked up a few words of conversational Irish – free souvenirs you may say. When asked what ‘thank you’ is in my Irish for beginners course, an American student enthusiastically blurted out ‘Cheers!’ Sure, the lingo and phrases tossed around on this green island may be foreign to international students, but I have found that after a month of living here, fellow classmates from Australia and America alike are using Irish phrases. ‘What’s the craic?’ and ‘grand!’ are words that are becoming addictive. This exchange is a sure sign that the international body is becoming comfortable and accepting the culture at UCD. I am sure that when I return in January to the University of Connecticut, Avery Point,  I will be expecting to have a glass of wine at functions and asking my professors ‘What’s the story?’ Stay tuned for a blog about my trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher with my lovely housemates!