Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day for a Protest!

Hi everybody!

This is a pretty long post, so read it in bits to avoid getting tired of me.

  As you know, I've been gone for about a month and a half so far sometimes it feels like 2 weeks and sometimes it feels like 2 years.Of course, the longer I'm here the more work that I have to do for school, so not too much happens during the week for me.

  However, on Wednesday, I figured it was finally time for me to call my relatives that live in Ireland. For the Harrison's it's easy enough to say that I called Bonnie's daughter Anne. For everyone else, Bonnie is the sister of my Grandma Theresa who passed away 10 years ago. Bonnie met me when I was a kid, but hasn't been back to the U.S. in a while. So her daughter, Anne, would be my mother's cousin... everybody got it? Good.

So, I called Anne on Wednesay and by Thursday night she returned my call and we made plans for me to go to her house and meet the rest of the family. Usually, I'd be a bit worried that meeting a big group of family I've never met before would get a bit uncomfortable, but they are Irish, so I have no worries. I'll probably go up the weekend some of my family at home will be together at West Point!

Friday was spent finishing an essay for my foundation course. By the time I turned it in and got home, it was about 5pm. One of the American girls who lives upstairs had a friend visiting from home, so I grabbed so delicious gourmet pizza with them. Then, we had planned on going out and looking pretty so we went home and got ready. We were hanging out before actually going out when my friend Susan called, so I went down to her apartment. She invited me to come to a house party with her classmates and recommended we meet everyone else out later. Of course, I agreed and we started our Friday Night Adventure.

After some difficulty trying to find the apartment in a neighborhood we had never been before, we arrived. A hilarious, enlightening, fantastic night ensued. There were 8 or 9 of us altogether, and Susan and I were a tad overdressed. Of course, no one cared. Pretty much all of them were Irish and most go to DBS with us so we had tons to chat about. The way university works here is that when you start, you pretty much spend 3 years with the same dozen kids. So they were very happy when Susan popped up in there class, a fresh face. We had such a good time that we didn't want to go meet our friends out nor did we want to leave, even when 2am rolled around. We cabbed home and chatted about how awesome the Irish can be.

Then came yesterday. When I woke up (late as usual) I saw that Kevin had recommended I go to Parnell Sq because there was going to be a protest. People had been occupying Dame St, where the Central Bank of Ireland HQ is, for a week for Dublin's version of Occupy Wall Street. So Susan and I headed out to Dame St, figuring that the protesters had already marched. They were supposed to arrive at Dame at 2pm and it was 2:15. As usual, we forgot to take "Irish Time" into consideration. So we walked back up to Parnell Sq, saw the protesters, walked in the streets with them and took some pics as they marched to Dame    

The size of the crowd changed depending on where in the city it was, but its only about a kilometer to Dame St. I think what most surprised Susan and I about the protest was how peaceful it was.  The police escorted the protesters through the city and let them stop pretty much wherever they wanted to. Traffic was held up for the 5-10 min it took for the crowd to migrate down the streets. There were no issues with the Garda at all (Irish police force). In the States, for a protest of this size with this sort of message, I'd expect there to be some animosity towards the police from the protesters and vice versa. There was none of that here. Once the crowd came down Dame St and stopped at Central Bank, blocking all the traffic, the garda started asking people to get off the street so traffic could flow again. People were extremely obliging, the only reason it took more than five minutes was because there were so many people and their sound system wasn't very loud.

I obviously don't need to explain what they were rallying for because these protests are happening in cities all over the world. The difference was the peacefulness in the whole experience. It was refreshing.

When we returned home from the cold and rain of the City Center we had some dinner and then were off to see some Greyhound races with our Austrian and German friends.It was Susan, me, and 8 German speakers, but we had a fantastic time. It was a bit reminiscent of when Dad took Theresa and I to the dog races in Florida about 8 years ago. All of the Europeans were quite surprised that I had been to dog races before. Everyone who bet on the dogs came out on top! It was a different kind of experience, going to the dog races here, it was an atmosphere we hadn't yet experienced in Dublin.

After the dog races we went to a pub to warm up and I got to chat with some of the German girls who were lovely. We left there late and Susan and I went to go grab a bit of Lebanese food from a restaurant on the way home. I usually have Susan order for me because whatever she gets me is delicious and she speaks some Arabic so the guys who work there adore her. I had lamb shwarma, and didn't it hit the spot? Good gracious it was delicious... i took a pic for you guys! Sorry, I didn't remember to photograph it until halfway through. After we ate and were having some tea, there was a bit of a scuffle at the table next to us. Of course, the restaurant had security so the guys were escorted out and luckily they did not come back in. Susan and I hung around and waited for the drama to die down outside. We got many apologies from the men who work there for having to witness a fight, and also from some Irish guy sitting behind us. A little later than originally planned, we went home exhausted and rested up for the upcoming week.

Next weekend I'll be going up to Belfast and Derry, so I probably wont post until Sunday or Monday. If my Harrison could email me a couple of pics of you guys, your families or all of us together, that would be great. I want to print them out to bring to see Anne in a couple weeks.
Love you guys, Go Bills!

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Ways!

Hi everyone,

Sorry it's been a while since I posted last, things have been kind of crazy here, but I'm not sure how much of it is actually going to be interesting to read about. Last I left off, we had just gotten back from Galway and the Bills had just beaten the Pats. Since then, I’ve left pre-school (so termed by Kate), and now I’m officially back in college once again.

School's a little weird here, I know it’s been a long time since some of you were in college, but you’ll get it. At Albany I’m in classes as big as 400 people and as small as 25. Here, I have one class that’s over 20. The rest range from 15-4, and that’s including me. This makes the teaching and learning systems completely different than at home, it’s very personal. So I’m in the spotlight in class (which most of you know I put myself in anyways) and the flow of the class is run just as much by the students as the teacher. In fact, my friend Amber and I are in one class with 3 other girls and the 5 of us talked just as much as the professor did in a 3 hour class, which I’m sure he didn’t expect. This is just another thing that’s different between the two schools, but this way of learning is already really helping me and it has only been 2 weeks.

Last weekend was my friend Susan’s birthday. She is a southern girl and is awesome. For many of us, including me, our 21st birthdays are going to happen while in Dublin, so they run the risk of being less eventful. Of course, we weren’t going to let that happen to Susan. Clever Amber made a sign. 
Now, you should know that Susan is not the kind of girl who harms or loses her dignity. But on your 21st birthday.... well you get it. Anyways, we made the sign so that Susan would loses her "dignity" (the sign) in whatever bar we went to, and then she'd have to go around asking everyone in the bar if they had her "dignity". It was going really well until we lost it behind a couch at the end of the night in some tiny 
club. Nonetheless, a successful night by far. 

Then this week we had presentation due for one of our preschool classes, so I worked on that all week, and last night my friend Tory's (remember, from buffalo?) aunt and uncle were in town and they took us out for a wonderfully delicious dinner that we had all really been craving. Shout out to Tom and Laurie!
They and Tory are now on their way to Berlin for the Sabres game tomorrow night!!!! Ugh, and then this morning came and I found out what happened with my boys last night. I won't go into the devastation, but it's ok yanks, we'll get them next year. 
I hope everything is going well at home, whatever part of the country that means for you! Maybe some of you can come visit over the next 8 months and I'll show you around all of these fun places I'm finding in Dublin. 
Next blog post will include details of a day trip somewhere in Ireland!