Farewell to UCD, Dublin and Ireland.

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I’m not sure people still check out my blog, or if this my temporary hiatus was too long to hold the interest of any reader at all. Now that the holidays are over and we have entered a brand new year, I thought a final blog post would do nicely to mark my short but eventful stay in Ireland. Initially, I planned to write this on the 31st of December (2013, if that wasn’t clear, haha), so I would leave the blog in the “correct” year and yada yada, but as we all know nothing turns out the way you plan. Too much to do and enjoy during Christmas and New Year! I hope you all had a nice and cosy time. I said goodbye to my brother today, who is going back to his work up the country, so now it’s just me and my parents here.

On my last night in Dublin I couldn’t sleep at first, so I crawled up in bed and wrote down stuff and thoughts about my visit in Ireland. Such notes always sound so good in your head in the middle of the night. When you take a look at it the morning after, most of it tends to look like total gibberish. Kinda like when you’ve taken notes about a dream right after waking up. However! I am gonna write some of it here, the parts that did not go into some weird sleepy sentimental rant about Dublin.

“My last night in Dublin, at least for this time. I hope there will be many more to come in the future. No one knows and that’s the beauty of it. It’s impossible to tell what will happen in the years to come and that is exactly how it should be. I guess you could say ‘unpredictable’ is one of the words I will remember this journey of mine with. It has now been four months, more or less, since I set out on this little adventure. Pretty much nothing turned out the way I had planned in my head. Well, except for the end. I did sort of build up a scene where I would leave Dublin behind with all these new experiences in my back pocket, ready to use whenever I needed an anecdote or if someone would ask me where I’d been the autumn of 2013 (I have no idea why anyone would do that, who does that?). It’s not a great story with a lot to tell, where I changed anything in particular or did much memorable things (to the outside world anyway). Not when you look closely. I didn’t make tons of friends. My accommodation left a lot (A LOT) to wish for. Stress fried my brain long before finals was even considered. I felt homesick more often than I care to admit. The list goes on. And when I look at it that way, I easily forget the big picture. I did gain something from this experience though. I may not have made a lot of friends, but I did make friends and met interesting people, no matter if this was the only time we ever saw each other. I may have lived in the house of nightmares, but it only shows that not everything can run smoothly but you still have to deal with it in the best way possible (of course, the fact that I only had to stay there for one semester made it a bit easier to handle). I was stressed most days and missing home made it worse to cope with. A lot of this had to do with the way we were living. But you know, the whole thing challenged me and I realized that there was no way of going back or just ‘not doing this’. The only way was forward! And we all have bad bad days, just as we have days when everything just feels right. I did have many of those latter days. And this blog is a written down proof of that. It has been a fine journey which let me discover new things about myself, and that must be the ultimate reward travelling can give.

It’s the 23rd of Deccember and I’ll be going home to Sweden today. I would have been home days ago had I chosen to stay in Sweden this autumn. But I didn’t. Instead, I can now tell you about that time Frida and I, right in the beginning of our Erasmus semester in Dublin, stayed on the bus all the way into the bus terminal because we didn’t understand the system and how or when to jump off.”

If you have read my blog, you should know what kind of obvious advice I am now about to hand out for anyone interested in this wonderful city. If you are going here on Erasmus, be early out on accommodation. I know people who went to Dublin months before the semester started to check out places. I thought Frida and I did good by arriving two weeks before the actual lectures started, but as you could see, it was a tough hunt! Also, it’s quite an expensive place for students. The final advice I have, is probably.. ‘do whatever you feel like’. You’ll be in a completely new place, with new faces, new voices, new scenery. I don’t really want to speak of regrets, but if there is one thing I regret, it’s missing out on many of the things I had in mind because I couldn’t decide what to put my time in. Now, it’s alway easier to say that in retrospect when you’re not swamped with assignments and literature to read, so all I’m gonna say is: if you think you have the time, set aside some of it to get involved in the socities and/or sport clubs. I think that would have made it easier for me, as an international student, to make some Irish friends.

So that’s that. 🙂 I hope my blog has given you some insight to what my stay was like, and that I have inspired future visits to this lovely island and its people and nature. Thank you all for reading, it has truly been uplifting and a pleasure writing knowing you’ll be here. 🙂 Until next time, goodbye!

Whiskey In The Jar – The Dubliners

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A “better” life.

It’s weird how much better your life seem when you suddenly can shower without turning into an icicle the very moment you turn off the hot water. It’s not a better life, but it is a more comfortable life, which is something I appreciate a lot right now. I feel bad for leaving Frida behind at our shared place, especially since she managed to get an eye infection these last days.. We did visit her and made sure she was ok, and after all, she’s going home tomorrow so I think she’ll be well taken care of there. Just so unlucky that it happened with only a few days left here. Let’s hope for a fast recovery!

My family and I have been checking out the city and I also got to show them UCD where we had breakfast Friday morning, haha. They experienced the bumpy bus ride, and how unpredictable the bus timetables are can be. It was nice showing them around; it made the whole experience seem a bit more real when letting two of my worlds gently collide and merge with each other.

We have of course been visiting a couple pf pubs as well, and today we went to Galway in what has to have been the worst outing weather ever. I know I am from Scandinavia, but as a fellow Pagan Celts classmate said: us Scandinavians are used to snow, but in Ireland you need to swim. Haha. Mom was a brave little trooper for both driving on the wrong left side of the road, AND in pouring/crazy/angry rain. However, it was a nice day, as always when you’re in good company and enjoy a great meal (but it was so much, it feels like I won’t be able to eat for days (that’s the “price” you pay for eating lunch with your paying parents!)).

Image“Driving home for Christmas…” (or not).

Tomorrow is a mystery so far! But we have a few plans, involving Christmas carols in a church and some strolling around, perhaps at a market and/or shopping street (I still got gifts (all of them, pretty much) to find). I hope everyone is enjoying these days before Christmas, they truly are the best ones for enjoyment and cosy times!

PS. Tonight I would like to send a special greeting to one of my loyal readers of the UCD staff. She has been following me during this semester with a few encouraging words now and then, which has meant a lot. Thank you J. D.! 🙂

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Exams and family!

It’s late and I am off to bed in just a little while, but since I don’t know how much I will be able to write from now on, I thought I would give a short update.

First of all.. my exams are over! I had my third and last one today, in Pagan Celts. Bit disappointed in my answer for the second question, but not much to do about that now. It wasn’t as bad as Web Publishing though, which was done two days ago. It was so awful. Terrifying exam, to be quite honest. Haha. I have never been good at memorizing stuff like mathematics, numbers etc, and html/css is not much different in my opinion… brrr. I don’t have much hope for that one. Doing my best to put it behind me and cross my fingers for passing the module anyway.

And now for happier news. Guess who’s family (well, almost entire family) is arriving to Dublin tomorrow? Ah yes, mine! Looking forward to it so much. So tomorrow afternoon I am leaving this Irish home of mine and Frida’s, to move into a hotel instead. Quite the upgrade eh? Haha. I feel a bit bad for leaving Frida here, but I’m sure she’ll manage! After all, she did make more friends here than me anyway… 😉

Like I said, I don’t know how much I’ll be writing here during my remaining days in Dublin. It depends on whether or not there is wifi at the hotel I guess. But if you don’t hear from me until I’m in Sweden again, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And to my Irish readers: it’s been a pleasure staying in your country these months.

I will make sure to end this blog with some kind of farewell post eventually. But this is not the time! Early morning awaits, with packing and cleaning.. argh. Night!

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A Wicked musical.

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Thanks to my norwegian friend, I got to see the musical Wicked Sunday (15/12) afternoon. It was my first musical to see live, and I think it was a pretty good one to begin with. Basically it’s about two of the witches in the land of Oz and mainly the “wicked witch of the west”. The story tells of their childhood, youth and adulthood and how they came to be perceived so differently by the citizens of Oz. If you haven’t seen it and ever get the chance to, I urge you to do it! It brings a whole new perspective to the already well-known story and the music is really wonderful. I loved it. (And now I kinda wish I had bought a t-shirt or something as a souvenir, for my memory is not very reliable.)

Wicked (the full soundtrack) – songs and lyrics by Stephen Stephen Schwartz

ImageI felt so important sitting high up, looking down at the peasants on everyone below.

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Visit from Sweden 5-8/12.

Finally time for me to try and sum up the visit I had from Sweden last weekend. Time’s flying by so fast! Anyway, prepare for a loooong post tonight…

My little gang of four – Ellinor, Madde, Emelie and Arvid – arrived in the early afternoon, but since they hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, they were pretty exhausted (to say the least). And I totally understand that. Remember my wonderful arrival in Ireland some months ago (part 1 & part 2)? Yeah. So they fell asleep in their hotel at some point and I let them, even though I felt extremely impatient and just wanted to see them again! That’s how kind I am, haha.

Once they woke up (after a bit of pushing from my side, I admit), we took a stroll around the Dublin centre. I wanted to show them a bit of the city so they would have some kind of impression of it before going to sleep for the night. After that, we bought some random groceries at Tesco’s and had a modest but nonetheless pleasant late dinner together in one of their hotel rooms. Zapping around on the tv, we found this show called Mrs. Brown’s Boys and eh.. haha, it was entertaining in a somewhat second-hand embarrassing way. Of course, as most people know by now (I guess), the great Nelson Mandela passed away that day/night. Rather shocking and sudden… then again, he has been ill for quite some time now. I suppose it was just his time. All the respect to him.

ImageFriday. We went to Howth! It made me so happy how excited they all were at the thought of going to the coast, it reminded me of the feeling I had when I visited in September. And who wouldn’t look forward to such a beautiful place? Still felt strange to see them there, with me, on the train (or DART, I never remember what it’s called or what is and what isn’t) in Dublin. I’ve been isolated for months now from this world I know in Sweden, and suddenly a piece of familiarity shows up and wow, not prepared for that! Wonderful! So we spent a few hours there, breathing fresh air and deciding the long walk around was not for us, haha, but we took pictures and laughed and enjoyed the view. Not bad.

After this, we went back to Dublin to find some lunch. Our group is the worst at making decisions, especially in regards of food and when to eat. So we ended up with three different meals and times for us all. But we got to see more of the city, and as I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t had much sightseeing before of Dublin so I enjoyed it as much as the next tourist!

We also checked out Trinity College, but it was dark by then and so we only did a quick tour before heading back to the hotel to freshen up. We had plans to visit the oldest pub in Ireland later, namely The Brazen Head. Unfortunatly the kitchen had closed when we arrived, which was very disappointing (reminder: always check if the kitchen is still open before starting to drool over the menu, haha!), but at least I got to guide them through the Temple Bar area, in which we heard some Irish traditional music, yay! We ended up on the top floor of a nice pub and sat there a while, trying out some beverages. Funny story: we kept asking for “drinks”, on which the bartender responded with “what kind of drinks?” and we got frustrated because we wanted drinks! Finally it dawned on us that what we saw as drinks were really cocktails. Well, you learn something new each and every day, however embarrassing it might be for you.

ImageSaturday! We spent most of this day in Wicklow county, where we visited Glendalough and the lakes there. Madde and Ellinor panicked on the bus, along with a few others I’m sure, because the AC wasn’t on, hahah. It was so warm in there! The driver finally turned it on and there was this sighing of appreciation going through the bus. Finally there, we didn’t walk around a lot and found that 4 hours wasn’t that much after all, but it was windy. We had major resistance! We got to see the upper lake and had tons of fresh mountain air. No wonder we felt completely exhausted on our way back…

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In the evening we finally got to eat at The Brazen Head. Such wonderful atmosphere! A really great place, I recommend it to anyone who’s visiting Dublin. The waiters and waitresses were so friendly and nice and it had that Irish pub vibe about it. (Mucho tasty food too, I must add.)

Oh, and afterwards we crawled back to the hotel, ended up watching some tv and I got to sleep in a cosy, warm hotel bed. Can you imagine how wonderful it is for your back to sleep on an ergonomic mattress again after months of having to use a .. foam rubber one? No, I didn’t think you could. It was amazing. And I slept all night through. Yay, sleep!

Sunday, our last day together until next time we see each other. We were so stressed, haha. Got up way too late for a calm, relaxed rest of the day, so I guess we brought that stress on ourselves. But sleeping in is so nice. Anyhooow, after paying a quick but necessary visit to UCD (both to show them around and to print the tickets for their flight), we went to see Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity College. Been there and seen it before, but it’s just as fantastic as ever. History, you know? I love the library, it’s.. magnificent, truly. And I’m not just saying that because I’m to become a librarian. I will show you pictures, but I urge everyone to get a glimpse of it in reality, because it has this real smell of old books. The smell Rupert Giles speak of in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’m a huge fan of the series!).ImageImageSo that’s that. After this time disappeared in a cloud of eating, bags and running to the bus. It was a bit sad waving them off, being the only one left, but at least it wasn’t raining. I’ll see them soon again, I hope, in the next year which isn’t that far off now, holy paraffin, Batman!

Illuminate the Sky – Martin Halla

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St. Lucia’s Day and DoS

Today is the celebration of St. Lucia, of which you can read more here, in Scandinavia. Even though I haven’t been involved in any of the celebrations recent years, it’s still a tradition that I will probably always cherish and appreciate. I love the idea of how the light is approaching again in the form of a girl and this “candlelit” procession. When I was younger, this day always meant that we were closer than ever to Christmas Eve!

And while I’m not going to experience any St. Lucia celebrations in Ireland, I am at least going to the cinema in a few hours to see The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s second part of the Hobbit trilogy. Maybe not so Christmas-y per se, but I have been looking forward to this for quite some time now. The trailer disappointed me a bit as well as posters I’ve seen, and the reviews I’ve read haven’t exactly been raising the movie to the skies (I don’t even know if this is a legit expression in English, I just translated straight from Swedish haha), but still. I get to see Legolas again! And Thranduil, the fascinating one.

I will soon put up a post with pictures from my friends’ visit. 🙂 (And by ‘soon’ I mean anytime between now and a few days.)

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Back to reality.

Harry in Winter – Patrick Doyle

I am back from a long weekend of fun in the company of some of my very closest and dearest friends. There will be pictures up shortly, but not just yet since I’m in the middle of making sense of and transferring my notes from Pagan Celts into Word. It’s been many years since I had to study for more than one exam at a time, and I admit it makes me kind of nervous. How do you unscatter your thoughts when your mind is already home in Sweden preparing for Christmas?

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The Day!

Greetings!

Today is the long awaited day. Today is the day when my true sightseeing of Dublin can begin. Today is the day. The day when my fellow comrades from BorĂ„s (where I study in Sweden) arrive in Ireland to visit me. By the time I write this, they have been in Dublin an hour already, if everything has run smoothly. Of course, I haven’t heard from them just yet, so yes, I am a bit worried, since they did mention there is some kind of new storm, Sven, roaming about in Sweden today. But I’m hoping for the best and crossing my fingers while eagerly waiting for their call or text or chat message.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing here during their stay, if any, so just a heads up for all my loyal readers. (And of course my possibly new readers as well.)

Until next time!

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Trim 24/11.

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Trim Castle.

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The Duke of Wellington monument.

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And to top it off, according to my dad (and mom?) this is the pub where dad performed a Swedish song to the (I’m sure) intrigued and surprised pub customers!

Have a delightful Tuesday!

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The emptiness! The emptiness? The emptiness.

Friends! Acquaintances! Strangers!

I can hereby officially relax for the first time in months! I just submitted my final assignment. It’s not like it’s my finest work and I doubt there will be any nice messages from my lecturer, but at least I can say that I tried. I truly did my very best with something I have never done before and something that had caused a lot of frustration recently. I’ll just go with the lovely Daniel Radcliffe on this: I tried, therefore no one should criticize me. Isn’t that right? Yeah!

So now it’s all… empty. It’s empty! Well, at least this coming week. I won’t spend a lot of time even thinking about studies while my friends are here visiting. I will have enough of that after they have left and I must face reality again. Brrrr.

But until then,

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

I shall rock the night away. Tah-ta!

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