Archive for December, 2008

December 28, 2008

December 29th, 2008 by meemmi10

This holiday season was jam packed with culture, friends and laughs, and good food.  To make it a bit easier to read, I’ll organize this holiday adventure by city.  A friend and I flew into Pisa, Italy and then took a bus to Florence to meet up with another Holy Crosser on Dec. 17th and until Dec. 29th we were in Italy.

Rome: It was a lot warmer in Rome when we arrived, which was nice but threw us off a little in terms of the Christmastime spirit.  Rome was bustling and our first stop was to see the Forum and the Colosseum.  We ventured also to the Centro Storico and saw the Pantheon followed by the Spanish Steps and eventually ventured off to the Villa Borghese with the beautiful Galleria Borghese that we spent hours in looking at Bernini’s sculptures.  A whole day was dedicated to the Vatican City where we saw of course The Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums.  A favorite spot was the Trevi fountain. 

Florence: Tuscany is quite beautiful and our first day trip we went to Fiesole, a small town with a beautiful view of the Tuscan countryside.  Our visit included a climb of the Duomo with its beautiful view of Florence and frescoed dome, which was constructed by Brunelleschi. We passed by the famous Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, saw Michaelangelo’s David, the Basilica San Lorenzo, traversed the street markets, and took a break at the Chiesa Di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross).  A favorite trip was to the Galleria Palatina.

Sorrento: Getting closer to Christmas, it was time for us to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the Almafi coast and celebrate with our friends.  It was definitely hard to be without our families, but it was fun to make Christmas decorations (we made a construction paper tree and snowflakes!) and dinner with friends.  On Christmas Eve, just a quick train ride away, we visited the ruins of Pompeii, which was really amazing.  We saw the pottery left over, the amphitheaters, “restaurants” back in the day, and a few bodies taken by the volcanic eruption.  Christmas Eve dinner was a lot of fun after which we made some gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa (some things don’t change).  We went to midnight mass in Italian which was new for me.  I loved listening to the choir and was able to chime in when they sang Adeste Fideles.  An interesting tradition, either at this parish or maybe it’s an Italian tradition was that after mass was over, the baby Jesus in the crèche was held up and everyone formed a line to kiss the foot of the baby Jesus.  Christmas morning we woke up with our “yankee swap” presents that we bought for each other under our paper tree.  We made breakfast and headed to the beach in Sorrento.  Not warm enough for swimming but we took beautiful pictures, called our families and stuck our toes in the water!

Naples: The day we arrived we had a beautiful view of the port and walked around the city and saw some of the castles near the shore.  Besides visiting the Naples Archeological Museum that held the remains and mosaics of Pompeii, our goal in Naples was to enjoy their famous pizza.  We did this with much success when we tried the pizza at Pizzeria di Matteo and the extremely large pizza at Pizzeria da Michele!!!!  The best!  Another day, we were fortunate enough to meet with one of our friends relatives in Pozzuoli, where they showed us the volcanoes, the view of Capri and Ischia from Pozzuoli, and treated us to a traditional meal.

What I really enjoyed about this portion of the trip was the ability to discover Italy and compare how life is in Ireland.  The pace of life is different, a little slower in parts of Italy in comparison to the city of Dublin.  I also really liked comparing the cathedrals I’ve seen in Ireland with those of Italy- the architecture and art within is very different and it shows a bit of what each culture values.  I love art, paintings especially, so it was interesting to view a lot of the Italian art in the form of frescoes.  My neck hurt a bit from constantly looking upwards!  It also made me very excited to go back to the National Gallery in Ireland.  I discovered I loved the Irish artists there and am excited to say that they are still some of my favorite works of art.

Next and final stop of the trip was Paris for New Year’s. 



December 10, 2008

December 10th, 2008 by meemmi10

So, it’s a bit late here in Ireland, but that’s because I’m finishing packing! I am going to Alsace, France for five days! And will visit the place where my great grandparents were from.  Classes ended the first week of December, ending Michaelmas term.  I finished my last paper and lab report Friday (Dec. 5th), went Christmas shopping in Dublin – so I have pictures of Grafton street lit up, with “Merry Christmas” in Irish- and started packing and saying goodbye to friends who leave for home.  Last night (Dec. 9th) was fun because my Neuroscience classmates had a Kris-Kringle gift exchange- it was hilarious- you had to wear the gift you received at the pub.

That’s my little update, but will have more news (and pictures) when I return from France.


December shopping 001
December shopping 002
December shopping 007
December shopping 009

October 31, 2008

December 3rd, 2008 by meemmi10

After that first week of running around, the start of the second week of classes (3rd week of October) was already in full swing.  Mondays are the busiest day starting with Estuarine Ecology (following later in the semester by Marine Biology), Sociology lecture and tutorial, French, followed by a break then Philosophy and finishing the day with my Irish language class.

One thing a lot of us have to get used to is the time table here.  A lot of classes are later on in the day and I’ve noticed the Irish students study more during the day – there’s hardly a free library spot in the afternoons!  This is different for most of us at Holy Cross where we have a lot of classes throughout the whole day and study at Dinand at night.  I’ll not bore you with my full timetable but other courses I’m taking in this term are neurophysiology and introduction to neuroscience (yea, bio-premed! — It’s always interesting to explain to my Irish classmates how our system works at HC and then how I’ve managed to squeeze into most of the departments here at Trinity).

It’s been an experience getting books here too at Trinity Library—not to be confused with The Old Library that holds The Book of Kells.  TCD students have access to 3 libraries (called “BLU”): Berkley, Lecky, and Ussher Libraries which are all connected.  Only some books here are on loan and sometimes all the multiple copies are taken out- so you make due- and I’ve found that since most Irish students go home on the weekends, its best to get those needed books on the weekends.

Getting closer to the end of October, I had a few friends visit which was great because I showed them around Dublin: St. Stephen’s Green, The National Gallery and even took a tour of Dublin Castle — which I’d never done.  It was beautiful, the rooms with the elegant carpets and drawing room with mirrors at the floor- called “petticoat mirrors.”  After enjoying lovely Grafton Street we wound up at my favorite tea spot, Avoca Cafe right near the Molly Malone statue.  My favorite night was going to one of my favorite pubs- The Quay’s Bar- where there’s great food and great music.  We sang with the live music and had a blast.  We also went to catch some traditional Irish music at O’Neils.

The last week of October- can’t believe its going by sooo fast!  Trinity Student’s Union organizes every week and being Halloween week there was much to do.  Halloween actually date’s back to the Celts ancient festival of Samhain.  Another fun fact — a special treat during Halloween, which friends and I bought, is called Brack.  It’s similar to our fruit cake at Christmastime, but in my opinion it’s much better.  Also, if you read Joyce’s short story “Clay” in Dubliners, you’ll read of some of the Irish Halloween traditions.  Places all over Dublin have events and costume nights for Halloween.  So we went dancing one night where I was “Sandy” from Grease.  The next night friends and I celebrated again, this time we were a group of 80s girls.  A really fun event was held by the Science Gallery at Trinity, there was face painting, food, movies, and a guy walking around with a snake!  At the time, the neuroscience exhibit was going on, so my classmate who works there showed me one of the demos.  Really it was no demo—but a Halloween trick.  He had me perform this test on a computer and while I was focusing on the screen, a face popped up and screamed.  I screamed, he laughed, but it was hilarious!  There was even a parade and fireworks in Temple Bar Halloween night.  (A friend from Rome stopped by too, its funny how while your abroad, friends just pop up!).

December 2, 2008

December 2nd, 2008 by meemmi10

Getting to November- yea!  Well, this November so far has been the big month for studying and paper writing.  Its different being in 3 terms as opposed to 2 semesters — I feel like I just started class and so soon in December some will be over — most though, will continue into the other terms and are like an Holy Cross semester.  Trinity is even thinking of “semesterizing” next year.

Election Day was quite a big day here as well.  There’s a huge amount of Obama support, but I wrote about that a little already — but it’s interesting because being an American abroad, I felt a bit removed.  It was an exciting time, but almost doesn’t feel real.  Still, its fun to see how informed some of the Irish students keep themselves with regards to the US.

The week of the US election was also a busy one in Ireland.  All of a sudden Christmas decorations were starting to appear!  I guess since there is no Thanksgiving, its only natural to start preparing for Santa Claus.  It was also a bit stressful of a week for me as it meant that travel plans for the Christmas Holiday needed to be solidified.  Yep, I’m being brave and not going home for Christmas or New Year’s, so you’ll have fun, exciting adventures to read about.

November has really flown by and the following weeks consisted of classes, papers, and studying with the occasional night out with my Irish classmates.  A fun night was with one of the clubs I’m involved in — Europa.  It was French Film Festival Week and so we all went to the Irish Film Institute- which is a really swanky, cool looking theater that has tons of great films.  We saw the French film Lady Jane.  It was great to speak a bit of French with some of the students and while the movie was not a favorite, it was fun experience.

Later that week, a few of HCer’s met up with Maeve, our academic advisor for lunch at a place called The Bank.  It used to be a bank, hence the name, but it was a really relaxing place and already decorated with a grand Christmas tree, that people were taking pictures of as they left.  It was a fun lunch to catch up, hear about new music venues from Maeve, and talk about our cultural immersion projects.  And guess what?  This is mine!  It’s a great opportunity for me to speak about my experiences, but it also an invitation to really explore my surroundings so I have some stories to tell you!  And to share some pictures of my favorite things!

That last Sunday was spent visiting an outdoor market followed by dinner at Silvia’s house.  It was great to catch up with Silvia (our cultural advisor) and hear about her experience in the States during the election.

The last week of November- a few highlights: my sociology presentation on Monday, Coffee Hour for French speakers with Modern Language Society on Tuesday, where a few of us exchanged emails to have “Conversation Exchanges” throughout the week, free TCD Choir concert on Wednesday, and Thursday —- THANKSGIVING!  It was so fun to explain this holiday to my classmates and tell them about our traditions and the crazy shopping sprees following Thanksgiving.  Friday, my lab was canceled and that weekend was spent in HOLLAND!

Friends and I went to Holland, The Hague more specifically, to spend the weekend with our friend’s family.  It was soo wonderful!  Wonderful to be with friends, family, home cooked meals, and have a personal tour guide to show us Holland.

Our first adventure was to bike to the center of town.  What a cute place and in the windows there are decorations for Christmas, but Holland’s special holiday is The Feast of Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas, so there were Sinterklaas’and his helper Zwarte Piet in every window.  There was a shop making marzipan that looked so tasty too and a favorite stand was making fresh fried dough with powdered sugar — those were great.

The next day, we visited Anne Frank’s house — and that was a truly moving experience.  While we were waiting in line, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet came by on a horse and carriage and they threw traditional cookies,called pepernoten, out to everyone.

Also on our trip we went to the Mauritshuis, a museum in The Hague which holds the famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”  This was soo exciting to see in person and its even more striking looking directly at it. We then did some more exploring in Amsterdam, visited Delft and looked at some of the famous pottery, and then it was time to go back to Dublin.  But after this trip, I really feel that Holland will always be a special place for me to remember.