December 2, 2008

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.



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