Exams in Ireland

Monday, December 12, 2011

I've been sitting in front of my computer for a few hours now, knowing that I need to start studying for my next exam but that is of course not happening so here I am.  There's really not much to update on since I've barely moved from my kitchen table in the last three days but I am too mystified by the process of exams in Ireland to not make a post about it. 

 In the U.S. final exams are fairly laid back. You would have a scheduled final time but the test would take place in the classroom you regularly attend and if your professor is feeling nice they will just give it to you on the last day of classes so you don't have to stick around for the actual scheduled date.  You would also only get one "reading day" between the end of classes and the start of finals to study.

In Ireland, however, exams are like SATs on crack. 

The process begins with a week long "revision" week.  As you can see from my frequent posts, I struggled to utilize this week in the way it was intended.

After revisions the exams are spread over a week and a half.  Most of the exams for UCD and Trinity are held at a place called the Royal Dublin Society or RDS.  I'm not sure what this place's main function is but I'm pretty sure it's actually just there to hold functions.  My bus goes by it on my way to Blackrock and every day there are signs advertising for Knitting Fairs or Priest Concerts or other strange events.  I'm hoping UCD has some type of deal with the RDS because I cannot begin to imagine what the cost might be to rent these halls for two weeks.  Considering the university is state funded I would not be happy to know that my money was going to rent out these halls when there are hundreds of perfectly good classrooms on campus that could serve the same purpose.

After entering what looks like an airplane hanger, you have to find your assigned seat number and then mill around with the hundreds of other students waiting to be herded into the exam hall.  You aren't allowed to bring bags into the hall so they have a "cloakroom" (aka a space on the floor) that you can check your things for a euro per item (ripoff).

I was amazed upon entering the hall.  I don't know how many desks and chairs the hall holds but I've never seen anything quite like it.  Actually, I just checked out the RDS website and apparently the hall we were in can hold 1800 desks.  Impressive.

O.W.L.s at Hogwarts?
They come around and check your id a few times; you have to put the cover of your calculator on the floor under your chair; there are of course no phones allowed; if you leave the hall at any point you're not allowed back in.  There's a man that speaks into a microphone and tells you all the rules but I was so far back I couldn't see him... it all felt very Big Brother-ish. I was actually more nervous about doing something wrong during the exam than about the exam itself.

My favorite part was that the people that walk around during the exam to make sure you're not cheating are called "Invigilators," which I think is just the coolest name.  I wonder if anyone has ever grown up hoping to become an Invigilator.  It's kind of like Terminator for the less physically fit. 

Though for being Invigilators they weren't too vigilant.  They didn't realize I had a graphing calculator until an hour into the exam.  Luckily they just gave me a regular one but if I had been planning on cheating I'm pretty sure I would have had plenty of time to do so.

Overall it was quite an experience.  The exam itself wasn't so thrilling but it's over with and I'm moving on to my next exams... as soon as I get off the internet.

Vocab Lessons

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another procrastination post!  My  first exam still isn't for five days and I also found out that my finance exam is open book/note so I'm having an even harder time motivating myself to study.  Instead, I've decided to give a little vocabulary lesson.  The U.S. gets a lot of flack for basically forcing it's culture upon other countries.  Living in a country like Ireland, however, has shown me that even with all of the exposure to McDonald's and the Jersey Shore, the U.S. hasn't been able to impose all of it's words and phrases around the world.  These are just some words that have different meanings at home and I thought I'd take some time today to share them.

1.) Jumper - Here a jumper is a sweater. At home a jumper is an overall dress that little girls wear.  This one isn't too hard for me to remember since I don't think many people wear American styled jumpers after the age of five.  And using "jumper" to mean sweater has been used in the U.S. just not very often by me.

Irish Jumper
American Jumper

2.) Biscuit - A biscuit in Ireland is a bit like a cookie but usually without anything in or on it. To me they are kind of like a cross between a cookie and a cracker.  They are also sometimes known as "digestives" here which I think is the worst name for any type of food.  In the U.S. a biscuit is more like a dinner roll.  Also, biscuit is one of those words that if you say it enough times it doesn't even sound like a real word... just in case you were wondering.
American Biscuit

Irish Biscuit

 3.)  Chips - I'm sure this is one everyone knows but I guess it can't hurt to point it out.  Chips in Ireland are french fries in the U.S.  What we call chips at home are called crisps here.  I have a hard time saying "crisps" so I generally just call everything chips.  I do love the fact that Ireland has "Chippers." Chippers are basically shops that just make chips and sell them any way possible.  They have dozens of different dips and sauces to douse your chips in. On any given night you will see hundreds of people at these places after a night out dancing.
Delicious by any name

4.) Boots - At one point or another before coming to Ireland I had been exposed to most of these terms I am listing.  The one term that caught me completely off guard, however, was "boots".  The night before my first frisbee practice at UCD I got an email reminding me to bring some warm clothes, plenty of water and "don't forget your boots!"... umm boots? How am I ever going to play frisbee running around in boots?!  Is this some kind of resistance training where you wear something really heavy so when you put on normal shoes you run quicker?  Fortunately with the magic of google I realized that boots here are cleats at home.  I averted disaster and showed up with my cleats in hand and acted calm and cool the next time boots were mentioned.  I even helped some of my less informed friends when they were confused by the word. 
Not for playing frisbee


5.) TK Maxx - No, that's not a spelling mistake.  TK Maxx here is the Irish/UK version of TJ Maxx.  Myself and a friend were so confused by this little change that did some research to discover that there was at some point in the UK another store that started with TJ so they simply changed the letter and renamed the store.

<- Very original ->

6.) School - If you say that you are in "school" in Ireland, people will assume that you are still in high school.  While in the U.S. everything is called school, here you would say college or university. At home if someone were to text you saying 'where are you?' you would say "I'm at school" while here you would say "I'm at college."  It's funny because I remember the first time I heard it the Irish way I thought it sounded so strange but now it's almost second nature.  I have enough trouble with looking young so I need to remember that I'm in 'college' not 'school'.

7.) Kid - I've been told the American usage of "kid" is strange to some Irish.  Even at home it generally means someone younger or closer to childhood, however we still use it all the time.  "I'm meeting up with some kids from school" to me means 'I'm going out with some friends from college', while an Irish person is probably picturing me running around with a bunch of 15 year olds at a playground. 

8.) Ride - One I won't go into great detail about but it drives me crazy.  The word "ride" is used here in a strictly sexual sense.  It's one of the hardest things to take out of my vocabulary and it usually causes me to stutter around sentences that involve bicycles, buses, cars, trains, etc.  I've gotten much better but it's still something I have to actively work on remembering.  I also feel like I sound snobby when I say "I cycled into town" or "I got a lift from a friend" so I'm not sure how that's going to go over when I head back state side.

 9.) Craic - Pronounced like "crack"... not to be confused with crack cocaine.  In Ireland "craic" is used all the time and in many different ways but it is generally used as a term for fun, or what's up. It's just a general way to greet someone and see what's going on.  If someone came up to you and said "How's the craic?" they are not questioning the quality of a recent alleyway purchase you may have just made, they are just asking you how things are going.

10.) Yard - When my roommate back in Boston told me about playing sports in her garden when she was younger I kept thinking, "wow your mom must hate you for stomping all over her flowers."  To me a garden is where you grow flowers and vegetables.  A garden in Ireland is called a "yard" in the U.S.  To the Irish a yard is a concrete slab most likely located in a questionable neighborhood.

11.) Football - I thought this one was easy.  There's American Football and then there is European Football, known as soccer in the U.S.  Of course Ireland never makes anything that simple.  Depending on where you live in Ireland "football" can be referring to soccer or it can be referring to "GAA football" which is an entirely different sport.  Those who call the Irish version "football" will often call the European version soccer like Americans do.  There's also the problem that many Irish also follow American football so when someone brings it up, no matter what, some type of clarification is needed.

Well.  That killed a solid two hours that I should have been using to study.  Also, only two weeks til I head home for Christmas.  This is great since I just got a strong urge to go snowboarding which is not really a possibility here.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Living in the City Centre has so many benefits that I in no way regret my move, but I have been struggling with finding a place to run.  The motivation to run comes so rarely that I really need to take advantage of it when it hits me.  When I was living in Boston I had a bike path just behind my apartment on which I could run for miles with only one or two roads to cross over and some bicyclists to dodge.   UCD also had a nice path and a large enough campus that I could get a decent run in without having to go out on the roads.

The few times I've tried running since living here, however, have been difficult.  There are a few parks in the area but they aren't really big enough to run through without have to loop around and backtrack a few times.  There's also the problem of the thousands of tourists that like to walk around and take pictures of everything.  This isn't so much a problem in the parks themselves but between the tourists and the traffic just getting to the parks is a hassel.

I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before, but if I just go north I can run along the Quays with almost no interruptions.  There aren't many tourist sites until you get down near O'Connell Street and there are only a couple bridges that you may have to stop at a light for.  It is also a beautiful area with the Liffey on one side and mix of new modern office buildings and old dock houses on the other.  For being in the center of the city it is actually quite peaceful.  I just have to turn on my boy Lupe and go.  The more important problem is, of course, actually finding that motivation to run.  Hopefully this will be easier now that I've found somewhere to go... hopefully.

I also don't think that it is much of a coincidence that as I inch closer to finals my motivations to clean, do laundry, exercise, and blog become greater.

The Liffey

Avoca and Aloe Blacc

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two posts in a week... I'm on a roll!  Yesterday was a surprisingly eventful day though I wasn't expecting it to be at all.  I spent most of the afternoon cleaning and doing laundry and all those other things that no one likes doing but must get done once in a while.  Around 6 my friend Claire came over and we then headed down to Avoca in Blackrock for a small Christmas party that the MiM administration was putting on for us.  They told us we could get two free drinks and finger foods so I couldn't see a reason not to go.  They were expecting more people to show up however there were only a small group of us.  This worked out great since they had a certain number of drink vouchers that they of course didn't want to go to waste so we each got several more vouchers than originally intended. It was also great to be able to sit down and chat with some people that I haven't really had a chance to get to know since the start of the program.

After several drinks and lots of food, my friend told me that she had an extra (free) ticket to a concert in the city centre.  I was on a great take-advantage-of-free-things streak so I figured why not! The performer was Aloe Blacc.  I had never heard of him and I'm guessing most of you probably haven't either.  I bet you do know his biggest song "I Need A Dollar".  I took some videos but the quality is terrible so I'm not going to damage the man's name by posting them here.  I would suggest that you look him up on Youtube though.  I was expecting a little more rap / hip hop but he was much more blues / soul music.  It probably wouldn't have been the first type of concert I would think about seeing but it was actually really great and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!   It also didn't hurt that it was sponsored by Heineken so I got a couple more free drinks out of the night!
Aloe Blacc at The Olympia

Tourneys, Thanksgivings, Lashes and Tashes

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Well I've let another large amount of time go by between posts.  I think the last time I posted I was complaining about the project/presentation combo that I was working on.  After those were done there was an accounting project that needed to get completed so I will use that as my excuse for continuing in my trend of not posting!  I'm not at all happy with my grade for the finance project however today was my last day of classes for the semester so I'm trying to just enjoy that instead of dwelling.

Since my last post I've registered myself with the government so I am officially here legally... only a couple of months late.  I also had a second frisbee tournament.  This was women's indoor intervarsities to which UCD sent two teams, one placing 3rd and the other (mine) placing 5th out of 13 teams! 

Last week was the week of many Thanksgivings.  My friend Melissa, who is from Boston but I met over here, invited me to a dinner she was having on the actual day of Thanksgiving.  It was a delicious dinner and great company and I was very happy to be invited.  On Saturday a few girls in my program decided that they were going to host a Thanksgiving dinner.  Again, another amazing meal!  Sunday afternoon I met up with a few of the Irish that were Boston this past year for another "Thanksgiving" meal though we had it at a Mexican/Italian restaurant.  I've never celebrated Thanksgiving with a burrito before this year but there are definitely worse ways to do it I guess!

Last night was the Smurfit Lashes and Tashes party at Lillie's Bordello.  I haven't had a night out in a while and it was so much fun.  Lots of fun eyelashes and mustaches and of course a lot of dancing!

I've really just been using most of this past week to relax since studying time is coming very quickly.  While at home we would have one day between the end of classes and the start of finals, here we have a full week.  It's going to be hard for me to focus but I should really take advantage of that time to get some studying done.  That, of course, isn't going to start tonight so I'm going to continue the trend I've had going for the past few days and watch a nice Christmas movie before bed.  Oh!  We've also finally gotten our couch and gotten a small Christmas tree!
Christmas tree by candlelight

Projects and Presentations

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I wish I could update saying I've done all these amazing things in the past week however that would be a lie.  My group has the unfortunate honor of having our Organizational Behavior presentation and our second finance project due on the same day.  This finance project is just as bad as the first, if not worse.  Our professor is also expecting every group to meet with him at least 3 times in a two week span.  There are 18 groups and most of them are lucky if they are getting one meeting with him.  Luckily we anticipated this and will be having our third tomorrow.  Even with the meetings the project is still ridiculous and we've put in far too many hours to count.  OB seems much more manageable however it will still take quite a bit of prep time.   I, like everyone before and after me, am dreading getting up to speak but I guess I should accept it as a learning experience. 

Anyway,  most of the past week and for the rest of this week finance and ob are about the most excitement I get!

Also still no couch in the apartment. Time to start making some phone calls.

Catch Up Time

Monday, October 31, 2011

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post.  I remember thinking about what I was going to write for the one month mark of being in Dublin but I'm already going on two months now.  Things have been pretty crazy since my last post and I could easily bore you to death with details so I'm going to try to keep it short. 

College has gotten much busier.  We've had a couple midterms (accounting and econ) along with our first assignment for finance that I think could have very nearly taken out half of the MiM program if we didn't have each other for support.   I made it through all of that just in time for my professors to start talking about finals, of course.

Our duck showerhead. Cutest part of the new apartment.
Aside from all the boring college stuff I've also moved!  Living on campus was fine but after talking with my friend Kat about how unhappy she was with living in the dorms at Trinity we decided to look for an apartment together closer to the city centre.  Everyone I lived with at UCD was great but I felt like I was missing out on a lot of what Dublin had to offer.  UCD's campus was also dead on the weekends which was good for getting work done but not so good for living in general.  Either way within a week Kat and I had gone from just thinking about moving out to having an apartment right in the city centre!  It's cute and in an amazing location and I've only added about 10-15 minutes to my total commute to class.  I really enjoy just being able to walk out my front door and be in the city.  And considering it costs the same as it did to live on campus I feel like it's a great deal.  Granted the first two days we didn't have electricity and for the  first week we didn't have hot water, a fridge, or internet it's still wonderful.  Even without those things we've survived and we've been fully enjoying it.

Our friends Andrea and BJ came to stay with us in Dublin the same day that we moved in to the apartment.  While we couldn't offer them hot water, a place to store food, an internet connection, or a couch to sleep on it was so great having them here!  It also helped to have them to act as a distraction for all the thing that we didn't have.

Last week there was massive flooding throughout Dublin.  It was interesting to me because Ireland is famous for its rain however they tend to have a continuous light drizzle and it apparently rarely downpours like it did this past week.  Either way there was some serious flooding and two deaths in Ireland because of the rain.  The DART (the commuter line that I should take to class) has been shut down for most of this weekend for repairs caused by the storm.  Hopefully it will be up and running in time for class tomorrow.

Friday night I went out with a friend for tapas and wine at Market Bar and then to a comedy show at the International Club.  I've paid a lot of money in the past to see some big name comedians but I have never enjoyed a show more than at this club.  They managed to squeeze 100 people into a tiny hot room but that some how made it even more enjoyable.  I will definitely be going back again soon.

This weekend was the Trinitea Party which was a beginner's frisbee tournament at Trinity.  It was a lot of fun and it was a great way to meet some people that I will probably be seeing regularly throughout the year.
What may be my only accomplishment for the day.

Today is Halloween and also a Bank Holiday.  I still haven't really figured out what the reason is for the holiday but I'm not going to complain about it and instead use it to try to catch up on work that I've been putting off for various reasons over the past week. We'll see how much I actually get done!

I still haven't really been out of Dublin which is making me a little antsy so I think it's time to start planning a trip.  Not sure when or where but I will be planning a trip soon.  I'm very open to any suggestions!

Hottest Day of the Year in Dublin

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today was apparently the hottest day of the year in Dublin.  As this article points out it reached a whopping 25.5 degrees today.  That is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit.  It's just funny when thinking that at home the average temp for the week was around 80 and that is just normal for the tail end of summer.  It was a beautiful day but unfortunately I had to spend 5 hours of it in class. 

In other new I started ultimate frisbee yesterday!  My first practice was last night and it went very well.  Tonight we had a girl's team social at TGI Friday's in town.  It was great to get to sit down and talk with some of the girls and I think being part of the team is going to be a lot of fun. 

Other than that everything's going well.  I already have a midterm that I should start studying for but that will most likely be put off for a few days. 

Arthur's Day and Culture Night

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm finally starting to feel better!  Sore throat is gone, coughing is at a minimum, and sneezing etc. is under control.  It just took a full weekend of rest to reach that point.

Thursday was Arthur's Day.  This was a day created two years ago to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the creation of the Guinness Factory.  The celebration went so well that they've now made it a yearly occurrence.  My course rented out a bar in Blackrock where we got some great discounts on drinks and free finger foods.  The whole point of the day is to 'cheers' to Arthur Guinness at 17:59 which was not hugely enthusiastic, mainly because it was hard for people to get a good enough buzz between the end of class at 3pm and that time to turn it into a real celebration.  Of course everyone reached that point soon after and it was an all around great night. 

The River Liffey
Friday was Culture Night in Dublin.  I met up with Kat and her roommates in town and, while we intended to do 'culture' things, we just kept ending up at bars.  To give ourselves some credit we did follow a marching band, walked into an art gallery, and used the bathroom in City Hall which was having an exhibit. 

Other than that my weekend has been pretty low key.  I keep forgetting that the library is closed on Sunday so while I should have printed a bunch of things yesterday I figured I'd have plenty of time today.  Right now I'm ecstatic to have found a good stream to watch the Pats game on and, since I don't know how long it's going to last, I'm going to go enjoy it!

Culture Shock

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Well, I should be doing work right now but blogging is a great way to procrastinate while still feeling like I'm accomplishing something.  Classes are going well.  I'm shocked to find out that I am still understanding accounting but I'm just going to enjoy it while it lasts.  I also really enjoy my classmates.  They are all a lot of fun and make coming to class each day better.  A decent sized group of us went out Wednesday night to the Bleeding Horse and then after to Copper Face Jacks.  I feel like bars/clubs in Ireland are surprisingly a bit more upstanding than at home but I think Coppers would be the equivalent to the Liquor Store in Boston. Its fun when you're there but remembering it the next morning is a little painful.

Smurfit Business School
That leads me to one of the biggest differences that I've noticed so far while being here.  I guess this could be my little piece of "Culture Shock". Students here go out all nights of the week like they are equal.  I wasn't home until 4:30 on Thursday morning and struggled in class the next day but for most students here that is the norm.  I've come up with a sort of roundabout explanation for it granted it is totally just my assumptions.  When you're a student in college in the US you can't legally drink until 21 which is usually your junior year of college so there is not point of going home on weekends because you'll just end up sitting on a couch next to your parents.  Instead you stay on campus, invite your friends over, and find an older student willing to buy for you.   Because the drinking age here is 18 kids can go home on the weekends and drink with home friends.  This causes the campus to be absolutely dead on the weekends (terrible for me).  This also means that if they want to go out with their college friends they have to do it during the week so it just becomes normal to go out on a Monday, Tuesday, etc.  I of course had fun going out Wednesday but the thought of doing that regularly seems painful.  I just find it interesting how different the two situations are. 

Friday I had a presentation boot camp with Emma Ledden who used to be on MTV and apparently a few tv shows over here.  It was very helpful but after 8 hours I was just tired.  Later that evening I took a trip to Maynooth which is another University about 30 minutes from Dublin where some Boston friends were gathered.  It was beyond nice to see them again. 

Saturday I was supposed to go on a field trip to a farm outside of Dublin but for various reason I didn't go.  Later that night people came over to my apartment for a late birthday celebration.  We had a few drinks and then we went to the Palace, another Dublin club.  It was a lot of fun and I was so surprised to find that people just don't grope you here... they actually dance unlike at home where you have to be wary of going into a club without a taser.  Maybe I just go to the wrong clubs at home but I honestly don't think you could find anything like that in Boston for only a 10 euro cover. 

This week is "Fresher's Week" where all the societies and sports teams set up booths in the student center and bribe you into joining with free pizza.  I joined the L&H Society (Literary and Historical Society) that is supposed to have some great debates and I believe the twins from Harry Potter are coming in a few weeks.  I also joined the International Student Society and signed up for something else though I'm not even sure of its name... I just know that they had the biggest goodie bag. I also signed up for the frisbee team which will be nice to get back into and a great way to meet people.

In other news, I fell off my bike for the first time since I was about 12... granted I haven't ridden a bike much since then, but it was just as embarrassing, if not more so, as it was back then.  I just hit a curb awkwardly and did a nice slide into the sidewalk.  Luckily I didn't go into traffic but I should really start considering getting a helmet.

And now, after a great but exhausting week, I'm sick.  I'm attempting to overdose on vitamin C and get as much rest as possible but we'll see how well that works.

Birthday Weekend

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's been quite a busy weekend.  Kat arrived early on Saturday and because everything was closed on campus for the weekend we headed into the city to find food.  We ended up at Starbucks but it was at least a Starbucks in Dublin.  After that we walked around for a bit, stopping at the mall next to St. Stephen's Green to get some household things and a cell phone for Kat.  We later took a walk through Trinity's campus and people watched for a bit.  We were only there for a few hours but by 1:00 Kat was exhausted having flown through the night and I was suffering from a bout of sympathy jet lag.  While she napped I got some work done.  Later on we trekked off campus to find some food but there was only one place within walking distance and it was in the middle of a neighborhood.  After making fools of ourselves we managed to sit down to a nice meal.

Sunday was my birthday!  We slept in, made a nice pancake breakfast, and then headed back into the city center.  We met Ellen at the Guinness Storehouse where we took a tour and got our free pint of Guinness!  I have to say the Guinness Factory is massive compared to the Sam Adam's Factory but both were very interesting tours to go on.

After Guinness we went to Burdock's where we all got fish and chips and then headed back to my apartment for a nap.  A little later in the evening some friends came over for drinks and cake.

It's nice to already be in my second week of class.  I'm starting to get settled a bit more each day.  My bike ride to and from class has been enjoyable and it has been giving me a decent work out twice a day.  I need to remember to get a picture of my bike to share.

Settling In

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sorry for the delay in this post.  It has been a hectic, crazy, and exciting few weeks and I've only now found a minute to sit down and start this.  I had a wonderful cookout the Saturday before I left and a great last night out with my friends at the Old Court.  I spent most of the morning of my flight attempting to pack.  While I intended to bring one suitcase and a large backpack that thought was quickly squashed and I ended up with two suitcases that were 1/2 a pound under the maximum weight and a carry on that was 13 pounds over.   Needless to say I got a work out lugging all that stuff around.  My parents dropped me of at the airport and my flight went smoothly though I wasn't able to fall asleep on the plane.

It was 5 in the morning Irish time when I landed and my friend Ellen and her mother were amazing and picked me up at the airport.  We got back to their house where we had a nice breakfast and then everyone scattered off to work.  Knowing I had to beat the jet lag as soon as possible I decided to head to a local mall to keep myself awake.  I got myself a phone, a new hair dryer and straightener, and discovered the magical place that is Penny's.  I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of money there over the course of the next year.  I spent several hours at the mall and then headed to the village of Rathgar.  It's what you would picture when you think of an Irish village. Lots of cute locally owned shops.  Even a bike shop named MacDonald's!  I realized (after being up for 30 hours and walking for the last 5 of them) that I was hungry and exhausted so I grab some food and headed back to Ellen's house.  After a nice shower I laid down for an amazing nap.  Jet lag naps are always the best.

One my second day in Ireland Ellen gave me a tour of my campus and we took a trip to the city center to get me a bike.  It's an adorable "Erin sized" bike.  It's also about 10 years older than me but works great.

On Sunday I was able to move into my apartment.  It is very nice and clean though still a bit echo-y.  I've only just now (6 days later) managed to unpack everything.  I met two of my roommates who are both very nice, and then settled down in anticipation of starting class the next day.

Monday was a full eight hour day of orientation.  There was a lot of forced mingling time which is always awkward and uncomfortable but is admittedly the best way to get to know people in the program.  It's funny to think back to a few years ago where the concepts of accounting and finance would have made me scream.  Listening to the program director talk about it actually made me looked forward to these classes (we'll see how long that lasts!).

Tuesday began my first real day of class and although we only have class for two hours a day, the amount of reading assigned is already daunting.

Wednesday was the start of accounting which I'm surprisingly understanding for now.  After class I wandered around the main campus for a while getting a lot of free things and even sitting through and hour long welcome for first year students just to get a free UCD scarf.  The things I will do for free stuff...

I've managed to open a bank account but I still can't figure out how to print things in the library.   Baby steps.

My bulletin board is filled with events and programs I need/want to attend and today is the first day since I moved in that I didn't have any where I had to be.  Of course that means I'll be spending most of my Friday doing homework already.

The wonderful Kat O'Loughlin arrives tomorrow morning from Boston.  She'll be staying with me for a few nights before she can move in to Trinity.  I think we're going to do a lot of exploring which I'm looking forward to. 

First time at the apartment

My room

My bathroom

Living Room


Another view of the living room

View from the apartment

"Stuff To Do" Board


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Finally made it to my apartment after 3 days of living out of a suitcase.  Proper post will be coming soon!

Come On Irene

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another week gone.  Packing and shopping has taken the back burner and I've used most of my time this past week to catch up with some old friends.  Friday was lunch with my old college roommate, Monday was lunch with old coworkers, Tuesday I helped a friend move, and yesterday was lunch down at Stonehill with my old boss and dinner at the Sunset Grill in Allston with two of my cousins.  Today was breakfast with my friend and our moms and tonight might be my last trip to the Old Court! 

New Kitchen!
My father was gone this past weekend and my mother and I decided to paint and tile the kitchen.  It was a good amount of work but since it has been a bleak white for 5 years now we figured it was time for a change.  It was also great to get rid of the border that we only noticed was made up of outhouses after we hung it up in the kitchen.  Other than all of that we are just getting ready for my going away/birthday cookout that we are having this Saturday.  We're also keeping an eye Hurricane Irene.  I could really go for a good storm but I'm worried this is getting very hyped up and will end up missing us.  Guess we'll find out Sunday.

Yay Corporate Finance and Organizational Behavior!

I also got two of my books in the mail today. 

2 Weeks To Go

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Time is flying.  I had my last day of work a week ago.  Hopefully my replacement is well trained and ready to go. If she's not... we'll it's not my problem any more. It is great to finally be out of there and hopefully I won't end up there a third time.

After finishing work I took a nice long weekend vacation on the Cape.  It was very relaxing and the perfect transition out of work mode. It was also the perfect way to spend time with my friends who I will not be seeing for a while.

We're down to two week now.  I've gotten my book list (and spent a gross amount of money on said books) but not my schedule yet.  I've also gotten permission to move in a day early which will solve the class/moving dilemma.  I did some clothes shopping yesterday since I haven't in far too long and it was such a success that I have a feeling I'll be going out for round two soon.  I have yet to do so but I need to work on my list of things to bring.  I have memories of moving into college with a car and truck load of stuff and I'm beginning to question how I'm going to whittle that all down to a suitcase and a backpack.  Space saver bags will be involved.

The next two weeks are going to be filled with a lot of shopping, packing, and lunch dates to catch up with a lot of people I haven't seen in a while.

And the countdown begins...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Well just a little less than a month now before I ship out!  I've moved back home to save some money and to spend some time with the family before I leave.  I will spend the end of this week training my replacement and then have until Thursday of next week to straighten out my things before I'm done with work.

I think the stress and the nerves should start setting in very soon. Luckily that hasn't happened yet.  I've already triple checked that I do not need a visa to stay in Ireland (though I do have to register with the police) and my housing is almost completely sorted.  The process of getting my loans is a bit more difficult since the money is going overseas and for some reason the school doesn't seem that eager to bill me up front for school.  I also need to double check that I'm covered by my insurance abroad. 

Most of the University starts classes on September 12th but my program starts on the 5th which is also the same day housing opens.  I'm praying that they might let me move in a day early since starting classes and moving are two things I never want to do at the same time.

I think it's time to sit down and start making lists of what I want (and can feasibly) bring.  I did a great job packing and surviving in Russia but this is going to be a very different experience and I have a feeling I will end up wanting to bring much more than I should... we'll see.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Borrowed image from christianscienceneworleans.org
The Mapparium, which is housed at the Mary Baker Eddy Library near the Prudential Center, was an amazing sight to see.  Designed in 1935 by Chester Lindsay Churchill the Mapparium is essentially a giant stained glass globe.  Unlike most globes, however, you view the world from the inside of this one.  At over 3 stories tall there is a bridge that crosses 30 feet from one side to the other.  It hasn't been changed since it original design so the world today is drastically different.  There is a short tour that goes along with it and for the $6 I would say it's worth taking a look.

With the admission cost of the Mapparium we also got to look around the Mary Baker Eddy Library which gives a history of the development of the Christian Science Monitor, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1908.  I will have to admit that the Library did not really help me learn much more about the Christian Science religion but they did have some hands on exhibits that are always fun. 

Institute of Contemporary Art: Boston

I will be the first to admit that I am not a great art enthusiast.  I would chose a history museum over and art museum any day but I am always willing to try experiencing new things.  Although I probably would not visit on my own I did take a trip with my roommate to the Institute of Contemporary art along the Boston waterfront.  I may not have understood many of the piece but they were definitely interesting to look at.  One exhibit focused on records as contemporary art.  There were decorated album covers, art using records themselves, and even a few audio pieces using records.  There were also some very eclectic pieces... one of my favorite being an avocado wrapped in newspaper and another that was a piece of sod on a table.  Again,  I may not understand most of the art but I at least appreciate the fact that others enjoy it.  If for no other reason I would suggest going for the beautiful view of the waterfront.

Freedom Trail

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I won't go into too much detail about the Freedom Trail but I will say that for anyone interested in history this is a must see of Boston.  The Trail takes you along where some of the most important events in American history took place and it also allows you too see some of the best parts of modern day Boston, too.

The Trail takes you through Boston Common, past the State House, and into some of the oldest cemeteries in the country. One of my favorite spots is the site of the Boston Massacre.  It is just a small plaque in the middle of a busy intersection, but it is amazing to stand there and imagine what it was like back in 1770.  Just a short walk from the site of the Massacre is Faneuil Hall.  Although one of the more difficult place names for non-natives to pronounce (after Worcester, of course), it is apparently one of the most popular tourist sites in the country.  Here you can find every type of "Boston" food, souvenirs, and street performers.  You could easily spend a few hours here just people watching.  From there the trail takes you through the North End to see Paul Revere's house.  While you are in the area I strongly suggest you make a stop a Mike's Pastry. Though technically not part of the trail it is an important part of Boston culture today.   The end of the trail takes you into Charlestown to see the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution.   For a walk that is a little less than 2.5 miles, the Freedom Trail is a great wait to experience some of the best parts of Boston. 
Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall

Paul Revere's House

USS Constitution

Bunker Hill Monument

Sam Adams Brewery

Although I have lived in or around Boston my entire life I will admit that I haven't experienced most of the quintessential "Boston" things.  Every once in a while in elementary school we might take a trip into the city to go to the Museum of Science or Aquarium but there is so much more I still haven't seen.  Luckily since I live within a T ride of everything and I have a roommate who refuses to leave the country without seeing and doing everything Boston has to offer, I get to play the part of a Boston tourist.  I don't really consider it traveling but they are all fun places that I would recommend for people to visit so I may as well share them here.

The first place that I would HIGHLY recommend is the Sam Adam's Brewery.  Located just a short walk from the Orange Line,  the tour begins by taking you into the brewery where they give you quick history of beer, cover the different types of beers, and then give you a handful of hops to rub in your hands. They also let you eat some barely.  I'm not sure which barrel they were from, but only take a few of the dark ones... they compare it to chocolate but I'd say it's a bit closer to burnt popcorn.  After that you get a rundown of the brewing process and finish off the tour with a half hour of drinking!  It is a great tasting session in which you get to try three different Sam Adam's brews and also learn how to compare and analyze beer.

The Future

Thursday, July 7, 2011

They reason why I have been working frantically to catch my blog up for the past month is because I have some big things planned.  After working for 6 months at my job I realized I did not want to be there long term.  I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do but I knew this was not it.  I started applying at other places mainly in the city however I realized that all I was qualified for or felt comfortable doing was basically what I was already doing.  I even interviewed for and got offered a job as a real estate paralegal right in downtown Boston.  Although it was a great location, the people seemed fantastic, and (after some negotiating) they agreed to match my pay, I realized that it was a completely lateral move.   I knew I would end up spending another six months there and be right back where I started.  I was terrified to do so but I turned the job down. 

It was then that I started looking at grad schools for September.  I thought going into business would be very helpful however most MBA programs require 3-5 years experience or a really impressive business undergrad degree.  I also soon realized that I couldn't afford school anywhere in the US so I began looking in Europe.  My roommate mentioned that her school had a great business program so I looked there.  Not only did they have an affordable program, but they also had a business degree designed for people who did not study it as undergrads.   So I applied.  And waited.  It only took them about two week but felt like much longer until they accepted me!

So today, after almost a year of working in my office, I've decided to call it quits and head back to school.  As of September 1st I will begin my life in Dublin as a student again.   It's a little terrifying but I'm more excited than anything else. 

Last Day In NYC

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Although we didn't go to bed until well into this morning we again woke early to get the most out of our trip.  After a delicious brunch, Nicole wanted to take us on a tour of her school, Columbia University.  It was just as impressive as you would expect an Ivy League school to be.  I am fortunate enough to live in a state that is practically overflowing with excellent schools but Columbia was impressive.
View from a bridge on Columbia's Campus

After our tour of Columbia we visited the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.  Walking into this massive building makes you forget you are in America.  It was as grand and imposing as many of the cathedrals in Europe and it was a nice way to take a step away from the fast moving pace of the city around us.

From there we visited the Children's Garden which had hundreds of small statues designed by children scattered throughout a garden.
One of the larger statues in Children's Garden

Nicole then headed back to her apartment while Ellen and I headed to Central Park to attempt to rent bikes for an hour or two.  While we looked up the location of the bike place on the map, it was much more difficult in actuality to find it.  Instead we stumbled upon a celebration of Japan Day.  There was singing, dancing, and dozens of people in costume so we decided to skip the bikes and people watch instead.

After some time we decided to walk down Park Ave to look at all the insanely expensive apartments that normal humans could barely dream of affording.  From there we stopped at Rockefeller Center and then explored Grand Central Station.  We had both previously seen Time Square and, while it is a place everyone should see once in their life, it is not something you necessarily need to see twice.  The flashing lights and mobs of people after two days of walking was enough to make us bypass that area.

Central Park

Rockefeller Center
 From there we hopped on the subway and made our way back to Nicole's where we grabbed some dinner and then packed our bags to catch our bus back to Boston!

This is my tattoo of Christian Bale...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We only had the weekend to explore the city so we were up bright and early to begin.  After a bagel and coffee at a street side cafe we headed downtown.  Our first stop was the site of the World Trade Center.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this.  There is no one in the country and perhaps in the world that wasn't affected on 9/11 one way or another.  I was extremely blessed to not have lost anyone I know personally on that day and I often feel terrible complaining that my birthday happens to coincide with the day.  I still feel uncomfortable saying my birthday and I avoid celebrating on the actual day but, again, I am very lucky that that was the worst of its direct effect on me.  It has since then of course affected me in many more ways.  That day inspired me to begin studying languages and international relations.  It became a habit to stay up to date with current world news and to study world history.  I am honestly not sure where I would be today if it weren't for the way 9/11 shaped my life.  Anyway, today it is essentially a massive construction site.  Although it looks different, I still felt a very strong wave of emotion come over me, vividly remembering everything I saw on the news that day. 

Freedom Tower Construction
After that we headed down towards the water.  We had an 11:00 check in time for the ferry to take us out to Liberty and Ellis Islands.  After waiting in line for well over an hour we realized that we had "reserve" tickets which essentially would allow us to skip the line and get right on.  While it was extremely annoying to realize this after an hour, it wasn't so bad because we still would have had at least another hour to wait.  During my first trip to the Statue of Liberty we climbed to the top however today that requires months of advanced booking.  Even to get to the pedestal require a few weeks notice so we just walked around the island's grounds and looked at the Statue from below.  It is amazing to imagine what it must have been like for my great grandparents and the millions of other immigrants that came into this country with that statue as their one beacon of hope.  It is unfortunate that her symbolism and motto do not have as much weight today as they did back then.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
From Liberty Island we took the ferry to Ellis Island.  This is the place the immigrants were taken to to be tested and sorted.  Most did not have a problem getting into the country and after getting through Ellis they were able to start their own adventures in America.

Great Hall of Ellis Island
After our ferry docked back in the city we walked towards the Brooklyn Bridge.  Our goal was to walk across it however it began raining and we were supposed to be meeting Nicole so we resorted to taking pictures from afar.

Nicole gave us the "New Yorkers" tour of the city.  We walked through Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo.  These are all place I wouldn't think of visiting without someone to show me around.  As the rain began to pick up again we grabbed some pizza at Lombardi's and took it to a nearby park to eat.

NY Pizza in the rain
Since I obviously do not go to NYC often we decided to have a night on the town.  We headed back to the apartment for brief power naps and then started getting all dolled up.  We visited a few bars which were very entertaining.  The highlight of the evening would have to be the man who was a part of a Canadian bachelor party who had a tattoo of Christian Bale on his arms (from American Psycho... not from Batman he made sure to point out).

One of my favorite aspects of NYC is that the subway runs all night versus in Boston where the last train runs around 12:30.  We were able to head out around 11 and come back at 4 in the morning without having to crash on someone's couch or pay a ridiculous amount of money for taxi.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Well it has been quite a while since my last adventure.  Shortly after coming home from Alaska I managed to get a full time job as a paralegal at a law firm just outside of Boston.  While it has been great to have a steady paycheck it hasn't given me much time to get out and see the world.  After working for six months I decided to move from my home in Dracut to Somerville which is just outside of Boston and, in a way, has been an adventure in itself.  It has been very helpful that my roommate is from another country and enjoys wandering as much as I do.  I've been able to do a lot of touristy things in my own city that I probably would not have done otherwise.  I'm sure I will touch upon some of those things later on.

One thing that I had been wanting to do since leaving school was to take a trip down to New York to visit my roommate of three years, Nicole.  She is studying for her Master's degree at Columbia University. Myself and my current roommate, Ellen, decided to take a trip down to New York both for the visit and to see the city.  I have been to New York twice before, once just before 9/11 and another time as a senior in high school.  Both times I was able to see a few of the biggest sights (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Time Square) but it had been quite some time since I have been and I had never toured the city on my own.

First day of college Aug. 2006
We took a 7 pm bus from Alewife Station in Cambridge and, with the bus being late and some construction delays, we arrived in NYC around 12:30.  We hopped on the subway and were met by Nicole upon our exit.  It's amazing that it has been over a year since I've seen her but its even more amazing how quickly we slip back into our old routines.  In her apartment I also found Laura!  Laura lived in our dorm freshman year and was a great friend however she transferred and I had only seen her sporadically in the last four years.  After chatting for a while we decided to call it a night because we had a busy weekend planned ahead of us.