Archive for January, 2009

January 30, 2009

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Another busy week. Had a nice lunch with our cultural advisor, Silvia to catch up after the holidays. Siliva had mentioned a few theater performances, so another friend and I went to see La Dispute playing in the Peacock Theatre- a smaller theater in the lower level of the Abbey Theatre. Quite an interesting show, but another thing I appreciate about living here in Dublin is the close proximity of everything.  This Friday I had a few classes, got together with friends at the Science Gallery Café, and then went to see the show.  It’s funny to learn how quickly you can discover a city and walking around with my friends, I realized how much I will miss being in Dublin after my year here.

January 26, 2009

Monday, January 26th, 2009

My 21st birthday!  While, in US it’s maybe more exciting, it is still a fun birthday to celebrate here in Ireland and its quite popular in Ireland to have a big 21st celebration.  Some reasons as to why: 1. Some of my Irish friends told me that the hype use to be due to the fact that you would get keys to your own house (maybe not so popular these days…I don't know…). 2. It’s kinda like our Sweet 16 celebrations in the US.  3.  Who wouldn’t want a party thrown in their honor anyway?

So my day was great, got a new look, went to class and met up with friends at the Pav, where the Irish Society was having a conversation table and upon hearing that it was my birthday, I was treated to “Happy Birthday” sung in Irish.  Pretty fun!  I’ll get back to you on how to spell it properly when I hear back from my Irish friends.

After the Pav, I got ready to go out with friends for dinner at a great place in Temple Bar (the area, that is) called Elephant & Castle, another HCer showed us her favorite gelato place right around the corner, the next stop was Captain America’s ( I know, you can laugh, but our Irish friends rave about it) for drinks and meeting up with other friends, and last stop was another Trinity favorite, Doyles.  It was a pretty quiet night, however, being that it was a Monday, but a great 21st birthday just the same.

January 23 – 24, 2009

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

January 23, 2009
After recounting my guerrilla light night with friends during classes, it was time to celebrate a friend’s 21st Birthday and I meet up with my Irish friends and went to the favorite Friday night dance spot - The Palace.

January 24, 2009
Almost my 21st Birthday!!!  I was treated to a lovely surprise by my roommates and close friends- a cake with candles, some balloons and card to celebrate my 21st.

January 22, 2009

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Lots of running around and I got an email saying that the time, day, and venue of a class had changed..  So quick, adjust!  I had a great time during coffee hour with the modern language society in between classes and after attended a Neuroscience seminar.  This seminar was really interesting as Dr. Paul Young was visiting from another Irish University (University College Cork) and he spoke about his SLICK method and neural circuits (to keep it short for ya).

The most interesting and funniest part of the day was between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.  I was a guerrilla!
A light guerrilla, that is!  At The Science Gallery on Trinity’s campus, also below my apartment, there are exhibitions every few months.  This month is LIGHTWAVE.  After coming from the neuro lecture and spotting a classmate we stopped to chat outside the Science Gallery and before we knew it we had agreed to volunteer 30 minutes of our time to explore the LIGHTWAVE gallery.  This is what we were told, but really it was a 3.5 hour experience, but fun all the same.  As part of the debut of this exhibition, there was a company that works to conserve light energy while also introducing ways to light buildings up at night for an aesthetically pleasing city.  Other cities in which they have their “guerrilla lights” on include London and Glasglow and a few others.

The purpose of the mission: light up Dublin.  So, my friend and I were given a badge (Team 2, Guerrilla 4) and followed our leader outside where we were handed “torches” (huge flashlights) and colored filters.  Our first stop was to light up Ulster Bank which faces the Liffey, there was a huge number of people watching this spectacle and of course it started raining once I was instructed where I was to hold my large flashlight for the next few minutes.  While each of us “light guerrillas” were put into position, photographers and videographers were capturing the scene.  A horn went off and we all turned our lights on, by the number of people stopping and staring, it must have looked pretty cool.  Our next stop was to then light up the front of Trinity College, by the Front Arch- I even got to stand on the grass in front of Trinity that you’re not allowed to stand on!  I know, doesn’t sound that huge of a deal-  but believe me, it is.

After being a bit freezing, yes, it was still raining, we joined the reception at the Science Gallery and were treated to drinks and starters.  Yum!  After that, our last stop was to light up St. Mark’s Church right across from the Gallery.  By that time, it was around 9 p.m and I was exhausted but thought what a random volunteer experience that turned out to be really interesting.  Had it not been for my neuro seminar, meeting my classmate and love for the Science Gallery, I wouldn’t have this funny story to tell.
FYI- the pictures of the buildings we lit up, may be on the web, so when I find them I’ll attach the link and be able to show which part of the buildings I lit up!  Haha.

January 21, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

A regular day filled with classes, but I joined another society - The Choral Society.  I was a part of HC’s choir and missed it and I thought since it’s a new term here at Trinity, I’ll start something new here as well.  Practices are fun and I met some new Irish friends and another American (we’re everywhere!).  I am excited about the piece we will be singing in the concert hall- Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem.”

January 20, 2009

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I started my morning off by going food shopping, but instead of going to Dunnes, I crossed the Liffey and went to Tesco (I know - this story is thrilling, but…).  Along the way, I never realized that there’s a fresh fruit and vegetable market on the side street-which was fun to shop through as well.  I won’t always have to wait for the Sunday Market in Howth.

Later that night, I helped with costumes for the theater performance.  But the big thing to write about is—
the 44th Inauguration!

Just a little before 4 p.m., a few friends and I ventured off to The Pav, our campus pub, so we could watch the inauguration on TV.  It was great to see that Sky News had it covered already and we were watching it live.  What is more interesting was that there were a lot of Irish students there, waiting to watch it with us.  It was great to see the American flag, our political leaders parading through, the National Mall crowded with people.  It was a wonderful ceremony and I really loved the orchestral piece with Yo Yo Ma.  But by far, the best moment in the Pav that day, was when they announced Barack Obama’s name.  After announcing our President’s name, there was huge applause in the Pav - and being filled with more Irish than Americans, I felt really proud.  Some of us even became a little teary.  But to see that reaction, while being in a different country- to see and know that many respect your country and your new President, it was a great feeling and I felt a huge sense of pride, hope, and happiness.  I’ll always remember where I was on the 44th inauguration and what I felt- joyous and proud at the Pav, watching America, my country with a pint of Guinness in my hand.  : )

January 19, 2009

Monday, January 19th, 2009

My brother’s birthday!!  Ok, well exciting for him, but in speaking to him, he told me he’s coming to Ireland in February!

Another society I am in, the DU Players, the theatre society at Trinity, was also hosting the debut performance of the improve group, “Improve, she wrote.”  They were hilarious!  In meeting some new friends in the society, I also mentioned that I’d like to help out with some of the shows costumes, make-up, and/ or choreography.  With that said, I had a job doing just that for this week’s show “At the Telephone” and some shows in the future.  Pretty cool!

January 19, 2009

Monday, January 19th, 2009

 Last Wednesday was one of those days that reminded me of the word I heard so much when I was applying to the Study Abroad program: immersion. After all of the built-up apprehension and pre-exam jitters, I did it. I made it through my first Italian exam! Although it was a written exam instead of the typical oral one that differentiates Italy’s academic system from ours, it was an amazing feeling passing in that test! I’d refer to my post-exam mood as an “Italy high”, or as we say more frequently amongst our group here, “a good Italy day.” I don’t know if I’ve used this expression before, but it’s become a phrase that is very appropriate for my study abroad experience. Now that my everyday routine has gradually lessened the magical awe of Italy from when I first arrived, it’s always very noticeable to me when I’m doing something very Italian. Luckily, our director from the Universita’ degli Studi a Firenze, Elisa, plans monthly cultural events for us where we can have these types of Italian experiences. Our events have run the gamut from a Chianti wine and olive tour to a night out for dinner and a variety show at the famous Teatro Verdi. Last Wednesday, our cultural event took a more artistic turn as we all got our chance to learn the history of the Teatro della Pergola, an ancient theatre right on my home street in Florence, followed by our own workshop time at an “artigianato” (handicraft) typical of Italy and Toscana. Our group was split up into two — one that created their own picture frames and mine that created our own leather-bound notebooks or journals, whatever purpose we would choose for them. Passing by the theatre everyday on my walk to school always made me want to pop in and see the beautiful interior, but I never had a good reason to enter before since I wasn’t buying any tickets or things of that sort. We had a wonderful tour guide who spoke with such a passion for the theatre that even in the overheated rooms, I couldn’t help but to listen as she spoke of the famous ancient families of Toscany that had their reserved viewing boxes, elegantly displayed by each family’s respective coat of arms that are still saved to this day in the entrance room of the theater! We received a complete tour of the theater, including both the back and front stage views as well as a glimpse to the ancient devices used for sound effects such as wind and rain. This upcoming weekend, we will actually be attending a play there so I’ll have to update soon on how one of the theater’s annual 160 plays fares with the Holy Crossers and myself. Chi sa! Who knows!

Right after the theatre visit, we went our separate ways, and with Elisa’s upbeat and energetic assistant, Cristina, we walked to a little artisan store a couple blocks from the Ponte Vecchio called “Il Torchio.” The shop was quaint and exactly what I imagined a traditional handicraft store to be. It was run by a lovely, older Italian woman named Anna, who works closely with a young, Canadian girl, Erin, teaching her the ways of the trade. It was a great afternoon, and I particularly enjoyed watching Erin work with Anna. Not only was Erin’s Italian impeccable after being in Italy for only two years, but the grandmother-granddaughter relationship between the two was simply comical and a pleasure to watch. They instructed us from start to finish on the initial sewing of the pages together; adding the hard covers with the messy and very intense glue; meticulously applying the leather pieces to the spine and the angles for a balanced finish with our personally selected paper designs; and cleaning up our mess with a finisher over the leather. The whole process lasted over 3 hours, but it was a true glance into the painstakingly slow and precise world of the artisan. All of the shop’s books, calendars, agendas, photo albums, and things of the like were handmade. And with a shop being run by just these two ladies, you can only imagine how much time and energy is put into the work! And so, with yet another monthly peek into the secret cultural world of Florence that I hope to continue to unravel, I can only say that it simply was a “good Italy day.”

January 15, 2009

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

 It’s back to Florence for the semester! After quite the extended break of celebrating with my family and friends at home in America, I made my return to Europe for yet another celebration, or should I say two. Along with Whitney, we took a flight out from Boston to meet up with another Fiorentina, Amanda, to spend our New Year’s and my 21st birthday in Paris!!! Arriving on the 30th in the city of love and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, our vacation kicked off with rolling in the New Year just underneath this historical landmark where we three, along with another 15 HC-ers met up together for a true Holy Cross reunion. And even better, just two days later, I was able to spend my birthday walking along the snow-covered streets of Montmartre and sipping “vin chaud” (hot wine) with a view of the entire city at night. It was a vacation to remember, for sure. And now, I’ve returned to my second home — my Florence.

As for the academic life, we didn’t have much time to breathe because the Italian school system, as we’re learning, has many differences from the American universities. Exams take place over a period of two months, offering two “tries” to earn a degree of passing. Obviously, we all opted for the first opportunity to have a break from university before the next semester begins at the end of February. Having two exams in the first semester has proven to be very difficult for me, and I’ve been spending much time studying between lessons with my tutors as well as having our normal lessons at our language school, Dante Alighieri. However, do not be afraid — it is a doable thing. Going into it knowing what you are up against is my best advice for everyone. Matt and I took Geografia, a two-part class dealing with the relationship between the population and the environment, and branching out into a basic economic understanding of the market and general world economy up until this period of time. With this type of course, it requires two exams —a n oral and a written exam. Once that one is finished, it will be just two more to go, and I can say hello to the official start of a new semester. It’s a strange feeling being here and watching all the new students arriving, frantically carrying around their maps and struggling with their Italian. I look at them, and I feel the smile on my face, remembering how that was once me. And now, I’m ready to enjoy myself and take my language level to the top. But before I get carried away with myself, keep your fingers crossed for me for my exams!

A presto!


January 6, 2009

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I just wanted to send in a final entry to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read my blog. I'm really happy to be back in America but I think I may be suffering from a case of reverse culture shock. All the luxuries that I always took for granted now seem overwhelming. I donated most of my clothes because after having maybe 5 outfits in Sri Lanka I couldn't understand how to dress myself with so many options.

However, I think my two biggest cases of reverse culture shock definitely come in the form of food and hot water. I'm sure most study abroad students are ecstatic to return to the food they grew up with but for me every time I eat it's somewhat blissful. I think that's because, as I mentioned a million times in previous blogs, my host family and I had a difficult time finding food that wasn't way too spicy for me. The hot water thing isn't as exciting as food but hot showers really do seem like a blessing now. However, I am way more aware that hot water and excess food are luxuries that much of the world lives without.

All in all, I'm really happy I took the opportunity to study abroad. I learned so much about myself and not to mention about parts of the world I had never really studied before. I think studying abroad is an awesome way too step out of your comfort zone and if you have a really big comfort zone make the leap and spend a semester in Sri Lanka.