I’m back!

Finally, I’m back to blogging. I spent the month of August in Park City with my parents, and September was a whirlwind of getting back to Dublin, trying to find housing, meeting new people and figuring out how postgraduate life at Trinity is quite different than academics at UF.

My first week back in Dublin was a weird one. I immediately started my housing search, and finding a room to rent was much more difficult this time around than it was just over a year ago. Prices had gone up, and the selection had gone down. I viewed so many awful apartments and was worried I’d have to settle for a place I didn’t really feel comfortable but at the last minute, I got a room in a house in Dun Laoghaire. It is a bit further out than I would’ve preferred, but the house is great and I love my room. The first week back was exhausting, and I was here nearly a week before I saw any of my old friends. During that first

The first week back was exhausting, and I was here nearly a week before I saw any of my old friends. During that first week I also made some new friends. On the Monday of orientation week there was a wine reception for postgraduate students, and of course, I attended because there was a promise of free food and wine. I didn’t know anyone at this event so I walked around until I saw a group of people that looked friendly and introduced myself. That’s how I met Austin, Jenny, and Becky. Austin and I even discovered we had been staying in the same Airbnb which was a strange coincidence. We all decided to go to the after-reception activity at Whelan’s, but when we got there it was so crowded that we just decided to head somewhere else. Since I knew the area they asked me for a suggestion on where to go, and I took them to No Name Bar where Rob later met us. It was a fun night, and I’m glad I chose that random group of girls to talk to because I’ve been hanging out with them quite a bit this past month.

We’re in our fourth week of classes now, and so far so good. This term I’m taking Critical Approaches to Cinema, Editing, Screenwriting and a class specifically for research and dissertation. My favorite class is screenwriting. Obviously, I enjoy writing and in that class we use a writer’s room method which I find really interesting. We all talk about each other’s ideas and give suggestions, and I think it’s really helpful. I’m also glad we have an entire research and dissertation class because I think our professors are really committed to us writing good dissertations, and they’ve given us all the tools we need to do that.

Other than re-adjusting to life in Dublin, socializing and classes there isn’t much to report. I went down to Laois for 2 days, but other than that haven’t left Dublin. I’ve been talking with a few friends about traveling in the next couple of months so hopefully something happens with that, but for now, I have to get back to thinking about my dissertation proposal as it is due on Monday!

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One Year Later…

On July 30, 2016 I woke up in a hotel room in Gainesville, went to visit The Swamp one last time and got Chick-fil-a on the way to the Orlando Airport. I said a tearful goodbye to my parents and tried to stop crying before I got to the TSA Agent checking my passport, so he wouldn’t think I was being human trafficked or something. I called my friend Matt from the gate and cried about how terrified I was, because the reality of moving to a different country on my own was finally hitting me as I prepared to board my flight to Dublin.

I got on the flight and sat in my middle seat, excited for my new adventure, but a large part of me was questioning whether I had made the right decision in moving to Ireland after college. Up until a few months prior, my plan had been to move to Los Angeles following graduation and take any job remotely related to the film industry to begin my career in production. Growing up in the environment that I did, attending good schools and having parents who both went to college, you are expected to get good grades, go to a good college and then get a job after graduation. Your whole life is a build-up to that, but instead during the week of my graduation I chose to move to a place where I knew very few people, had no place to live, and no job.

I remember when I arrived at Dublin Airport the weather was a bit like it is today. Fairly warm, humid and threatening to rain. I had a chatty taxi driver who wished me luck on my year here, and I walked up to my Airbnb trying my best to drag all 3 suitcases I brought with me at once. I got into my tiny room, sat down on the bed and started to cry again. I think in my whole life I had never been so unsure about a decision I had made until that day. In the span of a week I had packed up my childhood bedroom and driven out of the driveway of the house I grew up in for the last time, packed up my college apartment, said goodbye to my hometown, friends and family, and moved to this county that I love but was suddenly terrified of. It was an overwhelming spiral of thoughts and emotions to say the least. I had never felt so homesick, and I’d only been away from home for less than a day. I may have been an emotional wreck, but I am also stubborn. It was my dream to move to Ireland and I had spent so much time, money and effort on getting myself here so I was going to try to enjoy myself. That first day, week, and really the first four months of my time here were extremely difficult, and I truly did not think I would be able to make it a year here. However, a year on I have made it and I can confidently say that moving to Dublin was the best decision I could have made.

Over the past year I have lived in two apartments, had 8 jobs, drank an unknown number of pints and have met some people who have unequivocally changed my life. This year has not been without its challenges. Immigration is a pain, opening a bank account here took me 3 months, finding a full-time job took me 5 months, and I’m still trying to figure out how beans on toast is an acceptable food item. I have only seen my parents for one week out of the last 52, and I have not seen any of my friends from home since last July. I miss The Top, chicken tender subs, air conditioning, beaches where you don’t need a wetsuit, tubing on the Ichetucknee, and the indescribable feeling I get when cheering for the Gators at a home football game. I miss Sunday night dinners and Wednesday night Tall Paul’s. I miss driving my car down my favorite roads, and playing corn hole by the lake. I miss home, but now Dublin is my home and I know I will miss it too when I’m back in the States for a month. I’ll drink Guinness from a can, watch Brooklyn and listen to “The Fields of Athenry” counting down the days until I return in September.

My second year in Ireland will surely bring its own new set of challenges. I’m going back to school, and while I will certainly be able to slip back into the role of “student” (I still use my student ID now to get discounts) studying was never my strongest skill. I’ll have to find a new apartment, get a part-time job, make new friends and learn how to be a filmmaker but for now I’m excited to spend a month with my parents in their new home.

When I was 10 I won an award at school for perseverance. At the time, my teacher found it funny that I didn’t even know what that word meant. Even after learning the definition of the word over a decade ago I’m not sure I totally understood what perseverance was until this past year. Through every job I didn’t get and bad day I faced I refused to give up on being here. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it a year here on my own, and I did it. Of course, I was able to do so with the help of many people, namely my parents, but still. I got to spend Paddy’s Day in Dublin, see U2 in Croke Park, visit the Cliffs of Moher on possibly the most beautiful day of the year, enjoy a pint by the canal, had a second Irish Thanksgiving and a first Irish Christmas, went to a secret bar, and I got to meet some people I will never forget. This year may have been difficult at times, but those experiences have made it all worth it. Now I’m intrigued by the future, rather than absolutely terrified of it, and that’s a good start.

See you soon, Dublin.

Time for an update!

I haven’t updated this blog in months so I think it’s time for a bit of an update on my life since I last wrote. First off, I won’t be leaving Ireland this month as originally planned. I will be going back to the states at the end of July, but come September I’ll be headed back to Dublin to attend Trinity College and pursue a master’s in Film Studies. I’m thrilled to be spending another year or so in Ireland, and I can’t wait to go back to school (and can’t believe I’m saying that).

The last three months have flown by. I think the combination of working a lot and wanting to make the most of my time here has kept me incredibly busy which makes time pass so quickly. Before I found out I had been accepted to Trinity I was worried that these last few months really were my last few months and I was not ready to leave. My first few months here were definitely a challenge, but once I found my place here I couldn’t imagine leaving Dublin so soon. I’ll get on to what I’ve been up to since April…

April

For my first 9 months of living in Ireland I had not left this island. I was starting to get stir crazy, but since I didn’t have a fully time job until December I didn’t really have the resources to do a lot of traveling until I’d been working for a bit. For my first trip outside of Ireland I decided to go somewhere really exotic and different…Scotland. A country you can literally see from Ireland on a clear day.

I went to Edinburgh which was even more beautiful than I imagined. Dublin has some great Georgian architecture, but overall isn’t exactly a city you visit for its looks. Edinburgh, however, is stunning. Something about the old stone and lines of the buildings there, combined with tiny hidden streets is so intriguing to me. I spent most of my time just wandering the streets, although I did visit Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.

I also took a day trip to the Highlands where I visited Loch Ness, saw a lot of beautiful scenery and spent a lot of time on a bus.

My trip was so short, and there’s so much to see in Edinburgh so I’d definitely like to go back sometime soon.

May

At the beginning of May Grace and I were growing a bit weary of the endless rain and grey, so we tried to cheer ourselves up by experiencing a bit of culture. I finally went to visit the Book of Kells, and let me tell you I was a bit disappointed. Every tour guide I’ve ever had in Dublin has said it is a must-see while in Dublin, but in my opinion it can be skipped. The exhibit is so crowded with school trips and tourists that you can’t really enjoy the exhibit, the book is small and you have to push your way close enough to see it, and it just wasn’t worth the ticket price. You do get to see inside the library, which is beautiful, but I think the money would have been better spent on a ticket to an exhibit at the National Gallery, or even just a few pints probably would’ve provided more entertainment.

In May I also went to Durrow for a few days which is always nice. Much of the rest of the month was spent avoiding rain, sitting in the sun when it would finally decide to come out, and working.

June

In June I finally made it to the Guinness Storehouse. For Valentine’s Day this year my mother got me a couples ticket to the Storehouse from a Valentine’s Day Excursion website, which was thoughtful but also a fun reminder that I was single on Valentine’s Day and didn’t actually have anyone to take with me. I could have brought a friend, but seeing as I (thankfully) have more than one friend It would have had to choose just one and I didn’t want to have to make that decision. It only took me 4 months to find a date to bring with me. I learned how to pour the perfect pint, and spent entirely too long in the gift shop.

The rest of June was spent trying out new bars, playing pool, losing at board games and enjoying summer weather. June is also when I found out that I’d been accepted at Trinity, and since I now knew what my future was going to hold (for the next year at least) I felt less stressed about what I was going to do with my life and more excited for what my second year in Dublin will bring.

July

The beginning of July was a bit rocky. A few weeks earlier my roommates told me that our lease was up, and they would not be re-signing so I needed to find a new place to live on quite short notice. As I did not find out about Trinity until the very end of June, I was still basing my decisions on leaving Dublin on July 31st and hopefully making my way back at some unknown point in the future. That meant I needed to find a place to live for just July. Finding a place in Dublin to rent is hard enough, but finding a place for one month that perfectly matches the dates you require is next to impossible. There was one listing for a place that suited my needs, and thankfully I secured it. Over the last 11+ months I have somehow acquired twice the amount of belongings that I first came here with, so moving was a bit of a hassle. Due to various circumstances I ended up having to move on my own, and I had to use 2 taxis and a lot of running back and forth to get all my stuff into the new place. Now that I’m settled into my new place I’m already thinking about having to pack up my stuff, find a place to store it until September and then finding a new place to live for the school year.

I also celebrated 4th of July for the first time out of the US. I did get a free pint (with proof of US ID, apparently my accent and general demeanor weren’t enough proof) and had a great time going out with my friend Anne, but I missed celebrating the Fourth back home.

This weekend I’m attending Longitude which is a music festival held in Marlay Park in Dublin. Yesterday we saw The Weeknd which was a great show, and tonight is Mumford & Sons which I’m extremely excited for. None of us had ever been to a music festival before, so it has an experience. Never before had we seen so much bad fake tan, weird outfits or boobs. The people watching between sets is almost more entertaining than some of the performances.

So that’s a brief synopsis of what I’ve been up to the last few months. I’m feeling excited to be back in the States for a bit, because now that I’m coming back to Ireland in September for school it will feel like a real summer vacation. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with my parents, and hopefully getting back to Florida to get a Pub Sub and visit a beach that doesn’t require a wet suit to enter the water.

It’s a nice day so I’m not going to spend any more of it inside writing this, but I will try to post more regularly because my next year here should bring a lot of new experiences and adventures for me to document (maybe in video form this time), and I can’t wait to see what year two in Dublin will bring.

 

Spring in Ireland

The past month has been a busy one. I’ve celebrated St. Paddy’s day, attended an international soccer match, visited the Cliffs of Moher and spent a lot of time with friends.

We’ll start with St. Patrick’s Day. I have always loved Paddy’s day and was so excited to finally experience what it was like in Ireland. Everyone has the day off, there’s a parade and people fill the streets to have a good time. My friends and I decided we needed to start the day off right with a big breakfast of pancakes, sausage and mimosas. There may have also been some Jameson involved. We then headed off the the parade. The parade wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking the floats would have an Irish theme, lots of green white and orange, maybe some Irish dancing, however a lot of the floats looked like they would’ve fit in at the big Halloween parade and were a bit creepy. There were also bagpipes, American marching bands and people dressed in crazy costumes. I enjoyed the parade but it started raining near the end and by the time it was over we were glad to leave the parade and head into the warmth of a pub.

 

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Katie, Alex, Grace and I celebrate Paddy’s Day!

The first pub we went to was JJ Smyth’s, simply because it was the first one we found that wasn’t packed. This was where Katie and I had our first Guinness of the day and where we formulated our next move. Our next stop, and where we spent a majority of our day, was the bar with no name. It has no name or sign, and Hozier apparently likes to hang out here. We were able to get a table and people watch while we sipped our beers. After being there a few hours it was beginning to get a bit rowdy and we were ready to move on. This was probably around 6pm. At that point Grace decided she wanted to go home, so Katie and I headed off to P. Mac’s and then we realized we needed food and headed to Wowburger. I should mention that by this point we were convinced it was about midnight but when we looked at the time it was only about 8pm. We were exhausted. Katie decided to head home and I ventured off alone to Gravedigger’s in Glasnevin for one more before going to sleep.

The rest of the holiday weekend I didn’t do much, but I had the Monday following Paddy’s Day off so I decided I needed to make the most of it. I took the DART to Greystones and did the Greystones to Bray cliff walk. It was perfect weather and there were some beautiful views, but I still think I prefer the Howth cliff walk.

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Working full time doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time but I always try to make the most of my weekends and days off.

A few weeks ago I got another chance to head back to the Aviva to see Ireland place Iceland in an international friendly in soccer. A friend of a friend got a bunch of free tickets in the premium seating section so we had great seats and we each got a free pint! Ireland lost to Iceland, but it was still a fun environment to experience.

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I can never go too long without a visit to Laois (which every Irish person teases me over), so I also recently went down to stay with my friend Anne and her boyfriend Ger for the weekend. I hadn’t seen either of them in over a year so it was great to spend the weekend catching up.

On the Friday I was due to head down on the train there was a massive public transport issue. Bus Eireann, the national bus service, had been on strike for days, and that Friday morning a few weeks ago they decided to start picketing outside of the Dublin Bus depots, as well as Irish Rail stations. They effectively shut down public transport for a few hours that morning leading to me being late for work and having to get a taxi, as well as trains being cancelled. I ended up having to get a very hot and crowded bus to Kildare where Anne kindly picked me up.

From Kildare we drove to Anne and Ger’s house in Ballyroan where Anne made us dinner, and then we drove even more to get to Kilkenny to see a band called The Kilkennys play. The Kilkennys play a mix of Irish ballads and modern covers, and I always enjoy going to their gigs.

It was an idea weekend in the countryside because I got to spend time with my friends, have dinner at Tara’s, go to Bob’s Bar, and take Rog for a walk in the woods.

The next weekend I ventured back into the countryside, but this time I was headed out west to the Cliffs of Moher. Katie had to go on a Paddywagon tour for work and asked me to join. The tour took us across the midlands and over to County Galway, then down to Clare to see the cliffs. It was easily the nicest day of the year so far, weather wise, and it was the perfect day to see the cliffs. If anything it was TOO sunny which is a rare thing to experience in Ireland. Doing a Paddywagon tour is not my favorite way to explore Ireland, but their tours are a decent option for seeing a lot of the country in a short time on a small budget.

This weekend is Easter weekend and I have 5 days off which is the longest I’ve been off work since Christmas so I’m taking advantage of the time to go to Scotland. It will be the first time I’ve left this island since I arrived in July, and I’m pretty excited, even though I’m going to a country that I can literally see from parts of Ireland. I’ve never been to Scotland before so I’m very excited to explore Edinburgh and a bit of the highlands, so let’s hope it doesn’t rain too much!

Venturing into the mountains

It’s finally starting to feel like spring in Ireland, and the high temperature for tomorrow is even supposed to break 60! It has been quite rainy though the last few weeks so I’ve been trying to make the most of the time when it isn’t raining.

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Wicklow Mountains National Park

Working full time means that the only time I really get to go out and explore is on the weekends, but this past Friday I got to get out into the Dublin Mountains (which are not technically real mountains) for a work lunch. Dermot and Collette took me to lunch at the famous Johnnie Fox’s pub which claims to be Ireland’s ‘highest’ pub. We had a long lunch, and I tried Irish Coffee for the first time. The food was really good and my friends and I have decided we need to get back up to Johnnie Fox’s for one of their Hooley Nights sometime soon.

On Saturday my friend Katie and I decided to book a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains. Our drive John was a bit crazy and was constantly singing to all of us passengers. If I’m being honest I would’ve preferred to explore Wicklow at my own pace in a care, but it was good fun and we got to see some beautiful locations. Katie and I were just proud of ourselves that we were up early on a Saturday morning doing something that didn’t involve watching Netflix.

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Today the plan is to head to a pub called Cobblestones which is known for having trad music everyday, and also we’re going to go shopping for Paddy’s day outfits and accessories. Friday is a national holiday which means a 4 day week for pretty much everyone followed by the 4 day festival which runs from Thursday to Sunday. I’ve always been a fan of St. Patrick’s Day but this year I’m excited to be celebrating in Dublin.

Now that my time in Dublin is more than halfway over I’m trying to make the most of my last 4ish months here, and I’m excited to see what the spring and summer brings! Hopefully it brings sun though, because I’m growing paler by the day.

The halfway point

As I’m writing this I’ve actually nearly hit my 7 month mark of living in Ireland, but this post is to commemorate the first half of my [hopefully] year-long experience here.

In the last 6 months I have:

  • Found a place to live (not an easy feat in Dublin, let me tell you)
  • Learned a bit of Irish
  • Seen a lot of stand-up comedy
  • Found a job (or 6). I’ve worked as a receptionist (in a handful of places), auction staff member (on several, usually unplanned, occasions), bartender (for all of one day), call centre employee, and legal secretary.
  • Drunk an embarrassing amount of Guinness
  • Mastered Dublin’s Public Transport
  • heard “Galway Girl” about a million times
  • made friends
  • eaten fondue
  • watched my first hockey game
  • attended my first rugby match
  • saw an American football game in Dublin (wow who knew I was so into sports?)
  • Had an Irish Thanksgiving
  • Had an Irish Christmas
  • Ate Five Guys twice, and it was glorious both times
  • Not left this island…

My goals for the second half of my time here include keeping a job long enough to support myself for the next 5 months, and also to do a road trip around Ireland as well as hopefully visit some other places in Europe. My year of living in Dublin is suddenly more than half-way over and there are still so many things to see and do. Here’s to hoping I can accomplish these things before my visa expires and I’m sent back to America much paler than I was when I left. I really miss the sun.

An Irish Christmas

Christmas 2016 was the best Christmas I’ve had since I stopped believing in Santa Claus, and that’s because I got to spend it with my parents after 5 months apart.

The week leading up to their arrival I was filled with anticipation and excitement. I researched restaurants and activities, and planned out their trip with what we should do for each day.

My parents arrived on Wednesday, December 21. The flight connected through Amsterdam, and their flight was delayed, so they didn’t arrive until after 1pm. I got to the airport around noon because I wanted to greet them as they came out of arrivals, and I ended up eating McDonald’s and watching people greet their loved ones as they came home for Christmas and I nearly cried about a dozen times. There’s nothing quite like the Dublin arrivals hall in the days leading up to Christmas. There was actually a professional photographer on hand taking pictures of families reuniting. It was like the scenes from Heathrow in Love Actually, I kid you not.

So my parents arrived, and were understandably a bit tired. We got our rental car and set off to my apartment to grab my stuff. From there we got on the road to Cork where we would spend our first 3 nights. On the way to Cork we stopped off in Durrow. I wanted my dad to see the village before things shut down for Christmas, because I knew when we were in Durrow on Christmas he wouldn’t get to fully experience it. We went into Sheppard’s so my dad could have a quick look around, and we also headed into Bowes Cafe to get my mom a scone but since it was nearly closing time they were actually sold out.

After briefly exploring Durrow we headed over to Tara’s so my parents could get a cup of coffee, and so my dad could meet Tara. After the coffee break we headed onto Cork and found our hotel after a bit of driving in circles. Neither of my parents take navigational instruction very well, I’ve learned. We got to our rooms and tried to decide what to do about dinner. Last year, my mom and I went to a place called Market Lane which we loved and we definitely wanted to go back. We walked over to the restaurant and there was a bit of a wait, so they took my cell phone number and told us they’d call when our table was ready. We headed to a pub down the street and had a drink while we waited. It was so nice for the three of us to sit down in the cozy, Christmassy pub together. A little while later our table was ready and we sat down to a really nice meal. Even though my parents were exhausted, wine and good food woke them up a bit. I would highly recommend Market Lane to anyone visiting Cork.

The next morning I was the first one up, and I rang my parents’ room to get them out of bed. We went downstairs for breakfast and then headed off to the seaside village of Cobh. Cobh is known for its cathedral, and for being the last port-of-call for the Titanic. We spent the morning walking around the village, and we visited JFK Park and Kennedy Pier. We also had a good laugh at the Irish Navy’s “pier” which was just a small dock with signs posted everywhere saying “no trespassing” in big red letters. We decided to go to the little Titanic Museum and it was actually really enjoyable. After we left the museum we decided we should head on to Kinsale for lunch.

We had a pub lunch in Kinsale, which was delicious, and then we walked around the village a bit while my mom and I sipped some fancy hot chocolate. I’ve become a bit of a hot chocolate snob since experiencing Butler’s hot chocolate, and I can no longer drink the powdered stuff. Only real melted chocolate for me.

On the way out of Kinsale we stopped at Charles Fort for a look around. They were closing soon, so we didn’t have much time there but we had the whole place practically to ourselves. From the fort we got a beautiful view of the harbor, and we stopped to take a few pictures.

That night we decided to check out the Franciscan Well Brewery, as it had been recommended by pretty much everyone as a cool thing to do in Cork. We each had one beer, and it was a nice place but it didn’t beat First Magnitude or Swamphead from back home. After a drink we went to the Strasbourg Goose for dinner. It was such a cozy atmosphere and they were playing classic Christmas music, and we had a great meal there. After dinner we went into an extremely crowded pub but then decided we’d rather have a quiet drink in our hotel which is exactly what we did.

The next day started out windy and wet. We walked to the English Market, got soaked, and I was entertained by my parents trying to use umbrellas in Ireland during a storm. There’s no point trying to use an umbrella here because within seconds your umbrella will be bent inside-out and you’ll be soaked. After a semi-unsuccessful morning the weather improved and we decided to go to the Jameson Distillery in Midleton. Every bottle of Jameson is made and bottled there. We had a nice lunch in the distillery and went on the tour, and I got to be a special taster which meant I got to do a taste test comparing Jameson to Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker. To be perfectly honest, my favorite was the Jack Daniels (which surprised me) but I’m still a Jameson fan. After our tour we came back to Cork City and tried to figure out what to do about dinner. The Friday before Christmas was the last day many restaurants were open, and most of them seemed to be fully booked. We walked from restaurant to restaurant being turned away until finally we went to Star Anise where we were squeezed into a tiny table meant for two, and we had a great meal there. After dinner we went back to the hotel bar for drinks. It was so nice to get an entire week to spend with my parents, and even though we were just sitting in a hotel bar drinking wine (or in my mother’s case, hot whiskey which she discovered she liked) and talking those were some of my favorite times we had on the whole trip.

On Saturday we woke up and I was in a rush to get us on the road back to Dublin. We wanted to see the Christmas Eve busking and I knew we would also have to get some last minute Christmas items and I wanted to make sure we got to town before the shops closed. My parents were staying at the Shelbourne, which of course was decked out with Christmas spirit. We checked in and went to M&S to buy champagne and snacks to bring for Christmas dinner at Tara’s, went to O’Donoghue’s pub for a light lunch of toasted sandwiches, and then attempted to go to Grafton Street to see the buskers. Unfortunately too many people showed up, and the busking had to stop after 3 songs. However, I did get to stand next to Hozier and smile up at him (he is SO tall) as he was trying to make his way to the stage so it wasn’t a total loss. Pretty much every restaurant in Dublin was either closed or booked for Christmas eve so the three of us had room service and drink some wine while we watched the Inbetweeners Movie. It isn’t the most Christmassy movie (or family friendly) but I love the Inbetweeners and I think my parents enjoyed it as well. It reminded me of when my mom came to visit me last November and we spent an evening watching an entire season of the Inbetweeners. It was nice.

My parents and I have a few Christmas morning traditions (and I’m a stickler for traditions), but this year we didn’t do any of them. Normally we make mimosas, cook cinnamon rolls and open presents in age order. This year we woke up, went down for breakfast, and then took a nice long walk around Dublin. Christmas morning was a crisp and clear day, and Dublin was empty. It was cool to be able to walk around with my parents and show them the city because it felt like we were the only ones here. My dad also got to see the Dublin Fire Brigade in action in Temple Bar, and we stopped to get a picture of him with their fire engine.

After our walk we got in the car to drive to Durrow. Christmas at Tara’s was great because not only were Tara and Jason there, but so were Liara and Rebecca and both of their babies. It was such a fun atmosphere, and totally different to what I’m used to coming from a family of 3. We were all drinking G&T’s, then wine, and then everyone under the age of 24 started doing shots. All before 8pm. We had a great traditional Christmas dinner, we lit Christmas pudding on fire, and pulled Christmas crackers. I have so many amazing memories around that kitchen table in Newtown, so I was happy that my parents got to experience what it was like to have a special dinner there. It was great fun, but since my dad was driving he was eager to get back to Dublin so that he could have a glass of wine and chill. When we got back to the Shelbourne we went in the Horseshoe Bar for a few drinks, and then up to the room where we watched Love Actually which was a perfect end to our Christmas.

On Monday morning we had Starbucks for breakfast and we headed for Howth. Howth is my favorite place in Dublin, and it was a gorgeous day for doing the cliff walk, which I knew my parents would really enjoy. We had lunch at the Summit, walked back down through the village and headed back to our hotel after a day outdoors. That evening we discovered most restaurants were closed (the 26th is a holiday here) so we tried to have dinner in the hotel, but the earliest reservation was for 9pm. We decided that in the meantime we would go up to our room and order some soup for an appetizer, and drink the bottle of champagne we had forgotten about on Christmas. We finished off the wine while watching Criminal Minds waiting for our reservation time. Finally it was time for dinner, and I’m pretty sure we were the last people seated for dinner.

Tuesday morning came around too quickly. It was my parents’ last day here. We went shopping in the morning, and then drove out to Wicklow so that my mom could buy an Avoca blanket from the original Avoca. Apparently the Avoca on Suffolk Street (which is bigger, and better) wasn’t good enough. It was a nice drive though, and we ended up stopping in Bray on the way back for lunch at Ocean. From Bray we drove back to Dublin through Killiney (so that I could show my parents Bono’s house, or at least his gate) and Dalkey, which my dad hated because the roads were narrow and we ended up going in circles for a good while in Dalkey. The sun was going down and my parents returned their rental car and we went to their airport hotel for a few drinks before it was time to say goodbye.

I am writing this 2 months late, but I started this post in the days after my parents left. The last 10 months of my life have involved a ridiculous amount of change, and anyone that knows me knows that I do not love change. I graduated from college, packed up my childhood room and college apartment, and within the span of 3 days my physical ties to home were gone and I moved to a new continent full of uncertainty. I had no job, no place to live, and while I know plenty of people in Durrow, Dublin was a totally new place for me. In my 23 years I have only had a Christmas away from my childhood home 3 times. Once at my grandparent’s house, once in Colorado, and this Christmas here in Ireland. I do not enjoy breaking tradition, but I think Christmas 2016 was the best one I’ve had. I got to spend nearly a week with my two favorite people, showing them all the places and people I have come to love here. It was important for me to share that with the two of them. Also, going so many months without seeing my parents made me appreciate the time we got to spend together so much. We didn’t do gifts this year, but I think getting to spend time together in this place that means so much to me was the best thing we could’ve received.

 

 

Thanksgiving and Sports

I’ve been busy the last few months. The last time I wrote I was preparing for a whirlwind week of work and travel, and in the excitement for things to come I actually forgot to post about some cool things I did in November. Yes, it’s January now. But first, November!

I spent a lot of November trying (and failing) to find a job. As a result of that I spent a lot of time on my laptop frantically searching job websites, but I did manage to go on a few fun adventures to save me from the monotony of job applications and cover letters, and being turned down simply because employers don’t want to hire a temporary employee.

I visited the National Botanic Gardens, which were beautiful in November so I can only imagine how great it is to visit in the summer. The tropical greenhouse was my favorite because it was warm, and the heat and humidity made me feel at home.

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Hanging out in the tropical greenhouse to escape the frigid November cold

I also went back to Malahide Castle in November. I love getting on the DART and going to the smaller villages that surround Dublin because you feel like you’re on a day trip somewhere, but you’re never really more than 8 miles from your apartment.

 

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In November I also went back to the Aviva after deciding on a whim to go to an Irish National Rugby match. About 2 hours before kickoff (is it kickoff in Rugby? I really don’t know) I asked Grace if she wanted to go see Ireland play Canada, and she said yes so we both raced to Lansdowne Road and got there just in time. I had no idea what was going on, but I love the atmosphere of a big game and it was a lot of fun.

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Ireland beat Canada 51-21

Now to update you on the things I mentioned in my last post…

The job opportunity didn’t work out. However, a few weeks later I began working in the law office I’m currently employed at and I’m loving it. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be kept on for, but at the moment it’s going well!

Next came my trip to Durrow for my second annual Irish Thanksgiving. I think it was the biggest Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever attended (there were around 20 people), and it was pretty great. I did less of the cooking this year, which was nice, but Tara managed to pull off a huge meal and a fun evening while I am thankful for. On the day after Thanksgiving I woke up and watched the first episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and then had a nice lunch with Tara at a cafe after dropping a slightly hungover Jason to school for an exam. That evening I took the bus back to Dublin and hunkered down in my bedroom to watch the final 3 episodes of Gilmore.

The next day I woke up very tired (I had stayed up ’til nearly 2am watching Netflix) but excited to get on the train to Belfast with Grace. We hadn’t really planned what to do when we arrived in Belfast so we walked to our Airbnb and then set out to get some lunch.

We ended up at the Belfast Christmas Market which was basically just a mecca of international street food. It was great. We walked around all the stalls trying to decide what delicious food to eat first, and after seeing the enormous line for exotic gourmet burgers (kangaroo, buffalo, etc) we settled on some German bratwurst.

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Donegall Square

After eating our giant sausages we set out to find the perfect dessert. I got mini donuts, and grace had mini pancakes. After stuffing ourselves we stumbled upon the German beer tent. Let me remind you that this was about 1pm, but that didn’t matter because the beer tend was PACKED with drunk people drinking out of steins and wearing Christmas sweaters. It was fantastic. We both got our own stein and spent a good 15 minutes posing for pictures with them. They were a bit heavy, but we rectified that by drinking the beer. It took us nearly an hour to drain them.

Next, we wandered around a shopping center (I need to get back up to Belfast for a shopping trip, the exchange rate is pretty favorable at the moment) before deciding we should go back to our Airbnb for a bit before heading out for dinner and the hockey game which was our reason for visiting Belfast in the first place. After scanning menus we settled on Zizzi’s for dinner, which led to a very stressful but delicious dining experience. We only had about an hour set aside for dinner, and it took them about 20 minutes to seat us and then the food took more than 45 minutes to come out. We were worried we would miss the beginning of the hockey game, but we did eat some delicious cheese fondue. Finally they brought us our food and I managed to eat an ENTIRE pizza in 6 minutes. I timed it. Then we literally ran to get a cab, hopped in someone else’s uber, bribed the driver with £5 (taxis are much cheaper in Belfast than Dublin) to take us to the hockey arena, and we made it just on time for the game (match? My hockey vocabulary isn’t extensive) to start only to find out that the game was delayed because of the other games in the tournament. The more I type hockey game the more it sounds wrong, but I can’t be bothered to look up the correct terms because I have a lot to write about!

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Getting into the Christmas spirit in Belfast City Hall

Grace’s team, Vermont, won and I really enjoyed watching the hockey. After watching hockey we were exhausted, but we wandered the streets of Belfast looking for a place to have a nice pint before bed.

The next day we woke up and popped into St. George’s Market on our way to Titanic Belfast. I enjoyed the museum, and it did occupy our entire morning, but I enjoyed the tiny Titanic Experience in Cobh just as much. For lunch we went back to the market and then we headed back to our Airbnb to pack up and catch the bus back to Dublin.

This now brings us up to the beginning of December when I started working for Sherlock Law. Initially my contract was just going to be up until December 20th, which is the day before my parents were due to arrive for Christmas, but they asked me to stay at least through January so for now I have a job.

Those first few weeks of December were filled with work and anticipation of my parents’ upcoming visit. It was also filled with me getting a cold, and spending an entire weekend in bed trying to knock it before my parents arrival. I want to go into detail of their visit, so I’ll do an entire blog post on that!

It snowed! …and other thoughts

I’m not sure where to start. I’m not the best at keeping my blog updated, so I haven’t actually written much of anything in a while. I’ve lived in Dublin nearly 4 months now and time have passed by incredibly quickly. I tried to take advantage of warmer days and sunny weather by exploring my new city so I’ve been kept pretty busy, but winter is quickly approaching. I actually woke up the other morning to snow falling outside my window, which as a native Floridian is not something I see often (or ever).

I’m finally starting to establish a routine. I know what bus routes to take, I have a few pubs that I frequent (shoutout to O’Donoghue’s, where all the barmen know my name), and I no longer get lost trying to find Murphy’s Ice Cream.

However, I still don’t have a full time job. I’ve worked a few jobs here and there but it is a bit frustrating to not have the financial security of a regular paycheck. It’s quite hard to find paid work on a 6-12 month contract. I have recently acquired some freelance video editing work, and will be doing some work this coming week but I’m hopefule that I’ll be able to secure a decent job in the very near future. Finding a job soon is pretty much my only option if I want to continue living in Ireland for the duration of my visa (which expires at the end of next summer) so I will just have to make it work.

Moving to a new country to work isn’t like study abroad. I’m not spending my days socializing, going on cool weekend trips, or doing pub crawls (although, to be fair, I have done all of these things). These last few months have been a crash-course in adulthood that has left me feeling confident that once I move back to the U.S. I’ll be able to conquer anything that comes my way. Adjusting to a new way of life hasn’t been easy, but ultimately it has been rewarding.

This coming week will be pretty busy for me. On Tuesday I’m doing a trial-run for a job that I think I’ll really enjoy, and on Thursday I’m going to be celebrating my second Thanksgiving in a row in Ireland down in Durrow. Philip and Tara are organizing a huge feast in my honor, and I’m so excited to go visit everyone for a nice meal. On Friday the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life comes out, and you can bet I will be headed back to Dublin by mid-day so that I can enjoy all 6 hours of Gilmore Girls alone in my bed with a never-ending supply of Diet Coke. On Saturday my friend Grace and I are taking the train up to Belfast for a weekend of hockey and sightseeing.

I can’t wait to see what this week brings!

Guinness, Chinese Food and Game of Thrones

Okay, so I’ll admit I’m not the best at blogging. I get busy and forget that I wanted to chronicle my life so I just live it instead. The last few months have been quite busy. I’ve worked in 3 different offices, visited Winterfell, helped Sheppard’s with an auction and for one (horrible) day I even worked in a pub.

Let’s go back to the beginning of September. For the first few weeks of September I was working as a temp receptionist for an energy company. Everyone there was really nice and it was an easy enough job. It was a good intro to what temping is like. After that temp job finished I had 2 free weeks before work for Sheppard’s started and I wasn’t really sure what to do with my time at first, but I found things to do.

In case you’re wondering, it’s incredibly hard to open a bank account in Ireland. I’ve been trying for MONTHS, but my proof of address was never right even if I bring in what I was told to. It took 3 months for me to finally have all of the proper documentation I needed to open a bank account here. My first task during my two weeks off was to go get my PPS number, which was painless, but then I spent DAYS in different banks begging them to let me give them my money. It’s actually ridiculous.

Faced with about a week and a half of nothingness before I was going to head down to Durrow, I decided I needed a little adventure. I’m a pretty enthusiastic fan of Game of Thrones so I booked a spot on a Game of Thrones tour that takes you up to Northern Ireland to visit a few filming locations from the show. If you’re in Ireland, and you like GOT I highly recommend doing this. We visited the forest where the very first scene of the show was filmed, met some Direwolves, visited the original set for Winterfell (they use a different one now) and saw where Rob Stark was declared the true King in the North. Apart from the locations being scenic on their own, our guide Eric is an extra of Game of Thrones and had a ton of cool information to share with us.

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The rest of my time during that time off was spent applying for jobs (someone please give me a job) and exploring parts of Dublin that I haven’t seen before, such as Farmleigh House, or going back to places that are becoming favorites like Howth.

Finally it was time to head back to Durrow to assist Sheppard’s with a special auction at Loughton House in Moneygall, Co. Offaly. Moneygall happens to be Barack Obama’s ancestral village in Ireland, which is evident by the pictures of him plastered up across the village. I was excited to be working with Sheppard’s again because it’s never boring, and everyone involved is always so nice. We had Chinese food 3 times in the span of one week, and went through countless bottles of wine. t was a great time.

The month of October was spent job hunting, making new friends, and finally feeling like I “get” Dublin. I haven’t been updating this blog the way I wanted to, so I am going to try to make writing here weekly (or at the very least, monthly) a part of my routine.

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So much is happening, and I want to remember exactly how I was feeling at this time in my life.