Day 1 - September 2, 2017:
We landed totally fine and smooth and getting our bags was pretty easy. When we got out of the airport, we had the option of taking the public transportation and figuring out how to get home with all of our stuff or just jump in a taxi and if you know either Lauren or me, you’d probably guess right in thinking we grabbed a taxi to the house. I didn’t check my phone and I assumed Lauren knew the house number so when she gave the driver our address, I figured the house number she said was correct. When we got out of the car and knocked on the door of 42, the woman who answered the door was beyond confused and we knew we were at the wrong house. I then proceeded to check my phone finding a text from my mom telling me the address. The house number was 46 not 42… oops! When we walked over to the correct house, our land lords greeted us with open arms and once we got situated kindly offered us coffee or tea. After they gave us the lay of the land, we walked to the near by mall and shopped for the necessities we then had dinner at a place in town and went home for bed.
Day 2 - September 3, 2017:
We didn’t have a set time to wake up today but when we did, we all decided to figure out how to get to school. We got dressed and headed to the train. We then went into Dublin 2 and walked to campus, it was only a 10 minute walk. Once we found where we were going, we hit Starbucks to abuse their wifi and plan the day. We did a few touristy things and went back to the house. Lauren and I put on our pajamas while Jessie went to the local pub (The Bell) and when she said there was live music there, we put on cloths and headed over. The music was great and Lauren and I had our first legal drink in Ireland.
Day 3 - September 4, 2017:
We got up rather early to head to orientation, Lauren and I were total zombies because we went to bed rather late and had to get up at 8 to catch the train to get to orientation onetime. Jessie came into Dublin 2 with us and bopped around while we did our school things. Lauren and I went to the wrong building and had to ask directions twice before we found the right place to be. Orientation was nothing special, it was more that they just talked at us and we were so tired it was hard to pay attention but, there was a coffee/tea break. We saw a woman sitting by herself and thought we should see if she wanted to sit with us. She was from France and didn’t speak great English but I knew if I was in her situation I would rather sit with someone then alone. We had a small conversation with her. At the end of the break, Lauren saw someone wearing a Cubs hat! I hesitated and then screamed across the cafeteria. He ended up bring from Columbia also! So as you can imagine, Lauren and I were more then thrilled. He then introduced us to ANOTHER Columbia kid. It was so nice finding people from school. After orientation was over, we met up with Jessie and went to the famous Temple Bar. We only saw the outside because we figured we would be there more then often and headed a couple blocks away to get pizza for dinner. Then we took the train home and headed to the equivalent to Best Buy to add more wifi to our hotspot. The man helping us said it should work right away but when we got home, it wasn’t working. Since we couldn’t figure it out, we decided to deal with it and leave it for after we came home from Belfast.
Day 4 - September 5, 2017:
Each morning seems harder to wake up when there's no sun in the sky. My room is filled with dim light and the sky is painted a sad gray. As I wake up to my soft alarm, I roll over and hit the snooze, then again, and again. I finally decide to roll out of bed. I stare out the window a bit, waiting for the thick grey clouds to pass so I can see the morning light and the more I seem to stare, the thicker the clouds seem to get. Originally we had planned to go hiking in the Wicklow Mountains after Lauren and I did our required school things but when I walked in her room, she looked as tired as I felt and we both decided to save that trip for another day. Jessie decided to do her own thing and meet up with us later so today was the first day Lauren and I had to get to school by ourselves. I was a little nervous but it had to happen eventually. We got there with no problem other then heavy eyes and a perpetual hunger for more food. As we were walking to school, the sun came out and when the sun hit Lauren's face, she shined with a smile from ear to ear. Feeling the warm embrace of the suns rays soak into my body felt so new and I welcomed each and every ray with open arms.
When we got to school, we went to the cafeteria to pick up our ID cards for school and as we walked through the halls, the temperature rose and when we finally got into the cafeteria, we had to take off our jackets and layers because it was so hot. We waited in a line we thought was for the IDs but a worker saw us in line and must how known we were international students because they guided us towards the place we were supposed to go. Getting our ID cards was simple, we had to recite our student number, sit up straight and smile. The woman who took my picture zoomed into my face. Lauren reassured me that we're only here for 4 months so it doesn't really matter what it looks like. We then waited for a fellow Columbia student because we all had a meeting to go to. When he stopped responding, we decided to go without him. Tony (our advisor) was on the phone when we arrived so we waited in the empty halls. When he finished, we hesitated to knock on the door but when we walked in, he welcomed us warmly. We spoke about what to do about our classes while we're studying here and while we were worried about how it would transfer correctly, Tony assured us he would work with Columbia to make sure everything went smoothly. When we finished working out our schedule, we began asking Tony about all the places he enjoyed taking pictures, because he's a photographer too. We ended up speaking with him for an hour and he gave us a hefty list of where to go and what to do. By the end of our conversation, Lauren and I were so hungry. We wondered around the city a bit and ended up finding a cute little Crepe restaurant. When we finished eating, the sun was still out so we wondered the city some more, I found a jacket that was one of a kind and I had to have it. We also picked up some candles to make the house more homie and we got student bus cards to make it easier to get around. When we finished all of that, we met Jessie at home and then went straight to the mall to get our wifi fixed. When that was all sorted out we decided to have dinner at the pub near the house and play bingo. The atmosphere was filled with nervous anxiety. When each number was called, you could feel the eyes on everyone's paper lock into scanning to see if they were one more check closer to the jackpot. Lauren and I had a couple false alarms because Irish bingo is very different from American bingo but, we all very much enjoyed ourselves. Once bingo was over we stayed at the pub a little longer just to use the wifi. When we got home I went straight to bed, turned on the rest of Stand By Me and slowly drifted to sleep.
Day 5 - September 6, 2017:
Like most days, we all got up late and when we ran to the train station, we missed the train we intended on taking but, we caught the one right after that and it came to the platform at Pierce Station just in time to make our connection at the station but, when we got to the station, we barely had time so Jessie ran to get the tickets while Lauren and I hauled our bags to the train, and with our luck, we made it on the train.
The train to Belfast was like being on the train to Hogwarts, the seats are in fours and we had a table for our things and a man came down the isle asking if we wanted an assortment of food or coffee or tea. I love how obsessed with coffee this country is. As the landscapes quickly rushed by, I tried taking all of the scenery in. I was riding backwards so to my left was the sea and to my right was the land. And then when I looked back left, the sea had vanished and then came land again. As gloomy as the day was, the greenery of the country was so vibrant. The ride was smooth and easy, like spreading softened butter on fresh bread. Every so often they would announce the stops before Belfast, once in English and then repeated in Gaelic. My eyes felt tired, I don't think the grey skies helped with that. I managed to keep busy by staring blankly out the window, trying to take in as much of the country as I could as it rushed through the window. When we got into Belfast, we went to a cafe because it was too early to check into the hostile. We made sure all our camera gear was working. The cafe was small and the conversion to dollars to pounds was unfortunately no great so things seemed extra expensive. If you told me the cafe was in Logan Square, I would have believed you. Prior to getting to Belfast, we came up with a plan of what we wanted to do during the day but unfortunately didn't do quite enough research on the subject. When we checked into the hostile, I asked where to pick up the bus tour to The Giants Causeway and the woman working at the front desk looked at me blankly and said, “this tour only runs in the summer”. Disappointed and concerned I told Lauren and Jessie and laughed a little because she was no help. I went into a room with another woman sitting at a desk and asked her what the easiest way to get to Giant’s Causeway was, she gave me options that wouldn’t work with our schedule and when I recited what she said back to Lauren and Jessie, I knew we were in a little bit of trouble. We ended up taking an Uber all the way from Belfast to The Giant’s Causeway. I fell asleep rather quickly because I got carsick and when I woke up, we were there. I added two more pins to my collection before we walked to the site. As we walked down the long path, I realized I have never seen grass this green. Even with the gay skies, the green was as bright as granny smith apples. At the site of The Giant’s Causeway, I felt so small. We were surrounded by water and huge cliffs. The Giant’s Causeway is the aftermath of volcanic crashing, burning and cooling, an epic 60 million year old legacy to lava. Over 40,000 basalt columns. Interlocked. Not only did it make for beautiful pictures but it was a nice way to reconnect with nature. We knew there was a bus at 18:25 that would get us to the train back to Belfast at 19:20 but Jessie had offered to get us all an Uber if we wanted to stay longer so, Lauren and I took her up on that offer but, when it came time to find an Uber, there were none in the city and the only thing we could do was have the hotel on the property call us a cab. Usually when they want to go into town, they have to call a cab the Wednesday before so, we were lucky enough to have one be in the city. We got to the station 5 minutes before the train was going to leave and made it back to the hostile in one piece. Nothing was open for food so we ended up getting Dominos and hang a heart to heart. It was really nice being able to be so open with Lauren and Jessie. We went to bed relatively early because we had to catch the train at 9 in the morning.
Day 6 - September 7, 2017
Like yesterday, we woke up late. I know you’re thinking “oh great” and let me tell you, we were all freaking out! We took a cab to the station and made it there three minutes until 9 and found out there’s no such thing as a 9 a.m. train to Dublin, its 10:20. Is with that we ended up sitting at the station, twiddling our thumbs for an hour before the train came. When we got back into Dublin, it was 1 o’clock and Lauren had an appointment at 2 so, we taxied back to the house to grab her things, taxied back to her appointment and even though we were late, everything was totally fine! Afterwards, we bopped around the city and later that night, Jessie got a tattoo. We then went home to have dinner at the local pub and we got there 30 minutes after the kitchen closed so we went to the store next door and got Pringles to hold us over and then went home to eat and go to bed after we abused the wifi.
Day 7 - September 8, 2017
Jessie left today and Lauren and I were really sad. She was like our mom for the week and having her gone made us really venerable. We had a meeting with our advisor Tony and it went so well! We spoke about our class schedule and got so off topic we ended up talking about the best places to visit in and out of Dublin. We’re still figuring out our schedule but it looks like we are only going to have classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays! After that, we ended up bopping around Dublin 2 and found a cute place to eat and then sat in Starbucks so I could download a bunch of movies for us to watch. We then ended up grabbing dinner and going home. It was a short day but it was nice. The house is weird without Jessie but we’re managing okay
This Week’s Step Count: 104,724 Steps