Aristic Getaways to Dublin and Paris

As you may have heard, I have a thing for art.

Don’t ever give me a ballpoint pen in class ‘cause I’ll sketch all over my notes if I get distracted. My bedroom has become a mini gallery from the number of postcards that plaster the walls. As for museums themselves…well, sometimes it’s like I died and went to heaven. Which has happened twice in the past two weeks.

What, might you ask, could have caused me to smile uncontrollably when I entered the art galleries in Dublin and Paris?

Well, first off, being in Dublin and Paris (The purpose of which I’ll get to in a minute). Secondly, actually understanding the contents of the rooms. I love art for its beauty, but I also have a deep appreciation for the subtleties of hidden messages and the artist’s conveyance of social commentary or capturing an individual’s private life. It’s really cool when I get to see a piece I’ve learned about in class, or, in the case of Dublin’s National Gallery, am writing a paper on.

But I suppose I should probably explain why I was in Dublin in the first place, right?

Well….

I went to my first gaming con! Cons (conventions) in Europe are different from the US – it’s a lot more about spending time with cool people in a chill environment than cosplaying and attending panels. While I was at the con I learned a bunch of really cool games, like Resistance and Saboteur (SO MUCH FUN – but don’t play with loved ones ‘cause they’re all about lying/tricking people), and added to my collection of buttons and kooky earrings.

I love calligraphy, so these are perfect!

I also invested in some shiny dice!

On one of the days I wasn’t gaming, two friends and I went into the city to explore. After a blessed cup of coffee and access to free wifi at a cafe near the city center, we walked around the neighborhood of Trinity College and eventually decided to split up to visit the National Gallery and History Museum.

 

The Irish National Gallery is fairly small, but the pieces it has are no less spectacular than those at the BMA or the Met. Some of my favorite artists have work displayed there, like Sisley and Vermeer. I feel like seeing one of your favorite pieces of art is like meeting an old friend. You’ve seen them so many times, looked at every single feature, but every time you encounter them you discover something new to love.

Metsu's paired paintings

This feeling of greeting an old friend extended to my visits to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The Loyola group trip to the City of Light included a tour of the Louvre and a chunk of free time to visit wherever we wished, which in my case involved a 3 hour stop at the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world.

I never thought I’d get to see these masterpieces!

I love Van Gogh’s work. I just kept smiling to myself the entire time I was in the room with his paintings.

After hours of staring at gorgeous works of art, Erin and I strolled down the Champs-Élysées (thank you high school French teacher for getting this song stuck in my head) and took the required tourist photos at the l’Arc de Triomphe.

Even on our final day in Paris, I was surrounded by art, this time in the form of the beautiful architecture of Notre Dame. Oh Mon Dieu! C’est encroyable! C’est magnifique!

I had never realized how large it was. I mean, just…HUGE. Huge and breathtaking. I feel like everything in Paris is breathtaking. From the Louvre, to the food, to the architecture (to the smell of the subway even), the whole city is an experience in itself. I can only hope that I will return one day to see it again.

Give New A Chance

Ba-bum Ba-bum Ba-bum
Heart pounding, eyes wandering, ears straining
Shuffle feet, adjust shirt, smile nervously
“You wanna go in?”
“Yeah, I mean, I think so. I’ll just be…following you around. You know this better than I do. This is your world more than mine….I have no idea what to do.”
“Oh honey. You’ll be fine.”

And with that reassurance, I step over the border of General Nerdery and join the ranks of Table-Top, Role Play, and Comic-Con Enthusiasts.

Also known as The Awesomeness Of Meeting New People Who Have More In Common With You Than You Think.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I’m a bit on the nerdy side, but I contain my fan-girling and rants about certain shows and hobbies for the most part. You know I love to read, cook, listen to not-your-typical-pop-music, and knit. The posters on my wall range from painted dinosaurs to Monty Python, and you don’t want to know how many postcards I’ve amassed at this point. I’d like to think of myself as an intellectual, or at least someone who enjoys learning for the sake of learning, not just for getting a passing grade.

But when people think of “nerd” or “geek” I generally don’t fit the physical description, and until Thursday night I was sorely lacking in the social experience of gaming. That has since changed.

Now, you’re probably wondering how this has anything to do with Loyola or studying abroad, or some other reason you’d be reading this post. Well. Let’s just say I’m practicing what I preach:

1. Get Involved!

and

2. Try Something New!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually ok with trying out new things – as long as I’ve seen someone else go first, or it’s absolutely necessary for me to move on with my life (Like adopting the local customs in Ireland because it makes the transition process easier).

But sometimes trying a new activity can be kind of intimidating. Maybe the people who are involved are so good at it that you think they’ll scoff at you. Or what if they don’t accept you because you aren’t One Of Them (yet)? What happens if you aren’t good/nerdy enough for the group?

I know those sound like ridiculous questions, but they were what I was thinking as I stood outside the meeting room of WARPS (UCC’s Wargames And Role Playing Society) this past Thursday.

And even though I was internally freaking out as I followed Erin into the room full of people playing board games, and even as I stuttered when introduced to the guys who run the group, and even when I lost Settlers of Catan because I totally could have made a smarter first move, I am so happy I chose to go.

Between the people I met, the conversations at the pub afterwards, and the plans that are being discussed for the future (Gaelcon!?!), I don’t know what I loved the most. I just hope it continues.

So if this is your third week of class, or even your third year of college, and maybe you missed that first meeting for a club or sport or any interest group in your area, or maybe something caught your eye but you have no idea what it entails, don’t be afraid to get involved.

Put yourself out there, try something new, and just have fun with it. You never know who you might meet, or what new adventures lie ahead if you don’t expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.

Thumbs Up For Fun