So It Begins (In Ireland!)

There’s something about enjoying food and drink with one of your best friends while watching a hurling game. Maybe it’s just the food (and drink), maybe it’s just my friend’s enthusiasm, maybe it’s just a break from studying for tomorrow’s exam, but whatever it is, I like it.

Me and ErinIf you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, because yeah, it’s been forever (OK, so only 5 months), time for a few updates!

  1. I’m officially installed in Cork, Ireland for my semester abroad!
  2. My Early Start in Archeology is almost over (!!!) – hence the exam on Monday.
  3. The summer was pretty cool, but this school year is going to be AWESOME.

The past 3 weeks have flown by. I’ve seen so much, read so much, and just absorbed everything. Visiting a different country is one thing, but living in a different country is so much more complex (and beautiful).

In some ways, living in Ireland isn’t any different from living at home. I’m in my own apartment, I have to buy groceries and cook, and I have a decent walk to classes. Then again, some things are very different. I’m in a single bedroom with only one other roommate (from Dusseldorf), there is no such thing as bulk shopping and food spoils faster because there are fewer preservatives so I have to shop weekly, and it’s a 20-minute walk to campus. Maybe 15 if you have long legs.

Regardless of the differences, I love it here. I feel like I fit in fairly easily, and except for the American accent I’ve been taken for a local a few times. The Irish are very friendly and helpful if you’re a bit lost, and I’ve never seen a more diverse cuisine in restaurants. When it comes down to being comfortable and safe, I can actually call it home.

Yes, I do miss Loyola a bit, especially last week when everyone was posting statuses on Facebook about move-in. Luckily I’ve got a good friend base started here, and I’m sure that once classes begin next week and societies and clubs start up I’ll be very busy and not missing seeing people from home as much.

UCC Main QuadSpeaking of classes, in case you’re wondering what’s involved in an archeology course and why I would be interested in taking one, here are some of the (super cool) things my class got to see and do.

We visited Trim Castle in Co. Meath

Trim Castle

and Newgrange, the oldest Megalithic tomb.

Newgrange

We also saw the High Crosses of Monasterboice,

High Cross

and Christ Church in Dublin.

Christ Church

Another field trip focused on West Cork, where we saw the Garrannes Ringfort, Ballinacarriga Tower House, and Coppinger’s Court, and the Drombeg Stone Circle.

This kind of gives you an idea of the ring-effectTowerhouse

Coppinger's CourtStone Circle

Our most recent field trip was to North Cork. There we saw (and climbed in) the Labbacallee Wedge Tomb and toured the Rock of Cashel, a truly impressive medieval church.

Wedge TombCashel

I realize that was probably an overload of information, but now that I’ve started blogging again I’m going to keep posts about my adventures more focused.

For now though, I have to go back to studying, and try to get over Cork being tied with Clare for the final!

*Note: For more posts and pictures about my travels in Ireland, please visit roryroamingthegreenhills.tumblr.com.

The Little Things

By the time it gets to the end of the week, I’m dead. My last class on Friday ends at 2, I walk home blaring Imagine Dragons and Weezer, and either dump my backpack and catch up with my roommates, or dump my backpack and do my laundry.

Today is the Laundry Friday.

I’m currently sitting in the laundry room with my legs propped up on the table typing away and waiting for the wash to finish before I pop it into the dryer. Every five minutes someone waves to me from the doorway.

Which leads me to why I’m bringing laundry up in the first place. Even though the stereotypical college student supposedly hates laundry day, I think it has its social and therapeutic qualities.

I know, this sounds really weird, but hear me out. The laundry room in my dorm is close to the back door so it gets a lot of traffic from students walking to and from classes. Certain hours yield more people doing laundry than others, so sometimes you’ll see a fair amount of people that way, too. It’s kind of the perfect way to say hi to friends before the weekend hits and you either hole up in your dorm or spend every waking minute outside for the next 48 hours.

Last year I would bring my homework along and try to be productive during the 1+ hour of being in a relatively distraction free room. It worked! I have the distinct memory of reading Thomas Aquinas for theology and writing rough drafts of my paper on societal standards on campus for writing. The sound of the machines has this rhythmic quality to it that just becomes white noise if you stay in there long enough.

Even after the whole process of doing laundry, it still has to be folded. And that is where the true relaxing comes into play. Yeah, OK, so you probably think I’m nuts by now. But I swear there’s something soothing about repeating the same action with warm, sweet smelling fabric. Granted, it can be pretty staticky and I’m so ready to sit down after folding what is two large loads worth of clothes, but it’s still a nice chore compared to taking out the garbage.

I guess the take away from this is to look for the unexpected pleasures in life. Meet ups with friends in uncommon places, homework in rooms not intended for studious behavior, and unwinding at week’s end through mundane “normal” activities. But that’s the best part of the college life. Always expect the unexpected. Life is more enjoyable that way.

Fwap Fwap
Whoosh
Smooth Smooth
Fold
Smooth Smooth
Fold
Stretch
Smooth Smooth (quickly now)
Fold
Stretch
Smooth Smooth (faster now)
Fold

Fold

Fold

Flip

The Laundry

Unconventional Study Spots (Lead to Interesting Acquaintances)

Remember how I wrote about my fun, book filled Sunday afternoon?
Well, I’m happy I enjoyed it while I could.
Because then Monday came and I went from

Yeah, 'cause everyone wakes up like this in the morning :P
to

I know I’ve put a very happy, chill kind of spin on Loyola so far, but everyone has a “crazy day.” Or week. Or month. Or semester. Sometimes it gets hard to handle and I wonder Why On Earth Did I Sign Up To Do So Much Stuff.

Just as I convince myself that there are never enough hours in a day to do everything, some little bit of happiness comes my way and makes the stress more bearable.

This week, it came in the form of an engineering professor.

It’s strange that a faculty member who is on the opposite side of the education spectrum from my major would influence my life, so maybe I should give a little back story about our acquaintance.

Fact #1 About My Study Habits: They aren’t normal.

I hate working at my desk. In fact, I hate working in places that are designated for studious application. I avoid the library like the plague (mainly because it’s on the opposite side of campus) and I have never been to The Study (but I hear it looks like Hogwarts). Instead, I find cozy places on campus to do my work.

In my first semester I discovered the huge armchairs on the second floor of Humanities – perfect for propping up a laptop, sorting articles, and writing papers on the large armrests.

These chairs are PERFECT

The Reading Room became my weekend sanctuary as I ploughed through comp/sci projects, Theology readings, and accidental naps in the poufy reclining chairs.

Couldn't really get a better shot, but trust me, those chairs will make you fall asleep!

My second semester led me to the basement of Donnelly Science Center where I wrote Lit analyses and ate lunch before I walked over to Knott Hall for a math class.

"Would you like a desklamp with that?"

My study spaces always change, but they all have one thing in common: it’s relatively quiet, they’re near my classes, and I can separate my work life from my home life.

Thing is, I didn’t realize how quickly people could consider you a permanent installment in their environment.

After a few weeks of doing homework in Donnelly, I got used to seeing certain professors pass by; they got used to me sitting there. One day, they came up and talked to me, learned I wasn’t an engineering major, still offered the use of the engineering lounge for studying, and ever since have always said hello.

Normally interaction between departments, especially that of the sciences and humanities, is fairly limited at college. But not here.

Definitely not here.

One of these professors saw me on campus during the first week and asked if I would still be studying in Donnelly. I wasn’t sure if my classes would bring me there, but they have, and now I’m back in my “office” as he jokingly put it.

On Monday he said I should feel free to bring a desk lamp.

To him, I’m not some transient student who is one out of two hundred in a lecture hall. I have a name, a face, habits, and am truly recognized as a human being.

Having really busy, crazy days is part of life, but having someone who cares even in a small way makes it worthwhile.