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6 posts from August 2011

08/30/2011

goodbye Ireland...for now!!!

By Kim Burke

I am currently sitting in the Boston airport, trying to make the most of my really long lay over while Dublin hapenny bridge I wait for my flight to Denver. Bad news, I am no longer in Ireland and my heart is a little bit broken. Good news, I am finally enjoying a real, ‘Merican Blue Moon beer, ah I’ve missed it. The last few days in Dublin have been really great. We have basically been free to do whatever since we returned from Belfast. On Tuesday night we did our farewell dinner with the whole group. While it was really fun getting to hang out with everyone one last time, it was also kind of sad. Don and Martin gave us some inspiring last words of wisdom and advice about readjusting to being home. We had a lot of “lasts” the past few days. We’ve gone to our favorite places for the last time and went and said bye to some of our Irish friends. We did a lot in the last few days and I would say we went out with a bang. Leaving Ireland is extremely bittersweet. I was absolutely heartbroken leaving campus this morning for the airport, but at the same time, especially now that I am actually back in America, I am excited to see my friends and family back home. For my last post I have decided to compile a list of advice for prospective students. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Tips for coming to Ireland.

-Make one, I repeat only ONE trip to Penneys. Yes, the cute clothes and cheap prices are tempting but a lot of small purchases add up to a big hole in your pocket and your Penneys clothes will break anyway.

-When you need change don’t ask the bartenders to “break it,” they take it literally and will rip your 20 euro in half. On second thought, ask them anyways because it’s pretty hilarious.

-Don’t travel anywhere in large groups of Americans, you will never get to actually meet or talk to Irish people if you do.

-Only eat at the fastfood restaurant, Supermac’s, late at night. Trust me, it will not taste as good during the day.

-Upon arriving try and get comfortable as quickly as you can. You don’t want to waste anytime being homesick because time flies when you’re abroad.

-When Martin gives you an estimate about how far it will take you to walk somewhere, add 20 minutes onto it because he is walks abnormally fast.

-If you get on the bus around 11:30 pm and they take a long time to move, don’t panic, get excited instead; you are about to experience the late night Dublin bus races. All the bus drivers start their last round of stops at the same time and see who wins, be sure to cheer your driver on, he will appreciate it.

-After you’ve discovered your favorite pub or coffee shop try and become a regular there, it will make you feel more local and it’s a great way to make Irish friends.

- Smithwick’s beer is pronounced “Smith-icks.” You may as well learn that now.

-As Martin and Don will tell you again and again, don’t stress. Something is bound to go wrong or happen unexpectedly on your trip, just go with it. Some of my best memories are when we made a mistake or ended up somewhere we didn’t want to be and we had an adventure and a good laugh out of it.

-The Irish have no sense of personal space whatsoever, and they have no shame in showing pda… just prepare yourself now and learn to accept it.

-Most importantly, be open to new experiences. Get out of your comfort zone and take it all in. You will come back changed for the better.

-Order a Baby Guinness for me, request Galway Girl at every pub and end every night at Flannery’s.

-If you are reading this blog and are on the fence about whether or not you should study abroad with CIEE Dublin… DO IT. I debated for a long time if I actually had the courage to go abroad and I am so glad I did. I would recommend this program to anyone. When else in your life can you frolick around a foreign country carefree? Studying abroad, much like college in general, gives you all the freedom of being an adult with none of the responsibility. Enjoy it.

Glendalough
All in all, this trip has been absolutely incredible. I have spent months and months preparing for this trip and I have spent years dreaming about going to Ireland, I can’t believe it’s over. This program was everything I hoped for and more. I can say with absolute certainty that deciding to come to Ireland for CIEE summer school is the best decision I’ve made in college. The two months I have spent in Ireland are two of the best months of my life. I have made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I want to give a big thanks to CIEE for giving me this incredible opportunity. I would especially like to thank Don and Martin, they both made this trip the best it could possibly be. And all I can really say now is that I left part of my heart in Ireland and I intend to come back in the near future and get it.

Cheers!

08/29/2011

Northern Ireland

 By Kim Burke

Our class trip to Northern Ireland was really interesting. We stayed at a hotel in Belfast City Center Belfast city hall and did different tours every day. Belfast has a completely different vibe than Dublin, and the impacts of “The Troubles” and the tension between Protestants and Catholics are still very prominent. Beginning in the 1960’s, The Troubles came about due to tension between Catholic Nationalists who wished to be part of the Republic of Ireland, and Protestant Unionists who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. The tension of the two cultural identities led to many problems in the North. The violent sectarian conflicts between these two ethnic groups continued until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 in which the right of self-determination and the recognition of the birthright of all people to identify and themselves and be accepted as British or Irish was established. Although this brought about a ceasefire, the culture of Northern Ireland is still very divided.

  Peace wall Bobby sands mural

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first day in Belfast we took a tour of different political murals and we walked along the “Peace Wall” which separates the Irish Nationalists and the British Unionists. The peace wall is covered with graffiti  written by people from all over the world who also wish for peace in Northern Ireland. I’ve never seen a city like Belfast before; the division between the two groups is very prevalent and affects everyday life. Even some of the pubs have a similar kind of peace line in which one side of the building an “Ethno-British” pub and one is an “Ethno-Irish” pub and it is clear that the people in these different pubs do not mix, even though they are literally one doorway away.

Titanic designed outside On a happier note, later that day we went to the dockyards where Titanic designed Titanic was built. We got to walk through the rooms in which the architects of the Titanic drew the blue prints, and we also stood in the room where they made the decision to not put enough lifeboats on board. It was a tad bit eerie, but nonetheless was really cool. Our tour guide made it fun and he pretty much quoted the movie Titanic word for word verbatim. He also made sure that we knew the old Belfast saying, “She was fine when she left us” and he made it clear that it was not their fault that she sank.

Free Derry corner The second day of our trip was spent in Derry, or Londonderry depending on whom you ask. Derry was an important city during The Troubles and was home to the Battle of the Bogside, which was a violent riot that resulted in many deaths, and was also home to Bloody Sunday. We walked around and looked at the murals and memorials dedicated to the sad events that took place there and then we went into the Bloody Sunday Museum. The museum is run by a man named John Kelly. He was there on Bloody Sunday and his younger brother Michael, was killed. This really hit home for me; the reality of how The Troubles impacts real people’s lives. The museum was sad and our group was pretty somber. We also walked along the city walls where the loyalist Apprentice Boys had marched, leading to the rioting of the Irish nationalists, which  
ultimately resulted in the Battle of the Bogside. At the end of the day a few friends and I stopped into a pub in Derry to relax while we waited to go back to Belfast. Upon arriving into this pub you are immediately welcomed with a big painting of Bobby Sands, the famous hunger striker, and a Republic of Ireland flag; it is obvious whose territory you are in. The cultural division runs deep and is made very clear wherever you go.

Fountain      Bogside


 

 

 

 

The third day in Northern Ireland was much more relaxed. In the morning we went and toured Carrickfergus Castle, which is an old Norman castle. This was a lot of fun frolicking around an ancient castle and getting to look at the different armor and weapons that were used. My inner nerd couldn’t help but think of the Lord of the Rings, it was awesome. 

Carrickfergus Carrick allie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stop that day was to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This is a small rope bridge that allows people to walk over the ocean to a small landmass on the other side. The weather was great and it was beautiful right along the ocean. We considered staying on the little island and living there the rest of our lives, an idea most welcomed by a couple people that were a little bit terrified to have to cross back over the bridge.

CarrickaRede Kim bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last stop for the day was to Giant’s Causeway. Giant’s Causeway is on the ocean and is made up of naturally occurring basalt columns. This was caused by a volcanic eruption, although according to Irish legend it was a bridge built by a giant named Fionn so that he could get to Scotland. It was beautiful and the rocks looked like they were shaped and stacked so perfectly that I almost didn’t believe it wasn’t manmade

Session 2 group picGiants Causeway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, Belfast was a very interesting city and it was a great trip. The bus ride home was a little bit depressing, not only because the trip was ending, but because our stay in Ireland is winding down. Returning to Dublin from any trip, including around Ireland and even when I traveled to London and Rome makes me appreciate Dublin so much more. Every time I’ve returned, I kind of have a feeling of going back home, and I have an ache in heart thinking about having to leave for good in three days. I can’t think about that for now though, I have three days left and I plan to enjoy them!

 

08/24/2011

The luck of the Irish? I think not.

By Kim Burke

On Friday morning we toured St. Michan’s church in the morning and the Gla
vin Cemetery in the St Michans afternoon. St. Michan’s is the oldest parish on the north side of the River Liffey and although the church itself wasn’t that spectacular (especially having toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral the week before… can’t really even be compared) the mummies underneath were awesome. Underneath the church are burial vaults that have been naturally, perfectly preserved and mummified due to the constant dry condition in the vaults. We got to go down into the vaults and although my claustrophobia was kicking in big time as we climbed down the tunnel-like staircase, it was worth it. Our tour guide was very eccentric and he made the tour more interesting and he insisted that touching the hand of the mummy would bring us good luck. So I shook the mummy’s hand, hoping to receive some luck and then we left St. Michan’s.

O'connel tomb After stopping for a coffee break in a shop along the way, Martin walked us down to Glasnevin Cemetery. The cemetery has graves of notable national figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, and many more. Although the tour was really interesting, especially considering w  e have previously learned about many of the people that our tour guide talked about, it is still a little bit strange to me to have a guided tour of a cemetery. Glasnevin cemetery We went inside the tomb of Daniel O’Connell and our tour guide insisted that touching his tomb would bring us good luck. So once again I touched the tomb, doubling up on my luck for the day. 

This luck really didn’t come in handy the following day though when I went to go see Pheonix Park. We were told that Pheonix Park is a must see in Dublin and that it’s bigger than Central Park in New York City. It is home to the Dublin Zoo, the residence of the President of Ireland, the United States Ambassador’s residence, the Ashtown Castle, a café, ponds, and many memorials… we saw none of these. I went with my three good friends and after riding the bus for an hour we got to the park and started walking around. We walked for about an hour total and all we saw was one deer and tall grass that we couldn’t even walk through, it didn’t really look like a park at all, it looked like just a plot of land. We were trying to be optimistic and so we kept walking but to no avail. We sat at a picnic bench and laughed for about 10 minutes straight about our predicament and then decided to leave and head back into the city. We found out the next day all of Shamrock1
the awesome stuff inside Pheonix Park that we apparently missed, and we determined that we somehow must have used the wrong entrance and just walked along the outside of the park rather than actually walked inside the park. So we spent our last full Saturday in Dublin on a sunny day basically walking around on the grass next to a street. Fail. But on the bright side, we had an adventure and came away with a funny story. You win some you lose some, I guess. My luck from the previous day had apparently worn out.

08/22/2011

frolicking about Dublin

 By Kim Burke

Second session has been flying by! Second session has seemed really different than the first Writer's museum session. We have a lot more free time and less structure. I have learned to enjoy the freedom of the second session; I’ve been to a lot of different places in Dublin and I am finally figuring out the places I like most and we have even become regulars at a few. The first session we went to a lot of places outside of Dublin, we traveled to a bunch of different little towns and we did the touristy stuff like the Guinness Factory, so this session has been a lot more relaxed and we’ve mostly just stayed in Dublin. It makes me feel much more local and less like a visitor to be able to have a favorite pub or coffee shop and to actually have local friends. On Tuesday, we toured the Writer’s Museum in the morning and then we were free the rest of the day. The DublinersWriter’s Museum was  interesting; we walked around and listened to an audio recording about different books and many great Irish authors. Although, a museum about books wouldn’t usually be at the top of my list to go see, I did find a few of the exhibits interesting. I especially enjoyed learning more about the work and life of James Joyce. I read his book, Dubliners in high school and then had to reread it here for a class assignment. I remember thinking in high school that the short stories in Dubliners were boring and mundane. I didn’t get it at all. Reading them again after being here and studying the history and culture, it holds a lot more meaning. I like seeing that what I learn in school actually does change my perspective on things.

After the Writer’s Museum we shopped around the city a little bit and with the beautiful weather 
we couldn’t pass up sitting outside. We went to St. Stephen’s Green, which is a park in the middle of the city. We laid out in the grass at the park, which is a prime location for people watching. I saw an assortment of people there: young families, old couples, rowdy teenage boys, and I couldn’t help but imagine their lives and what it would be like to grow up here.Entrance to stephen green

I have grown to absolutely love Dublin and as I sat at the park with my three friends we dreamed what it would be like to move back here next year. I am learning to appreciate my uniq  ue position in life; with one more year left of college and no clue what to do next, I really do have the freedom to do whatever I want. The four of us sat at the park and conjured up our dream life for next year; we planned out where we could work, live, hang out, and we decided that everyStephen green sunny day in Dublin we would meet back at St. Stephen’s Green. Who knows if we could actually move  back here after we graduate next year, but the important thing is that we have the ability to dream about it. I came to Dublin at the beginning of the summer feeling very unsure about my place in life. It seems like there’s a lot more pressure in America to get married, secure a career, and have it all together right after college, it’s the white picket fence American dream, I suppose.

Don and Martin are always saying that Americans are way too In stephens green
stressed about everything; I’m starting to believe them. Rather than stressing out about life after college, I’m beginning to get excited. I had the privilege of celebrating my 22nd birthday here in Dublin, and although I’ve sort of been dreading it because it means I no longer have the excuse of being a young and reckless 21 year old,  I’m realizing that we take life too seriously and getting older should be an exciting adventure, not something to stress over. Alright, enough rambling and daydreaming, back to my day in the park. After enjoying the park for a few hours we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Sweeney’s. Take note, if you enjoy drinking Blue Moon beer at home, go to Sweeney’s. Although it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it does in the States, it is the only place I’ve found in Dublin that serves it. All in all, it was a great day in the city.

08/09/2011

Come on you boys in Blue

By Kim Burke

 
I went to my first Gaelic football game yesterday. It’s like soccer on craic (pun intended.) The field is similarMatch teams to a rugby pitch with what looks like a soccer goal with football goal posts on top at either end. It’s worth 3 points to get the ball in the goal, and 1 point in the goal posts. Players can only run with the ball in their hand for four steps and then they must kick, throw, or bounce it off their own foot. I was actually at the stadium, Croke Park, the week before for a hurling match because they are played on the same field. Croke Park, like everything else in Dublin has an incredible history. The sad shootings of Bloody Sunday took place there, Group in croke park
but it is also a symbol of Irish pride and unity. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was established to unite the different counties in Ireland by competing in traditional Gaelic sports. At the beginning of the game, everyone sang the Irish National Anthem in Gaelic. While the rivalries between the different counties are strong, there is an overarching theme of Irish pride in their culture  and country. Yesterday, the match was between Dublin and Wexford and so I obviously had to support Dublin. The Irish are very loyal to their home teams and take a lot of pride in cheering for them. Not surprisingly, there was an overwhelming amount of Dublin fans, but among the sea of light blue Dublin jerseys there were also a few purple and yellow Wexford fans. We happened to be sitting among a lot of Wexford fans and, like most other places, we stuck out Match in action like a sore thumb. Never having seen Gaelic football before in my life, we were a bit confused at the beginning and we accidently cheered for Wexford a few times while waving our blue Dublin flags, but Gaelic football is pretty simple and we caught on quickly. It was a really close game and the fans were wild, the atmosphere reminded me of going to football games back home. The Dublin fans, otherwise known as The Dubs, were rowdy and I talked to a few students afterwards who assured me that the next game I go to I need to sit in the hill, which is the standing stadium for the “true fans.” My night ended at a sports pub, arm in arm with other fans singing along to Come On You Boys In Blue, which is like their spirit song. The entire pub was singing, with the exception of a few bitter Wexford fans, and I felt truly Irish and connected to the community. Match group in pub

 

08/04/2011

Happy 4th of July 'Merica! (in August!)

by Kim Burke

Fitzsimons I must say that without an outdoor BBQ, fireworks, and throwing the frisbee around, the 4th was a little bit of a let down. I was surprised to find that so many people here actually did celebrate it though. Much to the delight of everyone in our group, there is a pub on campus, which would be quite a rarity back home on an American campus. The pub on campus is called the NuBar and they were hosting a 4th of July bbq. After our fair share of hamburgers and corn on the cob at NuBar, we headed into town, and in true American fashion, we went to Temple Bar.

Many places in town had American flags hung and almost everywhere we went someone wished us a “Happy Independence Day.” Most the Irish people we ran into that night seemed genuinely American Flag Irish Bar excited for us that it was independence day and made a point to talk to us about it. Something I’ve noticed about the Irish is that they have quite a global awareness about other cultures. Almost every Irish person I’ve talked to is very knowledgeable about American history, politics and popular culture. I don’t know nearly as much about Irish society as they know about American society. As ethnocentric as this is, most of my perceptions about Ireland come from American movies, which is probably why most of my expectations about being here were wrong. Much to the dismay of all the girls on this trip, Ireland is not full of handsome Irish men wandering the countryside like P.S I Love You taught us, but nonetheless when we took a tour of Wicklow national park that didn’t stop most of the girls from looking. The Irish aren’t completely innocent either, considering that I’ve heard Jersey Shore quoted to me more than once. The first week of being here, when anyone asked where I’m from I would usually just say America, but most people usually seemed a little annoyed that I would assume they hadn’t figured that out. Turns out, everyone here knows where Colorado is, and I usually get some kind of response about Coors beer, the Rocky Mountains, and, much to my surprise, multiple people have asked me if I ride horses on the plains... I'm still a little baffled that that's the image some people have when they The Temple Bar
picture Colorado. Enough pondering about perceptions; back to 4th of July. With the responsibility of representing American pride we of course all wore red, white, and blue. My friend in the program, Erika, wore a red and white-stripped shirt. This of course led many people to jokingly ask, “Where’s Wally?” We were constantly correcting people saying, “His name is not even Wally, it’s Waldo!!” The following day, we were shopping at a bookstore called Chapters when we stumbled upon the kid’s section. Turns out that in Ireland the Where’s Waldo books do not feature Waldo, but they feature “Wally” and are actually called Where’s Wally? Typical, the joke is on us.

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