Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Game That Launched 40,000 Americans

On Saturday Navy and Notre Dame will duke it out on the field here in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium. Its one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in all of football and the excitement in the air is palpable. I was walking around town today and noticed that for once I heard more accents like mine than I did Irish accents. Its estimated that 40,000 Americans will be in Dublin this week/weekend for the big game and I certainly believe it! There was even a pep rally/parade at Stephen's Green with a marching band and cheerleaders today. Apparently I'm assimilating well, because I got asked by Americans and Irish alike for directions. I only wish I could have helped more. Its really unfortunate how directionally challenged I am.

The pep rally!

Also, I got an iPhone today. And it was free. And cheaper than the junky pay as you go phone I had been using. And the sun was out. All in all a pretty wonderful day. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lost in Translation

There are a great many phrases that have boggled my mind since I've moved here. I've said a lot of things that have made me sound completely ridiculous because things in North Carolina and the States mean one thing, and here take on a totally different meaning. Below, I'll provide a list demonstrating my dilemma:

1. Biscuits. In Ireland = Cookies. Biscuits in North Carolina = Fluffy roll/bun. So when I say something like, "oh have y'all ever had a chicken biscuit before?" people think I eat chicken and cookies. And also probably think I don't have it all together.
2. Ride. For example in the States a pretty routine statement might be, "Hey, can I get a ride to the bar?" Here, you are asking for an explicit encounter...and I suppose in that context it would happen on the way to the bar. Can this get awkward? Yes. Instead say, "Can I get a lift?" Much better :)
3. Pants. In Ireland pants are underwear. So don't go telling people you may or may not have just met, "oh I bought some really cute pants today" unless you're comfortable talking about your panties with them. Instead, use trousers.
4. Gaff. A gaff is a house/apartment/place you call home. Cue this song getting stuck in your head for the next 1-2 hours :)
5. Bob.  Money
6. Your Man. In Ireland, in context, "I was talking to your man at the store." So basically it means this guy, dude, whoever. When I first heard it I kept wanting to tell people, "But I'm single. I don't have a man right now..."

I'm pretty much positive that there's more than just this list of six, but these are the main words and phrases that I've gotten hung up on. Its been really funny trying to navigate and pick my words more wisely. I'm definitely much more aware of what I say now!

Mostly just bewildered and confused :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Foodie Paradise

I'll let the pictures and menus do the talking...I got to visit these places with family and new friends this week

Havana Tapas Bar

A meat and cheese platter

The Pepper Pot Cafe

The Pepper Pot Cafe

Pear, Bacon and Cheddar Sandwich

Avoca Cafe

A selection of Avoca's treats

**All pictures found on business' websites/facebooks

These are some really cool spots here in Dublin!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Its A Beautiful Life

Today I ran a couple of errands around town, and yesterday I spent a super fun day with my cousin and some of his friends walking all over town, having a delicious meal(there will be a separate post on that :) ) and some great conversation. This week is definitely off to a great start. Before I moved here I had decided that I would start and keep healthy habits as part of my new life. Those plans kind of got put on the back burner...that is until yesterday when I got invited to participate in a Mud Run. So, tonight after dinner I decided it was time to start running! As I started off on my run I looked to one side and saw the beautiful waterfront and then looked to my other side and saw amazing green mountains. The air was crisp and clear and it was kind of a perfect night. It all hit me how lucky I am and what an awesome opportunity I've been given. Life has its ups and downs, but it is so beautiful. Like the song says, "life ain't always beautiful, but its a beautiful ride." Today, I feel so thankful to be alive.

Almost my exact view(photo found on google)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quiet Little Pieces of Home

Today I woke up feeling a little homesick and decided I would take a walk around Dublin City Centre and try to find new things. I ended up walking around for about 4 hours and went all over the city. It was such a lovely day filled with all kinds of unexpected encounters, and it really lifted my spirits.

When I got into town I realized that I was super hungry, so I walked into a convenience store/deli and got a hot sandwich and a soda and found a cool little courtyard area to eat it in. Then a GIANT wind came through and almost blew all my lunch away! haha. After that I decided I wanted to see the famous Post Office(site of fighting during the struggle for Irish Independence) and took off in that direction. The crowds were INSANE down that way, but it was really cool to get to see the building. I walked around that area a bit more and then headed back over the river down some side streets around Grafton Street, which is one of the major roads in the city. I found a beautiful church called St. Teresa's run by Carmelites. I decided to stop in and say a prayer and light a candle in memory of my Mom. As soon I stepped into the church I felt a warmth and sense of home wash over me. I stayed there for quite awhile, soaking up that feeling and joining in with the others there saying prayers. It was really a lovely experience. As soon as I walked out of the church I heard one of the street performers on Grafton St. playing one of my favorite songs on guitar, which also gave me a great sense of comfort and a home-y feeling. Its funny, just the moment I started feeling like the city might swallow me up I found the little things that uplifted me. Although I'm about 3000 miles away from home and most things that are familiar to me, pieces of home can be found everywhere.

After leaving the church and strolling around Grafton St. I ran into so, so many kind people. One man asked me for directions. Obviously I had no idea where he was trying to go but we walked along together for a little while until he found his bearings, chatting and enjoying the beautiful weather. Just after that, a bubbly and kind girl appeared seemingly out of no where to tell me she liked my earrings. At first I thought she was going to mug me(hey, I've gotta be careful!), but after I said thank you she just continued to chat with me. We walked together for awhile until we both went our separate ways, and she pointed me in the direction of a really cool little bookshop not far away.

One of my all time favorite things to do is spend hours wandering around a bookstore. I love everything about them-the smells, the artwork on the covers and the thousands of stories waiting to be discovered. I spent a large portion of my afternoon strolling around this one particular store. I came across a book called "The Night Circus" and it immediately captured my interest so I brought that one home with me. After that I wandered a little more and then realized I was kind of tired so I headed home. There was nothing huge that happened today, no big ah-ha event, but rather so many small moments that culminated in a wonderful afternoon. I was reminded once again of the innate kindness within people and the beauty of my new city. This time of quiet and calm is something I'm not used to, but its a blessing because I've been able to reconnect with parts of myself that were left neglected when my life was so hectic. I know life will become very busy again very soon with classes starting and finding a job(all good vibes and prayers towards that happening are most welcome!) so I'm just trying to enjoy the slow pace of life right now. I think its during the times when I am left alone with myself that I learn so much about who I am.

I love and miss all of you back home in North Carolina! Big hugs and kisses are being sent your way!


Monday, August 13, 2012


Early this morning before the sun came up, I saw my best friend Bridget off. Her two weeks here in Dublin have come to an end. It was a tearful morning and while I knew I would miss her, it was more difficult than I expected.

So many things in both of our lives are changing. The next time I see her in person will be when I go home to NC for her wedding. I can't believe it! We're both embarking on new lives which are going to be wonderful and full of all kinds of beautiful things, but change is certainly scary.

Here's to new experiences and those people that you just know will always be in your life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dublin Livin'

I've been here in Dublin for a full week now, and already I'm starting to get adjusted and feel at home. Some things this week were much more difficult than I expected while others have been pleasantly simple. Let me start at the beginning...

Last Thursday, bright and early in the morning at 7 am I arrived in Dublin with 3 suitcases, some big dreams, and an amazing friend and soul sister(Bridget) helping me with the beginning stages of my move. My cousin picked us up from the airport and took us to my other cousin's home with whom I'll be staying for awhile. Since everyone was at work, Bridget and I took a short nap and then headed off to the city center so I could pick up a few necessities. Feeling like I had just walked through a time warp because of the jet-lag, I stumbled off of the Luas(a light rail train connecting various spots to the city center) and onto Grafton St.--the shopping mecca of Dublin, which also happens to be one of the most busy of all the roads in the city.

The first order of business--find a cellphone. I'll definitely be needing it as I can tell all of you right now I will most certainly get lost more times that I care to admit to. My cousin had recommended a place to us that sold pay-as-you-go phones (which seemed to be just what I needed) so we headed towards the shop. Just next to the entrance was a display window featuring all of the available phones. Wanting to be economical, I picked a small Samsung slider phone. Was it a SmartPhone like I'm accustomed to? No. But this whole experience is about trying new things and branching out, right? We stepped inside the small internet cafe/coffee shop/cell phone vendor and were greeted by a very friendly and helpful man. He told me about all the promotions the different phone companies had going, and I picked the one I thought would best suit my needs. Within minutes I had a working cell phone!

You would think that getting a cell phone would be the thing to scare me the most about my move so far, but it wasn't. Like so many other things in my life it was a small, almost trivial task that sent me into a tailspin. After purchasing my cell phone Bridget and I found a pharmacy and headed in so I could pick up some real, non travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. I found half- off haircare products and tossed them into my basket. Then, I came to the toothpaste aisle. As I stood looking for my preferred brand and couldn't find it a sudden, gripping panic came over me. I'm pretty sure in that moment I realized just how real my decision to move was. A person just doesn't buy full sized toiletries when they're on vacation! I knew that I wasn't going to be going back to Raleigh in a couple weeks. I was making Dublin my home base. While all of these thoughts were spinning around in my head, I was staring at the shelves with a panic stricken look on my face and clearly not making a decision. "Well, I like Crest! Do you?" Bridget said, gently trying to nudge me out of my panic. Seriously, I don't know what a girl would do without her sister from another mister sometimes! That was all it took to snap me out of it. I quickly snatched up a tube of Colgate and put it in my basket with my other items.

Fast-forward to the next morning and I was well rested, over the jet-lag and ready to take on the day. Bridget and I went into town to do a little more shopping and to just walk around and re-familiarize ourselves with the city. Thinking doing a little bit of clothes shopping would be a fun activity, we strolled into a popular shop just off of Grafton St. Perusing the pretty fashions, we quickly realized that the sizes were completely different from the States. After going to about 8 stores, I finally figured out what my size in the States converted to in Ireland....thank goodness! If you now me at all, then you know that I LOVE shopping!

Since those first two days here, I have gotten to hang out with my cousin and his parents over family dinners and with he and his friends on a night or two out. I am SO very thankful that he has been so welcoming and has let me into his life even though I've just been here a short time. Family is wonderful like that! I have many more cousins who live in the area who I haven't gotten to spend much time with, but I certainly look forward to that in the future. Of all the things I have noticed in the past week since moving here, it is that the people in this country are truly friendly and welcoming. Everyone from the kind ladies at the pharmacy counter, to tour guides I have encountered, to a precious little girl who strolled up to me today and gave me a flower, have been nothing short of wonderful. Each person has made me feel welcome, greeting me with a smile and a kind word and for that I will forever be grateful.

My journey here is just beginning and there are so many exciting things to look forward to--classes, making new friends, traveling! The list could go on and on. Today I got to go to Northern Ireland and see the Giant's Causeway, cross the Carrick a Rede rope bridge and visit Belfast. The blessings in my life at this moment are abundant and I am so thankful for them. To have a dream and experience it being realized is one of the most exhilirating feelings. This season of my life is certainly shaping up to be a beautiful one. Cheers to life y'all!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Sometimes When You Take A Road Trip....

So, I've finally made it over to Dublin, Ireland! It's my second day here! My best friend Bridget is here with me for about two weeks helping me get settled and do all the little things I need to do so I don't have a panic attack over buying toothpaste(more on that in the next post...)

How did we get here? Let's start from the beginning....When we bought our tickets, it was SUBSTANTIALLY  cheaper to fly out of Chicago instead of Raleigh. We decided that a last road trip before the big move would be fun so we went for it and purchased the tickets to fly out of O'Hare. Flash forward a few months to this past Sunday and we're loading up the rental car at 6 am with our luggage(well, mostly mine) and hitting the road! The first few hours were smooth and we got to take in some beautiful scenery in the North Carolina and West Virginia mountains. While we were in West Virginia we needed gas, so we stopped at an OLD SCHOOL gas station complete with old fashioned rotary pumps and had to pay inside before any gas could be pumped. I walked inside with cash in hand to pay the attendant, and was very surprised when I saw a rather elderly woman smoking a cigarette and doing some sewing. "Hey there honey, how can I help you today?", she said with a ciggy hanging out of the corner of her mouth. Feeling like I was in an old Country Western film I smiled and paid the kind woman for our gas, thanking her and hoping that she wouldn't soon have emphysema. As I walked back out to the car, I told Bridget about this sweet yet unexpected encounter. While we were standing there pumping gas I saw something out of the corner of my eye...and then this appeared.
A a gas station 
Yes, that is a chicken. It came strutting by casually like these things happen everyday. Maybe they do in West Virginia, but it was a first for me. As we both stood there with our mouths gaping, the world seemed to move around us like nothing was wrong. 

After the Chicken Incident, we continued driving and made good time for the next few hours. We decided to stop for lunch in Dayton, Ohio since Bridget went to college there. After a delicious lunch at Skyline Chili we got back on the road. We were rolling down some highway that turned into a country road but Bridget assured me that it was normal. All of a sudden, there was a road block and a sign that said, "Bridge Out. Locals Only." Locals only?? No fair! So of course we decided to pretend to be locals and went around the road block anyway. About a half a mile down we realized that "Bridge Out" was no exaggeration and the bridge was quite literally out--as in non existent. (How exactly would a local cross that body of water in a car? Do they have floating cars? This is still a mystery to me.) Clearly seeing no way around this, we turned around and turned on the GPS which quickly told us it could pick up no signal. I wasn't surprised considering we were smack dab in the middle of about a million corn fields. After driving around for awhile the GPS found us! Yay! Following the directions, we turned down a small country road and figured it was an alternate route. Unfortunately, it was the route to a farmer's home. Not wanting to bother anyone, or get chased off his property, we hightailed it out of there. FINALLY the GPS gave us correct directions and we made it out of Corn Field, Ohio(obviously not a real name, but I think it should be). After that the trip went really smooth. After driving for about 12 hours we briefly lost our minds and had a highway dance party to My Body by Young the Giant, but quickly realized we needed to get it together since we still had 3 hours ahead of us. We rolled into Chicago, dropped off the rental car and spent the night with my Aunt and Uncle. 

The next day we got to go into the city and do some sightseeing which was really fun. Chicago is a gorgeous city! We spent some time with Bridget's family there for a couple of days and then got on the plane to Ireland. And now here I am! 

I miss and love everyone at home SO MUCH but I'm really excited to see what life has to offer here!