Sunday, 8 January 2012

Hello Cork

Seeing as I'm new to the "blog world", I don't know how often it's acceptable or not acceptable to post. However, I am updating 4 days later with the excuse that a lot happens in 4 days time when you're in a brand new country AND- classes start tomorrow so soon enough I'll be too busy for blogging every 4 days...hopefully : )

The end of this week and this weekend have been all about getting to know my way around the city. Thursday afternoon I spent with my roommates Missy and Shelby walking around town exploring the shops. We went into Union Bakery where we found delicious plunders (turnovers) and hot drinks! A hot cup of tea warmed my hands for the rest of our walk. We then walked on to the English Market which is hands down the place to go for some cheap fresh produce and meat! A live pianist fills the upstairs with lovely melodies as people dine on fresh food offered at the Market Cafe. (that last sentence was like an advertisement for the place...don't you wanna come here now?!?)

(Left- Shelby getting an Apple Plunder at Union Bakery; Below; Me inside the entry way of The English Market open everyday of the week)

My last class of the week is Thursday evening at 5. This week there was an Irish Culture Night going on on campus so a couple friends and I walked over to the Chaplaincy after class and enjoyed some Murphy's stout (competitor of Guinness), ham sandwiches, and Irish dessert. It was great fun and delicious food! I was able to meet some people that play music every Tuesday night so I am hoping to jump in on that this next week. After our fill of munchies and conversation we were ready to go out! Thursday night is THEE night for going out because majority of the students go home on the weekends. Therefore the bars are much more crowded on a Thursday night than they are a Friday or Saturday. A concept us American's aren't really used to. SO, the roommates and I threw on our going out clothes and to the bars we went for a fun night of dancing and chatting. I met a few Irish guys who I am to meet for coffee next week to learn more about this beautiful place. I look forward to it.

Roomies! (Shelby, myself, Katie, and Missy...the 5th roomy does her own thing...)

The line you'll find outside any favorite pub on a Thursday night. Yikes!

The rest of the weekend I walked around and outside the city quite a bit. A little on my own and other times I tagged along with the group my roommates came with. 

Walking around the city Friday afternoon exploring nearby book stores and coffee shops. Vibes and Scribes was my favorite book store found, and sure enough my favorite spot for tea happens to be right next door to the apartment! It's a little spot called The Haven. It's 100% volunteer run. I chatted with the gal behind the counter who's actually from the states and I may begin volunteering there in whatever way they need (baking, cleaning, playing with the toddlers on Wed/Fri mornings, serving, etc). I enjoyed some tea over the Irish newspaper and occasional breaks to make faces at cute Irish babies...what can I say...they melt my heart.

A delicious dinner Friday night of chicken and potatoes (Mmmm!!... : / ).Certainly lacking on the spices here, but anything with ketchup I can manage to swallow. *Notice our sad, naked walls...that will soon change I hope!

Saturday I woke up to meet some other students for a tour around Cork only to find that I felt terribly sick to my stomach! I got dressed regardless and began to walk to campus until about half way I felt dizzy and literally bent over in pain from my stomach. I figured it was not the condition I wanted to walk around the city in and spent the day lounging until later in the evening. That night, after teaching Shelby and Missy how to play Kings In the Corner (shout out Dad!), we went for some "Trad" music (traditional Irish music). I captured a video but the server is unable to load such a hefty file. But trust me when I say it was authentic! Some true Irishmen filled the pub that night, including Futbol (soccer) players celebrating a victory and locals in to enjoy the music. I sat next to a few French men who were over in Ireland to celebrate the end of their exams. I was able to say "Hello my name is Laura, I am feeling good." to them thanks to Mrs. Goldstein- my elementary French teacher. They were excited to practice their English though which was lucky for me! We chatted the whole night and they offered to host me in their home town of Rennes, the northwestern part of France. I said I'd be delighted and we plan to stay in touch.
playing Kings in the Corner at our dining room table before Trad music! 

my new French friends Jonathan (middle) and Thomas (right)

Sunday (today) was exploration day. We must have walked ten miles across the river and up the hills and roads of County Cork. We even crossed over a highway! But to sum it all up, here are some of my favorite pictures from the expedition...
                                               Crossing the river on our way out of the city

A swan!! We passed a park that was swarming with pigeons, geese and swans (swans?)

                 Out in the middle of the pond was a nativity scene. What a great spot for a manger.

Reaching the top of the hill, finally! My face is a light bulb but you can get an idea of looking out over the city.

The little road we hiked and hiked and HIKED up until finding this farm

Looking innocent before trespassing into the field behind me. Whoops : )

pictures can't describe what was behind me...

I know I've typed too many words for any sane person to really pay attention to, but I have to conclude this blog with a few thoughts about my travels thus far. For one, it's only been a week! AHH! That's exciting in some ways but seriously terrifying in others. Exciting in the way that I can't believe how much I've already done and seen in just 7 days time. Terrifying because I still wake up having seen those from home in my dreams, and I wish to see their faces in person but I know it'll be months before that can be so. I am anxious to have normalcy and friends and travel plans and feel like I am at home here. However, I have no idea how many weeks it takes to reach that point and that can get me down some times. 
This is most certainly an experience unlike any I've ever had before. Where I would normally find myself at a Christian athletic camp with a familiar face, I am stepping into unknown territory with groups of friends that are already formed having no idea what cultural norms I am to be following. And as much as I can rant about that being "awesome", "exciting" and "exhilarating", there is SO much more that is felt entailing fear, anxiety, doubt, and loneliness. Now leave it to me to over analyze my experience in less than a week's time, but the point I am getting at is that I am learning so much more already than I could have ever expected. I am growing up in that I can't step out of the apartment door without a smart head on my shoulders. There isn't anyone beside me to suggest another opinion, to coax me into going one way vs the other (subconscious or conscious). I can't even find an example of the decisions that are made every minute of the day, but they're my own 100% of the time way more than they ever have been before. It's exciting, but it's new and with everything that is new I have always had a tendency to have an increased heart rate. 
I look forward to this next week of starting classes and establishing some routine. My hopes are to find something other to eat than PB and J and carrots and to make some new friends. In the meantime I'll teach myself to crave the satisfying bite of a homemade sandwich and I'll continue to invest in the friends already made. My thoughts and prayers are with every one at home for at least a few moments of the day. I am wishing everyone a great first month of the new year! I am also advising to appreciate what and who is there at home around you. You rarely love someone more than when you can't see their face everyday. Though that seems a melancholy note to end on, know I'm in good spirits and optimistic about the months ahead! 


  1. Keep 'em coming! Love you, Laur!

  2. SO good to read this update. Glad you're exploring, learning, and growing! Definitely know what you mean when you're excited/freaked out that it's only been a week.

    As for your new friends from Rennes...AWESOME! I've never been, but a bunch of my friends from Olaf studied abroad there, and one of my best friends LIVES there now. It's basically the coolest place in France - big university town, lots of students, beautiful architecture...also Stephen isn't far from there :)

    Love you, Laur! Miss you all the time.