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Published: February 16th 2005
Yes, my semester has finally begun after quite a long winter break. I've tried out a few classes so far, and so many are so interesting, it's hard to choose! I really would like to get a three-day weekend for traveling purposes, but that would mean I'd have to drop one of the two courses I'm looking most forward to-- Contemporary Irish Lit in English or European Cinema! What to do, what to do? I might even drop down to taking 12 hours of credit since I can swing that and still graduate on time, but I just don't know what to do! Hopefully I'll figure it all by this weekend, after which I'll have to start making decisions!
So far, my favorite classes have been the lit class mentioned above (the Cinema class is only on Friday, so I haven't had it yet), a Traditional Irish Music and Dance course (I'm going to learn how to play the tin whistle!), and an Irish Folklore class I took today. I tried out a 20th century English lit course, and it was WAY intense. It seemed cool, but it definitely wasn't Irish enough! So I think I might go the Irish route for my lit courses. I also took a Yeats/Heaney course that seems like it will be quite rewarding, with in-depth study of the two Irish writers and their political views and impact. The lecturer seems cool, so that's good, too! Now if only I could decide about that cinema course! If I dropped cinema, I'd have all my Fridays off. BUT if I dropped the Irish lit, I'd have Mondays and Thursdays off! I think it will all depend on how good the cinema course seems on Friday. If it's not very impressive, or if it's like any old course I could take in the States, I might just stick with Irish lit-- I mean, how often do you get a chance to be taught about a different culture while in the midst of it? Well, I guess every time you study abroad, but how often does THAT happen? I mean, really.
I finally met my third flatmate, Cliona, the Irish girl. I was worried that since I'd lucked out on having two nice flatmates, the third would be a monster or something, but she'd definitely not. She even invited all three of us flatmates to Dublin in a couple weeks to celebrate her friend's birthday-- with free lodging on her friend's floor! Way cool! She's a first-year student, but she's been traveling Europe working for the last few years (she's 25). She's been all over the place teaching English: she spent a year in Italy, 6 months in Holland, a few in Germany, I think. Now she's majoring in Language Studies. I think I might ask her some more about how she got into teaching English throughout Europe, as it might be something fun to do after I graduate! I'd love to live and teach in Spain or Italy or something until I figure out what I want to do with my life, beyond writing. I might just pick her brain!
Monday night was lots of fun. I ended up going over to the apartment of a couple of the Dutch people I met on Saturday and eating dinner with them. Dinner was delicious, and the company was even better! There were 4-5 Dutch people (including Chris, who I mentioned inviting me before), 2 Germans, and 1 French girl, Audrey. Of course, for everyone to communicate in a common language, they all had to speak English, which was good for me. I was quite impressed at their speaking abilities-- I wish I could speak and understand Spanish with such fluency! I also had a couple political/social policy talks with Chris and Bart (another one of the Dutch guys), and it was very refreshing. I, of course, expected everyone in Europe to be American gov't/Bush haters, but the depth of thought with which we discussed American and Dutch political issues was also impressive. Instead of seeing things in black and white, as many do in politics, they acknowledged the complexity of issues, including the war in Iraq (to which the Netherlands sent troops), as well as conversing in depth on social issues, such as gun control, the media, etc. It was rather enjoyable for me, especially since I was worried I would face Europeans coming out with guns blazing. I was glad it wasn't so, and instead it was a wonderful intellectual exchange. Ah, what one learns while studying abroad!
As the Dutch enjoy late nights in the Netherlands, they decided to go to the pub on campus (The Stables) after dinner, and I was allowed to tag along. The place was quite hoppin' for a Monday night! I recognized that the Dutch, Germans, and even the French girl, can hold and enjoy their alcohol pretty well. I, on the other hand, could only handle a little bit of Guinness before I gave it up-- it wasn't very tasty to me. Currently, I'd prefer a Diet Vanilla Pepsi, but at least I can say I tried-- it IS part of the Irish culture, so they say. On the bright side, my lack of taste for Guinness left me quite well able to get up for my 9AM class the next morning,which is always a good thing. But, I have a feeling the Dutch folks, who weren't too bad off even after a few drinks, work as hard as they play: Chris told me a Dutch saying that keeps everyone in line-- "If you are a man in the evening, you have to be a man in the morning," meaning, of course, that if you can handle the drink at night, you must be responsible (or committed) enough to face your obligations in the morning. A good saying, I think.
Okay, this is getting a little longer than usual, so I will finish up to suit those who have short attention spans. Of course, I will be updating this regarding my class decisions as well as my upcoming weekend in Galway (I've decided to go with my new Dutch/German/French friends). We're leaving Friday evening so we can get an early start on Saturday, staying in a hostel all weekend, and then returning on Sunday. I will be sure to take lots of pictures (which, hopefully, I will someday be able to put up here!). Ta-ta for now-- the adventures continue!
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