Getting the taste of a pint of plain

On December 31st 2011 I set out on the adventure of a lifetime. To say it had been a long time coming would be a bit of an understatement. For my entire life I have been borderline-obsessed with Ireland thanks to my family’s Irish roots and the incredible history and culture of this wonderful country. So when the time came to finally fly off from Phoenix Sky Harbor I was both anxious and excited.

It was very difficult to say goodbye to everyone (much more so than I had anticipated) but knowing that everyone back home is a Skype chat or call away makes the prospect of being gone for five months seem much less daunting.

Flying on New Years’ Eve left me disappointed on two fronts: missing our traditional party and the fact that the pilots didn’t even announce when it was midnight while flying over the Atlantic. However, the goofy old lady flight attendants on the flight to Philadelphia did treat us passengers to a lovely rendition of landing procedures in rap form while wearing party hats. And I was going to Ireland after all, so no complaining allowed.

Having been to the Dublin airport only a few months prior definitely helped and made me feel much more at ease. Having visited the city in general was extremely beneficial, as I felt I knew my way around pretty well and thus was able to help direct the group on daily ventures. Because I arrived in town a day earlier than required, I was able to dump my bags at the hotel and proceed to take a taxi into the city for a little touring.

I hopped on a tour bus that went to all of Dublin’s highlights and enabled you to get on and off of it whenever you wanted. I chose to look around at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (stunning) and Christchurch Cathedral (unfortunately closed at the time-definitely will be going back there though).

Succumbing to jet lag, I returned to the hotel for a nap that was welcomingly interrupted by a call from my family on the hotel phone. The day ended with my first-ever order to room service, watching the Packer game online, and was capped off with the brand new season of Sherlock on BBC.

Monday morning I checked into the O’Callaghan Mont Clare in the city center, as this was to be our orientation hotel for the next few days. Everyone from Butler who had taken the group flight was understandably wiped, so the only thing on the agenda for the day was a viewing of the fabulous Irish comedy The Guard and dinner at an Asian place.

Tuesday brought us a lecture on academics from the Butler staff, as well as a safety talk from Garda Paul (the Garda are the Irish police). After lunch we walked to the Guinness Storehouse where we toured the facility and tried a pint of the stout in the Gravity Bar. Sadly I did not live up to my Irish roots and was unable to finish it. From there, a group of friends and I took a taxi back to Grafton Street and finally bought our mobiles (those two days of being unable to communicate with one another nearly killed us).

After dinner we went out to a wonderful pub called O’Donoghue’s. It’s become a tradition there to write something special (your hometown, favorite sports team) on an American dollar bill and tape it to the wall.
So of course we had to partake! I wrote “ASU Sun Devils” on mine and got to go behind the bar for a picture with the bartender. Two other girls, Kate and Lannan, did the same and also got to use the tap to fill up a pint! I had a pint of Bulmer’s Cider and while it isn’t my favorite, it definitely beat the Guinness from earlier in the day. Apparently it also comes in other flavors (the pear is delicious) so I will have to sample those while I’m here.

On Wednesday we were given a presentation by a nutritionist on how to stay healthy while living on our own, as well as how to cook simple meals. Yea right! In my book “simple” takes less than five minutes, which was certainly not the case with any of those recipes. Plenty of other students took notes, though, so I guess I’m just weird. After lunch we loaded up the shuttle busses to Galway and were off!

As a side note, I want to say how incredibly nice all of the Butler students are. There are about 25 of us or so, and everyone has seemed to get along really well. The weather, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite so nice. Of course I wasn’t expecting paradise or anything, it is Ireland in January! All in all I’m sure it’s not so bad (although I definitely wasn’t the only one complaining), it’s just going to take some getting used to for this thin-blooded Arizona girl.

Some other things that will take time to adjust to include: reading and writing the date backwards, looking to the right before crossing the street, not having a full keyboard to text with (sad, I know), stores closing at really early hours (5pm seems standard for most places), and of course not phoning home with every trivial issue I come across on a daily basis.

Thank you so much for reading and I promise every entry will not be as long-winded as this one is. I’ll update as often as I can, particularly after trips (we are already planning many of those!).

I hope you enjoy living vicariously through me on my crazy Irish adventure!