howth! (and all the pints thereafter)

i am busy. i am a graduate student. i am an international student. i am the postgraduate, international class representative to the union council for the master of intercultural studies, and i’m also making room for a social life. this leaves very little room for sleep or outside activities, such as resting one’s feet or shopping for food. i’ve taken to eating once per day. it’s just logistical really – my courses are 5-8 pm, during the dinner hour, followed by pints (always) and then sleep. my waking hour is somewhere around 10 or half 10 (that’s irish for 10:30), so basically the only meal i eat is lunch. actually, it turns out this isn’t bad practice, because when you are talking about guinness, you really have to choose between eating a large dinner or having several pints. generally i am choosing a big lunch, a muffin or roll for dinner, followed by pints (especially on tuesdays, when they are cheap).

last week i had to give a presentation on “the culture of the united states.” you can imagine how daunting that was, but it actually came off alright, and i did learn a lot. mostly i learned how much crap i actually do know about the united states, despite how much i may loathe or simply ignore it these days. and in the end, it was fun to teach everyone about road-tripping and tailgaiting and happy hour.

this week, i met up with two new friends – dasha from latvia and olga from moldova – for an outing in howth, which is a kind of island/peninsula/thing on the north east coast of dublin. it’s really beautiful and quiet and upmarket, and there are pretty hills and cliffs and small roads that wind through the hills, which make you feel like you are out somewhere in rural western ireland, rather than a 20 minute train ride from the city centre. dasha works in a chippie and so got us some lovely cod & chips for lunch, and we spent the day walking and photographing and talking about our class and cultures and what we are going to do for the upcoming role play.

the upcoming role play is for our intercultural workplace module. we each chose a culture not our own to represent in a mock human resources meeting for a fake multi-national corporation in two weeks time. the idea is that we research the business practices and cultures of the country we’ll be representing, and do our best to adhere to the cultural norms and ideals. i chose saudi arabia, and i’ll have to be playing a man, because a saudi woman wouldn’t be representing a large multinational human resources meeting. we even have to go so far as to dress in traditional garb! i am really excited.

i also took the girls to a chinese restaurant on parnell street, which is developing into dublin’s chinatown, as it were. but we found a rather nice little quaint restaurant that, incidentally, has the same name as my favourite bar in anji – hao wan jiao. anyway, olga & dasha had never tried much chinese before, so we ordered the lot, and i found out they even have real chinese eggplant! the manager/owner was surprised and excited to find out i spoke chinese, and then gave me his namecard and insisted on showing me his downstairs area with private dining rooms and karaoke space. plans for a class outing rolling through the brain…

karine, my housemate, had two friends visiting from france this week. they were lovely girls (despite the fact that they accidentally locked me INSIDE the house one day, which was very confusing and i couldn’t figure out how one could get locked IN, but apparently in ireland you can, and i ended up climbing out the window, which was also a very strange thing to be doing and i was quite sure some little old man would be walking by with his yorkie and call the gardaí, but i got lucky…), so on their last night in dublin, karine and i took them out to see some traditional irish music in one of the best pubs in dublin for music. it’s one of those places i don’t want to tell the name of, because it’s already really well-known by the locals, and if it got overrun by tourists, it would be better off just closing shop altogether. anyway, it’s one of those few pubs still in existence in dublin where the bartenders are family and the musicians don’t use amplifiers and everyone crowds in and there are photos on the wall of everyone that’s ever played there. and when the place gets crammed, you can’t even hear the musicians unless you make an effort to stand RIGHT up front next to them (and they are just sitting on stools around a table anyway)…. it’s feckin brilliant and i intend to go back on a sunday afternoon, just so i can actually HEAR the music next time.

well, it feels like loads has happened, but actually hasn’t come out that way – aside from the crawling out the window incident, which was quite an adventure. tomorrow evening i’m hosting an all-american halloween “fancy dress” (aka costume) party, and thursday i leave for austria/hungary/slovakia!


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