Thanksgiving Time in Eire

This year more than ever there seems to be so much more to be thankful for.

Wednesday my friend Aine and myself went to the Galway Christmas Market. It’s in the Eyre Square Park and it’s full of people selling food, clothes, purses, etc. The park is decorated with Christmas lights - and when you walk in, you instantly have that Christmasy feeling. 

We met up with our friend Caroline and Aine’s sister Catherine in the beer tent. We sat there for a few hours just chit chatting, laughing, and just hanging out. It’s things like this I love, just sitting with friends, and just hanging out for the afternoon/evening. 

It kind of hit me a few times that night that, “Woah tomorrow is Thanksgiving.” I thought of me in July being at The Limited with my mom and saw a shirt that reminded me of Thanksgiving (don’t ask - it’s just Thanksgiving colors). So, of course, I bought it and brought it to Ireland to wear on this special day. Then I sat there and thought of things I was thankful for. What more is there to be thankful for when you’re in Ireland?

In true Margaret Langevin style, Thanksgiving began by me frantically waking up extremely late for my class. I woke up 7 minutes before my bus left. I blame my iPod alarm clock for not going off. 

I went to class where we had a guest speaker, his name is Colum. He is an American whos parents are from Connemara. Because of his love for Ireland and music, he ended up moving to Connemara about 16 years ago. He’s an extremely talented accordian player. He was super funny and interesting to listen to, his stories were absolutely hilarious. I felt connected to this guy for following his dreams and moving to Ireland. 

After class I went home, cleaned my apartment a little bit, and then met up with Arthur, Mairead, and Fionnuala. Fionnuala graduated from her Masters, so we all went out to a lovely, lovely lunch in town. Eamon met up with us at the restaurant after he finished classes. After years of starving all day on Thanksgiving because you don’t want to ruin your appetite for dinner, I had the most filling lunch. It was so delicious. And. I. Was. Stuffed. 

After dinner, we went into town for a bit, and then I went home to shop for my Thanksgiving feast! Aine met me at Dunnes to help me shop. Well, interestingly enough, I couldn’t find any turkeys!? So, I got ham, chicken, and turkey sandwich meat to suffice  (yes, sandwich meat).

Cooking has began in Apartment 6, with a lot of help from Aine and the fire alarm going off JUST ONCE, dinner was completed. Aine and myself prepared a chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, scalaped potatoes, salad, and vegetables. My friends Carolyn, Noelle, Ellen, and Joey also came over. They made stuffing, string beans, gravy, and apple pie! In Thanksgiving tradition, we said a prayer and said what we were thankful for. 

If I really wanted to say everything I was thankful for, the list would have went on and one for ages. I’m thankful for this amazing trip that I’ve been on for over three months. I’m thankful for making friends from other countries, across the United States, and new friends from Ireland during this trip. I’m thankful for all of my grandparents. I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifices my grandparents made to better their lives. I can’t even imagine leaving Ireland in a little over a month, but they had to leave for good with very few trips back. I’m thankful for all of my family here in Ireland for taking great care of me, looking out for me, and making sure I’m comfortable. I’m thankful for all of my family and friends patience while trying to learn Irish - and their constant correcting me how to say certain words. I’m thankful for all of my friends in Aran that make me feel like we’ve been friends for years and years. I am thankful for being able to keep in daily touch with my friends and family back home. I’m very thankful I brought Bumbum here in Ireland #CuddleBug, I’m thankful my parents and Linda came to Ireland in October to visit. I’m thankful for waking up with snapchats, texts, facebook messages from my friends telling me to come home and that they miss me - makes me feel l.o.v.e.d.  I’m thankful for having a job to come home to at school, phew. I’m just thankful for every little thing this Thanksgiving. It’s insane you have to go to a different country for Thanksgiving to really see what you are grateful for.

We had a great dinner. I’m actually really suprised how it all came out. I wish more of my friends could have came over to enjoy it with me, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles when you’re in college (Megan agus Barry you were very, very missed!) We sat around the table for about an hour just having a good time, talking, telling stories. My friend Carolyn’s goal in Ireland was to play hurling, and low and behold there was a group of guys in my courtyard hurling. So, Carolyn went out and asked if she could hit the ball with the stick and they let her. She came back in so genuinely happy. So, no, there was no American football, but at least someone got to check something off their bucketlist! 

After the dinner we all went out together and had a grand old time. Memories, memories.

I can’t believe my time in Ireland is limited - I hate thinking about it, it gives me knots in my stomach, not exaggerating. But, sure, just an excuse to live it up for the rest of my time here. 

Tonight, Cliona, Fionnuala, and myself are having a slumbo party at my apartment. We’re going to get some sweets at the store in a bit and watch the Late Late Show tonight is the Toy Show. I guess it is a Christmas tradition here to watch this show which marks the beginning fo the Christmas season for them. Tomorrow, we head to Aran! 

Will tell you how it goes! 

Slan go foill!

Our friend Angela’s parents came to visit her this week and brought along some Thanksgiving decorations and napkins! 

Two irish and a Belgian’s first (and hopefully not last) Thanksgiving, Joey, Aine, Ellen

Americanas. Noelle, myself, and Carolyn. 

Hon the Inis Mor Cailini! #InterIsland2013

Dumb dumb Margaret thought I posted the last blog, but since my internet in my apartment is a piece of shite, I suppose it didn’t post. All I have to say is: I’M SORRY and THANK GOD I SAVED IT ON DOCUMENTS!

So I left off telling you that I was headed in Inis Oirr. So, I went to Inis Oirr Saturday. Megan came in on the evening ferry Friday. I went into town early to go shopping a bit. I met with Aine out there. We went shopping and then had extra time to spare, so why not go into Taaffes? Megan and I planned to have a slumber party for 2 reasons: because we love each other and it would be nice to go into the island together since niether of us play football.

So early in the morning, we got on that bus and our day started. We met our friend Aine at the pier and then took the boat from Rosaveal to Inis Oirr, obviously. I took a nice little snoozer on the ferry and thought we arrived, ha, kidding suppose we had a mini stop in Inis Meain. 

Megan and I being little rebels (or gobshites) hadn’t booked a place to stay yet, so we put our bags in the Shamrock B&B where the Inis Mor football team was staying. Fionnouala and Bridie let us put our bags in their room. Then our day started watching about 5 hours of Gaelic Football. I went up to Arthur and told him  I’m taking notes now! (Since I had just signed up for football a few days prior….one of us!)

Megan and I already missed the girls play two or three games since their games started around 930 and our ferry wasn’t until 1030? But they were in the finals so we knew we got to at least watch one of the games! We also got to watch the Inis Mor boys team play 2 games, but unfortunately were knocked out.

Why was there so much football you ask? Well, it was a tournament called InterIsland, where islands all over Ireland come together and play against each other. So there were people from Galway, Donegal, Clare, etc  playing against each other in quest of the CUP!

I was very determined to find my Granddad’s house. Arthur pointed what direction where it was. To be honest, this island is tiny small. It was probably just around the corner, but I wanted to relax and watch football. So I did.

During one the matches, I couldn’t stop laughing because there was a collie running on the field chasing after the ball. I thought it was hilarrrious, others (like the players) didn’t find it as humerous, but I just loooved it. It happened multiple times. There were so many little man dogs (you know like the blog I just posted I wrote about) and there was this one in particular that I just fell in absolute love with. 

He was definitely a little man dog and I wanted him to come by me sooo bad. Like I said, dogs in Ireland have like a mind of their own - they’re humans. If I call them to come over by me they wont come like American dogs (who all want attention - symbolic at all to our culture????) My little man dog aka “My Fella” wouldn’t come by me. He was limping and all I wanted to do was cuddle him, but we wouldn’t come by me.

Megan and Orla didn’t realize I loved dogs so much - Orla even dared to say that the dog wasnt that cute (Liar). Megan especially didn’t realize I loved dogs so much, but quickly learned because I commented on how cute the dogs were everywhere. And I kept saying look at my dog! And when he went on the pitch (field) I was like nooo because I didn’t want him to get hurt worse. Arthur said to Megan, oh yeah she loooves dogs. I mean let’s be real, I love dogs more than humans…..kidding….?

Anywho it was finally time for the girls to play in their final. HON THE INIS MOR CAILINI

There was a group of us watching them, cheering them on. YEAH FINNERS! I couldn’t keep score, but I knew they were up at least by a few points. It was funny though listening to Arthur on the other side of the pitch screaming at the girls in Irish.. Then everyone on the sidelines would laugh and I’d like ok, so what’d he say? 

Anyway, my little man dog FINALLY came by me. I pet him the entire second half all while watching the game, I was living the life. I seriously fell in love with him. Serious love - is it weird my heart melts just writing this? He even laid on his back for me to pet his belly (showing trust) But I quickly learned, he was only using me for pets, because when his owners(?) left, he left me..    Margaret Bocht

In the end, it was a great moment because the girls won - which is good because they were playing against Inir Oirr..awkward!  Let the celebrations begin! After the match they had the trophy ceremony. The girls were still on cloud 9 and I think Arthur was on cloud 19. 

Afterwards, Megan and I knew it was time to face the facts, and finally get a place to stay for that night, even though everything was pretty much booked since like triple Inis Oirr’s population was on the island that week. Let me say, it was quite stressful and I don’t recommend doing it.  We walked to the hostel, booked… Since Megan is fluent in Irish she was talking to everyone in Irish. Then the person she was talking to would talk to me in Irish and I wouldn’t even realize it, till Megan said I didn’t have any Irish. Funny, funny. 

Anyway the lady in the B&B called a few B&Bs and at last, landed us a place to stay (it was about 10pm at this time). We got in our rooms there and once again the lady, Barbara, thought that I had Irish too. So embarrassing…. She asked what brought me from Chicago to Inis Oirr. I told her I have family in Aran and am studying at the lovely NUIG this semester. She asked who my Granddad from the island was. I said Stephen Flaherty and she knew the family. Which I found weird considering Papa is probably about 103-104 right now. Megan and I also decided to stay the next day in Inis Oirr since we were already there and I wanted to walk around the place a bit. So we planned to take the evening ferry rather than the morning one.

Megan, Aine, and myself headed up to the pub, Neds, where everyone was with the trophy. It was really fun. Our friend Ronan’s band, Rofi James, was playing the music for the night. I have to say, I was pretty impressed - they’re really good. Obviously all the Inis Mor people (including myself because I think I’m an islander) were towards the front having a jolly good time. I thought it was pretty cool just hanging out and dancing with everyone. Arthur got called up to the stage and everyone cheered and he sang a song… in Irish…. Then the band played “Galway Girl” and I was obviously jamming and Ronan even said “Haha there ya go Marge” Ugh, just feeling included that’s all.   I sometimes got confused if this cup was actually the Stanley Cup because the girls were kissing it and drinking out of it. Ohhh Yeahh!  

Since it was PACKED and so hot in there, Fionnouala asked me if I would go outside with her for a little bit to cool off. I did. We had the chats outside then she turned to me and said, you’re just like an islander, you fit right in with everyone and everyone knows you. Me, being an islander wannabe, probably never took a compliment better than that one. Thanks Finners, NO!!! <—- (insider joke)   Afterwards we all went to the hotel and continued the craic! 

~~Megan and I had a much interesting time after that. Just being good, good friends and having the lols and craic! ~~

Thank God we decided to take the evening ferry because the morning ferry looked absolutely brutal. It was raining and windy and the sea just looked horrible to take on. The weather Sunday was awful; Saturday you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day: I even got color on my face!

 When we had breakfast, Barbara was telling us who she knew that would be related to me. She called Maureen and Annie and gave me their numbers. Megan and I went to Maureen’s house first. I had never met her before, but the conversation wasn’t awkward at all. She, too, was impressed that I was trying to learn Irish. After about an hour or so there, we went to Annie’s. I remember her from when I went there in 2005. She said she rememebered me too. 

I felt bad, I don’t remember much of Inis Oirr, I remember the wrecked ship on the beach and going to Annie’s where she fed us sandwiches and had students there learning Irish. 

Megan was talking to both of them in Irish and I really enjoyed listening to it to be honest. I picked out words that I knew - I guess that’s what it’s all about.  I remember doing that when I was just learning  Spanish too. It’ll take time.   When Annie found out I was studying Irish, she said something super fast, and I was like WOAH, not ready for that. So Megan told her I just started that week. Hehe oops! I think I would have gotten it though if I just said, “abair aris go malle, le do thoil (say it slowly, please — see I’M GETTING IT!)

I’ve been using my Irish a lot, when I know certain words, I say them in Irish rather in English. While waiting for the girls game, we were all sitting on a group and I was telling Fionnouala what I learned so far. She told me to count, I said I didn’t want to show off, but after I counted to ten everyone was like woooo! It’s like I’m 4 years old again. (best age ever)

Megan and I had about 45 minutes to kill before we got on the ferry. We stopped in the hotel just to waste time. Megan knew some people in there and one of them noticed I was wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt. He told me owner of the hotel lived in Chicago for a little bit, which made sense because there was so much Chicago stuff in there. We got to know them and they were trying to figure out who I’d be related to. They also asked me what I was studying in school, I said news broadcast. They couldn’t get over the fact that I’m on TV at school. They said my glasses are definitely ones a reporter would wear. Which is weird considering I have no idea what that means and I never wear my glasses reporting… But ok! 

Then it was time for the ferry….. God bless our souls because stepping on that ferry you knew it was going to be a rough one. We had the small, small ferry and the sea was still choppy and extremely windy out. I mean before we even left we were going up and down. Within 10 minutes I said I had to go outside (it’s better to be outside than inside for some reason). Commence the “ferry flu” I got extremely sick…multiple times. It was actually really dramatic. I was over the ferry while the waves were coming up and soaking me. I think I could have been the sickest girl on Aran Island Ferry history. Megan said it was one of the worst boat trips for her too. 

A lady from Inis Mor, Sinead, got me a few bags. After that, a few other people got sick. Sorry guys… I felt awful the rest of the day. I was soaking and freezing.  Megan also was feeling sick. Her and I were sitting in a nook just enough for the both of us sit in. If someone could have gotten a picture of us, it would have been a keeper. I was sitting there with a bag in my face and her with her hands over her mouth, eyes closed. Thanks Meg for rubbing my back, even though you were feeling sick too and I’m sure I didn’t make it any better!! You rock cara (friend in Irish) xx 

All I can say it was definitely a memorable weekend on the island. I enjoyed watching football and got quite into a bit. I loved the dogs. I loved the celebrations. And I loved making memories with all my friends from the island. It’s going to be hard to leave this place…but since that’s so far away, let’s not think about that! :D

Monday I officially signed up for all my classes. I’m taking 5 classes.  Irish language (2 classes - 4 hours worth), An Introduction to Irish Culture (which is quite interesting!!), European Women Studies (which is quite boring…but interesting at the same time…) I’m also taking the Arts Indigenous course which doesn’t start until October 3rd! I’m really exciting for that.

Tuesday I had to get my Visa. I had no idea where I was going, so I had to take a cab there because I did NOT want to be late for my appointment! It wasn’t too bad of a journey, but I would have never found it if I were by myself, but I knew where I was to walk back to campus for my 2pm class.

Unfortunately, my appointment was at 12:10 and I had Irish at 11-1. The appointment is already set up for you, so you can’t change it. So I had to leave my Irish class at 11:30 - which my teacher didn’t mind. She actually tried to give the entire class directions to the place since I was one of the first people to go in my class.

The Guard who was giving me my Visa wasn’t the friendliest person - until she asked me when I was staying until.  I said the 4 of January, then she said, do you have anyone to be with on Christmas. I said yes, I have family on the islands. And then we talked about the islands for a bit and she was the nicest… I mean when in doubt, use the island card. Works every time….. :)

I also had my first Irish Dance class yesterday. They asked if anyone knew any Irish Dance, I raised my hand and they asked how long I danced for I said 12 years… And since I signed up for The Beginner class they asked why I was in that class. Well. I haven’t danced in 5 years… But this class was too easy. Next week I’ll go into intermediate. I enjoyed it nonetheless. 

I went to Orla’s house last night for the craic (she’s from the island, but her family owns a house in Galway too…handy!) I took the bus by myself there. At one point I thought I was definitely lost, but I made it safe and sound. We watched TG4 (the Irish TV station.) Me, her, and her older sister Cathy were watching the soap opera Ros na Run. They had English subtitles, but I felt so smart when they’d say something and I knew what they were saying - ask Orla, I probably got too excited… “THEY SAID I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!”

I ended up sleeping over there because Orla offered and, Hell, I didn’t want to take the bus by myself then walk home at night. Funny, Orla was sleep talkiing, she said I was too. So we’re determined we were sleep talking to each other…

So in the morning I had class before Orla so I took the bus myself again to campus. I only had one class today then hung out with Orla on campus for a bit. And now here I am, hanging out in the library soaking up their internet writing this blog and uploading my pictures.

I plan to go running at Salthill tonight. Hopefully that works. I’m also planning on going to Aran this weekend! 

There is so much Megan and I kept saying over the weekend saying BLOG IT - but now I can’t remember. So from now on, I’ll be writing notes to myself what to mention. I don’t want to miss out on a memory or something that I enjoyed. 

SUMMARY: I really had a great time on Inis Oirr. I know my Papa would be extremely proud of me for coming out here and studying, trying to learn Irish and immersing head first into the Irish culture. I know Gramma is too, but I have a feeling Papa is smiling down on me right now. I got to meet family and made great memories with friends.  I wasn’t able to see my Granddad’s house or the one he built. I heard from multiple people no one was living in the house he built though… So there’s an option of housing when I want to move there. Hehe.  I also got to cheer on the Inis Mor girls to a championship! Hon the Inir Mor cailini! I’m legal in Ireland until the 4th of January. I started Irish Dancing and I’m still trying to use my Irish as much as I can! 

Slan go foill! xxxx

Thanks for reading, feel free to write a comment :D 
Love to hear your thoughts! 

Not the best writing…. But have a read? Proofread it for me? Maybe?

To all my loyal readers, I’m sorry it took me a week to write this blog. I’ve been extremely busy as you may read. Time flies here. I’ll wake up at 9 and before I know it, it’s 7 - WHAT!? I sincerely think somehow time in Ireland is a lot faster….. 

Thursday I moved in my apartment here in Galway, I took the morning ferry out with my cousin Cliona. We had a lot of difficulties with the apartment, which I wont mention on here because of pure anger - and anyone who knows me angry knows I’ll keep ranting on and on about it. So no time for that. 

I met my cousin Martin out here. He gave me all his extra bedding and towels that he doesn’t use. I am extremely grateful for that because I didn’t have to worry about buying all that junk out here (penny saver).  We hung out for a bit, had lunch, chatted, and finally got me all settled.

I’m ever so grateful for having family here because Thursday would have been a pure mess if they weren’t here or around. The power of family is wonderful - even if you only see your family once every few years. 

My Irish lessons are going okay, I’m trying to use the words that I know best to my ability. My friends are still saying random words to me to teach me. Leaba. BED (laaa baaaa).

I was roommateless Thursday night. So I didn’t make any friends the first night, where all the other Americans (I could hear them talking) were already friends. So  I figured after I did all the marking everything was here and if there was anything wrong with the apartment, I would go upstairs and introduce myself. But considering EVERYTHING is called something different here, it took me a very, very long time to do it. I was actually texting Megan and sending pictures of things and having her tell me the name. Thanks, Meg! 

Friday I took the long 25 minute stroll to NUIG for orientation. I walked in a room and saw a bunch of people, so I figured I was in the right spot, but I ended up asking this girl if I was in the right place for International students. She said yes and we chatted while waiting in line for our IDs. I asked if I could sit with her for orientation, and BAM we became instant friends.

She’s from Kansas City, MO and in her last year of school too. It’s her first time in Ireland so I was kind of telling her a little bit about past experiences and tips. I obviously promoted the Aran Islands, which I do on a daily basis to everyone because it’s THE BEST PLACE EVER. Seriously, Aran should start hiring me as their PR/Marketer person….

Anywhozzle, Mary and I exchanged numbers and became Facebook friends (obviously it was official.) We actually signed up for the same city tour on Sunday night. She’s helped me a lot with little things about the university I didn’t know.

It’s actually pretty weird/cool how they do it here. You can go to whatever class you want to for the first 2 weeks and then on September 16th you’ll actually pick what classes you’re taking. I’m taking 4 classes. 2 Irish language classes (Lord, help me), an Irish culture, and a European Womens Studies class …. Don’t ask. But the teacher seems legit. She asked if anyone has ever made a documentary, well since I did I raised my hand. She asked what it was about. I told her it was for the Catholic worker house in Charleston that houses single women who have kids and need a place to live. So obviously, my WOMEN STUDIES teacher was all about it and asked if I could bring a copy into the class. Really dug myself into a hole there, hopefully by next week she’ll forget about it. It’s quite nice though, my Irish classes don’t start until next week, neither does my Introduction to Irish Culture class and my women studies is on Tuesdays. So pretty much I have no class the rest of the week and I have no class on Monday and Friday so no class for a week. Solid. I can dig it, Ireland.

I was a little bummed because I really wanted to take this Indigenous Arts course that is offered for study abroad students. It interferes with the Irish class and they only accept 30 students in this arts course and you have to write a statement on why you should be chosen to take it. Further reading the application is said “first come first serve” and due on Sept 2, which doesn’t make sense, why would I have to write a personal statement then? I still did the application and handed it in on Monday, but there were probably about 150 applications before mine, so I probably wont get it. If the slim chance I get it, I probably wont accept it because I really want to focus on Irish. Oh well.

So after orientation Friday, Mary and I went to a cafe to get tea and a scone. I taught her how to make tea (or at least how I like it) and then after she went back to apartment, but I wanted to go to one more talk at orientation so I went back to campus. Afterwards, I went into the city center and went looking for a coat, but none in my size…so I’m still coatless, but testing my luck since it hasn’t really ranined here yet! YAY

Arthur and Mairead picked me up to take the ferry back to Aran that weekend. I had a great weekend there. Went to mass Saturday night which was in all Irish so obviously I had no idea what was going on, but was trying to remember the sayings in Irish and sad to say…..I already forgot. Margaret bocht. I made dinner that night and everyone seemed to enjoy it pheww! That night we all went out to the hotel. It was a girl that I met last year’s 21st birthday. She actually taught me a song on the tin whistle. We had a good time, seemed like the entire island was there that night, it was so packed!

Sunday Eamon and I took the midday boat out. Eamon goes to school out in Galway so it’s pretty convenient. I arrived in my apartment and still roommateless. After a little bit, I walked to NUIG to get a city tour. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not because I hate boring tours…as people may know… But I really enjoyed this one. The tour guide didn’t just point out all the history stuff, but also gave us tips on good places to eat, places that use student discounts, etc. It was nice!

Eams came over for dinner and then my roommate finally arrived. Her name is Sinead and she’s actually from Ireland and only in Galway for the semester. She’s doing a 1 year teaching degree or something I don’t really understand it, but I know she’s going to class this semester then student teaching back home next semester. But she’s graduating from a school in Dublin next Wednesday. She’s extremely nice and studied Irish in her past university - so can you say perfect!? She can help me use my Irish more! 

My first day of class on Monday was easy. I left an hour and half early just to have plenty of time to find my buildings and such. I looked for the internation affiars office for like a million years (ok, maybe like a half hour) but then decided just to give up and go the Aras na Gaeilge building to ensure that I had a place in 2 Irish courses. More eople were taking the 1 class and people got denied from there, but there were plenty of spaces for the 2 class. Phew! I’m really excited for it!! Mary’s taking the 1 class, so after we signed up she showed me the internation affairs office. And of COURSE they were then on lunch break, so me, her and Kate, a that goes to Mary’s university back home, took a litte walk down a trail by campus.

Anyway my day was pretty nice. I came back home for lunch and such. I love on the bottom floor of the apartment so it’s literally all ground level. So whenever someone walks past I can see them and they can see me seeing them. Lolz. But this kid that I recognized from the apartments and saw him on the city tour and on campus a few times, knocked on my door and introduced himself. I invited him in for tea (how Irish). We exchanged numbers and such. 

Michael is from Nebraka. He’s literally one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is so genuine and gathers everyone from the apartment and so genuinely wants everyone to be included and have a good time and makes sure everyones safe and comfortable. Such a nice guy! So he invited me out with the group that night and I did I had a great time.

Before that though, I went down to the Salthill Prom (metioned in the song Galway Girl) I ran 30 minutes down there. It was absolutely beautiful. Just running and smelling the ocean … Aaahhhh freeesssh!! Came home made dinner and went out to meet my new friends! This girl Shelby from Minnesota can not get over the fact that I’m from Chicago. She thinks it’s so cool and never met someone from Chicago - so she calls me Chicago.

We went to the bar on campus to meet other people. It was a nice, chill night. And yes, this campus has a huge bar that is utilized during the day and people go there inbetween classes too. Ummmm….hey Eastern wanna do that!? 


Okay WOOPS! I totally haven’t updated this in so long, that was was nearly 2 weeks ago! What I’ve really been up to is keeping myself busy and hanging out with my friends. Last Friday I met up with Orla and her friend Jane. We watched the Irish soccer game, I got my ear pierced (sorry mom). 

I’ve also been going down to the Salthill Prom when I can (when it’s nice weather out) I’ve been hanging out with Mary, Eamon, and Orla a lot! Last Sunday I went over to Martin’s house. Martin is my cousin, we’ve been talking on Facebook, Twitter, Viber, but never met in person! So it was so cool going to his house (I met him in town a few weeks ago and we also went out to lunch last week) Martin and his wife Siobhan have 4 kids together. 4-year-old twins - Donnacha and Mia. A 2 year old with big blue eyes Lilly. And a baby baby Loaise who will be one in just a few weeks. HIS KIDS ARE SERIOUSLY THE CUTEST KIDS. Not kidding. The twins have such personalites. Lilly has these big blue eyes and gives faces of which I would make back at her. She clung to me pretty tight the entire time. And of course Laoise is the cutest too! Mia told me I talk American which I had a good laugh at. Martin said when I walked out of the car Mia said “Orlagh” (their aunt/my cousin who people tell me I look like very often!) Gramma is right, “Margaret you’re a Flaherty…you’re one of us Margaret…one of us” (Something Arthur always says when I’m trying to learn Irish or doing some Irish culture.. You’re one of us now.

I just finished my first full week of class. I have 5 classes. Irish is for 2 hours twice a week and I already L.O.V.E it. I got into that Indigenious Arts class that would mess with the times. But since my teacher rocks (and knows Arthur) she’s letting me miss/come late when it interferes with Irish because she wants me to still take that class. She said she’ll have private 30 minute classes with me when I do miss! Which is a win win situation - better practice (and is going to make me study my toinin off) 

Last Monday, Mundy came to NUIG to play in the college bar, it was pretty cool. If you didn’t know Mundy sings Galway Girl so that’s why it was really special! Orla, two girls from the island Aine and Caroline and then another girl from Ireland Grace - we all went to see him! 

And just for the LOLS I’m putting this in my blog and you may not get it, but it’s an inside joke. The Doc came by for a suprise visit on Wednesday. Muahahaha (sorry mom you won’t get it. (Insider - Cliona said I should start writing all the funny stuff down too so I can have it when I’m reading this in a few years - so that might be a common theme for insiders to be in here) 

Things I’ve learned so far in Ireland which I wanted to write about so bad … The dogs. Seriously Irish dogs are like little men. They walk on the sidewalks without an owner, if with an owner and not on a lead (leash) they still stay right next to their owner or go running with them or run their owner’s bike . A lot of them are short little stubby dogs - like little men! Not lying when one time I saw a dog, by itself, walk across the street, but before he looked to see if there were cars coming. Now it may have been a coincidence, but I’ll still think it’s because they’re little humans (like Gramma says, dogs are right after humans)  Everytime I walk/run past one I have a giggle. Back home there aren’t many dogs like that. I know if I ever let Fawn off her leash I would be sprinting for her trying to tackle her. Dogs are so tame here. Weird, but I wanted to write that in here. And since it’s MY BLOG - I can! :D 

I have been practicing my Irish. I have high expectations for myself in this class. I have an advantage because I love family and friends that all speak it. My roommate too speaks it! I have no excuses - but it’s so hard. When you have to use the UGGGGHH in your voice thing (you know like Germans, French, etc) people use. I CAN’T DO IT. It’s soo hard! I’ll get there. But I’ve really been trying my best and speaking the things I learn to my friends even if they think it’s annoying … (hey sorry guys.) I think the hardest thing is the words and phrases that I’ve already known, like I’m good thanks, I now have to read it and write it. I could say it before and understand it if it was spoken to me but now I have to learn to write it and read it which is half the battle because Irish has like 0 similarities to English or Spanish for that matter! But, I’ll truck through it!! 

This week also had socities day and clubs day. At socities day, I signed up for TV, RADIO, Irish Dance, International Students, Traditional Music, ….and law? They were giving out free food so I signed up. Oh, and some republic thing because they gave a cool goodie bag.   At clubs day I signed up for Gaelic Football. I’m really anxious for that. I’ll be BRUTAL, but hey as long as I have fun right? Irish Dance starts Tuesday and I can’t wait for that!! Haven’t danced in … 5 years? But I think I’m really going to enjoy that!! 

Tomorrow, I’m going to Inis Oirr for the Interisland football games. Megan is coming in from Aran today, we’re going to have a slummberrr party then take the morning ferry out together! Can’t wait. Inis Oirr is actually where my Granddad is from and I have only been there once and that was in 2005! I’m excited to get back there! I’ll let you know how it goes Monday! 

Sorry this blog kind of stinks! I know my loyal readers - MEGAN - wanted something good since it’s been so long! I’m having the absolute best time of my life and I’m excited to show my parents around when they come here!! And of course, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAT, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAT (thank you), times a MILLION to my parents for letting me study in Ireland! I’m having the absolute BEST time!! 

Promise I’ll be posting more often than this last one. Our internet here hasn’t been working properly. It comes in and out all the time and despite them saying it would be fixed this week….they’re now saying by next week. 

Slan go foill. Xx 

BUT WAIT: Here’s a picture of the place I go running. Jealous? I’d say…

Tá mé ag…… trying to learn Gaeilge.

Actually quite shocked on the amount of views on this blog already, ya’ll are too kind! 

So let’s see. Most days I wake up, have some breakfast, and go on a walk alone. Just me, the ocean, and my pod (that’s ocean for all you readers 40 years and plus) I try different routes each way. I remember when I was coming here last year I said to my mom, “What if I get lost on my walks!?” She says back, “You can’t, it’s an island!!” She was so right. I actually would love to get lost here, it’s a beautiful place to be lost in. 

Since the world doesn’t stop for me, like it should, and people have work, I usually meet Megan and Barry (who both work in the Aran Sweater Market) at their lunch hour. My cousin Eamon meets us and sometimes a few others girls will come with. Yesterday, it was me Meg, Eamon, Barry and since Orla was off for the day, she works by Dun Aengus, she met us too. We went to The American Bar for lunch. They all had a bite to eat, but I was happy with my Taytos (THE BEST CHIPS EVER……………..but they never have my favorite kind, dag nab it!) 

We sat and had lunch and had a few laughs, because what’s a lunch without some laughs?  Megan invited us all over for dinner at 8:30 that night. So okay, lunch and dinner with these people… I must like them alright… ;) 

Orla gave us a LIFT - not a ride back to Eamon’s. But before we went to the Spar to pick up some things since Orla was planning to make dessert after our dinner. She came back to Eamon’s house with us where we so desperately tried to Snapchat a friend of mine back home, but completely failed from confusion. We had tea and sandwiches, chatted for a bit and she left to go make the yumyums

After walking her to her car, Eamon and I hung out outside for a bit where we made up the weirdest dance/handshake thing - he keeps describing it like The Parent Trap little diddy they have, but ours is much, much better. Not even sure why we made it up, I guess we had a few too many spoons of sugar in our tea! 

I brought my Irish books down and had my second Irish lesson with Mairead. She was beginning to teach me verbs. I got the hang of it easily, but the hardest part is pronunciation. In the English language we don’t really have words (correct me if I’m wrong) that you have to make that throat noise that you hear when German, Polish, Russian people talk. You know the like, UGH sound. I am sooooo bad it. I couldn’t stop laughing at myself. Tá mé ag gaire. Margaret bocht. (I am laughing, poor Margaret)

Eams and I went walking with his two dogs, Prince and Heidi. Prince and Heidi are sooo adorable and are such happy dogs. They go in fields and run near the cows and just run out - especially Heidi. I always laugh and think of the time I was visiting my Uncle Pete in Co. Roscommon in 2005. He had a little tiny pup named Tina. She ran in a field with a bunch of cows, I remember screaming her name  thinking she’s going to get trampled on in there. Nope, the 300 pound cows were scared of an 8 pound dog and were running away from her. Good memories… 

Anyway, so Eamon and I are walking past someone’s field that had a few cows. I went AWWW really loud and Eamon asks what I did that for, there was a baby calf right there. Eamon said, wow she must have been just born she wasn’t there yesterday. Then it all clicked, there was a cow mooing ALL NIGHT the night before. That must have been it, the cow was giving birth. Ha, funny. Island life. 

We went to Megan’s house for dinner. It was so weird to be in Megan’s house. Thinking of all the times we would talk about having a sleepover or dinner throughout the year and in that moment I was there. It’s actually quite funny, whenever I’m with Orla or Megan, we’ll interrupt in midconversation and be say IT’S SO WEIRD YOU’RE/I’M HERE RIGHT NOW. It’s almost like it hasn’t really hit met yet. But here I am! Yeeeyyy

Megan’s mom made a delicious dinner, what I joked to say it’s a little Thankgiving dinner. We had chicken, potatoes(duh), peas, grilled veggies (eat your veggies), tomatoes, and LAMB. Baaahhh, wait lamb!? Yes, lamb. This is actually the second time in my life I had lamb, the first time…oh right, that was in Aran as well. To be honest, I totally forgot I was even eating it, it was SO good. Everything was delicious, I cleaned my plate despite my full stomach. Barry and Orla made dessert or should I say, Orla made dessert, Barry bought dessert - funny that Barry is in culinary school in college! 

Something I love about Irish families is after dinner, they sit and they chat with each other. In America, or at least at mine, you eat and you go. You go watch TV, you go online, you go do your homework, you go go go…. Here, it’s more like family time, talking time. Telling everyone about your day and things. I LOVE IT LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. There were a total of 10 of us at dinner. Megan’s mom, her mom’s friend, Megan’s brother and his girlfriend, Barry, his mom, me, Eamon, Megan, and Orla. Afterwards people were talking, and the word “cabbit” came up in conversation and everrrryoonnee geared their attention to that! 

Cabbit…hmm? Supposedly there is a half rabbit/half cat on the island. Eamon, who is wild about animals, was deeply interested. I was laughing about the idea of what a cabbit would even look like, I said I want to see this thing. Barry and I were laughing and he says yeah me too, I mean 3/5 people in family saw it and not me. Hahaha classic.

After the 5 of us watched the European version of the Jersey Shore call Geordie Shore. I have no words for that show as I have no words for Jesery Shore either. Somehow walking got brought up in conversation, Megan said it would take her 50 minutes to walk to Kilronan (the community with most of the shops and the ferry are - or as I like to call it, Inis Mor’s little city.) I couldn’t believe it, no way. So I said well tomorrow I’ll walk from Eamons (in Mainister) to Megans and time it.

So this morning I put my jacket on, my running pants, my gymies and I walked my toin (butt in Irish) If you’re AT ALL CURIOUS how long it took, it took me 21 minutes to get to the Sweater Market from Eamon’s. Then 35 minutes from there to the cemetery. Megan lives just a few minutes from the cemetery. So bam, 38 minutes, but I do walk fast…

I stopped at the cemetery, where some of my family are buried. I said a few prayers and then I looked out and thought, dang if there is any view to be buried at, this is the place. I mean if you could just see it, it’s beautiful. It sounds weird to say, but their final resting spot it gorgeous. After looking out, I made my way to a young girl’s resting place. 

Her name is Shauna, I never met her, Eamon says I did for a few minutes in 2005. Even though I don’t remember, I feel like I do know this girl from stories. Her name is Shauna and she’s Megan, Orla, Barry, and Eamon’s best friend. She passed away at 16 from a battle of cancer. I hear her name come up multiple times a day, even when I’m back home in Chicago, she is always being brought up. Death is always sad, but death at such a young age is absolutely tragic. From an outsider’s perspective, the way this island has come together and STILL do for this girl is beautiful and heartwarming. They have many of events to remember and celebrate her life, but I think if you heard stories about her from a friend or saw a smiley face, it’s the best way to remember her. A smiley face represents her life and what she was all about people say, so you’ll often see the standard yellow smiley face everywhere on the island. You’ll see people wearing wristbands, you’ll see pictures of her in peoples houses. Somehow that standard yellow smiley isn’t so standard anymore, even for me, a girl who probably never shared more than a, “Hi nice to meet you” to each other. It’s hard to even put in words, I guess I don’t even know how to say it, but the way this island comes together for a death and still keeps young Shauna’s legacy alive is heartwarming. This is truly a close knit community, and even though I’m sure people could get frustrated since it’s “a place where everyone knows everything about everyone,” to me it’s a strong, I’m there for you kind of community.

On a lighter note, I walked in total 2.5 hours today (just in my morning walk.) I like walking in the morning then again during the evening (I know, I’m living in 65 woman’s body) But my legs and shins (ew shin splints) needed a rest, so no second walk for me, Margaret bocht.

So here I am, in bed writing away after another delcious dinner and a nice talk with Mairead and my cousin Cliona. Tomorrow, Cliona and I will take the morning ferry at 8:15. I’m headed to my apartment and the NUI Galway tomorrow and Friday for orientation. I’m excited and not all that nervous. We shall see how it all turns out.

And I’m sure I’ll write about it tomorrow.

Time to look over my Irish vocab and practice pronunciation.

Slan. Oiche mhaith

P.S. Today I got sun burnt in my face. That’s right… It might be wind burn, but shhhhh

Jet Lag? What’s Jet Lag?

I’ve been asked millions of times, are you nervous to go to Ireland? Psh, no. Ireland to me is a second home, but if you asked memy main concern - it was how will I avoid jet lag, do I bring bumbum, my robe, what color nail polish (you know, the important stuff.) Quite frankly, jet lag scares the shite out of me. 

I am lucky enough to say that this is my fourth time flying to Europe. I’ve had terrible experiences…like getting sick, but mostly JET LAG. However, I came up with the brilliant idea to beat one of my worst enemies and stay up till 3am and wake up at 5am the night before. Well, I suppose if you know me at all it’s that I loveeeeee to sleep and don’t you DARE wake me up. So, I slept till 8:40 despite my dad and sisters attempts of getting me out of bed.  -_- 

I was getting sleepy, mom drove me the airport. She got a little emotional, which in turn made me do two things: I verified I am her favorite and got a little sad. Quickly, I stopped because, HA, I’m going to Ireland. Slan! (bye in Irish)

I lucked out by having no one next to me. I sat at the end of a four person row. Perfect, now I can sprawl my little legs out, get comfortable, and get some z’s in. Ha, I got off the plane with not even a wink of sleep. Not even a minute! Tried the whole time so I was a bit annoyed. But after I got my passport stamped, I walked out to see Spar…ah I’m truly in Ireland.

I felt like a big girl finding my bus all alone. (not a hard task unless you’re navigating your way through O’Hare (thanks, Mom.)) While waiting for my bus, I met this lady. Unfortunately, I never got her name. But she was from Dublin and was just back from a “holiday” to the states. We had a lovely chat. After we stopped talking, I was quickly reminded  the friendliness of the people on this lovely island they call Ireland.

I tried snoozing on the bus, but onceagain failed miserably - only getting about 40 minutes of sleep. I knew that I had a long day ahead of me and didn’t know how I’d manage on 40 minutes of sleep in over 24 hours. I was waiting at the bus station for my  cousin Eamon where I ended up waiting two hours. He thought I was going to meet him in the ferry shop and I thought he was going to meet me in the bus station. So, for 2 hours, we were both waiting for each other. Kind of funny. He ended up coming to the station and right when I saw him, all I could do was point at him with a huge smile on my face. 

On our walk to the ferry shop, Eamon told me he had a surprise for me. I thought it was a Bulmers, but it was something better. It was Megan Roantree. Megan is one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world (literally). I met her last year. She lives on the island as well and is friends with Eamon. When I was here last summer, Megan and I got lunch together, hung out, texted all the time. When I came back to the states, we talked everyday. So seeing her in Galway, even though she tricked me saying she had work, was just an absolute delight. 

We took the bus from Galway city to Rossaveal (the town the ferry departs out of) The bus was filled with laughs and stories acting as if we haven’t been apart at all. The most welcoming thing that happened was it started to rain and I knew this ferry ride was NOT going to be a pretty one …. 

…. time to rewind and tell you about my past experiences in Europe. Like I said, jet lag hits me and hits me bad and traveling usually makes me sick. Not sure if it’s nerves, anxiety, or the absolutely disgusting plane food (let’s not talk about it, the thought of it makes me sick) but I ALWAYS get sick. Let’s see, first time in Ireland in 2005 I got sick. Then in Spain, let’s just say I marked my territory all over a bush in Barcelona. I didn’t get too sick last year Ireland, but I definitely had probably the worst jet lag. All three other times I was extremely jet lagged, the worst.

So the ferry ride to from Rossaveal to Galway is about 30-45 minutes depending on the weather. And the weather we had was just enough to make it on the longer ride. With about 20 minutes or so left of the stormy and rocky ride, I had to go outside for a bit. Megan and her friend Conal came with too. It was interesting ride getting soaked, but hey that’s Ireland for you. Like Megan said, I didn’t come for the weather, I came for the craic (pronounced like crack - just to clarify it’s the Irish word for fun, so don’t be getting any ideas … now.)

She was sure right, when I got to my cousin’s house after nearly 20 hours of traveling, I had a cup of tea and a delicious sandwich.  My cousin’s wife, Mairead, insisted I took a nap. I was going out that night and knew I needed it, but I didn’t even feel tired. But I guess I did because I put my head down and I was out cold. Prior to laying down I told my cousin Eamon to only let me sleep 2 hours because then it would be the cycle of jet lag all over again. 2.5 hours later, Eamon came in jumped on the bad and screamed “WAKE UP YEAAAAHHHH!” So, I woke up, yeah.

After my nap I have finally won the battle. I have beaten jet lag after it’s three past dominations over me. We got ready to go to the “beach party”  (a beach party without any Jimmy Buffett may I add…)- how fitting that it was at The American Bar. As I walked in, I was greeted by great friends of mine Orla and Barry (Baaaaaaarrrryyy) that I met and remet on the island last year ( remet definitely is not a word and doesn’t make sense, but I think you get it) Orla put a nice lei on me that was green, white, and orange and said welcome home. Ahhh love to hear that, HOME! Home.

I can say I had great craic. Reunited with Bulmers that was served by my friend Evan. We went to the other pub up the road called Joe Wattys to see a band called The Wilful. They definitely were GREAT CRAIC. On the short walk up to Wattys, Barry taught me my first new Irish phrase. “caith siar e ach caith aniar e ”  It translates to something like throw it back; don’t throw it out. True Irish style that that’s my first new phrase.

The following day I was sitting at the table with Mairead. I love sitting and chatting with her, she’s a lovely person and so intelligent. I told her how my goal was to learn 5 new  Irish words a day. Well, 5 turned into 10 because she was teaching me loads. 

Mairead is a primary school teacher here on the island. So she’s a wonderful teacher, she was very patient when I was trying to learn new words. She brought out a bunch of little books she has for her classroom. So, here I am studying up on books meant for a 5 year old. But hey, gotta start somewhere right? Arthur said that he knows I have it in me to learn Irish. I just have to keep the motivation. So whenever I’m around people I’m asking them how to say certain words and I’ll keep saying it over and over again randomly. Sorry if it’s annoying, islanders, but it’s the way I learn it. CAITH SIAR E ACH CAITH ANIAR E.

I’m very serious about learning the language. I always wanted to learn it since my grandparents can speak it. I know I would rarely ever be able to use it back in the States, but hey all the more reason to make more trips to Ireland and chat with my Irish friends. :) 

So that night we went back to Watty’s for a girl’s birthday who Eamon, Orla, Megan and Barry are friends with. I had another great night. Everyone here is so friendly and we acted like we’ve known each other for years - even when I first meet someone it’s never awkward. 

Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone on multiple walks a day. I love walking in general, but there’s something so special about walking here. Maybe because it’s the breathtaking scenery or perhaps because it’s calm and peaceful. So everyday when I wake up, I’ll have a bite to eat and a cupan te (cup of tea) and head out the door with my windbreaker, yogas, and gym shoes for a good 2 hour walk. I take turns down different paths for something new. Sometimes I stop and think about how lucky I am to be here or stop to snap a picture for all of you back home. I’m telling you the pictures do not do this place justice. It’s the most gorgeous place in the world. Absolutely beautiful.

I walked down the low road today and made it by my Gramma’s house. It’s so weird and heartwarming to think that she walked these same roads and saw the same thing as I do. I know she’s very happy I’m here and trying to learn Irish even though when I tell her she laughs. I stood up looking down at the ocean by her house today and thought, dang how lucky am I that I have family onthis amazing island. THANK YOU GRANDPA AND GRAMMA. 

My cousin Arthur coaches like the entire island in Gaelic Football. I asked if I could tag along for one of their practices aka training. So I went, sat on the sidelines, and watched his girls team practice. I actually really enjoy football. Arthur said he’ll have me on the “pitch” Wednesday with the team….this could get interesting, folks! 

My main goal this trip is to completely immerse myself into the Irish culture. I think I have so far, learning Irish and using it to my best ability, playing the country’s sport, and we’ll see what else I can do.

I know this was a long one to read, not sure if anyone WILL read it - but I hope you enjoyed it because I sure enjoyed writing it … can you tell?