Sorry it's been so long between postings.....I had to wait for my new internet router to arrive. And the cable companies here are as wretched and untimely as those in America. But no worries, you haven't missed much. It's been mostly schoolwork. We did, however, have some excessive rainfall at the beginning of this week. It really doesn't rain here as much as people like to say, but we got flooded on Monday. Literally. Check out the video of one of Dublin's shopping centers - it's like a scene out of Titanic:
Aside from precipitation, I took a short trip to Galway last weekend with Vivi. Her bofriend is working on his PhD on whales out there, and was having a "house-cooling" party before he moved out of his old place and into his new one. My camera battery died (or rather I neglected to remember to charge it) and so there are no pictures, but I'll be back to Galway. (Actually, it was raining there, too, for a lot of the weekend, so not very picturesque anyway.) I had a great time, and it was nice to get of Dublin for a bit. We also took an adventure to Howth Head, which is on the Irish Sea:
A lot of times you can see seals and dolphins out there, but no such luck that day. We did find a neat beach we were able to climb down to and explore - a nerdy biologist's dream come true - then hiked into town and had dinner on the end of the pier before catching the bus back. That will have to hold me through the next week of paper writing......
Vivi and I decided to go to a flea market across the Liffey yesterday, and what fun! I think we'll make a habit of going on Saturdays when we are in the city. We grabbed some coffee on the way, and it was at this retro-esque building called "The Gran Social". We walk in, and there's a lady selling home-baked goods that even I would eat - I had an apple-toffee muffin that went really well with my americano (that was the kind of coffee I had ordered, for those of you non-coffee people), for only 2 euro, which is really cheap for around here. Beyond that, there were just tables of anything and everything crammed in to every corner. And a bar. That way you can drag your boyfriend/husband along and keep him entertained while you dig for hidden treasure. It's all local people selling things they've made or stuff they want out of their house, from furniture to jewelry to books to appliances to clothes to art to you name it. The best thing I found was a barely used printer/scanner/copier with brand new ink cartridges for 20 euro. Vivi found a hand blender she'd been looking for, and for only 3 euro. We met some interesting people along the way. Then we went for sushi. Not bad, and not too dear to the pocketbook, either. We get student discounts at just about any restaurant in the city. Very useful indeed. We were going to go hiking today, but the weather isn't that great. So I am going to try and get some work done today so we can go another day this week.
Our first module of the biodiversity and conservation program (or programme as I've been spelling it the last 3 weeks) is over! Our class (sadly now down to 16 students) decided to go out to the pub Friday after handing in the remainder of our work to celebrate and get to know each other a little better outside of the university setting. I (now being 25, and alway having been an old soul that likes to go to bed earlier than her counterparts) knew it wasn't going to be a very late night for myself, but the best part was watching the 22-year olds fresh from undergrad realizing how tired they were by 11 o-clock after the week of work we put in. A lot of them procrastinated until Wednesday, or even Thursday, afternoon to get started on a stack of assignments due Friday, so they had a few late nights in there. A few professors have asked me what I think of the workload here, with the direct implication that they expect me to say it's a lot more work than I'm used to, but Wittenberg really prepared me well for this one. I know some of it was my own doing, what with having 2 majors and taking extra courses a few semesters, but I'm not finding it to be that much work. (And my grades are saying the work I am doing is good, too - phew.) Also, despite all my griping about some of the assignments I hated or thought were trivial in the biology department at Witt, a lot of them prepared me better than I expected. Particularly learning how to efficiently summarize scientific articles in 1 page for my senior seminar. Guess I owe Dr. Yoder an apology.
Don't you hate when you did everything you were supposed to, but someone else screws it up and there's nothing you can do about it?! Trying to get banking sorted out between America and Ireland is like being assigned a group project in school where you don't get to pick your partners. (Megan Burdelsky, if you're reading this none of it is directed at you - you are one of the better parts of PNC.) First off, you have to have physical address in Ireland to open a bank account, but to get an apartment you have to make a deposit and pay rent. I made a deposit and arranged with my new landlord to pay my rent once I had an Irish bank account and the wire transfer processed. But oh, wait, PNC won't do a wire transfer from my personal checking account, I have to be a small business or physically walk into the PNC branch and sign the papers. Neither of these are options for me. Lucky for me I have my father listed on my account just in case there's something I have to be physically present for while I'm abroad, right? I don't know what anyone else does in that situation, and PNC customer service and their wire transfer department were particularly unhelpful in helping me to find a solution. Just wait - it gets better. So my father goes in and arranges the transfer, which will take 3-5 business days. The money is in my pending transactions, leaves my account, and 4 days later is returned because more information is required. What information, you might ask? I provided them with the information the Bank of Ireland had printed out on a sheet for me to make this transfer easy. PNC filled out the form wrong. My rent is due on Friday. I have 3-5 business days to wait again, and it's Wednesday. Fortunately, although my new landlord is not the most understanding person and put up a little resistance, he was able to be persuaded to wait until next week, and I still have my apartment. When I pointed out he wouldn't be able to get me out and a new renter (and their rent) any faster than the processing of the transfer, he agreed with my logic.
What a disaster. I hate banks.
Trial by fire both this week and last week. I know I haven't been in school for a while, and they say every module we have won't have this much work (or rather this form of assessment), but the last 2 weeks we've had a lecture in the morning, been given a stack of papers to read for the afternoon, a discussion session the following morning, and a critical review due the next day. And this process has overlapped almost every day with a new lecture. It might not sound like that much, and I've certainly had heavier workloads, but it doesn't leave much extra time in the day. Not that I want them to suffer, but it helps to know the other students in my program and struggling with this even more than I am. And the most twisted part of all, is that I actually sort of missed this.
We got our first assessment back....and I got a 75%! Sounds terrible, right? But no, here, "that's brilliant!" Turns out their grading scale is a bit different that ours, so a 70% is an A. Anything above that is left for distinction, so I technically got an A+, which I hear are hard to come by. Good first impression, though!
I've managed to find a bit of time outside of classwork to enjoy Dublin and meet new people. I've moved into my apartment and I've cleaned it, but it still needs some decorating help (then I'll post pictures). And some sneaky kids on my class figured out it was my birthday on Sunday, so they brought in delicious cupcakes with candles and all to celebrate. Thank you all for my birthday wishes as well! I had a very good day. It's been really nice to hear from a lot of you one-on-one, too, over the last few weeks!