It's been one week of classes! Or should I say, of no classes. I am very excited to be home tonight (Saturday) doing nothing because I have had such a busy week having fun in Ireland. It is amazing what a difference a week makes. By now I feel much more settled and comfortable in my apartment. I have cooked a few times, and shopped a few more times. My daily routine this week has consisted of sleeping in, waking up and making breakfast, going on campus to register for classes or check out my new lectures, walk over the bridge into town to eat lunch, shop until the stores close, return home to cook dinner, and then get ready to go out to the pubs! I still do not have a sound sleep schedule. My average bed time has been after 2 am this week, and my average alarm has been set for 11 am. Yes, I realize this is not exactly healthy, but I have had a lot of free time as a part of the adjustment. Keeping myself busy and having fun at night have been the best ways to make new friends and explore the town with which I now feel more familiar.
First of all, was anyone going to tell me the unwritten rule that neither professors nor students show up for class the first week? I soon found out that not actually going to class is pretty normal the first week of the semester at NUI: Galway. The sense of urgency is a lot different here. With our "two-week trial period" to try out different classes, there is no worrying about homework assignments and exams. My current class schedule includes: "Sociology of the Environment, Imagining Modern Ireland (a class for American students about the culture of Ireland), Buddhism Politics and Practices, Law of the Sea, Criminal Justice, and A Field of Gods and Men: Ancient Celtic Myths." I have only been able to go to Law of the Sea, Criminal Justice, and Celtic Myths successfully, and they were all very good. The atmosphere of the classroom is the same as it is at home, except much smaller so far. In orientation, they kept warning us about the "large" classes of 100 students we would have in Ireland. I sat there and laughed thinking about my 700+ lectures I have at Penn State. But less is more when it comes to interacting with professors and getting the most out of the class.
My Ancient Celtic Myths class is AWESOME! So far we have read Caesar's essays and have analyzed the ancient civilizations he hints at. We are specifically talking about "Gallia," the ancient people and their sacrificial practices to the gods. I particularly like learning about which planets represented which gods to which people. What is amazing is how powerful empires convinced the smaller empires to abandon their beliefs because they, for example the "Christians," convinced the smaller empires that their gods were not real. I love learning about all these worldly, spiritually connected topics.
The weather has been great this week! We had a record of 4 DAYS WITHOUT RAIN! My roommates were the most excited about this. My three Irish roommates are named Katie, Denise, and Alice. They are nice, but messy! My American roommate and I enjoyed cleaning the entire kitchen today while the Irish are home for the weekend. Irish students regularly go home on weekends to work part-time jobs. This week was honestly "party central" for all of the Irish students back at school. The big nights of the week to go out in Ireland are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This is such a change from the states where the weekends are the most fun. Last night, we went out to pubs that promote "American night" because only the American students are left in town!
On Tuesday night, I went to my first "silent disco," a pub where you get a set of headphones when you enter and this is how you listen to music from the DJ all night. What is funny is when you take your headphones off on the dance floor, you observe people dancing to what appears to be silence and singing in off-pitch voices! We had a lot of fun.
I recently registered for the remainder of my classes, which means I should have a fuller schedule next week. I need structure to force me to get out of bed in the morning! This week I attended the clubs and societies fair and signed up for the golf club, international student society, Italian society, law society, and marine society. The reason I signed up for the Italian and marine society is because the Italian society has a school trip to Venice, and the marine society is hosting a snorkeling trip to NORTHERN AFRICA! How fun does that sound? No prior snorkeling needed to apply. Both groups had welcoming parties at pubs this past week, so we had fun meeting other students in the university.
Next weekend is the family home stay experience and I will be staying with O'Sullivan family in Galway City. Interestingly enough, my original family has reported that, due to an illness, they could not host me for the weekend. Hopefully they didn't read my biography and decide they didn't like me! We are being picked up by bus this Friday at 6pm and we are returning Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow (Sunday) I am planning on waking up and going to church in the catholic cathedral right off campus then hopefully going out to breakfast afterwards. I am not ready for a full "Irish breakfast" yet, which contains blood sausage or "pudding" as they call it! (How do you get pudding from blood sausage?) Recently many friends in my program have made friends (or been hit on) by the guys of the university rugby team. They are hoping we will be their "cheerleaders" tomorrow, maybe if they are lucky.
Galway University and Cathedral