PS: I promise to post pictures once I’ve sorted them!
…that it’s my last night in Ireland (for the time being), I’ve had a wonderful and productive time, and I apologize for not sharing more as it happened! The course continued in much the same wonderful vein, and although I was a bit sad to leave An Cheathrú Rua, I think it ended at just about the right time. Since then, I’ve helped cook a fabulous birthday dinner in Galway, attended a massive traditional music festival in Cavan, met with a professor in the Irish department at UCD, and had lovely adventures in Dublin. I’ve had lots and lots of last-minute changes of plans, coincidental meetings (including with MULTIPLE friends from Paris—Ireland is just such a small place!), and generally great experiences.
It feels odd to be leaving Europe for the time being. But I think I’m ready. Time to move on to east-coast adventures!
Just a quick update!
I haven’t been online much here, as I have pretty limited internet access, so sorry for that! It’s hard to believe, but I’m already over halfway through my time here. Highlights include:
- Walking down to Trá na Reilige, a beautiful beach located right next to both the local cemetary and the ruins of a fourteenth century church. Both times I went, I was joined by a very friendly dog who seems to live in the area and just be looking for some company! Dogs in Connemara tend to just wander around loose, but most are very friendly.
- An all-day field trip to see archaeological sites in western Connemara (out past Clifden). In the pouring rain. Needless to say, I—and everyone else—got soaked through. I did see a Mesolithic tomb and wade back from a tidal island through the incoming water, though, so not a total loss.
- Céilí dancing and sean-nós singing!
- Shopping in Galway city: I did my best to stick to a budget, but I got a couple of new books and a claddagh ring, as well as spending a bit of time wandering through the outdoor market.
Oh yeah, and I’ve been learning a bit too. Guess that can’t be helped when you spend about 30+ hours a week in class, haha. So all in all, I’m keeping very busy, but generally having fun. I hope everyone at home is doing the same!
Photos from the first three days in Carraroe
Hello, all! It’s been a long, long time since I wrote on here. (Nearly two months, in fact!) But now I’m abroad again, and I don’t want to leave this new adventure undocumented! For those of you who may not know, for the next month I’ll be in Carraroe, County Galway, Ireland, doing an intensive Irish-language course with about 55 other learners from the U.S., Canada, England, Austria, and even South Africa. I just arrived yesterday after a looooong journey, and I’m pleased to be settling in with my very sweet bean an tí (=”woman of the house”, host mother of sorts), Lucie. It’s a special person that can take in eight young women along with her own husband, three children, and a dog! It’s beautiful here, and it’s such a wonder to be able to speak Irish in the shops, on the street, at dinner… I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to do this, so thank you, Mom and Dad, Smith College, and the many wonderful Irish teachers (paid or not!) who helped me get here.
Ok, so that’s a little over-dramatic, but I am about to leave behind a whole life in Paris forever. I might come back someday, but it won’t ever be quite the way it is now. I think it’s finally sinking in that I’m leaving in two days—I just reserved my airport shuttle for Friday. I’m excited to see my family (you guys have your welcome instructions, right? banners and champagne?), but I’m also sad to close this particular chapter in my life. It’s been a weird, difficult, and ultimately wonderful one. I think I like the person I’ve become this year. I know I’ll never be quite the same.
Now I just have to jump the last few hurdles—one last paper to write, an entire year’s worth of stuff to pack up, and a few more (hopefully not too tearful) goodbyes to make. And in spite of our often complicated relationship, I’d just like to say: Thanks, Paris. Thanks for everything.
The end of the year is fast approaching, and I can’t begin to think where the time has gone. It’s certainly been a wild ride! It seems so long ago that I arrived here, freaked out and not sure how everything was going to go. Now, I may not love Paris, but I’ve certainly grown comfortable here, and I’ll be sad to leave. Here’s hoping for many more happy picnics with these lovely ladies, even if we can’t always make it to the Bois de Boulogne!
(We were rather amused when we realized that our desserts had an interplanetary theme.)
Anyway, I’m off to write my mountains of papers, eat a few last pastries, and try to enjoy my final two weeks à Paris.
Just a quick update: I cannot believe how fast this vacation is going! I had a wonderful time in Oxford in spite of a rather nasty cold (which I’m just now getting over). Highlights included seeing my friend Margaret for the first time in almost a year, being summarily adopted by her grandparents, and touring the Bodleian Library. There was a really cool exhibit on medieval romance, and they had everything from the earliest known manuscript of Le Chanson de Rolandto modern-day manifestations of the form, including the original typescript of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and a page from Tolkien’s manuscript of The Two Towers! And Dublin has been absolutely marvelous. Yesterday I spent two hours at the Writers’ Museum, went to a lecture on James Joyce and modernism, toured the National Gallery, and had dinner in a pub with some pretty excellent live music. Today was mainly devoted to wandering around and browsing in bookstores, and now I’m getting ready to go see a play at the Gate Theatre. And tomorrow, of course, I’m off to Galway!
Adventures in Sussex!
And after a very long bus ride involving a 2 AM ferry from Calais to Dover, I am happily settled into a Starbucks in London, watching the sunlight spread through the streets outside Victoria Station. This trip will be the longest I’ve left Paris since I arrived in August—nearly two weeks total! I’m very much looking forward to spending time with friends whom I haven’t seen since I left Smith and to a general change of pace. I must say, though, it feels VERY strange to be speaking English to strangers in public! I keep having to stop myself from composing my thoughts in French. But as I told Lydia, I imagine that it will be quite hard to go back to French, as well. Not only am I spending this entire break in England and Ireland, I have a LOT of studying to do for my Irish language exam when I get back. I’m not about to let that keep me from enjoying my time off, though!