Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nollaig Shona Duit!

Happy Christmas from Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland!
The Sugar Loaf in Wicklow

"The Village" ... That's what the town folk call it!

Woke up Christmas morning and this is what's outside my window

The outside of my friend's beautiful house
Still miss all my loved ones though... with you in spirit!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snow Days in Dublin

It has been snowing pretty much all week in Dublin and because of this... SCHOOL WAS CANCELED! The week started off with our Monday and Tuesday classes to Thursday and Friday because of the biennial global health conference at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. But then it just snowed so hard on Wednesday that they canceled Thursday and Friday! So my presentation got postponed a week (thank God) and we got to have a break where we wouldn't have originally!

This beautiful church in Maynooth.
And this is what happens when class gets canceled... we go out!
Eddie, Frank and I.... I love looking all tan next to my Irish boys 
 What a great weekend indeed!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Dublin, Ireland friends! I have to say I did miss BFF Thanksgiving but here's wishing you luck and love from Eire!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Adjustment to a different culture

It's been just about two months since I've been here in Dublin, Ireland and the adjustment to the different culture has been pretty easy I must say. Some people may think it's not too much of an adjustment and even though it hasn't been for me, there still was a lot to get used to.

I think the biggest thing has been the language. And not just the fact that everyone here obviously has an "Irish accent" (in quotes because obviously here I am the one who has the accent) but the different vocabulary. I briefly blogged about it before but all the slang that's different here and the very particular words they use to describe/refer to certain things. I've learned that a "chipper" is basically a place where they batter and deep fry everything. To go "on the beer" is to go out and get drunk (which is basically the start of many peoples' stories... kind of like "this one time at band camp" if you know what I mean). They use "savage" here to express how awesome something is (i.e. That meal that my friend made for me was savage!). I already talked about your man/your one which I think is pretty cute. Oh yeah and people refer to money as "quid" ... like "Oh yeah I got these boots for 40 quid" instead of 40 Euro. One thing that I had to really get used to was the fact that a lot of times Irish people end their sentences with "like" or "so" (e.g. "It was pretty good craic so.") I kept waiting and saying, "And...? Like what? Soooo what?" The "like" thing was easy for me to adopt into my own speech pattern because I say it so much anyway, I just had to switch where I put it. Ah yes I should explain "craic." It's pronounced crack and the first time I saw/heard it was over text so I immediately was confused on how to pronounce it. Then when I had someone decipher it for me, I had them explain it and basically it's pretty much always used in conjunction with having a good time. For instance, "It was great craic last night when we were out on the beer."

One of the things that's really different is the banking system! Everything is so slow and tedious. I mean yeah they are having a recession but I think a lot of it was in place before the banking crisis. Like to register for online banking you have to call them and then they send you a pin and user name through snail mail. Then if you want to add any kind of other service you have to again wait for something to come through the mail AFTER you register online. It's such a tedious system. Also I came out of the bank with 1000 Euro and thank God Frank was with me because he said there were 2 guys following us when we came out of the bank until we crossed the last street to my flat.

The school system here of course is really different. Now I know that I am doing a masters program but even so, it still feels way different than it would in the states. Like, all of our lecturers want us to call them by their first names. Which is not only weird enough but after knowing how well researched and widely known they are makes it even worse! I was talking to a few people and they also told me that they regularly stood up to their teachers when they were in high school. The grading system is another thing to get used to. A first, which is the highest you can get, is a 70%! And everyone keeps telling us that it really isn't that easy to get. This is the criteria: 70% and up is called 'First Class Honours', sometimes written 1H. 60-69% is called 'Second Class Honours, Grade 1', 2H1. 50-59% is 'Second Class Honours, Grade 2', 2H2. 40-49% is 'Third Class Honours', 3H. Below 40% is a fail... isn't that weird? Well I guess I'm just not used to it. And of course there's the whole primary and secondary school thing.

And there's "Irish time" which is almost just as bad as "South African time" but not quite there. Speaking of South Africa, I have definitely incorporated "just now" in to my everyday speech. It's kind of nice because people don't really know how to interpret it so I hind of have a fall back if they get annoyed. Hahaha. I'm terrible. Of course there's "Korean time" too but I've worked so hard distancing myself from that stereotype that being on time is now a huge deal for me. Another big deal for me is personal space but I think I already whined about that in an earlier post so I won't do that again.

So all in all, again adjusting to the culture is/was not that difficult. I like how pretty much everyone is friendly here and the fact that for the most part people are polite. I don't like how everything is expensive here and people don't get personal space. I think that about sums it up! Haha

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dublin Halloween!

This was my second Halloween out of the States and it was an absolute blast! I was, however, at a complete loss as to what to be. I rolled so many ideas around:
-trying to convince my classmates to be the cast of Harry Potter
-the class being PacMan/PacWoman
-2 of my classmates being Captain Morgan and Jack Daniels, whilst I would be the Absinthe Green Fairy
-80s girl (total cop out I know, but also weird because a lot of girls here dress like that anyway so....)
-Linda from Gimme Gimme Gimme, this HILARIOUS British comedy

-random zombie something (which is what I ended up being)

Me as a zombie ice skater, Meghan as a ballerina doll.
Good yeah? Took me ages to figure it out and I did my own make up! So not only did my classmates and I go out on the 30th and rang in the 31st, Meghan and I went to Temper Trap to celebrate the funness that is Halloween!

Meghan as the ballerina doll and me in my 80s outfit
Right when they came out

Dougy showing his great smile

I think this was Sweet Disposition and me trying to be artsy fartsy

As you can see, I had quite the weekend! This is the week before reading week, a construct of TCD where students get a week off to "catch up on work" but really everyone leaves for vacation, so I think I'm getting my term assignments. We'll see how much I'll update after this. If I do, it means I'm procrastinating! Haha.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cork Shenanigans!

Oh my goodness Cork was so fun! It was the Cork Guinness Jazz Festival but truly... there was no jazz to be found. Okay I take it back. It wasn't that there wasn't any jazz, there wasn't any FREE jazz. Herbie Hancock was in town but it was FORTY EURO to get in so I said heck no techno... that's like 10 pints! Oh by the way, that's pretty much how everyone measures how expensive/cheap things are here. Hilarious but also very useful. We did watch a really cool band from Berlin called Beat and Blow that does big band-y type music. The woman who's sings in it has a really cool, raspy voice. Meghan got hit on by a 75 year old pub owner. It was pretty awesome. I do have to say that I spent that Friday in possibly the worst hostel in all of Ireland. Not only was it really shoddy but the people there were TERRIBLE. Meghan and I were having a pleasant conversation with some Dubliners who had gone down for the festival too and then in walk these crazy guys that ask one of the Dubliners where we're from and he says America and the one of the crazy guys looks at us and says, "I HATE AMERICA." Oh and then it just got ridiculous. My jaw dropped but quick witted Meghan got into a debate. I chimed in every once in a while but yeah. Ugh it was ridiculous.

We went to this place called Kinsale. Oh my goodness the town was ridiculously cute. All the buildings were painted really happy colors and it just felt like such a little town.

Kinsale... little town by the water
The whole town was pretty much like this!
Then we took a drive closer to the coast and watched the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful.
Yeah. I love Ireland.

See? Beautiful.

This is the Ireland of my dreams.
Now don't you want to come visit me?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Picture site

So because I have to have my life completely compartmentalized, here is the URL for my picture site:

How's life? Swell! I'm off to Cork this weekend for the jazz festival and it should be loads of fun. I'm meeting a few of my classmates' partners so it should be interesting. I love meeting people's other halves. It's very interesting.

Speaking of other halves, my flatmate is kind of dating this guy in a band! Woot! Free shows for me! Haha I'm so selfish but seriously. I'm so excited. Oh and speaking of shows... I'm seeing LCD Soundsystem and Boyce Avenue here in Ireland... how excite am I? Both are pretty cheap too.

I know this was a short, kind of lame post but pictures speak a thousand words right? If one strikes your fancy, ask me a question about it!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Questions answered!

One of my best friends sent me questions via email and I actually think they're kind of useful to help me post so here they are and my answers!

1) what's your daily life look like (literally and figuratively)
Mmmmmm Monday thru Wednesday is class for 6 hours broken up into 2 three hour sessions with an hour break between. pretty intense. i'm trying to actually get into the habit of going to the gym before since class doesn't start til 10. hahah you'd think it'd be easier since i used to get up at 5:30 to go before work but man it's that much harder without a car and all that. weekends are usually for catch up. i haven't been reviewing as much as i should so i'm kind of REALLY playing catch up this weekend especially after the music festival.
2) who are the significant people in your life
Meghan is definitely my closest friend here. Kind of hard not to be since we're flatmates but we actually get along great which is a total God-send. She does do things that bother me but it's just things that come with living with flatmates, you know? Donna (the 39 yr old Aussie) is another close one. She's incredibly sweet, very into the whole chakra, yin/yang balance stuff but it's nice because she also really believes in karma so she is actually a nice reminder of doing good in the world. 
3) what's your favorite spot
Oh man... I'd say.... Strawberry Beds/Hall which is in Dublin 20. Which means it's pretty far out of the city. Very quiet, very Irish. I think I "liked" it on my facebook.
4) what are classes like
Classes are.... good.... ish. Haha. I'm learning a lot but it's hard for me to place it in my mind. I keep thinking, "Well now that I know this, how can I use this to produce change?" A lot of my classmates were complaining that it's not challenging enough and I got scared. Not that it's plenty challenging but I think I was just afraid that all of a sudden it would get that much more difficult and I'd fail. I'm so lame. Haha.
5) what's the most shocking/coolest/funniest thing you've learned (both about ireland and life in general)
Dublin is VERY DIVERSE. I was completely taken aback of how many Chinese and Nigerian folk there are here. Not even just students, like full on immigrants. It's kind of cool! I hate that people in Ireland have no sense of personal space. In the queue, people are all up in people's grill and I feel like I'm the ONLY ONE moving to avoid slamming into people when walking. And there are NO "excuse me" or "sorry"s being said. Life lesson? Learning to roll with the punches again. We didn't move into our new building til just this week and yeah. Learning to deal with younguns... ahhaah
6) what's your favorite word to hear with an irish accent
oh man I think my favorite word to say with an Irish accent is the number thirty. my favorite thing is referring to a guy as "your man." Like if we were hanging out and I saw a guy wearing a funny hat I'd say, "Your man over there has a pretty funny hat on." Or if it's a woman it becomes "your one" ... I'll try to think of more things. Oh yeah, I have to remind myself that "pissed" here means drunk. 
7) what's your favorite new discovery in general
Bulmers. I think it's called Magners in the States.
8) your favorite thing about ireland so far
THE WEATHER. It's so nice and cool here. I'm so happy to be like ambient temperature for me at all times! Haha. Oh and the architecture
9) your least favorite thing about ireland so far
the whole personal space thing. OH and EVERYONE SMOKES. everyone and will blow it in your face or in the area of their childrens faces. and kind of that if you want to go out you really don't have a good range of things to go to besides pubs. oh the DJs here CANNOT MIX AT ALL. AT ALL AT ALL AT AAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL and it drives me inSANE. And they play good music but so NOT meant for clubs. e.g. Arctic Monkeys... really? OH and the absolute LACK OF VARIETY IN FOOD. and how expensive everything is.
10) what version of chong do most people there get to see
The like 80% awkward version. Haha. I'd say the much more extroverted version except when we're in a group more than 4. Then I get really quiet again and observe. I love doing that.
11) what have you learned about yourself
I've learned that I need to work on patience all over again. Haha. Sounds sad but true. I think it's more like a matured patience rather than shove everything down and don't let it come up to bother me patience. Make sense? MMmmm also that I really suck at keeping in touch. So thanks for the questions and keep them coming!
12) have you had any new revelations about the direction you want your life to take
 I still think I want to be a physician BUT more on the policy changing side. I duno. I think I may want to work for WHO but still kind of up in the air. Oh and research isn't all bad... as long as I get to be in the field. Haha. And it's qualitative not quantitative. Hehe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Can't believe it's been 12 days!

Okay, there goes my promise of updating once a week. Sorry! I do have to say that it's been an interesting 12 days though. 12.5 of those hours were dedicated to the Irish immigration office which made me appreciate my parents SO much more. Mostly because if the Irish immigration is this bad with bureaucracy, can't even begin to think about it for the states. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl.

Anyway, here are the pictures as promised! I'll try to post more later but my brain is fried from dealing with Irish immigration.

View from my hostel but also you can see my flat across the River Liffey! It's the pink building.

My school. Trinity College Dublin. Real name? The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin. Yeah, let's call it TCD shall we?

Of course they have trucks just running Guinness kegs everywhere!

My flatmate Meghan showing off her Russian Billiards skills at our favorite pub, Strawberry Hall.

The Pavilion, the place to go to drink ON CAMPUS and look at the rugby field. And yes, the weather has been like this pretty much the whole time I've been here.

How can I not have the crazy photos with the girls from class at a pub? 

Our class reps! This is on our viking tour of the city where we sat on a WWII vehicle.

I love Ireland. Try to drag me home. Just try it. You won't succeed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Class week one DUNZO!

First week of class come and gone and yes indeed I survived. It has been absolutely amazing weather here in Ireland. Nice and chilly, with the leaves falling... just like a real autumn. Definitely my kind of weather.

Ah but classes.... classes are SO GREAT! I mean there was so much information already but I can already feel like I'm going to learn so much about what I've been wanting to know for so long that it won't really feel like school. Well, I guess it helps that my classmates are pretty freaking cool too. Interestingly eight of us are from the US but out of those five are fresh out of undergrad. There's my flatmate and I and the last American is a woman who is taking a year off from medical school to do this program. She goes back in December to do part deux of her boards. She's my hero. Haha.

We have five Irish, two transplant Irish (one originally from Australia but has been living here for the past 12 years, Donna, you'll hear WAY more about her. She's one of my favorites and the other from Canada but here for the past 8 years), a guy from the Gaza Strip and 2 women from Africa. Isn't that such an amazing mix of people?! Oh and then we have 3 from the PhD program who take some of our classes. I've already learned so much about other cultures already. LOVE IT.

I do six hours of class for three days. Mondays it's health economics and financing and health policy and systems. The professors for those classes are SO intelligent but so funny and present the material so well. Tuesdays it's a seminar and then principles of social research. Wednesdays it's packed with determinants of health and then statistics in the afternoon. Thursdays and Fridays are study days... or blogging days. ahahah

So that's it! That's my life for the next 11 weeks. And then... who knows?! I'm still picking my research topic but I'm thinking that I may go back to Oaxaca if I do prenatal health or Africa if I do pediatric nutrition. Duno yet.... Anywho, I promise a more picture loaded post will come soon :) for now all you have are my small words :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

A week gone!

And what a crazy week it has been! From day one it has pretty much been non-stop GO GO GO! It kind of is all a blur now but in true "me" fashion I will go backwards.

Yesterday my flatmate, Meghan, and I moved into our place!!! Yes three exclamation points were needed. I think even more are needed but I will save them for later. It's beautiful. It faces the Liffey River and is really near one of the more hoppin spots in Ireland. (Yes I used hoppin). Unfortunately with that comes the crazy people (mostly tourists) who don't know when to stop drinking so they YELL and CACKLE at oh, most hours of the night. Don't worry. I have ear plugs.

The weekend was fabulous. It was the All-Ireland final Sunday so basically all of Ireland shut down (except pubs of course) to watch IRISH football which is completely nutso to me. It's a mix between soccer and rugby. Meghan and I got up and got a cab to go back to Temple Bar (which is an area full of bars and pubs not just one bar) but then we asked the cabbie where we should go to catch the match and he said, "Oh not there, you want to go to a real Irish pub..." So then he drove us outside Dublin about 15 minutes and we ended up at this SUPREMELY AWESOME place called Strawberry Hall. When we walked in, there were absolutely no women and everyone looked at us like we were nuts. A little bit later, some guys finally started asking us questions and basically everyone wanted to know how we got there. Every time we told the story, they'd laugh. We stayed at that place for about 8 hours. It was absolutely grand.

Before then Meghan, Donna (another classmate) and I have just been milling around looking at places and things. Well me looking at things them commenting on how touristy I am. Haha. I don't care. Until school starts and probably even after school starts I'm still a tourist. I have my camera poised and ready. I haven't taken too many photos but once I finally get them up I promise to post them.

Orientation starts tomorrow and goes til Friday. OH the 23rd is Arthur's day and at 17:59 there's going to be a worldwide toast with Guiness so make sure to do that (if you can handle Guiness of course, I still am trying to). We get connected to the interwebs on Saturday so hopefully I'll be able to update a bit more often after that. Til then, ask me questions in the comment section if there's anything you want to know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I have arrived!

Oh my goodness gracious I have finally arrived... all of me. All of my luggage, my health... EVERYTHING. Why is this a big deal? Well let me tell you.

First my SFO-JFK flight was delayed landing because of "slight showers" which in turn made me SUPER late to catch my flight. But of course guess who didn't have their boarding pass? Oh but there was no one at the ticketing desk.. why? BECAUSE IT WAS 30 MINUTES BEFORE TAKE OFF TIME. And of course the security people have no mercy so they're just like, "Ugh there's one every day..." BUT thankGOD that Aer Lingus decided to be super nice and call me (right when I actually turned on my phone no less) and say, "Ms. Chong, where are you?" Haha. So here I am running back to the security with my ginormous carry-on and my shvety self.... Sigh. I MADE THE PLANE though. So no big there.

Oh but the drama doesn't stop. Because the stupid American Airlines people couldn't get my bags on the plane so I was without MY LIFE (in 3 suitcases) until just about an hour ago. So I finally got to be not smelly and look halfway decent (I say halfway because I don't really plan on unpacking much until I find a place to stay) just an hour ago!

Oh right and the health. I got pretty sick-y a couple days before I left and still felt that way yesterday but then I basically slept for like 20 hours hahaha so now I feel great! And hungry...

I'll update on ACTUAL events of today after I feed myself :)