rainy afternoon

Early morning, I was walking around and passed by one of the university staff on his way to work. Wearing a Boston Bruins jersey! Someone was happy with the Stanley Cup outcome, clearly.

We made it to Tesco today, and got our groceries. €1.74 for 7.5 kg of potatoes but we had a 1.7 km walk back to campus, so maybe we’ll get that another time. I bought a baguette and had to shield it from the rain on my walk back home. The bread is amazing here. I need to try Irish soda bread next.

J. bought a can of Guinness and I bought a can of Bulmers Irish Cider. I had two sips and was/am buzzing – the Irish don’t mess around with their alcohol, that’s for sure.

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It was raining today but it didn’t stop the 5-a-side soccer. I thought they would call it football here, but they call it the Soccer Centre and etc. The weather report says that it’ll be raining all day tomorrow.

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So far, the Gaelic phrase I am the most familiar with right now is An Garda Síochána (fancy full name for the Irish police) aka Garda/Gardaí. The Gardai  look very much like their British counterparts, walking around in sweaters over collars, carrying pepper spray and batons, driving tiny cars. And another Gaelic word … sláinte.

J. and V. passed by the laundrette and it looks like the washer prices have been slashed to €2, instead of yesterday’s €3. The dryer still costs €0.50 for 25 minutes.

A. managed to get her USD changed at the bank branch (AIB) on campus. They gave her a rate of USD 1.40 to the euro.

I bought a tub of lotion (apparently that’s how the Europeans roll). It doesn’t seem very hygienic but then again it’s just lotion, not … something else. I still need to get a hairbrush and a soap sponge – I completely forgot.

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I don’t like pork but it looks like the only cheap meat, despite being the other white meat. I have yet to come across any sliced turkey or beef or chicken, or sausages. It’s all pork. So it looks like I’m going to have to suck it up, and have decided to jump in headfirst and go hardcore by buying black pudding. I’ll be cooking it for breakfast tomorrow. It’s no great loss if I hate it, it was only €0.67.

Over lunch, the other girls and I tried to figure out where we’re going this weekend. So far it looks like we’re going to Galway. Though I am thinking of jumping on a cheap flight to Brussels or Amsterdam.

We are going to check out NuBar (the subsidized student bar) tonight. I hear they have, um, food.

Still on campus

Breakfast was yogurt and granola (they call it muesli here), along with an egg sandwich. For the nth time, granola/muesli is my favorite thing ever.

The yogurt I bought promised that it was “The best yogurt you’ll ever try!”. I peeled off the lid and thought, “Yeah, suuuure, whatever.” But ohmygod they weren’t joking, it really is the best yogurt I’ve ever had.

Off to lab via shortcut. Passed by recycling bins specifically stating beer cans! There’s also other bins stating “clear glass”, and “brown glass”. Come on, we all know what most brown glass bottles are for.

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Dr B assigned one of his postdocs (A. from Tunisia) to give us (and when I say “us”, I mean the 4 NSF REU students) a tour of our lab and office space. There were also 2 Italian postdocs from Cork. Quick demo of measuring microfluidics chip channels using the scanning electron microscope (SEM).

E. from Zimbabwe (“whenever I say Zimbabwe, everyone thinks of Mugabe…”, said he), and one of the Italian postdocs from Cork. Esco and the Italian postdocs later exchanged numbers because he would be dropping by Cork for a conference (“so you can buy me lunch!”).

A. and V. joined A., E., and the Italians for lunch at the university “restaurant” aka cafeteria. J. and I weren’t interested in university cafeteria food, so we walked back to our apartment to make sandwiches.

When we got back, we automagically had bowls, plates, two cooking pots, and cutlery!! Yay!! Housekeeping had dropped the stuff off. Tomorrow, we will see if they replace our towels as promised in the room cards: “If you would like fresh towels, please leave your towels on the bathroom floor”. Hopefully, the towels will be replaced and we won’t have to use the towels off the floor!

Some former student who still has access to the labs, and has been stealing laptops, etc.:

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Pretty much every sign is in Gaelic and English:

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The main lobby of the building where I’ll be, most of the time:

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The euro, prettier and more colorful than USD:

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The postdocs and our prof will be busy at various meetings and conferences all week, so we Amurricans are free until 11 am next Tuesday.

Still stuck on campus, haven’t left except to the Spar on Ballymun, for quick groceries. We didn’t make it to Tesco today, but we’ll try to tomorrow. A. and I plan on getting cheap bicycles to be more mobile.

Things that  I forgot to bring, but I can easily get: lotion, a hairbrush (yes, how uncivilized of me), and enough shirts.

A and I went hunting for the lunar eclipse at night, but the moon was too low. We walked all over campus looking for the moon (how hard could it be??) and were locked out of certain areas by gates. Couldn’t find the moon at all, and could only guesstimate by which area of the sky looked brighter. Finally, we went back to our apartment and it turned out that the best view of the moon was from our kitchen window! The eclipse was well over by then, as it was past 11 pm.

Passed by the student bar (yes, that is correct..) on the way back to our apartment. A and I were a good 50 m away and we could actually smell the beer. They must mop the floor with beer or something.

Also, A is 20 and is totally legal to drink in Ireland and probably the rest of Europe.

Day 1

I’ve been sent to Ireland, thanks to the NSF. I am here with three other girls (A., J., and V.), and we live in the same apartment. I’m using initials because Google is forever.

Delta Airlines was experiencing a systemwide computer shutdown when I got to LAX. Hopped the Special Circumstances line to join V., who was already in line. Flight was at 1, cleared check-in counter at 12:30 pm. Cleared security, immediately boarded plane at about 12:40. I would have missed the flight if I hadn’t hopped the line to join V.

Sat next to V on the first flight, while A and J were together. (Everyone was split up at the next flight). A baby a few rows behind me started screaming. Not just any screaming. This was heavy-duty Mariah Carey I-love-Jesus business.

Atlanta – went to get a cheesesteak at this place called Charley’s, at A’s recommendation. I thought it was pretty good, but then again I have nothing to compare it to.

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Flight in Atlanta started began closing gates at 30 minutes before! 2+ hour delay when 2nd engine failed and had to be fixed twice. The cabin got really humid and uncomfortable because they had to shut off the air conditioning, and everyone got reaaaally pissy. After about 90 minutes, Delta finally let us stretch out on the jetway. Finally took off after 2+ hours … I guess if I had missed my first flight, I would have made the second flight after rescheduling anyway?

Slept through most of Dublin flight. Tried to watch Unknown but kept falling asleep — sorry, Liam Neeson. I did think it was interesting, though. I came up with a possible solution to the mystery of amnesiac Liam Neeson, then looked up the plot when I got to Dublin. Totally off. (I prefer my version.)

For dinner: Gross “chicken or pasta” options. The stewardess said, “Chicken if you want to stay awake, pasta if you want to knock out!”

Chicken, because it sounded less gross than airline pasta. It was gross anyway: nearly-unidentifiable chunk of chicken, blob of mashed potatoes that literally looked like shit, puréed spinach (yuk), and overboiled carrots. And it looks like they don’t have actual butter, just “Fresh Buttery Taste Spread” … not that I would have eaten it anyway. Salad with balsamic vinaigrette was okay. Chocolate blondie was bleh.  A. had the pasta and said it was gross, too.

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And breakfast was some muffin with a superflat egg.

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The signs are in Gaelic and English. The Gaelic portion is, of course, in green.

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Took a 10 minute cab ride to DCU, checked in to our apartment. Chatty cab driver told us about local slang and how craic/crack is the local word for fun.

J: We’re hoping to drink some Guinness.
Cab driver: No! Drink a lot of Guinness!

Looked for professor’s office, found it, left a note that we were on campus.

Professor B emailed us back and told us to come by at 10 am for a tour of our lab and office space.

Went to the nearby convenience store (Spar) for groceries and basic supplies. We have nothing — no plates or cutlery, etc. So we bought breakfast things like bread and cereal, and dinner things like pasta, salad, and also forks, knives, and paper plates. Also soap, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, dish sponges, a frying pan, and other cleaning supplies and groceries. 90 euros!! But then again this is like the equivalent of shopping at a gas station or at 7-11. Tomorrow, to an actual supermarket or grocery store.

Also, it looks like the Irish way is to bring your own bag to the store. Period. There are no bags available for you.

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Honesty from Colgate! “Great regular flavour” toothpaste, instead of the usual NEW!!! IMPROVED FORMULA, NOW WITH WHITENING stuff.

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Pasta sauce here is really good. The tomatoes are smaller but there is a concentration of flavor! And the apples (also smaller) taste so much better. They’re not joking when they say the produce is better in Europe. They’re not as half-wilted as they are in North America and Asia. Or maybe I’m not shopping in the right places.

Bread is better, too. The baguettes are actually edible.

The broccoli, however, is as bland as ever.