Tuesday, August 31, 2010

oh the places you will go... or just try to find?

Well the last few days have been an adventure to say the least. so much so that i don't quite know where to start with everything. it is so new, crazy, and fun! OK i guess i will start off with the start of classes. they are so different from back home. you get into class, the professor gives you the list of books that you "should" read, which is like 40 of them, and then he gives you the prompt for the final paper you have to turn in and then it is off to lecturing. Each class is once a week but for 3 hours long. like 3 hours straight class. I don't know how I stayed awake the whole time. the nice thing is that we only have one class a day so once it is over we are done for the day and get to explore. and explore we did yesterday...

After class Josh, my housemate, and I went to town to go and get a card for our hostmom cause she is retiring today so there is some sort of party. actually my host brother has been cooking none stop from last night it seems through this morning for the occasion. also we had to go out and get laundry detergent and meat to put in our pasta that we were going to make. i say that we were going to make it because we didn't actually cause we got invited to dinner at two of the girls house because they were making potato soup and didn't want to have any leftovers.

The only problem with going to the girls house for dinner was that we didn't really know where they lived, and they gave us the wrong street when they gave us the address. both those things really helped contribute to Josh and I wandering around the Bogside(the area to the west of the walls of Derry, AKA the location where Bloody Sunday took place) for about and hour until we finally gave in and called the girls. we didn't want to call the girls because it is really expensive to use minutes on the phones we were given and were also kind of determined to find our way by ourselves. woops. but dinner was good none the less.

after dinner some of the other girls wanted to go to the pub so we went to a local pub and all had a blast. there was live music and people were dancing and singing and just have a grand time. ("good craic" if you want to put some Irish slang in there) some people came up and talked to us and we would politely act as if we 1. understood them and 2. really could actually hear them. it was loud with the music going on and people were everywhere. I am glad that we go there early for seats. the live music was amazing and I couldn't get one the songs out of my head so naturally this morning i went on a google search to try and find it and boom there it was. the video i am about to put down is a performance from a pub just to kind of give you the idea of what it is like but it is not actually the pub we were at. i should have brought my camera so i could have gotten a video. I kind of can't wait to start tin whistle and Irish dance lessons now!!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPAZ5TOHHvo

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Being Scared on Top of Being Scared...

These past few days have just been scary. first we went off to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge and salmon fishery which was blow your mind beautiful, and now we are moved into our homestays and will be living here for the rest of the semester. The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge is a really old rope bridge that hangs over are crevice about 80 feet deep. in high tide times if you fall off you get a lucky splash landing, but in low tide times you would not be so lucky. and of course we went during low tide... fortunately for those of us that are a little afraid of heights though, over the years they have reinforced the bridge to make it almost impossible for anyone to fall of. once on the other side though the grass on the little cliffs is really slippery and getting close to the edge is sort of a hair raising experience. After seeing all of the sights at the rope bridge we went to the old ruins of the Dunluce Castle. funny story about the castle, the kitchen fell out of it, in the middle of preparing for dinner, and was lost off the cliffs and into the sea.

After a good ole time these past days, it was really sad to have to leave Corrymeela today. but none the less we set off to our new homes in Derry. once there Josh, the only other guy on the program, and I met our homestay parents and brother. we are living with them for the next 3 months and we seem to get along really well. Josh and I went down to the local grocery market with our host brother and bought some food to start us off. Pasta and tomato sauce for dinner the next few days, and then good old PB&J for lunch. For a week of food it was pretty cheap, only around 7 pounds which in dollars is about 11 bucks!! After that we went to a art gallery opening with our host family and then back home for dinner, chicken curry(it was really good!!). afterwards we all sat down and watched a movie and drank this incredibly confusing drink made of apricots and ginger. the apricot was so sweet and tasty and the ginger left a burning sensation in the back of our throats. then it was off to bed, which really meant skyping with the parents and girlfriend and trying to unpack everything I will be living off of the next 3 months.

It is scary to think that this is my new home. it is like moving into the dorms freshman year all over again. you don't know where everything is cause your mom packed all your bags and you don't know where to put everything because you are afraid that you might offend someone who really doesn't care about it at all. What I am even more scared of is classes starting because classes over in Northern Ireland are completely different than those at Bluffton. The professors do not give you a reading list or what needs to be done by when, they just give some names of books that might be helpful and expect you to have them read by certain times. Also there is no homework for our classes apparently, so all that we have to focus on is reading and studying up for our papers that are due at the end of our 8 weeks of classes. this might be the strangest 17 credit hours i will ever take. but i know they will be the most exciting!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finn McCool and a city named Derry

The other day we made the half hour drive from Corrymeela to go visit what in Northern Ireland they refer to as the 8th wonder in the world. it is called the Giants Causeway and was formed when volcanic lava cooled down rapidly when it met at the ocean and cracked into geometrical shapes that are stacked up in pillars. some of the pillars have fallen over and others are still erect but it is a pretty amazing spectacle to say the least. when we got there our program directer Myrven, told us the folk tale of how what the locals say formed the causeway. they say it was formed by a rather large giant named Finn McCool who in a fairly funny story ends up defeating another giant from Scotland to protect Ireland. as we climbed down the 162 steps to get to the causeway down by the ocean we couldn't help but take pictures of the amazing way nature can marvel us. once down to the bottom of the stairs we all had fun looking at things like "Finn McCool's boot" which is a large boulder in the shape of a foot. If you were wondering he wears a size 80. as well as some of us decided to climb around and have fun. knowing me this was like a huge new jungle gym and it became a game of trying to hop from place to place, rock to rock, as fast as I could and I am sure that the Irish tourist couldn't understand what that wierd American was doing jumping around like a monkey.
So after a day of exhausting hiking and jumping around like a fool, naturally the next day we went on a walking tour of the walls that surround the city we are going to live in. Londonderry/Derry is one of only 2 stilled completely walled cities in the UK. the walls are from way back, like I mean way back. I don't want to throw a date out there because I know I will be more than likely way off. I believe I remember the tour guide saying that the walls were built some 400 years ago and everything about them is original except for the top walking path which has been redone. Before we went on the walking tour though, we got to meet the Mayor of Derry and ask him a few questions on the way politics work in Northern Ireland and sadly i think i was one of the only people who asked any questions. the people in our group are kind of quiet and i don't mind that as i can be quiet too, but in a situation of trying to talk to a delegate like this it comes in handy to have chatty people. Oh and the political system of Northern Ireland is crazy. the cities elect "consulates" and then those consulates then elect a mayor from the group. also because of the Belfast Agreement in '98 they have to have the equal amount represented from all political parties in terms of departments and higher up positions but not in actual number of representatives. for example, if the mayor is from a Unionist party, then the Deputy Mayor(second in charge) is from a Nationalist party, and also the next mayor has to then be from the Nationalist party.

Our director was talking to me about how one another "sizes" each other up in Northern Ireland and i thought it was really interesting. He pretty much explained that the first time people meet each other they ask questions to try and find out what political party they might be from or what religion they are without actually asking those questions as it is rude for them to do so. things that i thought were so trivial like asking someones name or where they are from or what school they went to can be seen as invitations to "banter". banter, as explained in one of our orientation books that we read last semester, is the art of skillfully arguing with one another on intellectual basis. which means for me it would be like getting into an argument with one of my uncles or grandpa about political issues, but for people in Northern Ireland, they can turn the craziest issues into issues of great importance just by changing a few words. I never really thought about just looking at someone for signs of where they are from or what they might agree with politically just by looking at them until a man from Fort Worth, Texas came to CorryMeela today and it was obvious where he was from. He had the cowboy hat, and everything and then i realized that we do the same thing in the United States. Just for us it is not about politics and religion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here and Still Not Realizing it...

Were here!!!!! the plane rides were less than enjoyable. Especially having to run through the Newark airport only to come to our gate for our flight to Belfast and see that the door was already closed, but after the girls put on their best puppy dog faces they agreed to open the doors just to let all ten of us on the flight!!! By then they had already given our seats away and so I got to be lucky enough to sit in between 2 overly talkative grandmas that just thought I was the sweetest boy in the world. Finally after a 4 hour nap and sitting through "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" we arrived at 8:30 in the morning in Belfast International Airport(3:30 our time). We went through customs and then met up with our program director Myrven Love, who showed us to our bus and shipped us of to CorryMeela Retreat Center for our next 5 days.

Once at the center we got a tour of the grounds and then got some free time before some of us decided it was finally time to give in to the urge to sleep before dinner/tea time at 5:30. I was not one of those sleeping people, instead we went with 3 of the volunteers into the town of Ballycastle to look around and see the beach. FYI the water on the northern coast of Northern Ireland is FREEZING!!!! oh and it is only about 60 degrees here as oppose to the 90 degrees we have been use to back home. After walking the mile into town and back we arrived back to be welcomed to a nice steak dinner and some fruit spongcake dessert!!

Tomorrow starts off with lunch at 1 and then off to orientation and then Giants Causeway!!!!(A.K.A the 8th wonder of the world)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Up Up and Away

So all is set in motion for the next few days. work is all done for the year, as of yesterday, and i believe that the beach will survive without it's head lifeguard there for the next few weeks. i think i have a pretty good staff that can handle me not being around to tell kids not to throw sand and explain what times things are open or what they cost, oh and maybe save someone here and there. top quote of the year goes to a little boy that came up and asked if "There be fiches in dat pool?" to which i replied, "yes, yes there is fiches in the pool." it was a good year but i was really ready to get out of that park and on the road.

All has been packed, including my toothbrush and some extra socks. my suitcase has officially be weighed, and the total is now comes to is 50.2 pounds. i sure hope that the people at check in are not sticklers about the weight or i might be paying extra or trying to fit an extra pair of jeans into my carryons. speaking of carryons... they are busting at the seams. they consist of two over sized backpacks that are carrying an extra 20 pounds of "stuff" in each. things include, passports, food, shoes, wool sweater, khaki pants, folders, 2 books on ironman racing(i may be a little obsessed), and 1 stuff animal(insert being made fun of here).

Today would be Sunday and so far today i have seen my mom, dad, sister, grandma, and girlfriend all cry as i left my house with my girlfriend to go to her house because it is closer to school. the only person who did not cry would be my dog, and she was more worried about my mom crying and where her bone was than actually about me leaving.

after spending the evening at my girlfriends i am excited to get to school tomorrow! There is the sending ceremony at 12:30 at the peace thrones on campus(all are invited) and at about 1:30 we load up and head out. we will fly from Dayton to Newark and then stay in Newark for about an hour until we leave for Belfast at 9:30 PM and arrive at 9:00 AM. that is going to be one long flight!! although i say that and have done almost the exact same flight twice before going to Scotland and London. After that it is a 4 day orientation at the CorryMeela Retreat Center and off to our homestays.

i probably wont be able to post until we get to our homestays or even later so this would have to be a goodbye for now. but trust me, i will live to blog again! just next time it will be in NORTHERN IRELAND!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reality is Hitting

Holy cow, after 2 days of intense "YOU NEED TO GET THINGS DONE" from my parents, i believe that my suitcase is officially packed. the contents of which include the following:

4 wool sweaters (recently purchased at the Salvation Army!! Chyea)
3 dress shirts (never know when you need to look classy)
slacks and "trousers" (in Ireland pants are what your refer to if you are talking about underwear)
15 t-shirts
2 pair of khaki shorts
3 pair of workout shorts (gotta stay in shape for track in the spring/plus maybe a marathon in Dublin?)
lots of socks
shoes 2 pair
man i feel like i am even forgetting stuff in this blog, even more than i feel like i am forgetting in real life.

The official weight( i before e except after c, and when its "eh" as in neighbor and weigh. my dad just taught me that second part.) of my suitcase is 49 pounds. they are only allowed to be under 50 pounds so i am in the clear on that one. so everything else must go in the two backpacks i am taking as carryons. including another pair of shoes, some clothes and other random objects that are necessary for me to be able to function for the 4 months "across the pond". alright so maybe i just wanted to say that.

as of right now, in one week i will more than likely still be on a plain over the atlantic ocean heading to me knew home for 4 months in Northern Ireland. SO EXCITED!!! saturday is my last day of work, sunday i leave for ohio to stay overnight at my girlfriends house because she lives close to school and i want to spend time with her family before i leave. and finally, on monday afternoon it is off to Bluffton to attend the sending ceremony at the Peace Thrones. then from there it is off the Dayton to Fly away. I can't wait!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Caution: Life is About to Be Interesting

So as my first blog, this is going to be a freak out blog. if you don't know me, I actually tend to have these moments in my life where i put things off and then all of the sudden they need to be done and oh boy do they need to be done. things like homework, studying, working out, and worst of all... drum roll please... packing. oh boy do i hate packing. almost as much as i hate doing laundry, which in a way is the same as packing because mostly it is the separating of clothes and folding them. yuck, folding clothes, makes me shiver. The thing with these freakouts is that i mostly will keep to myself and bottle it up until i am just ready to expload about the matter. i really don't want to do that right now because that would just start off this whole experiance i am about to embark on.

Now you may be wondering why i am packing. in fact, i am leaving on the 23rd of august for a semester abroad on the Bluffton University Norther Ireland program(http://www.bluffton.edu/xcultural/nireland/). It has been a goal of mine to study in another country, actually it is more of a wanting to live in another country. so now as i sit in my living room watching my parents TV show as they both sleep in their respective spots on the lazy boy and sofa, i am starting to freak out as i realize, oh boy, i am about to say it, i only have a week and 4 days until i leave!!!!! oh man, all i got right now is the dog to try and stir up and freak out with and even she is sleeping on the couch which is why i am on the floor.

For me, the future is actually a really scary thing to think about. i don't even like thinking about tomorrow as much as thinking about next week, or the months i will be in Ireland, or my last two years at Bluffton or what i am going to do after school. usually i just think far enough ahead to my next race. and since i am not doing cross country this fall due to being thousands of miles away in Ireland, i have been looking for new things to look ahead to. The crazy thing is all i can think about is how i need to pack so i can repack and pack again to make sure i have everything. i have lists of answers and have gotten so much advice from people who have been on the "experience" and all i can think about is questions i still have, but when i go to try and write them down nothing comes out.

So i guess what i am trying to say is that i am both excited for what is certainly going to be the most memorable and interesting experience in my life, and am most definitely scared because it is venturing into the unknown. But I need this. i need adventure and i want to experience life, especially because this has been one of my goals for a long time. I am excited and i can't wait to leave.