Friday, 27 February 2015

I admit that I'm beginning to fall behind on posts, but I have a good excuse, I promise...
But that's besides the point. The main event from last weekend included a day trip to Dublin with a friend, Krystal, who also studies Animal Science/Pre-Vet...and who goes to Purdue, as well!  We are the same age and year, and are taking the same microbiology class here at UCD.

We decided to spend our Saturday (21 February) in the city of Dublin. Krystal is living with a host family over the semester, who lives in the village of Clontarf up north, so she's gotten to know the city pretty well since she must frequently rely on the bus. I, on the other hand, am downright awful at navigating my way through city streets (On a sidenote: every Irish and American alike finds it either interesting or hilarious that I grew up surrounded by cornfields and never used city transport before coming to Ireland).

Here is the extensive list of all of the places Krystal and I visited on Saturday:
Queen of Tarts
The village of Clontarf, County Dublin
Trinity College
Irish Museum of National History
Irish National Art Gallery
St. Stephens Green Park
Irish Whiskey Museum
Wing's Gourmet Burgers
Auld Dubliner Pub

Queen of Tarts - home to every pastry, scone, and tart flavor you can imagine.  It has been around since 1998 and has two locations here in Dublin. We decided to stop by for a mid-morning snack before we hopped another bus to Clontarf.  Read about Queen of Tarts here.

I'll have the Tangy Lemon Meringue Tart, please and thank you

Next, we made a stop in Clontarf so that I was able to meet Krystal's host parents. The village lines the coast on the north side of the River Liffey. It is famous for the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. If you are interested, you can read about the battle and other facts about the village here.

We caught the bus back into Dublin and set off to see as many sights as possible. We ventured first to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room, which is the college's library with a famously prestigious collection of books from throughout history. The library has also been used in a number of films, including scenes from the Jedi Library in Star Wars III.  The Book of Kells is a Latin manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament, which is beautifully decorated with Celtic-inspired artwork throughout. Unfortunately, taking pictures of the Book of Kells is strictly prohibited, so pictures taken from Google will have to do.

Read about Trinity Library here.
Read about the Book of Kells here.

The Long Room

As far as we could see, this staircase was the only way up to the second floor of the library.




Afterward we visited the National History Museum and the National Art Gallery, but I did not take any pictures there.

These next pictures are from Saint Stephens Green Park, where we stopped to feed the pigeons. Laugh if you must, but where I come from, birds fly away when you get anywhere near them. I've always loved the idea of sitting on a bench feeding pigeons. This bench, the pond, the pigeons and seagulls made perfect scenery and it was every bit as fun as I had imagined.

Krystal taking her turn with the pigeons :)

They were hesitant at first, but I knew they would eat out of my hand. Just the other day, I saw a woman letting pigeons land  atop her hat and eat the crumbs she had placed there.

Our next stop was for a tour through the Irish Whiskey Museum. It cost €13 but we had been assured it was well worth the money. Our tour guide's name was Rory, and we spent about an hour learning about the actual production of Irish Whiskey (which until recently could not be sold or labeled as true whiskey unless it was distilled at least three times) to the effects of Prohibition to the 1875 Great Whiskey Fire.

At the end of the tour we each got to taste three different kinds of Irish Whiskey. If I am not mistaken, we tried Kilbeggan, Powers, and Jameson. Powers was my favorite of the three.

Myself and Krystal

Krystal and I have both been missing buffalo chicken wings from back home, so Krystal found a place online that had them advertised on the menu. The place was called Wing's Gourmet Burger. They only had regular wings, while I prefer boneless, but that didn't stop me from ordering buffalo sauce on my burger. It was so American (besides the Irish flag toothpick...) and delicious, and we even got a student discount!

After having dinner, we met up with some friends at Auld Dubliner's Pub to have a drink for our friend Caroline's birthday. After being on our feet all day, one drink was all it took to convince me it was time for bed.  It was a wonderful afternoon spent in good company in a beautiful city - no complaints here.

On a different note, I mentioned having a good excuse for having been late to posting recently... and I blame school.  I figured that since I am now a bit more accustomed to the college life around here, I would share with you how my semester is turning out.

The semester here is aligned much differently than home. At Purdue, each semester we have fifteen weeks of class and one week of finals. Here, they have twelve weeks of class, followed by one week without class (referred to as "Study Week") and two weeks of finals. At home, our final exams take place in a lecture hall and each individual class is scheduled a different examination time. Here, they take their finals at an off-campus site in blocks of about 3,000 students per seating for the 3-hour examinations.  At Purdue, under the standard grading system, a 90% is an A-, an 80% is a B- and so on. Here, a 70% is an A- and a 60% a B- and so forth. It is still near impossible to get an A in most subjects, but just the idea of it makes it seem so much more attainable than ever getting that 90% in a college course...

My Equine Nutrition class will be taking field trips to the Irish National Stud and Alltech in the coming weeks. My Principles of Dairy Production class will be taking a trip to Lyons Farm.  Next week I am required for my Ireland Uncovered class to take a walking tour of Dublin (which I already did once in January) and must present information to my tour group about one of the landmarks (for which I was assigned Trinity College).

Spring break starts the week after next, so the first full day of break is Saturday, 7 March, and it will go through Sunday the 22. We get not one, but two weeks away from school here. St. Patrick's Day (17 March) falls in the second week, so I won't be missing out on that!

Below is the percentage breakdown of each of my classes. MCQ stands for multiple choice question. A major difference in the system here is simply that the majority of the overall grade relies on retained information  at the time of the test, rather than doing any continuous assessment in the form of homework or quizzes.

Principles of Microbiology:
Essay 1: 20%
Essay 2: 20%
Online Assignment: 10%
Final Exam: 50%

Equine Nutrition:
Group Presentation: 20%
Essay: 20%
Midterm MCQ: 30%
Final Exam: 30%

Principles of Dairy Production:
Literary Review: 20%
Midterm MCQ: 20%
Final Exam: 60%

Ireland Uncovered:
Seminar Attendance: 10%
Field Trip Presentation: 10%
Work Pack Assignments: 30%
Final Exam: 50%

Thanks for reading, everyone! Cheers!

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