Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.


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Rambling Catch-Up

I have been in remiss in my blogging recently. So here is an attempt to catch up.

From our weekly Skype sessions, my parents have gotten the impression that I don’t go to class much, which is somewhat accurate. Though I’m taking six classes (19th Century American Literature, Early Modern Literature [Shakespeare and Milton], Saints and Sinners in the Celtic World, Imagining Modern Ireland, The English Language in Ireland, and Irish for Beginners), each one only meets for two hours each week, with the exception of Irish, which meets for four. Fourteen hours of class per week in total, which really isn’t much. The classes are pretty forgettable, too, especially my Saints and Sinners class. I have never sat through a more boring hour of droning about Columbanus and, more recently, St. Patrick. But I’m hoping Miami will count it as a theology class so I can fill up my last CAS requirement.

There isn’t much in the way of homework, either. Only the Irish class features what they call “continuous assessment” – graded homework assignments and tests on a regular basis. For the others, my entire grade will be based on a final exam or paper, and maybe a midterm if I’m lucky. This, my friends, is TERRIFYING. November is not going to be fun. But perhaps December will be, as I’m pretty sure that I will be completely done with at least three of my classes by December 6th.

I do have a fair amount of reading to do; I’ve been slogging my way through lots of Shakespeare (Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and A Winter’s Tale so far; I missed Hamlet and will have to reread it sometime soon). I’ve also found, much to my own surprise, that I actually enjoy Hawthorne when I’m not terrified by the prospect of writing an essay for Tanimoto on it. And now I have about another 400 pages of Moby Dick to get through. How I’m going to find the time for that, I’m not entirely sure. But I like what I’ve read of it so far.

What I’ve been doing outside of classes and classwork might not take up as much time, but it certainly seems more worth talking about. Sadly, I think I have to limit myself to swing dancing once a month. There is a swing scene here, but I just can’t justify €10 per week for a one-hour lesson. It adds up way too quickly. The place and time are inconvenient, as well, and I can’t keep asking my friends to walk across town with me at 9 pm.

This is not to say that I’ve been going without dancing, however. Dansoc offers lessons in Irish dancing, breakdancing, salsa, and hiphop, but naturally I have class during most of these. I did manage to make it to Irish dancing last night though, and I would like to continue going. My calves feel otherwise about the matter, but they’ll adjust.

Going to Irish dance last night meant that I didn’t go to archery, but there are other times during the week that I can go. It’s a pretty relaxed club; you show up and you shoot, and the more experienced members give you tips on how you can improve. For reasons unknown to me, my form was great the first week and fell to pieces last week. Maybe it will be better tomorrow.

I’m also doing capoeira once a week. I’ve only been once so far, but it was AWESOME, and I mean to make every effort to keep going. Capoeira, for those who don’t know, is a Brazilian martial art that was developed by slaves who had to hide the fact that they were training for combat. In essence, it’s combat dancing. I really wish we had it at Miami, because I have a feeling I’ll be hooked by the end of the semester.

There’s also a mountaineering club here, which naturally I joined. They offer wall climbing twice a week and go on hikes on Sundays. Katie and I took the bus out to Leenane, in the hills of Connemara, on Sunday. Katie opted for the short walk; I decided I would take the medium one. Perhaps I should have taken the short one, as a short hike is preferable to none at all.

My walk got off the bus, and then the leader read off the names to make sure we were all there. At this point, one of the guys asked if there was time to go to the bathroom before we headed off. The leader said yes, so I followed the guy who had asked into the café across the street, and I think another girl from our group went too. I should have made sure the leader knew that I was going; you would think I would have learned this lesson by now, as many times as this has happened to me. But I didn’t, and sure enough, when I got out of the bathroom, the group was gone.

Katie wasn’t answering her phone, and this was my first hike with the group – I didn’t know the names of the exec board and hike leaders, much less their phone numbers. So I called Catharine, and she in turn called Arcadia and International Student Services to get hold of the mountaineering club’s contact information. I failed to make it clear to her that it was in the parking lot with the bus that I had been left behind, so by the time she got through to Ishvan, the club’s captain, I wasn’t just “left behind,” but “missing.” We got that cleared up eventually, but it had taken about 45 minutes for me to get through to anyone; the hikes had progressed too far for me to catch up, or for someone to come back for me. So I got to hang out in Leenane for another three hours.

Leenane is along the only fjord in Ireland, and even from the town itself, the scenery was pretty spectacular. My friends from New England say that it’s not that much different from being in Vermont or upstate New York, but I love mountains no matter where they’re found. I only wish I’d actually gotten to hike these. Another time, I guess.

I did spend my time walking the beach and exploring little creeks, going as far as I could without trespassing on what was clearly private property or straying too far out of the town, which I had been specifically asked not to do. Ishvan didn’t want me wandering off on my own and getting lost for real, which I understood.

The weather was nuts, which I guess is fairly typical here. I saw at least five rainbows that day, which isn’t terribly surprising, because the weather went from dark and rainy to bright and sunny to bright and rainy on a fairly regular basis. This attempt at putting together a panorama is crudely done, but it should be enough to give you the idea:

That’s Ireland for you right there. 

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I wish…

… more than anything…

But seriously, now that I’ve got that song stuck in your head (and if you were ever involved in Into the Woods and now have to sing through the entire musical to get it out of your head… sorry!), I really do wish:

  • The Irish had a defined passing pattern. In the States, you walk on the right side of the sidewalk, you don’t run into people, and everything’s cool. Here, they’re as likely to go left as right, and they probably won’t move out of the way if you’re on a collision course.
  • The Euro hadn’t gone up to $1.36. Ouch!
  • The grocery stores here sold sour patch kids. And Worcestershire sauce. And turkey, not in a package where you pay E3 for 3 slices.
  • Irish kids turned the TV off when they were done watching it. Or at least before leaving the house.
  • It wasn’t impossible for me to canyoning at Interlaken.
  • Swing dancing lessons weren’t E10 for a one-hour lesson once a week.
  • I could have actually been with my family for the September birthday celebrations.
  • That more of my classes had midterms. (A weird concept, I know – but think how stressed/terrified I’m going to be in November when I’m writing essays upon which my entire grade will be based!)
  • It were easier to make Irish friends. It’s really hard when your classes are massive lectures! But maybe now that I’m doing mores stuff with the clubs and societies, I’ll have more luck.
  • That Miami had a capoeira club, because capoeira is awesome.
  • That I understood how the heck Gaelic Football works.
  • That some of my friends could be here to experience all this awesomeness with me. Because although this list was mostly one of complaints, I really am having a great time.


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Blogging Backlog

So it has come to my attention that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. The homework load here is fairly intense (I’m taking 9 credit hours… not the best decision on my part!) and we have required or recommended excursions on a regular basis. So I have a lot of things to write about that I haven’t had time to record.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time today either.

Sometime in the near future, expect details about the following:

  • Our trip to Geneva, including hiking on a mountain, my continued obsession with European churches, antics with a stuffed marmot, RIDICULOUS prices, and our stay in the red light district
  • Our final excursion to Bussy-Rabutin and the Abbaye de Fontenay
  • My trip to Paris with Kimmy and our adventures with blues dancing, aching feet, British tourists in an ENORMOUS cemetery, and various cathedrals
  • Our excursion to Vézélay, with its gorgeous vista and still-running abbey

In the meantime, I have places to go, homework to do, and souvenirs to purchase. If you want something that a) is reasonably priced and b) I can feasibly take home (I don’t exactly have much room in my suitcase), let me know and I’ll see what I can do.