08 April 2009

Chasing the Years of My Life

1. Classes
2. Pub quiz
3. Bath
4. Dublin
5. Interview

Here is the promised, more extensive update. Really, I hope there is at least one person out there who appreciates this blog, because otherwise I just feel like an egotistical prat writing in it. Oh well.

I registered for my fall 2009 classes last Thursday. I will register once more in my undergraduate career. If I don't manage to make it into graduate school, than this will be the last time in my life. A bit scary, to be honest. Anyways, my schedule is as follows:

1. HIST493: St. Mary's Project (My supervisor is Gail Savage. I suppose that I will meet with her once a week at a time to be determined later. For those who do not know, the St. Mary's Project (SMP) is the senior thesis and the capstone of the undergraduate experience at St. Mary's. It consists of a paper (usually around 60-80 pages) and a public presentation in April.)
2. POSC315: Politics of the Middle East (Bilgin. Monday-Wednesday-Friday 10:40-11:50)
3. POSC318: Politics of Terrorism (Suleiman. Monday-Wednesday-Friday 1:20-2:30)
4. HIST395: Theories and Uses of History (Hall. Monday-Wednesday 2:40-4:30)
5. ANTH357: Archaeological Analysis/Curation (Hurry. Tuesday-Thursday 2:00-3:50. This class promises to be especially interesting, since most of the time I will be working in the archaeological laboratory processing artifacts from Historic. I really hope that we get to wear lab coats.)

Yes, I am overloading in my fall semester. I have to make up for the fact that I could only take three classes at Univ. Edinburgh. Also, I am trying to get into the politics honor society, so I have to take two poli sci classes. Luckily, they seem like they will be useful in my future career. There is a method to my madness, believe me. In the spring, I will have a slightly easier schedule: SMP Semester 2, Biology, and then 8 credits of a Museum Studies internship. Ah...relief.

The day of the boat race (March 29) marked the last time that I will ever attend pub quiz at Far From the Madding Crowd. I was in Dublin last Sunday and, of course, there will be no quiz this Sunday as it is Easter. As a result, we made up for this horrible fact by attending quiz at The Royal Oak last Monday. The Royal Oak is located in North Oxford and has a reputation for being slightly pretentious. Unfortunately, its pub quiz did not live up to my expectations and consisted of more 'pop culture' references than I am used to. Not being familiar with British pop culture outside of the late 70s and 80s (what I had seen on those slightly-dated British comedies shown on PBS), we failed miserably. Indeed, we did not even stay to hear the quiz results announced. It is never a good sign when we have to resort to putting 'Michael Phelps' for more than half the questions.

Last Wednesday, I joined the CMRSers on their trip to Bath. The town was first populated by the Romans, who founded their bathing areas for which the town is so well-known. More recently, it was made famous in the novels of Jane Austen. We enjoyed a brief tour by the venerable Alun Thorton Jones and then were left to our own devices. A few of us went to lunch and then went into a few of the quaint shops situated around the town. At 3, we met up with the rest of the group to take a tour of the Roman Baths, which were quite impressive, considering that they are over 2000 years old. Afterwards, we got tea and scones at a small cafe. The ride home was quite...interesting. There was a major accident on one of the roads leading to Oxford and, as a result, the coach bus had to off-road it on small country roads. On several occasions, the driver had to let the air out of the tires and squeeze past large lorries (trucks). For Karen and I sitting in the very back, it was terrifying to see these large trucks pass centimeters away from us. Indeed, it provided such a spectacle that a few people took pictures and the locals had stepped outside their houses to watch the long stream of cars attempt to make their way past each other on the narrow roads. It was a harrowing experience.

On Friday, I left for Dublin with Veronica. Despite leaving Oxford at 2pm, we didn't actually arrive in Dublin until half 11 due to flight delays. We arrived at the hotel around 1am and were both thoroughly exhausted. The next day (or, rather, the same day), we woke at 8:30 and caught the bus to the city centre. After grabbing a quick lunch and an ample supply of fruit so that we wouldn't have to spend loads of money, Dublin is incredibly expensive, we walked across the city from O'Connell street to St. James' Gate, home of the Guinness Brewery. Now, I love Guinness. I used to hate it, but it has grown on me since coming to the UK. The tour was quite extensive and, at the end of it, we got a free pint. Delicious. We then backtracked and went to Dublinia, an exhibit detailing both the viking and medieval history of Dublin. Since there was a deal if you went to Dublinia and then to Christchurch Cathedral, we went there next. It is quite a small cathedral compared to the ones I've seen in England, but still quite beautiful. Afterwards, we walked around the perimeters of St. Patrick's Cathedral before heading to Anne St to Kehoe's pub, famously frequented by James Joyce. We got a pint of Bulmer's Cider, relaxed, and got dinner at nearby restaurant (13 euro for a salad is ridiculous!) We were absolutely exhausted by this point, so we returned to the hotel and collapsed.

Sunday morning started off early as we checked out of the hotel, caught the bus to O'Connell street and then walked to the Dublin Writer's museum. Unfortunately, it opened at 11 and we arrived at 10, so we sat in the Garden of Remembrance (for the Easter rising of 1916) for an hour watching the ducks and the people. The Writer's museum was interesting but a bit claustrophobic as it was two exhibit rooms with loads of text and an audio tour to listen to. As a result, everyone ended up piling up in front of the display cases. Poor traffic control. Afterwards, we walked down past Trinity College, saw the outside of Oscar Wilde's house, and then went into the National Gallery. Then it was off to Dublin Castle, which actually proved to be my favourite part of the trip. The tour was 50 minutes long and quite interesting. By this time, both Veronica and I were exhausted (and tired of spending money) so we caught the bus to the airport and sat at Starbuck's waiting for our flight to be called. (Note: I don't think that I will ever be able to fly RyanAir ever again. We had terrible landings both in Dublin and at Stansted; so bad, in fact, that I almost had a panic attack during the Stansted landing. It was horrible.)

Overall, Dublin did not live up to my expectations. I have wanted to go to Ireland since I was a small child. As a result, I feel that I thought it would be more...Irish. It was much more European than I thought it would be, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. I feel that if I ever go back to Ireland, I will have to go to either a smaller city, or just travel around in order to find what I am looking for. Perhaps I will go back one day. Perhaps not. Such is life.

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