Into the woods, it’s time to go, and so I must begin my journey…

… And who can tell, what’s on the journey?

Okay, to be frank and honest (great coffee/hot chocolate brand too)… I got lost here a lot. On my way to my classes, to my piano lessons, to the bus station, not once, not twice, but…I will save myself from the trouble of counting.

Aside from getting lost, I would say my study abroad experience is really great so far, but also in an overwhelming way (with the weather, impending internship deadlines, and most of all, how big the school is and how that sorta changes everything)! That comes into play in academics (when my smallest class has around 20-30 people and my biggest class probably has 200+) pretty significantly, and is definitely something that I am not quite used to since the biggest class that I have ever taken is around 50 people, max. But this also makes whoever I end up hanging out and becoming friends with all the more valuable and interesting!

In terms of classes, I have always wanted to do a lot more classes outside of my major. Sadly, because of the restraints of being a double major and starting the Computer Science major late (and also I want to take as much electives as I can in the major), I don’t get a lot of chances to take non-major classes. Fortunately, we are allowed to take 6 classes here in UCD (because every 3 classes meets for the same amount of time every week as every 2 classes in Holy Cross does).

And this semester, I have eventually decided that I will take three Computer Science classes (Operating Systems, Graphics and Ethics), a class about Post-Truth, Politics and Music, Statistics, and also a class about contemporary Irish theater. All of those classes turned out to have really fun contents, but my favorites so far are probably the Ethics and Music classes, because, somehow, they utilizes philosophy that would be otherwise be a lot more “inaccessible” by relating deeper concepts to things that I am familiar with through social phenomenon and knowledge that I learned about another expertise.

I have also started piano lessons in the Royal Irish Academy of Music (located next to Trinity College), and the first lesson went really well, but I am also very much challenged by another level of expectation. I am very excited to learn another piano sonata from Beethoven, while also continuing my work on Mozart and Chopin from last semester (some attempt here to get a senior recital repertoire together).

Despite the constantly gloomy weather there are a couple of highlights in the weather here. On, I am also trying to pick up photography as a hobby again (because of better pictures for this blog, and… just, why not? I am not sure about why I lost it in the first place).

Double Rainbow on second day of classes!
Sunset by Merville Residences

Other than classes, one of the highlights of this week is a trip to Glendalough. The view was absolutely gorgeous despite the rain and the wind (which almost blew my hat off), and it was definitely intriguing to look at what is left from thousands of years ago (in terms of the monastery and the gradual changes in the tombstones that they have in that big field of graveyard…)

In Glendalough with my friend Charlotte from Baylor University!
Glendalough continued
With a group of friends (Oliver, Mason, Peiwen and Weijing) coming from Chinese Universities (Fudan, Nankai and Zhongnan Universities) and Charlotte taking an accordingly 5-staged-auto-beautifying-photoshopped selfie inside of what used to be the Priest’s House (Also, the people in the back!)

After the trip, ESN (Erasmus Student Network, who is responsible for organizing the trip to Glendalough) also lead a group of people to the River Bar in Dublin, where a salsa class was held that night. Personally, I am not much of a dancer, but I had a ton of fun posing my horrible dance moves, watching people learning salsa dancing and pretending that I speak fluent Spanish (with an international student from Chile who is in the same Drama class as me)!

When you attempt to take a selfie in the dark and puts the flash on but still can’t capture everything… My whole face was in this picture because I was shorter than my friends Jake, Mark and Charlotte 🙂

Overall, still in shock that I have been here for two weeks, but still moving. Going to bed!

First Week!

Themes: Green, green, green everywhere; walking for 15,000 steps each day; Apologizing for the quality of pictures (but y’all get the gist) – next time, I will try to bring my camera; beautiful, beautiful places; birds everywhere; bagpipe; radical weather changes (I am used to carrying my winter hat, scarf, gloves, and an umbrella to wherever I go now).

Ireland is even “greener” than I imagined it would be, and we spent around this past week getting acquainted to the campus and to the city. The campus is rather huge compared to Holy Cross, but it is compacted in a way that I could get to everywhere in around 20 minutes. In a way, I could get my step counts every day when walking back and forth to my computer science and piano practices!

I was one of the lucky ones to get on-campus housing this semester instead of commuting from the city centre to UCD every day. Our room happened to be very international and fun – one of my roommates is from St. Louis in the US, one is from Cologne, Germany, and one is from Sydney, Australia. The rooms are kind of like what you get with Figge and Williams – four students share a common area (of couches and stuff) and a kitchen, two bathrooms, and each of us got our own bedroom. It is located on one side of campus, which means that if I need to go to the sports centre on the other side of campus I would need to walk for around 20 minutes (which is quite a workout itself in the wind and the rain). It is very nice that we do have “centra”, which is a mini grocery store, right next to Merville, and the bus terminal for the bus going into the city centre is very close to Merville as well.

Merville Residences, where I will be callling “home” for the next four months!

Another thing that Ireland struck me is that there are a lot of birds around this area! There are seagulls, pigeons, ducks and swans inhabiting the three lakes in UCD (yes, there are three lakes on this campus).

The Upper Lake in UCD
A swan in the Upper Lake of UCD (or is it a goose? I can’t tell)

In terms of visiting Dublin city, UCD Orientation has organized a little walking tour for us. It was rainy and windy (typical), but two of the highlights were visiting “The Little Museum of Dublin”, which collection is funded by public donation, and the National History Museum. I was practically given a crash course of 20th century Dublin history during the tour in the Little Museum of Dublin (which, was quite sad, but also fascinating!). Besides from artifacts from the more historic side of Dublin City, they also had a little collection of U2, and a current collection of fashion radicals of Dublin, etc. It was free to visit the National History Museum, and there were a great exhibition of different animal specimens (which was quite interesting to me as I have taken biology for a year), but it was a shame that I was not allowed to take pictures over there.

U2 exhibition in Little Museum of Dublin
Wall of fame
Around the Temple Bar area at 6PM on a Sunday
Walking tour with fellow UCD students

Classes just started today as well, and it has been a little bit crazy to witness the big “theater” lecture halls here. I have not taken a class that has more than 50 people (and that’s Intro Biology that I was talking about) in Holy Cross, but I am definitely adjusting strategies with bigger lectures, and trying to actively engage with professors despite that I am in a huge lecture hall.

Lecture in UCD; I am positioned in the back 1/3 of the lecture hall

That is probably enough said about the week! I definitely feel that it is weird that I am not at Holy Cross, and there has been a lot of differences between HC and UCD (good differences!), but it is definitely so worth it! Now, I will get to cooking dinner (we did not come with a meal plan, so I am hoping that I don’t live off from sandwiches and my cooking will get to improve!), and more about UCD soon!