Chinese New Year, Galantis, and Malahide Castle

Yes, I disappeared for two weeks…Sorry. But Happy belated Chinese New Year! Yes, it is only two days after Valentine’s day this year so I probably could’ve said it in the last post..but there you go. Work has most definitely started to pile up more since I have registered for a GRE exam in May, getting back to working on my summer project for the April H-CLEF (Holy Cross Laptop Ensemble Federation) concert, while also balancing impending mid-term exams, internship deadlines and piano practice before spring break. Apart from the daily grind that I carry with me from Holy Cross, I am also finally getting my GNIB card, which means that I will be able to get out of Ireland and travel around Europe finally (not that Ireland isn’t great, but I am also looking forward to travelling around Europe since it is my first time in Europe)! I’m also really excited for my friend, Mohan, to visit Ireland during Spring Break (her visa request just got approved and I am super excited about seeing her for the first time since our finals, showing her around Dublin and exploring Galway together before she heads back).

Anywho… Here at UCD, Chinese New Year is done really differently, just because of how much larger of a Chinese population that they have here. I can’t give you an accurate description about how large the population actually is, but definitely big enough to host a campus-wide event. The day before New Year’s, there was a livestream of the National Spring Gala in China, and there was a massive amount of Chinese food with performances from students playing traditional keyboard instruments. The entry fee was two euros, but you actually get a red packet of an euro plus the ton of free food! At Holy Cross, it was great in that we had a more intimate atmosphere to celebrate New Year’s since the Chinese student population base is pretty small (we usually just cook dinner together in a basement with a kitchen) and I really miss all of my friends as of now, but it definitely feels more “authentic” when everybody around us is celebrating it (even my Irish friends were like Happy Lunar New Year!). Even though my urges to celebrate Chinese New Year has kind of dimmed since I haven’t been celebrating it back home for so long, this definitely brought back good memories.

Chinese New Year Wall! Photo creds to Chinese Students & Scholar Association.
Set-up of Chinese New Year activities in Astra Hall: Look at the gift bags and the food! Photo creds to my friend Di.

The Confucius institute of Ireland hosted a similar Spring Gala show on Friday. They hired a group from Zhengzhou, China to perform a wild range of arts from music, dances and even Kungfu! I don’t think I have seen Kungfu performed live ever before, so that was definitely really cool to see what those people coming from Shaolin Temple are capable of doing. It was really impressive how the two hosts were so fluently and naturally changing back and forth in Chinese and English as well.

Spring Festival Gala Ireland
People were dressed up in the lion dance costume
The Dublin night sky that day was particularly pretty as well.

My friends and I kept the weekend pretty low-key celebration wise. We had a little get-together night for Chinese New Year Eve and ordered a ton of food, and then visited a bunch of museums for free on Saturday, and did a hot pot dinner later that night (it was definitely not as hard as I expected it to be!) that turned out to be delicious.

Part of our dinner for New Year’s Eve. Big shoutout to the people serving UCD students with this excellent takeout service!
Homemade hotpot. Set up and the cookery might be a bit complicated, but definitely was worth it and a lot cheaper than going to the 19 euro all-you-can-eat (not that that’s a bad deal though!)

I learned that there is a concert by Galantis on around Friday or so, but didn’t make up my mind to go until later on Sunday when there was only seats from the upper area left. But the impromptu adventure turned out to be great – I ended up going with two UCD students who are also studying abroad here, meeting two Spanish girls (one of them is doing an exchange semester in Trinity. I also tried to practice my rusty Spanish just a little bit but failed to understand all of the questions that they are asking – apologizing to my two poor Spanish professors) and having a great time! I wasn’t super familiar with their music, but it felt great to dance along. Their openers Pat Lok and DJ CID gave great performances as well. You really didn’t have to know their music in order to enjoy (and I didn’t know a ton of their music!).

Galantis with their Irish flag! (They also held out a #seafoxnation flag and a Dublin flag)

“Dublin friends.. you really think I will let you go that easily? … Would you RUNAWAY with me?”.. It was truly great even despite the run to the 145 bus immediately after the concert.

During the week, I received an email from Meghan working in Holy Cross communcations about filming a video for Holy Cross admissions aiming for accepted students. This definitely came at a great timing since I have came to realize a lot about what I appreciate about Holy Cross since my time away, and has been a bit homesick! I ended up filming the video in front of Malahide castle, where we visited on Saturday. Parts of Malahide castle was preserved from the 12th century, so it was definitely really cool to see the remnants. We didn’t end up spending the couple euros of entry fee but we took a pretty nice tour outside of the castle and around the gardens. The funny thing is that a really famous actor in China, Daniel Wu (吴彦祖) is filming the TV series “Into the Badlands” in Ireland, and a couple days ago he took a photo with his daughter at the exact gate next to Malahide castle (My friend even claimed that she ran into him in person!).

Photo of Daniel Wu with his daughter
Photo of Karen’s decent-ish attempt to walk like Daniel Wu and adding filters and all that. Photo creds to Mason
Pretending that we are the owners of the castle. Mason has become the default human selfie stick for the group now.

Later that day, we went around the Malahide beach a bit. It was a sunny day so the view was super pretty, but it was also freezing! We have been getting emails about weather warnings just because the temperature might get lower than 30 degrees Farenheit for a couple of days, and there is going to be snow and hail. A bunch of my friends who goes to school in more Southern regions relatively expressed a range of emotions from concern to excitement of seeing snow, but I guess Holy Cross has trained me well with the snow days happening only when you get six inches of snow and when it’s 15 degrees Farenheit out.

Malahide coastal walk view

Anyways, that sums up the second half of Feburary! It is crazy to think that we are doing things for Class of 2022, and it is only half a month away from them knowing if they are accepted to college or not. On another note though, I am definitely looking forward to my future adventures in and out of Ireland, but…just after I’m done with the papers and midterms! Next week is going to be a bit of a whirlwind, so I’ll probably blog again after Spring Break. See you then 🙂

HC Outing, The Script, Phoenix Park and Dun Laoghaire

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Love is in the air… (or is it? We shall find out). Despite all that, It’s really hard to believe that it has been a month already since my arrival to Ireland! Studying abroad is definitely an experience beyond amazing and exciting for me so far. Besides a change in pedagogy and getting lost (yet again for another not once, but twice on Friday), it has just been so refreshing to be away from campus for a while and see things from a new perspective. My classes have been going well, and work is definitely starting to pile up, but it is also a fun time when trying to find study groups and get to know new people through this process!

I do miss HC from time to time though, and an outing with Holy Cross students studying in Dublin came just in time on Thursday for a good reminisce (Kudos to Fiona for organizing every outing!). We all headed to Pho Viet for dinner, and then went to see a play called “Look Back in Anger”.  Although I check campus Emails pretty regularly, it feels very nice to be updated and discuss things going on with those peeps!

With HC Students studying abroad in UCD!

There has definitely been some very cool things going on in UCD, and one of the activities from the societies that I have joined is a Q&A session with the band The Script organized by the Law Society. I have listened to music sang by the Script since high school, and their songs really served to help me with a difficult time of transition. They also had a lot of inspirational words to say about making a career out of music (which is something that I personally considers and struggle with), and they were just really humble and humorous too! It was a great time, and the line for the session was also insane (it filled up half of a lecture hall).

The Script in Q&A Session by Law Soc

As for the weekend, a couple of friends of mine decided to head to phoenix park on Saturday. That was really well needed after a long winded week of internship deadlines and all the work that I had. There are several attractions in Phoenix Park including Papal Cross, a deer Sanctuary, the Dublin Zoo and the Wellington Monument. Due to our time constraint and just how huge the park itself is (it’s one of the largest recreational spaces in Europe), we only got to visit Papal’s Cross and the deer Sancturary, and we passed through the US Ambassador’s Residence, and I already walked 18,000 steps that day!

The Cross, the cross, always the cross!
Deer sanctuary in Phoenix Park
Conversing with a deer here…
Picnic in Phoenix Park w/ my friends, some of them were also a part of the Glendalough trip! Kudos to Mason for being the human selfie stick.

We ended up having hotpot on the “Asian street” (Parnell Street – really close to the O’Connell Street area, and has great Vietnamese and Chinese food. They also have Indian, Japanese and Korean but I haven’t tried that yet) in Dublin after this long-winded day. On Sunday, three of us also planned a last minute, impromptu trip to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leery and I had no idea till we planned the visit!). It was a very sunny day so the pictures are all gorgeous but it was also freezing (it was probably around 35 degrees, and with 20mph wind there that day). But then this happened…

Teddy’s Ice Cream – 99 reasons to smile! Well.. why not 🙂
And we wanted to smile!
Despite the wind was literally like that..
That view though!

And that would be a wrap for last week! For this week that is already well underway (#rip that I didn’t get to finish this on Monday or Tuesday), we have Chinese New Year coming up, and I am planning to see the Spring Gala in Dublin (which should be similar to the Gala that they do throughout China). There is going to be a lot of great food too. I am definitely still hoping to go to a hurling game as it didn’t happen last week. The actor Patrick J. Adams is also visiting UCD (and I am on season 4 for watching Suits, which is a show that he stars in) on this Thursday so that is something that I look forward to as well. Alright, getting back to coding!

Freshers Day, Settling In, and Limerick

I am definitely slowly sinking in to the daily differences that’s slowly becoming like familiarities in UCD. ife has been more exciting than ever though, and looking at the calender I realize that I have just a little bit left more than three months left in the semester – “Jaysus”!

This past week, UCD organized Freshers Day (which is similar to the co-corricular extravaganza at Holy Cross in mid-September), which gives the new coming student plenty of chances to see what UCD offers in terms of socities and clubs. I ended up splashing 20 euros or so (because joining each club costs 2 euros and it is a typical Karen thing to do to overcommit) and ended up joining the Musical, Drama, Spanish, Jazz, International Student and Law Socities and CSSA(Chinese Students and Scholars Association). The societies do present an impressive amount of activities though, including various debates to a vocal group to discussions with the Script and with the author for 13 reasons why, and I feel like I will at least try to go to 2-3 kinds of activities every week or so.

A picture of all the membership cards from all the societies that I joined during Freshers Day!

Classes wise, it has definitely started to feel more “real” since the last weeks. I am starting my tutorials/practicals (which are like TA hours and labs) this week, the reflection journals that I am writing after each music class is being graded now, I am reading a play for each theater class, etc. I also was working on applying to continue working for Gateways Orientation and a whole bunch of internship applications, and I’m also looking into my options for summer research (and refining my work from last summer). I also try to practice piano for at least two hours a day – Phew! It is definitely a lot of work, but fun work too.

For those of you reading after 10pm who doesn’t wanna shove down a midnight snack, skip this part because there are gonna be a lot of delicious pictures! For those of you who don’t know, I am obsessed with literally all kinds of food (and takes a lot of pictures of them!). Aside from the daily grinds of being a student, it was very fun to be tagged along to an impromptu trip to Limerick. On Thursday night, I was getting dinner with Charlotte (mentioned in the last blog) when I was asking her if she had anything planned for the weekend and she mentioned her plans for Limerick or Cork, and she invited me to tag along – it just so happened that all my classes on Fridays are tutorials and none of them had started last Friday. I have never really researched into either Limerick or Cork before – but all the more reasons to head on the trip!

When deciding between Limerick and Cork, it looked like Cork was raining for a more substantial amount of time – Limerick it was then! We booked an airbnb when we met up first thing next morning, and took the next bus to Limerick. The ride was about three hours – wasn’t too bad for crossing half of the country!

St. John’s Cathedral in Limerick, close to where Charlotte and I stayed. Still can’t seem to find a proper way to take pictures of large tall architecture..

Limerick is a very charming smaller town, and Charlotte got her inspiration for visiting from one of her favorite authors Frank McCourt. There was plenty to see over there, including several museums such as the Hunt Museum and the Limerick Gallery of Art, King John’s Castle, Adare Castle, etc. When we got there, we didn’t really had any plans in terms of what we are doing for the night, so we just went for a venue with free Irish live music, which turned out to be The Still House for us. When the two of us sat down and we both showed signs of our not-Irish-accents, we were approached by some Irish men asking if 9-11 was a government conspiracy (quite the interesting atmosphere); on the one hand it was very nice to have friendly people around (and that they don’t feel there are any strangers to themselves but the tourists), but it was also borderline scary for a bit. We then headed to the Glen Tavern because there wasn’t any food in The Still House, and there the famished two found the place to be.

Traditional Irish Lamb Stew at the Glen Tavern with Ruby Irish Red Ale. Charlotte is pescatarian and she got fish and chips. Yum!
Lots of Guinness ads

The next morning, Limerick has its Milk Market, which is like an a lot larger and diverse farmer’s market compared to the farmer’s market around Birchtree’s Bakery. They sell everything from everyday groceries to flowers, clothes, vinyl records. Ohh, and they make a good French raclette too.

Look at that cheese drizzling down to the raclette. Yummmm.
The Site for the Milk Market (in and out of the boundaries).
Milk Market Symbol
Irish kids playing “Let her go” in the Milk Market
Cheese selection

After the visit to the Milk Market and picking up an issue of NatGeo from 1975(Which is not that much younger than my parents’ generation!), we headed to the Hunt Museum, which holds a number of personal collection from the family of the Hunt Family along with some temporary exhibitions and college student work. Later, we also went to King John’s Castle (but only after it was closed since we spent a significant amount of the day in the Hunt Museum).

King John’s Castle in the sunset; picture taken from the other side of River Shannon
Pretense of Cliffs of Moher realness here?

Because of the short nature of our weekends, we headed back to Dublin later on Saturday. We definitely didn’t see all that we wanted to see during the weekend, but we already have plans to getting back over to the West Coast (travelling isn’t hard at all – 3 hours and you are on the other half of the country!).

A note to the Airbnb host, Claire, who treated Charlotte and I like her two granddaughters and provided us with all her warm water, tea, bread and love!

And that’s a wrap for my journey in Ireland for last week! For this coming week, a bunch of Holy Cross students in Dublin are going to get dinner together and I am super psyched to get to know all the HC people that I haven’t got a chance to know! I am also planning to see a hurling game this Saturday with my friend Mark (also mentioned in the last blog) as a possibility. Stay tuned!