Finding a Third Home

It’s crazy to think about that I’m leaving home to China in three short weeks (I have secured an internship working for Tencent translating IT related articles from English to Chinese!), and already having housing in place for next semester (Find me on Figge 3)! UCD has really started to feel like home, with places that I have came to know so well and people that started to feel like family to me here, but also with new adventures that are never ending. I continue to meet people, and the weather for the last two weeks in Ireland has been better than ever – I have calculated and we probably only had about 2 to 3 rainy or cloudy days; although I do not particularly mind rainy days, I did not realize how much I loved the sun until I was literally dancing during my walk from my class back to my dorm! The adventures in Ireland, in particular South Dublin during these two weeks, continued. It was also funny to see how much Irish students are sitting on the grass once the sun is out (I don’t have a picture to prove it sadly), but one of my friends are joking that they are photosynthesizing finally!

Cheery blossoms here on campus are really pretty. The temperature has been around 70 degrees for a whole week or so – it is finally feeling like spring! Photo creds to Charlotte 🙂

For some reason, my Schengen visa is still taking a while somehow after 5 weeks. While I’m a bit insecure about my passport not with me in my room at all times, I am glad to stay in Ireland and make little adventures in Dublin and finish up final essays in the library. Last Friday, we made a trip down to Killiney Hill to the South of Dun Laoghaire. Killiney Hill is to the south of Dun Laoghaire. It’s about 500 feet tall so it wasn’t that much of a hike, but we got a great view of the whole Dublin in general – Mason is claiming that he saw the water tower in UCD and can see up to Phoenix Park and Howth.

Group photo!
Panorama on Killiney Hill looking down to Dublin

This past week has been pretty crazy in terms of papers and exams, so I was craving for a little getaway at the end of the week. Saturday, I woke up with this absolutely gorgeous weather outside. Having nothing particularly in mind to do for the day I messaged up Mason and Jessie, and the three of us ended up making a last minute decision of going to Bray! It is close up to the sea and there is also a little hill that we ended up climbing up, and we also ended up passing through a farm and saw several cows! Jessie is studying veterinary sciences at UCD, so she out of the three of us was the most excited seeing cows which is super cute to see 🙂

Yet another photo looking down to Dublin 
And suddenly we are surrounded by cows

We have officially finished classes this past week. It was really sentimental as I was talking to all my lovely classmates, some of them I honestly have no idea if I will ever get to see again. It’s definitely exciting to think about getting drinks with them before I leave, but I still have a significant amount of work that I need to get done and I won’t bore you dear readers with the details! Good luck to my HC friends as you guys step into the final weeks of the semester as well!

My view as I’m studying on the fourth floor of the library. It is about 50 degrees outside but does not affect my good mood 🙂

Post Spring Break Updates!

Spring break was two long weeks, but then also short. Getting back to school is definitely tough, but the reality of crafting a 3000 word essay due on Tuesday has definitely knocked me into schooling mode.

But still, some self-care definitely has eased me into this end-of-the-semester. Lately, while I still have some more time to explore Ireland, I finally went to the Guinness Storehouse and Howth, got together with HC friends during another outing organized by the amazing Fiona and went on a Literary pub crawl (which was super fun and will highly recommend!), sang the German Requiem by Brahms in the National Concert Hall with the incredible UCD Philharmonic Choir and the UCD Orchestra(I felt so lucky for this opportunity even when I was only here for the semester!), volunteered in the UCD Fashion Show and saw my friend Dredd modelling (shoutout to this queen), had an authentic English afternoon tea for the first time, and went to Tayto Park, a themed amusement park by Tayto crisps in the past three weeks after Spring Break. Enrollment happened on Monday (and yes, I am not ready to be a senior yet and I am not sure about where I will end up after that), I need to write two papers and a final project but all of them are on super interesting topics. UCD has also thrown a carnival event on campus and both of them made me scream me heart out and destress before getting back to piano practice. Here are some photos!

It’s like we own this place!
Afternoon tea @ The Restaurant by Johnnie Cooke. Amazing friends, tea and food

The walk in Howth happened when Mason’s friend came to visit Dublin. We took a route that was supposed to take 2.5 to 3 hours to finish. It ended up taking 7 and we were all dead. But to the bright side, the sun did come up probably came up two hours into our walk, and we accidentally bumped into a tour led for an English professor to a house where W.B.Yeats used to live in!

Mason challenges the road less travelled
Post Fashion show when Dredd’s Family first mistook me as Japanese and then adopt me into their family

It was refreshing to go to an amusement for the first time in probably three or four years or so! I am usually not the type that is all about roller coasters, but I have definitely took a leap of faith in there! That was the scariest 5 minutes that I have felt in a long time, but it was so fun and liberating to just scream out (despite the fact that long after I close after and feel that I am going to fall).

At Tayto Park!
Spinning wheel that spins 360 degrees brought to us on UCD campus! It definitely managed to make me feel dizzy for about three hours straight but it was definitely fun 🙂

It is hard to believe how fast this semester is flying by: the concert marks the end of the time that I am going to spend with the UCD Choir and I didn’t start to bond with a lot of people in choir till we had the super intensive rehearsal week, enrollment definitely marks senior year approaching upon us, and this carnival was called “the end of year carnival”. It has been three months that I have been in Ireland and I probably only have around one month left here. But hey, I am very excited about more adventures that UCD and Ireland has out there for me 🙂

Spring Break…Part 2

Hi All! It has been a while… After Spring Break that has lasted for two weeks, with the five day the snowstorm break and the four day Easter Break, we spent a dashingly 9 days in school for the entire March…! My brain has definitely slowly recovering and shaken by the madness to be striked by the published timetable of final exams, the impending GRE and the essays. But we left off at Spring Break in the last post, so allow me to reminisce the good times…

I found myself back in the Sahara desert again, fearing of losing all my snapstreaks because of a lack of Internet, and not being able to take photos because of a dead camera. The desert really brings what is important back to you – it takes out the technology in your life, and gives you the brightest night sky that you have ever seen, freezes you to death in night and burns you to barbeque (perhaps since we did not stay that long). Now, my snapstreak somehow survived this whole trip, and the camels led us to a little hotel nearby, where there is wifi and electricity (so I secured the streaks and revived my camera). We got a huge breakfast of delicious yogurt, bread, crepes and pastries, and there has also been a lentil soup with some kind of beans that were really delicious, and we also got our long overdue shower that washed off 99% of the sand on us.

Driving not too awfully away from the desert
Annie looking over Mid-Atlas region. The green stuff shoud be a local golf resort
All the veils sold in different colors in a local souvenir shop

We had a local Moroccan barbeque for lunch (when Syaid announced this when we had dinner the day before, Weiheng got so excited and had to bring up every hour or so when we were in the car). It was also around 3PM when we finally got to eat, and we were all starving! We ended up ordering what is in this next picture, a pound of steak and a pound of lamb. (That place also serves camel meat I believe – I am praying for Michael Jackson and hope he’s not getting slaughtered) It also only took 245 dirhams to feed all six of us – probably around 5 dollars if we average it.

Guess what kind of food this is? (hint: Mark was dared to eat one of the organs on there, and then hated life for probably a hot minute by chugging down a huge loaf of bread and an entire can of beer, and said he was fine.)
Moroccan Barbeque that definitely lived up to the hype

We then embarked our journey to the mid-atlas region, where it is famous of producing argon oil used in a lot of our skin and shampoo products, fed some monkeys, passed through Al-Akhawayn University located in Ifrane (where it was heavily dominated by the French and has the nickname of “The Switzerland of Morocco”.

We loved feeding monkeys and taking pictures of each other

We finally arrived at Fes when it was around 7pm or so. It was really sad to see Syaid go and they have been great to us throughout the whole trip! But we were on our own in the old medina of Fes. The streets and alleies crisscross with each other – we definitely saw why even Google maps don’t really know how this place is structured. We booked an airbnb in what is probably a palace in the past for 80 euros and it looks dashingly amazing

“This is my palace” claims everybody
“Looking at this gorgeous palace that I own”
Blue gate at night

Due to limitations, we didn’t get to stay in Fes for too long, and we had to head to Chefchaouene, known as the blue city, in the early morning in the next day.

A cat in the Blue City

Chefchaouene, compared to Fes, lacks a deeper sense of historical accumulation. It is a town that developed because of this kinda “artificial blue” painted onto their city and the tourism effects that followed, and the town is very heavily populated with souvenir stores and kinda intentionally painted wall. Fes, on the other hand, had their development in the past in the Old Medina, and then there is also the New Medina that we passed through. I saw there is one of the shopping malls that looked really modern.

“the wall” that people take pictures at
Group pic! Both Yeng and I got some traditional clothing over there. Definitely trying to spread the purple pride there 🙂

After Chefchaouene, Casablanca was our last stop, where we got to see the Hassan II Mosque, passed by a local market and saw the cafe recreated from the film Casablanca. Hassan II is one of the largest Mosques in the world, and was definitely beautiful.

From there, we concluded our brief stops in Casablanca and our trip to Morocco, and got back to Ireland for St. Patty’s day. Because of a very late flight, I missed out on all the parades, but still caught the crowd in Dublin and had some ice cream! (Got to see everything on social media so eh).

Around the Temple Bar area on St. Patty’s day

On the following Wednesday we made a brief visit to Cork. We started off by walking to the English Market, and made our way to Cork City Gaol. The English Market is like the Milk Market that Charlotte and I visited in Limerick, except the English Market operates every day. There is also a second level with a coffee shop. It also looks like there is a larger seafood section and they even sell clam chowder! (Not sure about how that compares to the New England ones though)

English Market in Cork! It would really be great if Dublin have something like this regularly.

Cork City Gaol was also really interesting. There was an exhibition of examples of past prisoners kept here (including Constance Markievitz, one of the revolutionary nationalists in Ireland), and what their daily life is like. It definitely made me not want to go to jail in the future, but is sure interesting to see!

When everybody except Beven and Mason are excited to get into jail…
Oops… Still ended up being arrested and a mug shot is taken.

We ended the night with a trad session in An Spailpin Fanach, where Mason and I had our first sip of Jameson! The second day, we went on a trip down to Kilkenny and the Ring of Kerry, where the rule of being played by Irish weather is once again verified (whenever we travel it is rainy and foggy, and it gets all sunny when we decide to stay indoors). Still, the view is very gorgeous, and I could only imagine how good it would look on a sunny day!

At Ring of Kerry


Kilkenny National Park

It was amazing to come out to breathe a little in nature before we have to get back to all the schoolwork! But life has definitely been good during the two week Spring Break. And there isn’t much of the semester left – cannot believe how fast time is flying by!