Parting time always come sooner than I thought it would. After my last post, I had to immediately immerse myself into studying for the final exam of perhaps what’s my hardest class at UCD this semester that is worth 70% of my grade. After going over 8 chapters of materials, 7 tutorials and 6 years of past final exams, I find myself sitting down in my room at 4:30 AM in the morning finally probably getting what most of the tests are about. I took a deep breath and a nap and got up again at 6:30.
And the exam was surprisingly easy. There were a lot of repeats from the materials from years before that was easily nailable, and I finished an hour in advance. Despite a couple of definitions questions that I am not so sure of, my academic time at UCD has came to an end just like that. Not even at 11AM.
And the next 72 hours went like a whirlwind. I went down to Dun Laoghaire for one last time with Kathleen who was there for the first time! And then, I parted ways with the group that I travel everywhere to with by drinking some Irish whiskey and shouting Slainté till 4AM in the morning (I was already passed out since I got so little sleep during the day). Went down to Bewley’s Cafe for one last time with my friend Amin in choir, and down to Bray for one last time with Amin and Dredd, and then headed back to UCD for a nap before hitting the road again to see Mark and Annie (on the trip to Morocco). Went down to RIAM for one last piano lesson with Lance, spent a girls night with Michelle and Waki from our group in Information Ethics one last time (kudos for them for calming me down for dealing with last minute leaving things, making breakfast, giving me a lift and making me laugh through the night!).
It is scary to think that I might never see some of those people, ever, again. There are also a couple of people that I haven’t got to see because of exam arrangements (and me assuming that no one I know would have exams on the last day of exams). But hey, there are always imperfect things in life, and that’s what makes life life. By the end of the day, it’s all a matter of perspective and I will get to see some people back in the States after all 🙂
“Everybody is feeling warm and bright. It is such a fine and natural sight, Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight.” This song played as I boarded my flight leaving Dublin. It really captures what it has been like here this semester with all the people that I have came to meet. Looking back, coming to Ireland to study was not something that I was thoroughly researching for and was some kind of a whirlwind decision based on the fact that I wanted to live in Europe and take some time off from Holy Cross. Despite the imperfect things like I never got to travel Europe more than I actually did, I got to know a country that I would otherwise never have got to know except for Irish stereotypes. I have came to appreciate Holy Cross and UCD and maybe get an idea about what grad school might be like, met amazing people that I would have otherwise not got to know, saw breathtaking Irish landscapes, listened to amazing music and had amazing food, and caught a brief glimpse of the culture through the classes that I am taking here. Seriously, aren’t those supposed to be the most amazing things in life?
I don’t know when I will be back yet, as I am sitting down back in my home in Shenzhen, China, in the very same spot that I wrote my very first blog. It is a scary and unsettling thought, but I firmly believe there will be a next time, and those will be memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Go raibh maith agat (which means “Thank you” in Irish), Ireland!
This past week turned out to be more eventful than I thought it would be. I was not expecting to say this, but the GREs are partly responsible for the final approval of my Schengen visa and this European adventure happening! I needed my passport for the test, so I had to call the Embassy to ask for what’s wrong with my visa and to ask for my passport back. But anyways, I finally found out what went wrong with my application. I didn’t give them the right stuff in terms of insurance, and they sent a note on April 6th (which I did not get and I check my spam folder all the time). Furious and frustrated, I provided all the relevant info and rebooked flights…but now, now that the GRE is behind me (and hopefully all sorts of standardized exams issued by ETS and the like), I was finally able to embark the long overdue European journey that I was looking forward to without much time left. We had an amazing outing for one last time with HC people before I flew out on Friday: we went to get Mediterranean food, saw a gig by Paddy Sherlock and his band at Whelan’s, and went to Woodshed baa & Grill to karaoke for a while before taking the last bus back to UCD. It was scary to think about it would probably be the last time that I see Fiona in a while, or maybe in 10 years (because god knows when I am gonna come back to Ireland?…).
There were two people that I really wanted to visit whom I was friends with for a long time (one I’ve known for 4 years and one for 8) who were in the Schengen region (and their names all happened to be Yang!). Their availabilities happened to align this way that I could make it back to finals at UCD with a day and a half to spare to study for my final on Thursday. Without further ado and the next thing I knew, I was jumping on O’Connell street with joy about finally making it to Berlin without thinking of my unfortunate suitcase that got left behind on the 145. After a full blown panic attack for 40 minutes I got back the suitcase and started to make my way to the airport and still somehow made it an hour and a half before the flight. It has been around a year and a half since I have last seen Yang probably, so I can’t help it but to hussle my stuff together and run for a hug 🙂
The next couple of days went like a whirlwind. We stayed up and chatted till it was 2am just to catch up about things, went to get brunch and saw two other friends who went to the same high school as us who were also in Berlin, and went to the Hamburger Bahnhof museum (where they display some really interesting contemporary art) for their exhibition.
After that, we went to hear a techno music show in Kraftwerk by Solomun and Michael Meyer. I personally is not the greatest dancer and I don’t really listen to a ton of techno music at all, but it was definitely really fun to be dancing from 12am to 4am. My feet will say otherwise, and I still have no idea how people stay up till after 7am (I passed out on the cab on my way back). There were a lot of people smoking cigarettes at the venue, and we were talking about it on our way to our uber. Three of us (Yudi, Yang and me) immediately thought of the song “Cigarette Daydreams”, and we all started singing out loud as we watched the sun rise. I would call myself a decent singer because I wouldn’t be out of tune when I sing, but I have the greatest fear singing with one or two people. With those three people though, it felt like the most natural thing and even comfortable to let the cigarette smoke out of my system. Coming abroad, it was definitely thrilling to meet new people, but friends from before college definitely brings me this sense of ease that I haven’t felt for a long time.
It was 12:30pm when we woke up and feeling slightly adjusted. I still smelled cigarettes despite after a shower, which is why Yudi, Yang and I kept singing Cigarette Daydreams when we went out to lunch in this Mediterranean vegeterian restaurant while a family next to us stared at us with a smile on their face. Yudi spend the afternoon going to another techno show while Yang and I debated if we wanted to spend an hour in line to get tickets and eventually decided to surrender to our homework. The moment that we decided to go for the metro, we decided that the sun was too good to keep us inside with our homework, and immediately headed down to Treptower Park. We ended up spending about three hours there and finally headed back for homework (I had to finish up my project for computer science graphics that is due at 9AM the next morning, rip).
And then my last day in Berlin came. After taking a quick stroll in the more famous tourist spots here (Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, parts of Berlin Wall, Berlin Cathedral and passed by Alexanderplatz for a bit), I went on my next journey down to Lausanne, Switzerland to visit the other Yang who goes by the name Jelita. I haven’t seen her for about two years so it was really great to finally see her because our breaks never really line up.
I spent the next day walking around Lake Geneva in the Montreux region. It was another one of those super sunny and nice days over there, and the view was simply gorgeous.
I am definitely already thinking about going back to Berlin to see all the museums and try German food actually, and this region of Switzerland in the future if I ever learn how to ski! But before I knew it, Jelita and I were on the train to the airport in Geneva – because time simply never waits on us. She is going to Beijing for a week or so, and I am back in UCD to study for my exam on Thursday.
Taking exams when you’re a UCD student is definitely different than taking it at Holy Cross. I only had two finals happening during the final exams period, and all of them happened to be in the RDS Simmonscourt, which is a huge venue about a 10 minute drive outside of UCD that could hold about 2000+ students taking exams at once, whereas at Holy Cross you would usually take your exams in the same classroom that you have class in. It was low key intimidating because it reminded me of the venue that my friends from high school and I used to take the SATs in – it’s called Asiaworld Expo, which is also a huge venue like RDS, and the proctor will announce everything in the thickest Cantonese accent (which is low key funny and hard to understand). The sheer hate and fear that I had for SATs is something that I realized that I still am struggling with when I took the GREs and the finals.
But anyways, it has been a pretty eventful week. After getting a lot of sleep, watching some netflix during the weekend and seeing some friends, I am now recharged again for my last final exam for Wednesday. There is a lot to study for and it’s my hardest class this semester probably, but everything should be okay. I am leaving Dublin early on the 19th, and today marks the fourth month that I am here. As sad as I am to start packing (and getting a text from mom saying “take pictures of everything because you do not know when you’re coming back”), the next couple of days will be filled with studying and goodbyes with friends, and there is a lot of new beginnings at Holy Cross that I am super excited about, with International Student Orientation planning falling into place, being accepted as a senior interviewer (which is something that I have been dreaming about since sophomore year), and a preliminary planning for senior recital program. Now, a deep breath, and diving back to studying for my exam on Wednesday~