Thursday, September 28, 2006


I've survived a whole week of classes! This program is really rigerous. Today was kind of fun though. There were 2 more hours of genetic engineering lectures. I'm starting to understand a little bit about it. Mom always told me to marry an engineer not become one! At any rate, my first research paper will be on the unintentional introduction of allergens in genetically modified foods. It's gonna be a doozy!

Right now I'm on the north side of Dublin...far away from the building that houses the food technology department. A lot of the journals I need are in the library here. Each building is named not for the department, but for the street it's located on. This on is on Catha Brugha street. It's pronounced Caha Brua, but Katharine and I prefer to call it Broohaha.

Keep in touch!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What have I gotten myself into?

Monday was the first day of class. For the first three weeks, I’ll be studying food safety. At Purdue, I had one class where we learned about food safety and it went something like this…
These are the most common foodborn illnesses
These are the symptoms of the most common foodborne illnesses
You can prevent these illnesses by washing your hands, cooking meat to these temperatures, using a different cutting board for your vegetables, and drinking safe water.
Congratulations you are certified in food safety!

Monday we had 5 hours of lecture regarding naturally occurring chemical toxins found in foods. Talk about baptism by fire! I had never really heard of most of what Dr. Keating spoke about…theobromine, pyrrolizadine alkaloids, boraginacae, myristicin, etc...

Tuesday was much better. I learned about physical contaminants in foods and had a 1 hour on genetic modification technology. Wait ‘till you hear this…next Thursday, I have 9 hours of class in one day. That’s insane! Generally I have 6 hours of class a day for 3 weeks. At the end of the third week, I have to turn in a 10 page essay and take an exam.

The grading system here is backwards. In the US, a 4.0 represents the highest grades. Here, a 1.0 represents the highest scores. Here’s the thing though, anything above a 60 out of 100 points is a good score. Dr. McEvoy says he’s never given a grade higher than 78. When I get a paper back and it has a score somewhere between 60 and 75 (we hope!) I’m going to have to take a deep breath. I’m not sure I’ve ever scored lower than 85 on a research paper in college. In fact, I think the lowest score I ever received was on the book report that AnnLaura wrote for me in 8thgrade. Thanks for the B-, sis! I should have just written it myself! Do you think Mrs. Richeson knows that I didn’t write that? If she knew it was AnnLaura’s work, it would have gotten an A+!

Keep in touch!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

ET phone home...

Well, I won't be phoning home in the near future...I lost my cell phone tonight. I don't know if I dropped it, put it down in a store or if someone swiped it out of my pocket. Don't really know what to do about it right now.

These are strange things that happened to me today.

I went to church at this place called the CORE. I got there pretty early and got to talk to the welcome guy for a while. He was...well...very welcoming. He's also a professor at Trinity who studies the economic impact on world health. Later he introduced me to some girl from Texas. She's doing a masters in sculpture at the National College of Art and Design. She just arrived last Friday. Seemed like for her, being an artist is an excuse to dress horribly! She had on orange tennis shoes, striped socks, a long bohemian purple skirt and a dark green jacket.

After church I started walking to meet up with friends. I wasn't paying attention, and I stepped in a really gross puddle. (I was wearing my chacos). So there I was cold and with a wet foot. To cheer up and warm up I decided to buy a coffee. I ordered a macciato, becuase that's the only drink I know I like. Well, I was served about 4 sips of some face squenching, bitter, nastiness that had a drop of steamed milk on top. The milk looked like it had gotten there by accedent, except that it was perfectly centered.

I had a delightful lunch with my friends at St. Steven's green. After that, we went to the National Gallery. I managed to trail behind a guided tour while I was there. The docent was excellent! I really enjoyed listening to her interpretations of the art there.

After that we all split up. I was hoping for a little bit of alone time, but Bimal tagged along with me. We had some interesting conversation about live in Nepal vs. life in the US. Turns out he was working on a masters degree in Korea. His professor is on sebatical and Bimal left the program without telling his professor. Interesting.

I wanted to go to a concert tonight, but no one else was interested. Just when I had decided that I should just go home, I realized that my cell phone was not in my coat pocket. Panic! I checked 3 of the 4 places I had been. The 4th was closed. I ended up running into Upendra. When he called my phone no one answered. I think I'm out of luck. So Upendra took me to a little shop and bought a sausage for me to cheer me up. It turned out to be a hot dog (no bun) and was served in a paper sack. So there I was...walking down the street eating a naked hot dog out of a paper sack...mostly wishing I just had my cell phone.

Keep in touch. Don't call me...I can't answer!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I see London, I see France….

Today I’m buying tickets to France. I’m going to visit my friend, John. The weekend of October 7 and 8th, while everyone else is enjoying the French Voyager experience at the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, I’ll be having a more modern French experience. I sure will miss all the bare bottomed Indians though. If anyone needs my man whistle, it’s in a plastic baggie inside my pack basket. Now that I have Ryan, I won’t need the whistle. Annie has Martin, so she won’t need it either. I think Miranda should have it!

Things have been going well here, but I’ve been getting homesick. I miss Baxter a lot. It seems like everyone here has a dog. The neighbor’s dog is Zack. He’s great and starts wagging his tail when he sees me coming. Still…there’s nothing like getting attacked by Baxter Beast. The difference in time zones is really annoying. It’s fortunate that I don’t have anywhere to be early in the morning, because when Ryan gets off of work it’s 9:30pm here and when Mom gets done at Purdue it’s 11pm here. Hopefully I’ll have internet at home soon and that should make all the difference in the world. It’s been one week since I ordered it, and the telephone company promised that we’d have broadband within 10 days. Of course I don’t know if that’s 10 calendar days or 10 business days. I’m really trying to be patient.

Public transportation is a funny thing here. As a student, I can buy a student travel card for €12. With the travel card, I can get a discount on my bus passes. A monthly buss pass is €78 a month. I’d have to ride 4 busses a day to make having the pass worth while. The bus only gets me about 2/3 of the way to school. To make a long story at least a little shorter…I’m the proud owner of a bike. It’s complete with the little rack on the back to strap my parcels to. I really want a basket for the front. Wouldn’t it be great to put my groceries in the basket? Especially if I had a baguette sticking out of the basket! I’ve promised myself that I will only ride my bike in my neighborhood for the first week. When I get more comfortable in traffic, then I’ll start riding it to class. I have all the safety gear: helmet, front and back flashing lights, and a neon yellow safety vest with lots of reflective stripes. Better to look dumb than dead!

Keep in touch!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Big John Was Here...

16 September 2006

My friend John McKinnis has been here for the weekend. We are both Campus House Has Beens. We had quite possibly the most social weekend ever! Friday night we met up few girls from Ireland that he knew previously. They are young…about 21…I think that Katharine will enjoy hanging out with them. Actually, having John here has helped take the pressure off when it comes to getting to know Katharine. It’s hard to explain, but trust me it’s been good! Saturday John and I convinced Katharine and Teryna (Turina) to go out with us. We found two cool pubs…the Stag’s Head and the Long Haul. We stayed out ‘till 2am and then made our way home in the rain. Sunday night we met up with the Irish girls at the Stag’s Head. I really wanted Katharine to meet them.

For those of you thinking that I might be going crazy with the pubs let me explain that pubs here are much different than the pubs and bars at home. It’s a little more like a coffee shop. People go to the pubs to talk and hang out. If you want to get drunk, find a date, and dance to loud music, go to a night club.

While John was here, he gave me the low-down on jet engine physics. Someone needs to remind me why I hang out with engineers! Anyway…just in case you were wondering...I do know how the engines work. The fan blades suck the air in. Smaller sets of fan blades squeeze the air into the engine. Fuel is added to the air with creates a bang. The air is then blown through the fan blades at the back of the engine which helps keep the whole process going. Seriously…they try to make it seem like to have to go to school to learn how to design airplanes. I’m sending my resume to GE tomorrow. I’ll get a job for sure.

Keep in touch!

Can you tell me how to get...

September 14, 2006

how to get to Sesame Street?

How’s this for a culturally diverse group? With everyone on the steps, it looks like Sesame Street goes to college. Here are the names of my classmates from left to right. (i'll have to upload the picure later. It won't work at the internet cafe):
Upendra (Oopendra) from India; Katharine from USA; Justin from Zambia; Nalinrat (Nah-leen-rot) from Thailand; Phensiri (Pen-see-ree) from Thailand (pink hat)

Phensiri might come live at my house, but she has to stay in her current arrangement for a month. There is another girl from Thailand. There’s something wrong with her back, so she had to stay home in bed today. Someone from Malaysia will arrive this evening. Don’t you think Justin looks a little like Dusty Baker? If only he had a toothpick hanging off his lip! We all get along so far. Justin, Upendra and I had fun at lunch talking about the difference between our shopping malls, universities, confusing things about Ireland, and such.

We are all treated like royalty. This Erasmus Mundus program that we’re a part of is highly regarded and we’re the first group to have been awarding the funding through Dublin Institute of Technology. Not only that, DIT is proud to have the most international students of any university in Ireland. It is estimated that there will be about 500 international students this year. They’ve developed a very accommodating International Student Affairs office. They’ve a staff of 4, but they seem very efficient with non-academic issues. We were told where to buy a hair dryer, where to go to the doctor, how to order re-entry visas, etc… For me, the hair dryer was most important and the doctor second most. I’ll be going there tomorrow to get an antibiotic for this nasty cold I’ve got.

Everyone here knows Dr. Boushey and thinks she’s wonderful. Even the Dean of Students for the whole university knows her! Certainly doesn’t hurt for me to be associated with her!

Keep in touch!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Taking care of business...

13 September 2006

We’re in Business!

Irish vocabulary for the day:
Vodaphone: the cell phone carrier I use
Mobile: cell phone
€: symbol for the currency used in Ireland which is the Euro.

Characters to Remember:
Kathleen Ryan: landlady

I’ve been taking care of business. Some things are quite easy to take care of, others are not.

Yesterday I got a cell phone. It’s most common to pay as you go. Credit is purchased and the rates vary depending on who you call and where the two parties are located. Just so you can see the difference between Irish and American mobile prices, here’s what I’ll pay… (day time rate/ evening & weekend rate).

Network mobile phones and Irish landlines: 50c/15c
Other Irish mobiles: 65c/30c
Local text messages: 5c
International text messages: 25c

If you “top off” you credit (pay what it takes to get it to €20 of credit) you get €20 free credit to use to text and call other Vodaphone users. Most people in Ireland use text messaging, because it’s much cheaper than actually speaking to one another. Martin and Annie would do very well here! J

This morning I called the telephone company to inquire about broadband internet. It’s only €29.99 per month, the wireless router comes free and there’s no initial cost. For once something is cheaper here than in the states! Even cheaper, because the cost will be split between at least 3 people! I have to speak with Kathleen and make sure it’s OK to add the internet to the phone bill.

Banking is awkward. We must first get a letter from the program stating that we are students with a local address and that we will be receiving funds. Then that goes to the bank. Someone at the bank thinks about it for three days and then gives us an account number. Mind you, no money has been deposited yet. Once the account number is established, the money can be deposited.

You see, it’s a lot to think about! Fortunately things are falling into place.

Keep in touch!

Already an adventure...

11 September 2006

Already an adventure.

Once again, I survived the flight and not the landing. (this same thing happened when I landed in Jamaica.) There’s nothing quite like getting sick on a plane. A professor whom I had met in March picked us up form the airport. He took us first to the school (Kevin Street) and then finally to our house in Rathgar.

Our landlady is Kathleen. She’s probably about Mom’s age and very friendly. The house is yellow with white trim. There are several blooming rose bushes in the front yard. Cut roses were in a vase on the dining table. Cheerful, don’t you think? Inside, the house is nice, but a little bit dated. Most of the furniture is hand-me-down, but there are little touches everywhere to help perk it up; pillows on the chairs, pictures on the walls, mirrors, etc… The fireplace in the living room has pretty ornamental tiles on the sides. Funny having two TV sets - one set won’t hook up to the VCR/DVD player, the other does but doesn’t receive any programs. Crazy.

The kitchen is small, but has all the basics. The backyard is really beautiful. There are two or three apple trees. No fruit this year, because they were pruned. The yard is very secluded and Kathleen assured us that the fence is tall and sturdy for safety. I’ll have to take her word on it as the fence is covered by trees and shrubs and other green things.

The bathroom might be the biggest adventure. I’m wondering how many days it will take before I break my neck getting into or out of the tub! It’s really deep! We have to turn the hot water heater on 20 minutes before we want to shower and worse yet, we have to remember to turn it off before we leave the house. I guess electricity is expensive here, but having to turn the water heater off and on seems kind of dramatic.

Katharine and I share a large bedroom. We each have our own desk and our own closet space. I have a bedside table with drawers and my desk has drawers. Since Katharine’s desk doesn’t have drawers we agreed that she could have the chest of drawers. (appropriate also, because Katharine brought about three times as many clothes as I did!) Our room is chilly. We’re hoping that it will warm up if we leave the window shut for a while. I’m wearing jeans, a t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt and a fleece and I’m still a little chilled!

Brian is our only current roommate. He studies classical guitar. I’m not sure how often he washes his hair. Looks like the rubber band has been there for more than a day or two. I got to talk with him for a bit. His mom teaches nutrition classes somewhere in Dublin, but I didn’t understand where. Brian will help get the broadband internet set up and we’ll all share the cost. That will be nice.

We might be getting two more roommates from the graduate program. Mr. Mulvaney was all frazzled, because many of the other students are Muslim. Muslims aren’t permitted to live in a co-ed situation, I guess.

I’ll take pictures of the house and post them soon. Take care. Keep in touch!

On the way

10 September 2006

I’m flying now. We’re over a city, but who knows where! I like to try and find the baseball fields and football fields.

Leaving home this afternoon was hard, but I was glad we left from the river. Ryan, Martin and I went canoeing for a while. That was great fun. Mom and John waved from the house…picture perfect! Just as I was getting ready, Baxter brought me his leash. That was when I pretty much lost my cool. *sniff*

I’ve finally met Katharine. She seems nice. She’s 23, blonde and a vegetarian. Take that for what you will. I think we’ll get along just fine. We both got letters from our mommies to read on the plane and read them at the same time. She brought her teddy bear, but packed him in her suitcase. Poor guy! Molly’s with me…don’t know how Ryan felt about being in the airport with me carrying Molly around. He’s good to me!

Airport security is interesting. They make a fuss about liquids and gels and pastes, but I was told that it’s actually up to the discretion of the inspector. The inspector let me take my contact solution. Whew! It would be pretty annoying to be stuck in the plane with dry contacts stuck to my eyeballs and no contact solution!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm here!

I'm in Ireland now. Things are good. I got here yesterday morning. Right now I'm in an internet cafe and time is precious! there's lots to tell, but not enough time. I've been writing some things to post later. here's the short of it...

Roommate: blonde, vegetarian, nice
House: awesome, carpet needs updating, bed is comfortable
Other roomate: Brian, studies classical guitar, washes his hair once in a while, generally nice
Weather: got soaked yesterday - won't leave home again without raincoat
Lunch today: Pizza Hut, tasted just like home, ahhh...

More later!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Packing Stinks

I've been packing like mad. John, Martin and Annie came on Saturday with a U-haul. Annie was great help...she packed a lot of my fragile things. Martin, John and Ryan were the muscles behind the operation. Without them, I couldn't have done it. It's so nice to have family!

Now I'm left with crap and clutter. Some of my clothes are still here, because I have to decide what to take with me. That's pretty hard to do. What would you pack in 2 suitcases for about 3 months? See? Not the easiest question! The weight limit is 50 pounds now...significantly less than the last time I flew. Back then, it was 60 pounds.

Tomorrow, I'll do some serious blitz packing. It's time to just through stuff in boxes. I don't think there's anything left that I really need access to when I get back. Mom offered to come tomorrow night and will help me with the cleaning part. She always helps make things go faster! It's almost over.

Keep in touch!