Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanksgiving in Europe

I never knew what it takes to have Thanksgiving in Europe.

Thanksgiving Number 1: Ireland
I found the biggest turkey I could. It was 4 kg, so about 9 pounds. There may be a few reasons you can't find a big turkey in Ireland. First, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. Second, do we really need 20 pound turkeys? Third, the ovens here are so small that a 9 pound turkey almost didn't fit in the oven! I had to put the turkey in a casserole dish, because the pan I bought for it wouldn't fit in the oven. What a sight!

Marshmallows aren't the same here. They come in a small package and include very fruity flavored pink ones too. Plus, it's $2 for a tiny bag of marshmallows! I was determined to have candied yams though. Katharine was in charge of finding sweet potatoes at the grocery store. They were all out! I was amazed! Later, I jumped on my bike and rode about a mile to a street vendor who I had seen with sweet potatoes earlier in the day. She was out too! There was another vendor a bit up the road. Luckily she had 6 sweet potatoes and I bought them all. She was also having sweet potatoes for dinner. I guess half of Dublin was having sweet potatoes that night!

Everything turned out really well. We had turkey, stuffing, carrots, green beans, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and apple tart (no pumpkin pie here). Most of my classmates turned up plus some of my climbing friends and all my roommates. There were 13 people total. I think that's the biggest Thanksgiving ever for me! We had a great time.

Thanksgiving 2: Toulouse, France

Katharine and I couldn't get a taxi Friday morning. It was terrible! We ended up missing our flight because it took so long to get a taxi. We even tried calling for a taxi, but they were so busy they wouldn't send for us. We got re-routed to Paris. That ended up being fun, because our roommate Taryna, was flying to Paris as well. We found her at her gate and we all had a Coke together. Lots of laughs over that! From Paris, we flew to Montpillier. That's somewhere on the east coast of France. John picked us up and it took 2 more hours to get to Toulouse. Talk about a scenic route!

John special ordered a much larger turkey. It was 11 kilos, so about 24 pounds! Very American. It was fun going to the market to get all our fruit and veg for the dinner. We had hoped for a crowd, but there were just four of us; John, Katharine, a guy named Bill, and me. John and Bill deep fried the turkey. You can imagine the reaction of the neighbors. They've never seen a 24 pound turkey, let alone a couple of guys deep fat frying on in the courtyard. The neighbors were all peeking out their curtains. Katharine and I took care of the rest of the meal. Green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, candied yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes...the works!

Let me tell you about the fried onions that go on top of the green bean casserole. My mom lovingly put a package together for me and took it to John's parent's house. John took them form there and this is the path they took to get to Toulouse for Thanksgiving...

(Try to listen to Johny Cash: I've been everywhere while you read this)

West Lafayette to Chicago by car, then by plane to Paris (CDG) to United Arab Emmirates to somewhere in Africa to South America to Toulouse to Paris (ORY) to Paris (CDG) by train to Dublin back to Paris (CDG) to Montpillier and by car back to Toulouse! If I get more details on that from John, I'll try to let you know. Seriously though...those crunchy onions went all the way around the world just to make my Thanksgiving perfect! Thanks mom!

Keep in touch!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A relaxed weekend in Dublin...

This seems like the first weekend I've had in Dublin in ages! It's also my last weekend in Dublin for quite some time. The module on nutrition has been interesting, but there is a lot of work involved. I've had less time outside of class to get projects done and there have been more projects than usual. Almost all my time is spent in that crazy looking purple building. That's DIT Kevid Street...home away from home. Sorry about the library services thing...I should give credit to the library webpage where I found the picture. Anyway, this coming week...
Monday: group presentation on Folic Acid supplementation
Tuesday: group presentation on Vitamin D and immunology
Wednesday: present essay on bananas
Thursday: turn in essay and take exam

Whew! I get tired thinking about this coming week! Originally, my paper was going to cover fatty acid oxidation disorders. That got to be too complicated too fast! So now I'm writing a paper on bananas. There was an article recently suggesting that the reason monkeys are so energetic, yet relaxed is because they eat bananas. My paper is an investigation of current research on nutrients found in bananas that can support or repute that claim. Plus, I've thrown in a piece on the dietitian's role in nutrition communication. Did you know that the number one source of food and nutrition information is not the internet? It's the television. Being from the technology generation, I figured everyone was looking on the internet for information. I was wrong.

In my precious little free time, I'm still managing to have a good time. Last night some friends and I went to a birthday party for a guy named Brian. We all had a great time. I even had Irish people dancing like red necks to Cotton Eyed Joe. That was a good laugh. My roommate and I went to a concert with some girls on Wednesday. The Blizzards are an Irish boy band. They play punkish music and little girls go absolutely crazy over them. Even the girls I was with who are 22-23 years old were screaming and going ga-ga over these guys. Basically I felt really old and out of place.

All of the girls from class, plus the Irish guy (Collin) eat lunch together most days. Mostly we eat in the canteen at school, but sometimes we go out. I ended up going out for lunch most days this week. Monday, I bought my lunch. Tuesday, we had Indian food. Wednesday, we had Korean food. Thursday I went to a vegetarian resteraunt with a girl, Marsha from climbing club. She's going home to Holland in 2 weeks. I'll miss her a lot. Friday, I had sushi with Paul. He used to be a campus minister at IU and knows all my CMC minister friends. He's a cool guy. Anyway, at first I thought it was kind of funny how much ethnic food I've been eating. Then I realized that it's all ethnic food! McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Dominos, Quiznos, Subway, Pizza Hut and Johnny Rockets are the only places to get American Food. But since those places aren't in America, it's considered Ethnic to whoever I'm eating with. Think about it...funny concept, don't you think. The food that's home to them is foreign to me and the food that's home to me is foreign to them.

Well, it's time for bed. I'll be home in 31 nights! I lookforward to lots of things at home. More on that another time.

Keep in touch!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

So many stories...

This last course in ecology kept me really busy. Part of the reason I was busy with school was because I made a few too many social engagements! Work hard, play hard! The ecology course was really interesting. I wrote a paper on the ecological aspects of poultry farming. My research examined the benefits of organic farming in Ireland. The European Commission has published a directive that suggests organic farming as a way to preserve the heritage (environment) of Europe. There will likely be a big increase in monetary incentive for farmers who are willing to grow organic. To be honest, I'm still not sure where I stand on the whole matter! Maybe I'm just stubborn.

Three weeks ago, I was on the west coast of Ireland for a three day trip with the mountaineering club. About 50 of us were out there together. Mostly foreign exchange students from all over Europe. There were a fair number of Irish. I was the only person from the USA. I got in one good day of climbing. The crag we were climbing was across the road from a short field of rocky area. At the end of the rocky area was the sea! It was cool to be climbing and hear the waves crashing on the rocks! I went to the Cliffs of Moher while I was there too. Absolutely amazing! There are these enormous cliffs that drop strait into the sea. You can walk dangerously close to the edge if you dare. I stayed a body lengths away...just like I learned as a kid at camp! Thanks to David Fiala at Lutheran Valley Ranch! Although I really enjoyed the climbing, my favorite part of the trip was a caving adventure. Our climbing coach is certified to take groups climbing, caving and kayaking. He's a neat guy. Anyway, he took a bunch of us to Pol na gColm Cave. No laughs about the's correct! This is the cave that Tolkien was in when he was inspired to develop the character, Gullom. The cave was great! It was tall, so I didn't have to crawl through long, small spaces. I got to splash through a muddy river, climb up a water fall and see some of the most beautiful rock structures. Wearing a helmet and a head lamp made me feel like a real explorer!

Last weekend I was in Paris. John McKinnis and I had a whirl-wind tour of the city. My proudest moments where when I actually arrived at my intended destinations via the metro. I still don't speak enough French to be useful, so navigating the metro was a little nerve wracking. The thing about Paris is that nearly everything you'd want to see takes your breath away. That, along with all the walking I did made me so tired. I stayed in a hostel near the Cathedral of Notre Dame. From there, I walked for a good 30-45 minutes to the Eiffel Tower. Being a little cheap and a lot crazy, we took 57 flights of stairs(674 stairs, I think) to the second level and the elevator to the top. The 674 stairs are way worse on the way down! My calves were killing me for days! From the Eiffel Tower, I walked to the Arch de Triumph and then to the Louvre. It was dark by then and the Louvre was closed, so we hiked home. Sunday, I went to mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Words cannot describe the wonder of Notre Dame. It's beyond belief amazing. After church, we hiked all the way back to the Louvre. It's by far the largest, most easy to get lost in museum I've ever been in. I only saw parts of two wings and I was there for several hours. The most important thing was seeing the Mona Lisa. You might tend to think that if you've seen the poster, the painting wouldn't be that magnificent. You're wrong if you think that! The painting practically glows and her smile made me want to smile! That was basically the end of my Paris trip.

I will try to be better about logging my adventures. 'Til then...keep in touch!