Volunteering at Fighting Words

The social norms in Ireland are different than in America, even though there are still many similarities. For example, one thing I notice is that wherever I go there are numerous groups of individuals, whether Irish or of foreign descent, walking around. Many of them are tourists visiting the city, and when I pass by, I always notice the varying accents of the different groups. Moreover, when I walk throughout the city, I notice that individuals are casually strolling as they are talking, which is significantly different from what I experience in the big cities in America, where everyone seems to be in a rush.

More importantly, I see the different social interactions among children and adults at Fighting Words. Prior to coming to Ireland to study and volunteer, I did not really know what to expect from Fighting Words. I did some background research prior to starting, but when I arrived for my first day at Fighting Words for orientation, I realized it was a special place.

The first session was a refreshing experience for me. And every following session, the kids would have their own cliques or groups that talked a lot, especially during the initial story portion of the session. And then when they headed into their individual writing sessions, they would continue to talk, which is similar to my experiences being in class with my friends, especially in primary and secondary school, where I would always want to sit next to the boys and converse, even if I was supposed to be working.

The kids would always want to write the funniest, most outrageous stories to impress and make their friends laugh. It was hilarious sitting back and listening to the stories and reflecting on my own adolescence. I found myself being more interactive with the kids, talking to them, trying to get an idea of where they were coming from. However, since there is a new group of kids every week, it is hard to get to know them. I did have one interesting run-in with two boys in one of my sessions. It turned out that one of the boys was flying to America the next day and we talked about New York and President Trump and what we thought about him. The session ended before we could talk more, but that boy still is stuck in my mind.

In future sessions, I now have acquired better communication and small-talk skills to not only talk to my students, but also to kids my age, and also be able to adapt that conversation to speaking to adults. Volunteering at Fighting Words has been a breath of fresh air. It has provided me with an entirely new set of skills when I return to America, talking to my friends. It has been a great semester!

Accommodation in Dublin

 

So, guys, I have been on the move the past 5 weeks. I have adjusted myself to classes, friends, cooking, bar-hopping, and most important of all: my accommodation. I have 4 roommates (Peter, Ethan, Evan, and Pierce) in this flat. Each person gets their own room, and there is a kitchen that is separate from the rooms, and a hallway in the middle of the flat.

We are living in Binary Hub, an apartment complex in the Liberties, a neighborhood of Dublin city.  This is the place I come home to every night. The place is nice, with a bed, bath, closet, drawers. It is simple, yet practical for such a busy man. I will admit it is kind of on the small side, but that does not take away from its modern look and feel.

The bed does not feel half bad at night, especially after a long night out. I occasionally summon it for right-before-I-go-to-sleep study sessions, but the results usually end with me falling asleep. Actually, today, I snoozed my alarm like 10 times to get up for a 9:30 class. Because the bed felt so good, I almost did not get up. Bit I did make it on time to class! The bed can be a blessing and a curse. But getting my rest is extremely important, especially being abroad, because my body has only been used to Dublin for 5 weeks. Rest, rest, rest! Sadly I have a little cold right now but I am slowly working my way over it with rest and hydration.

So, this is a brief look into my accommodation for the next 7 weeks (it is crazy that I only have 2 months left). More to come next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Readying Myself for Dublin

I am so ready to leave for Dublin, approximately a week and a half away from September 3rd.  This is my first time traveling out of the country and I am looking forward to two things especially: meeting new people, and immersing myself in the Irish Culture.  I am also looking forward to seeing the sights of the beautiful Irish Hills and the scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean nearby.  10 days is all that separates me from my journey into a new Culture and a new World.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

On my last trip of the semester I fulfilled a life-long dream of visiting Ireland. I stayed with friends in a hotel in Dublin, but we also booked a day tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher.

Dublin is a smaller city but there are so many things to see. You can visit the Trinity College Library or take a free tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (and see where politician and author Jonathan Swift is buried). There are plenty of pubs for lunch and dinner with specialities such as Guinness beef stew or a classic burger and fries.

Since we only had one day in the city, we had to miss some attractions with longer waiting times. I guess I’ll just have to make it back someday (what a shame…)

Around Trinity College there are many pubs to visit, as well as souvenir shops and hidden gems.
Look for the signs near the gift shop to meet a tour guide and learn about Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

On the second day our bus tour across Ireland left at 7:00 a.m. The tour was only 40 euro (booked through Finn McCool’s) and took us to Galway, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher with smaller stops along the way for food and coffee. Galway is a beautiful town. The Claddagh ring, symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship, is believed to have originated here. The Burren is a region famous for limestone formations. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous sights associated with Ireland and are featured in films such as The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 

Fall in love with a Galway girl, as the song says, or just fall in love with the city.
Sitting (and freezing) on a beach in the Burren.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is one way to get over your fear of heights…

If you even slightly enjoy great food, kind people, and a breathtaking countryside, plan to visit Ireland!

Dublin, We love you!

Hey everyone! These past two weeks have been quite crazy, filled with finals and traveling. After getting the finals out the way I prepared for my first trip. I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t like anywhere I’ve ever been before. As I checked Ryanair for some cheap flights Dublin caught my eye! Shortly after the ticket was booked. So here are some highlights from my weekend in Dublin, Ireland.

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In front of the Dublin Castle 🙂

Rush, Ireland

Long story short, my friends and I booked an Airbnb out in Rush, Ireland. Rush is a little village about a half an hour drive outside of Dublin. Whenever we asked for directions to get to our house in Rush everyone would look at us with a confused face and say “Rush? Really?” It was actually pretty funny. It was the most affordable and I was looking forward to see a real Irish village away from all the tourism of Dublin. After getting lost on the bus twice and a 40 minute bus ride we finally arrived in Rush. Our host was so friendly and helpful and the village was quite cute! The night we arrived was one of my friends birthdays so we went out to an Irish pub in the village. We had a hearty meal of roast, potatoes and veggies and had an overall great time. Everyone was so welcoming and we got an authentic experience. Overall I’m glad we stayed in Rush, it’s always nice to truly be with locals and see a part of the city tourist do not usually see!

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Low quality picture with our new friend smiling in the back.

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The Friendly Irish

Wow, the Irish have to be the friendliest people I’ve encountered in my travels! From the custom officer at the airport to the random man on the street everyone was so friendly. Our taxi driver took it upon himself to give us a whole history lesson and make endless jokes at 6am. We stopped for a moment and a man came up and asked us sincerely if we were lost and needed help. I have plenty more examples and, now I know why Ireland is in the top 10 of friendliest countries.

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Downtown Dublin

Downtown Dublin is amazing; it’s like a little London. There’s so many people out, so many cool restaurants, museums, parks, you name it. We got to visit Trinity College; where Oscar Wild attended and home of the Book of Kells. We saw the Guinness factory, St Peters greens and the castle of Dublin. A very interesting place was the Kilmainham Gaol, where many Irish revolutionaries were executed by the British. The remains of St Valentine also reside in downtown Dublin. You can spend all day wandering around and finding hidden gems.

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The book of Kells
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St. Stephan’s Green; a beautiful park in the middle of the city.
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Trinity College

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Cliffs of Mohr

On Valentine’s Day my friends and I decided to take a day trip to the Irish country side. It was great to be able to learn so much of the history of Ireland as well as see so much of the country which is truly beautiful. We rode up the side of a mountain (terrifying), saw plenty of sheep and visited various sites. The main attraction were the cliffs of Mohr which are one of the natural wonders of the world. We were blessed to have a beautiful sunny day to climb the side of the cliffs. Fun fact: 15 people die a year at this site, so I was extra cautious. After the muddy journey we made it to the top and I was very proud! It was truly a beautiful site and a great way to end the trip.

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I made it!
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Our muddy journey.

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Sleeping in the Airport

Okay, this wasn’t a highlight but it was memorable. Our flight was so early there were no taxis at that time so we ended up sleeping in the airport. It was an experience to say the least. I arrived back to Berlin right in time for classes, of course exhausted, but it was worth it. 🙂

That’s a little bit about my trip to Ireland! Dublin is truly great. I would encourage you to look up the country’s history and of course visit if you ever get the chance! Look out for my next post about my time in Venice. 🙂

Tschüs!