Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy Week

Wow!  This week has been extremely busy, but a lot of fun.  Wednesday, we hiked Brayhead, a nearby mountain, which was absolutely beautiful.  There's this cement cross up at the top with a wonderful view, and even though it was raining, we still had a blast.  Thursday, we spent all day in Dublin, seeing Kilmainham Gaol and a 1916 Rising Memorial.  My roommate, Lauren, hurt her foot, and ended up getting piggy-back rides all through Dublin for the entire day.  She's on the mend now, but still limping.  The next day, we took the DART back out to Dublin to see the book of Kells and Trinity Library (which was incredible) and then headed to the National Museum.

That night was also Culture Night downtown, so we hung around there to do a lot of the free activities they have there.  We took an Akaido class, which is martial arts/dance, and learned some awesome moves.  That was definitely the highlight of the night.  On the way back, we took the train into Bray, one stop before Greystones, and were waiting to catch a connecting DART to our stop.  Unfortunately, the DART broke down at an earlier stop, and was running about an hour late at 11:30 at night.  So one of the DART workers put us on this double-decker bus for free that brought us into Greystones.  That was a great adventure.  We even got to ride on top of the bus!

Yesterday was a full day as well, because we invited a bunch of families and people from the community over for a pig roast.  We had an entire pig roasting over the fire!  It tasted pretty good.  We spent all day setting up for the party, and then played games with the kids when they came.  That was a lot of fun.  We even got to roast marshmallows over the pig-fire later on in the night.  Finally, after everyone had gone, we went down to the beach and sat on the cliffs/rocks for worship.  It was so beautiful there because it was a clear night with a huge moon hanging over the water and lots of stars.  I counted three shooting stars!  These last few days have been exhausting, but I've loved every minute of them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rainy Day

Well, it rained again today... go figure, rain in Ireland.  But we had class all day today, so it didn't really matter, except that my after class walk was a little damp.  Fortunately, here in Ireland it doesn't really rain, it just kind of spits.  It's like walking through a cloud.

The highlight of my day today was mail time because I got my first piece of mail today, a small package from Mary.  I loved hearing from her, and she even sent me some of the things I miss from the states in an extremely creative way.  Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks, Mary, that made my day.  My roommate got a huge package that included a massive tub of peanut butter cookies!  That was extremely exciting for all of us here too, because they were the first soft, chewy cookies we've had in a while.  Most of the cookies here are harder, more cracker-like, so we all ate cookies for breakfast/lunch today.

Otherwise, it was nice just to relax today.  I've been working non-stop on homework, so today I took a break to just take notes in class and hang out with everyone.  One of my profs is here now, so we actually have classes this next week.  Isn't that crazy, classes in college?!  The rest of the week should be pretty busy around here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Yesterday, we had one of the best assignments I've ever had in school.  We were given 5 euro and a dart pass, and told to get off at two stops to have coffee.  Lauren, Chad, Hannah, Norah, and I got off at a stop called Killeny and walked to the next stop.  The walk was absolutely beautiful.  The winding road ran along the Irish sea, there were beautiful houses all along the way (Bono lives somewhere in the area), and stone walls covered with ivy.  There were wild blackberries all along the way, and we ate those whenever they were ripe as we walked to Dalkey.

In the town of Dalkey is very quiet and peaceful, and we sat down in a coffee shop to do homework for a while.  Finally, we took the Dart back to the town of Bray, right before Greystones, and went to the beach there.  There were some really colorful rocks there, so my group spent about 20 minutes collecting rocks before hopping back on the Dart back to Greystones.

After dinner that night, we played rugby in the dark.  Definitely and interesting but very fun experience.  Today, I headed back to my church, The Presbyterian Church, which starts at 11:00.  It's nice to be able to sleep in and then go off to church fully awake.  Our pastor is an incredible speaker, one of the best I've heard in my life, and I'm not kidding.  He keeps you focused for the entire time, and he relates old texts so well to the modern day and modern issues in Irish and world culture.  I'm definitely going to continue attending this church and hopefully get involved there as the semester continues.  Anyway, the rest of the day should be a homework day.  We have a history test, a C.S. Lewis reading and write-up, a Contemporary Ireland write-up, and two history write-ups due Monday and Tuesday, so I have a lot to accomplish.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Yesterday, we went on a scavenger hunt in downtown Dublin.  We took the DART, the train system they have here, into the city, and then split off into groups to find different landmarks, buildings, and statues.  Dublin is a very interesting city, almost as busy as Chicago, but without the skyscrapers and gigantic buildings.  Instead, most of the larger buildings are extremely old, but very beautiful.  The General Post Office still has bullet holes in its columns from the Easter Rising of 1916, which I found very interesting.

I think Trinity College is one of my favorite places downtown Dublin.  The campus is gorgeous, with huge trees and old buildings right in the heart of the city.  We stopped there first, and one of the students told us where all the things on our list were in the city.  That was a huge help.  I can't wait to get out and just explore the city without an agenda.  There were some pretty awesome stores, like a rare book store, an African art store, and many other wacky, tiny shops.

Today, our assignment is to get on the Dart, get off at two random stops before Dublin, and find two different coffee shops.  We get five euro and an unlimited pass for the dart.  The tracks run along the coast through small towns the whole way, so it should be a fun adventure.  Right now, me, my roommate Lauren, Hannah, and Chadd are in my group.  We should be leaving soon!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We're Here!

Well, we've all settled down into life at the Y in Greystones!  I'm definitely loving it here, though the rooms are small and the building is extremely old.  I'm rooming with Lauren Sparks, which I am extremely excited about.  We're both rather quiet and love to read, so the rooming situation works out really well.

The YWCA, called Coolnegreina, is this old building that was built around 1850.  It's clean, but very old and cozy.  My room is about 7-8 feet wide and about 15 feet long, but we only have two people in it.  We have several common rooms that are a lot of fun to hang out in, and do homework in.  In one room, every night at 8:30, they watch Gilmore Girls.  Tonight, we have our Living Cross-Culturally class from 8:00-10:00.  Tomorrow is a study day, with a memorial service for Sept. 11, and Friday, we have a scavenger hunt in Dublin.  I'm really excited for that.

The Y is about 25 feet from the road that runs along the Irish sea, and I love taking long walks there every day (except when it rains all day like today).  Yesterday, we had a memorial service for a friend of one of the FISP students who passed away in the states.  Karolyn, the FISP student, had known him from high school and found out about his death the night before we left for Greystones.  It was a powerful time for everyone, especially those that had lost friend in the past, and everyone lit a candle for Daniel.  If you could just keep the FISP student here and the family back home in your prayers.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Leaving Galway

Well, today is our last full day in Galway.  I'm hanging out at An Tabor Nua, the coolest cafe in town, using their internet because ours has been down.  Anyway, we're packing up tonight and heading out for County Wicklow tomorrow on the other coast.  I definitely love the town of Galway.  There are so many things to see here, and I'm going to miss this cafe.  But I'm also glad to be able to finally settle down permanently at the YWCA in Greystones.  This will be my address for the next 10 weeks, and I would love to hear from you.  International mail takes about 5 days.  Anyway, I'm not sure when I will get internet next because Internet at the Y is a bit sketchy.  They don't have to power to support more than five computers at one time, so don't expect me to update as regularly as I have been.  God bless!  Or, as they say in Ireland, Cheers!

Jessica Larson
YWCA Conference Centre
Coolnagreina, Trafalgar Rd.
Greystones, CO. Wicklow, Ireland

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finally Finished

I finished my take home test today, finally!  It was my first real test in college, and it was about six essays together about the different topics we covered, from Beowulf, Mere Christianity, How the Irish Saved Civilization, to my prof.'s book.  It's a relief to be done with that, though I still have to edit all of them, along with my Art as an Experience essay.  Hopefully all will go well grade-wise.

I'm not so sure about my Irish History class.  The book relies on our background knowledge Ireland, which in my case is non-existent.  It was obviously written for Irish students, not American students can't even pronounce most of the names in the book, let alone understand their importance in the big picture of Irish history.  We'll see how that one goes...

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Pictures

1. Graveyard on the Aran Islands, where we went bike-riding on Friday
2. Another Cross over the bay
3. The kitty we found on the Island.  Katie Moore and Melissa Velar, two of my roommates are holding it
4. My biking group for the afternoon
5. Cooking in our apartment
6. Our living room/kitchen/dining room
7. Downtown Galway in the pedestrian only section
8. Melissa cutting something
9. Ross Castle.  Old picture, but I forgot to put it on the last bunch of pictures.  There was a whole family of swans swimming on the lake just outside.

Homework Day

We spent the whole day doing homework today.  I read two chapters in my Irish History textbook, which took forever, and then I finished up my Mere Christianity summary for Foundations of Christian Thought.  Next, I'll be tackling my Art as an Experience textbook, which is about as interesting as watching paint dry.  If I'm able to finish that tonight, I can start the two page reaction paper and then finally begin my take-home test for Dr. Cosgrove.  Let's just say that this week will be devoted to homework.

Today, my entire apartment spent the day reading and doing homework with a guy's apartment from Eris Gratton, the apartment complex across the street.  Tonight, we're planning to lay low and catch up on some sleep.  I had a delicious dark chocolate Magnum bar for dessert (if you don't know what Magnum bars are, you're really missing out).  Tomorrow will probably be another homework day, though I might take an hour or two out to go to An Tobar Nua, a cafe in town run by two missionaries.  It's an awesome place to hang out, and the food is delicious.  It also has a book store attached.

Anyway, those are our plans for the next couple days.  Kind of boring, I know, but that's what is going down.