Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Finals Countdown

Well, folks, it's been a while since I've blogged. The recent lack of posts cannot be entirely attributed to my general laziness; I've been carpe-ing the diem quite a bit lately, actually. Of course, all that living can wear anybody out and thus, the lack of posts. Now that we're all on the same webpage, I'll let you in on a few of the horribly exciting events in my life.

Within the past two weeks, I've come to the sudden realization that the left side of my body is almost entirely useless. I'm completely baffled by the fact that I got through nearly 21 years of life without noticing that half of my body might as well not even be there. In any case, here's a list of things that I now know make me physically uncomfortable: 
  • putting my left shoe on before my right shoe
  • putting my left arm into a shirt or coat before my right arm
  • putting my backpack on the left side first 
  • crossing my left leg over my right leg
  • chewing gum on the left side of my mouth
  • generally attempting to hold or move anything with my left arm (or leg, really)
This is kind of a serious problem for me. Whenever I try to do any of the above-listed activities, I actually have to stop and re-start with my right side first because a) it's a huge struggle and b) I legitimately feel really, really uncomfortable. As inconvenient as this newfound truth is, I've decided that it means I'm twice (instead of half) as useful as most people. If I can function as a relatively normal human being with essentially only half of a body, what can't I do? (Clearly, the answer is anything involving my left side.) More on that later.

In other news, I have been on several thoroughly enjoyable trips since I last posted. About three weeks ago, IFSA-Butler took us on a weekend trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland. We took a long bus tour around the area to see things like a super awesome rope bridge, the ruins of Dunluce Castle, and the Giant's Causeway.

a typically beautiful teeny Irish town

coastline around the rope bridge

aerial view of the rope bridge, severely zoomed in

Dunluce Castle ruins

Giant's Causeway

more Giant's Causeway...we climbed a lot of rocks

The next day we took a black taxi tour around Belfast led by taxi drivers who were around during the beginning of the 'Troubles' between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. They drove us into areas of town that still aren't safe for outsiders and talked to us about the historical events that happened there as well as their own personal experiences working as taxi drivers during the period. It was a thoroughly interesting and sobering experience. My history classes hadn't covered the later parts of Irish history yet so a lot of what the drivers said was completely new to me. It was really hard to comprehend such recent and ongoing violence in a country I've come to love so much, but it was a necessary experience and it put a lot of things in perspective. It wasn't 'fun' in the conventional sense of the word, but in hindsight I think it was the most memorable part of the trip for me. We made one long stop at the Peace Wall, which was initially built to calm some of the violence by dividing the Catholic and Protestant parts of town for six months but has now been standing for forty-one years. Apparently most residents of the area want the Peace Wall to stay up, but it's become something of a tourist attraction as well. Everyone who's anyone has signed the Peace Wall, including Justin Bieber and me. 

monument on one side of the Peace Wall

I hadn't kissed the Blarney Stone yet, so that 
'yeah' is my eloquent contribution to the Peace Wall. 
To be fair, it is really big.

Carly immortalized me on the Peace Wall. 
It reads, 'I was in the Hannah Montana movie.' 
Ladies and gentlemen, my finest achievement. 

After the black taxi tour, we went to the Belfast Christmas market for a nice reminder that happy things like Christmas exist. I had my first ever churro experience and I didn't hate it. I also got some delicious fudge from one stall because, hey, when in Belfast. The next morning we loaded up on the bus back to Cork, which was slightly sad because the weekend was over but also nice because I really like Cork. 

The next weekend I had a good friend from Vanderbilt come to visit me. James graduated last year and is now working in Copenhagen, so he just hopped on over for a weekend of Irish fun. We basically walked all over Cork for the entire weekend, which was something I've been wanting to do for a while now. We also discovered a traditional Irish restaurant which I really want to re-visit at some point. It was nice to see some new places and get to show off my favorite spots in Cork to an outsider. I'm quite proud of this little town. 

Last weekend I traveled with three friends to a little city called Milan. We planned this trip a while ago because we found tickets online for exactly 50 euro roundtrip. Please just take a minute to appreciate the insanity of that last sentence. I flew to Italy and back for 50 euro. That is ridiculous. Anyway, initially we planned to just fly into Milan and travel to Florence or Venice for several days since none of us really knew much about Milan. Train tickets to Florence got really, really expensive in a short amount of time so we decided to just book a day trip to Venice instead. As usual, the universe had other plans for us. The Trenitalia website is the worst thing I've ever encountered and gave us tickets for an overnight trip instead of a day trip, which would completely complicate things in terms of carrying luggage all over Italy to different hostels every night. We thought about trying to change our tickets, but then Venice flooded quite badly about two weeks before our trip. We took this as a sign that maybe we should just not go to Venice, so we booked a hostel in Milan for three nights and decided to check with Trenitalia in person (since they are the worst and you can't contact them by phone outside of Italy or by email anywhere in the whole world) about getting a refund. Well, it turns out that the Trenitalia workers were on strike (because their employers are the worst) while we were there so we couldn't go to Venice or get a refund anyway. It was quite a frustrating experience. 

I'm getting worked up again so that's enough of what I didn't do in Italy. Let's talk about what I actually did. Okay, well, mainly I ate a lot lot lot of delicious Italian food. As you may know, I don't speak any Italian and am generally lazy and enjoy food immensely so I was completely fine with the hours-long meals that kept happening. Also I was doing a whole 'living in the moment' thing and I didn't take any pictures in Milan, so everything below is from my friend Evie. She's an Instagrammer, so that explains all the pictures of food. 

caffe Viennese, the most delicious espresso ever made
(there was lots of chocolate involved)

Waffles, like all other food items, are better in Italy.

ham, arugula, brie, and olive tapenade crepe...drooling at the memory

We went bananas over this Nutella crepe.

Castello Sforzesco, one of our few non-food activities

the Duomo, also not food

maccheroni, or fancy macaroni

pizza unlike any other pizza

I want to go to there

vanilla gelato and fruitstuffs oh man

Well, that pretty much sums up our Milan experience. This past week was filled with harsh reality checks since finals began and we all realized that it was our second-to-last weekend in Cork (I don't wanna talk about it). I still have a lot of work ahead of me, including two tests and a paper on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, I have some smaller assignments and then four papers due by mid-January, which really I have to get done before I leave. There is not a ton of fun in my immediate future, but I will make it work. By the way, if you've been longing to send me a package full of food and money, it's not too late if you mail it quickly. 

1 comment:

  1. Mercy--I guess your left side should come along with you in case it needs to be put in fast service. Perhaps you should practice signing your name or something with your left hand.

    We are busy anticipating the Herbert trip to San Diego for Christmas. I can scarcely believe we are doing this. Laura was in Michigan at a conference and loved seeing friends and setting up her return housing arrangement. She has a list of San Diego things for us to do that would take a month. (Wouldn't that be something!)

    I am so jealous of your side trips and extremely envious of time in Italy. Wow!

    thanks for the post........