Living in a Story Book

After a night of tossing and turning in a hostel bed being awoken by roommates at various times of the night, I refreshed in the morning by enjoying a lovely cup of coffee by the window in our hostel. As I sipped much missed American style coffee, I looked out to a fairly sunny day in Ireland - slightly rainy but serene and calming. This was a perfect start to a lovely spring vacation and my first day in Ireland.

Today we headed to Blarney Castle to see the beautiful scenery and kiss the famous stone. Blarney is a short twenty minute bus ride from cork. We were lucky to start our day with some gorgeous weather, but as we found out, it tends to be sunny one minute and rainy the next in Ireland. Before heading up to the castle, we explored the gorgeous landscape around the castle. With mossy rocks, babbling brooks, and quaint bridges, the scenery is absolutely beautiful. I felt as if I was living in a story book the entire day. This may be in part due to the fact that everything is so green here! The grass is a shade so bright it seems neon - I love it!

As it began to rain, we went to climb Blarney's castle and kiss the stone. The steps were soo steep! With my fear of heights (inherited from my dad) and slight claustrophobic nature, it definitely took strength to get up there. However, it took even more courage to stick half my body, upside down, through a hole on the top of a tall castle in attempts to kiss the stone! Everything happened so fast I had no time to prepare... Sit here, hold on here, lean back, and smooch! Quite frankly I think I was too freaked out to lean back far enough to reach the stone and ended up kissing right above it...oops.

After we had all kissed the stone, or attempted to anyway, we left the castle gardens to meander our way through Blarney. We ended up heading to an Aran wool mill which was filled with traditional Irish sweaters – many of which were woven by women living on the Aran Islands. We shopped around for a while and all ended up all buying the exact same sweater - we can all match next year!

With our cardigan, cream colored Irish sweaters in tow, we saw a small restaurant featuring a "Tea break special". What better way to take a midday break and experience Ireland than with a lovely hot cup of tea, homemade scone and jam? We sat in the restaurant for hours, sipping our tea, talking, and relaxing. Unlike my weekend “trips” in the past, I foresee Ireland being much more of a vacation and I am looking forward to it continuing on that note.

After loosing track of time over tea, we quickly got back on the bus to cork, rushed to our hostel to pick up our bags, and ran back to the bus station - making our bus to Limerick within minutes of its departure! We all got a little exercise with a late afternoon jog when trying to catch our bus, but we made it. We were off to Limerick to stay with a friend of Tiffany's who is studying at the University of Limerick. When we arrived, Molly was so nice and we spent the evening chatting. Many thanks to Molly for the great hospitality and free lodging!

Change of Plans

Spring break is here and I am off to Ireland for a full week with two of my good friends and future roommates, Claire and Tiffany. I am so excited for some beautiful scenery, some relaxation, and great times in Ireland with the roomies!

My day started at 2:30am! We had to catch the bus to Pisa at 3:40am to make our plane to London departing at 6:30am, to arrive in Cork by mid morning - at least that was the plan. What was supposed to be a smooth travel day turned into over 19 hours of tiring, stressful itinerary changes.

We arrived in Pisa at 5:00am to find our flight had been delayed for 6 hours due to fog! With that delay, we subsequently missed our connecting flight, were forced to pay expensive fees, and had to catch the only other flight to cork that day... which didn’t depart until 8:15 that night. Needless to say we were all very annoyed, stressed, and exhausted by the time we arrived at our hostel in Cork late that night.

The only thing that brightened my travel day was the Starbucks we found in the London Stanstead airport - they even accepted my Starbucks gold card! To go with our pick-me-up coffees, we all enjoyed "love bars" which was an oaty granola bar topped with caramel, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Despite being a wonderful treat, it sadly could not entirely make up for our crummy travel day.

Instead of having almost a full day to explore Cork as we had planned, we arrived at our hostel late that night, were all exhausted and went straight to bed - what a day! Although off to a rocky start, I am hoping our Ireland vacation does not continue on this bad note.


Midterms are over, I'm done!! After three exams, two of which were all essay questions, my hand is cramping and I am beat! I'm so glad it's all over.

When I wasn't cramming for my tests today, I was helping out, cooking and enjoying a meal with the homeless at sharing Thursday. Today I was able to learn how to make and help prepare pasta e fagioli to serve in the piazza for lunch. Pasta e fagioli is a traditional Tuscan bean soup make with cannellini beans and some type of small pasta such as ditalini. It is one of my favorites as far as Tuscan dishes go – so glad I was able to snag a recipe!

After sharing Thursday and three exams, I was beat! But I couldn’t flop on my bed and call it a night too early, for spring break starts tomorrow and I have to pack for a most exciting trip. Wake up call at 2:30am tomorrow to catch my flight…

Cram Sesh

With three midterms on Thursday, most of my Tuesday and Wednesday were spent studying. While studying in Italy, not much work gets done so other students and I are forced to cram all the information in the week before. I have midterms for Italian, history of Italy since 1960, and family and gender in contemporary Italyall in the day!

Some highlights of my days of course were my meals. I always look forward to food, but even more so after hours of studying in the same place. For lunch on Wednesday it was the return of the oatmeal! At school and at home I have oatmeal every day for breakfast and it wasn't until coming here that I realized just how much I liked it. I honestly think its one of my favorite foods and I miss it! I finally found some at an Italian grocery store so made it for lunch in the microwave at school. Although not as good as my oats at home with all the fixin’s, it definitely hit the spot! Oh how I have missed my oats!

Another highlight was the dinner my host mother made in Tuesday night. With three different vegetables for our main course, how could I complain?! We enjoyed sautéed peppers, steamed artichokes, cooked carrots, and tuna for our main course after a blended soup with potato and celery. Delish! I loved the break from all heavy starches and replacement with a such a variety of veggies. It was definitely my kind of meal.

It's been a couple late nights this week hitting the books: Midterms are next, and then spring break!

Just another Manic Monday

Today, Monday, February 27, started like any other Healthy Monday – attended Italian class in the morning, held down the fruit table during lunch, and sent out the newsletter. But my routine Monday took a turned manic when I received a call from the director of student life informing me that our Zumba instructor for this evening’s “Move-it-Monday” class had to cancel due to illness. At this time I already had a good amount of students signed up for the class and expecting Zumba – what to do?!
After debating teaching a class or looking into another video workout, a friend reminded me that a current SUF student is a certified Zumba instructor. Genius! I tracked her down and asked if she’d be willing and prepared to fill in and teach a Zumba class in only a few short hours. Despite the short notice, she was more than happy to help!

Our instructor, Alex, second from right

Zumba went off without a hitch and was a big hit tonight! The class drew a large interest and everyone seemed to like the fun moves and current music that our student instructor provided. I have to say I personally wasn’t too excited for a Zumba class – I have taken one class before and was not a huge fan – but I was pleasantly surprised to love this version! A big than you goes out to Alex for a great Zumba class and for filling in at the last minute! I have already scheduled her for another class later in the semester.