Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So, France is awesome. My mom and I are in Nice, Southern France, about a 10 minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea :) We're staying in a really cute apartment in the middle of Old Nice, and we are right above a Boulangerie/Patisserie (Bakery/Pastry Shop). Yummmm! Fresh croissants every morning. So far, my experience here has been consisted of le cafe, le pain, le vin, la glace, la plage, le shopping, and trying to converse in French. The other night, my mom and I met a man whom we dubbed the "French Jay Leno" because of the resemblance. He was very friendly and helped us with some words we did not know. I love the coffee here, and did I mention the bread is amazing? I feel like I'm living on bread and ice cream here :D The weather is beautiful here, 70 and sunny. Every day is a perfect day for the beach. I got a bit of a "coup de soleil" the other day, but I don't think it's gonna get me down. Most people have been pretty nice and patient as I try to talk to them in my rusty French. However, there have been the few rude French as well. C'est la vie! I can walk everywhere here, which is fantastic :) Possibly Monaco today or tomorrow... we will see. Au Revoir!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Final Farewells...

I can't believe this was my last day at Bawnmore National School! It's so hard to leave. Last night, I said my goodbyes to the family and exchanged gifts. I gave them each an Indiana University t-shirt (or t-lana, in Irish) and also a couple trinkets and candy for the kids. They gave my a necklace with a celtic knot on it and an Annaghdown Judo Club sweatshirt :) Definitely not something I could get in the States. There were plenty of hugs and lots of pictures taken.

At school, the kids were all writing me notes and drawing pictures to take with me. They all wrote that they hoped I would come back soon :) The teachers gave me some presents as well, a few things to remember them by, which was incredibly sweet. I played/sang them "Leaving on a Jet Plane" one last time and they sang with me. It was so sweet to hear their voices singing "Oh babe, I hate to goooo.." I do hate to go, but I will definitely be keeping in touch with these new friends I have made. Now, on to France. Bon voyage..

Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle

My mother and I went on a bus tour through Connemara to Kylemore Abbey. Connemara is a part of Ireland where Irish is still spoken some as a first language. Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful, huge building and has some pretty spectacular gardens as well. It is run by nuns who bought it originally and still live there. The abbey used to be a boarding school for girls, but is now mainly a tourist attraction.

Mary Fahy and Geraldine took my mom and I to Cong and the Ashford Castle. This castle was huge and incredible, with beautiful grounds. It is a high-end hotel and very well kept up. We looked at the celebrity hall of fame, and saw that many famous people had stayed there including Robin Williams, Russel Crowe, Brad Pitt, and Ronald Regan. After walking around, pub for dinner, seafood chowder and Baileys coffee. In Ireland, if the food is really good it's "beautiful" or "gorgeous". That chowder was just gorgeous.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catholic School

My mom, who is visiting by the way, recently found out that my school is Catholic and chastised me for not telling her. Therefore, I thought I would describe it a bit:

Most schools in Ireland are private Catholic schools, run through the local parish. The teachers aren't nuns or anything though, just regular 'ol teachers. The kids say their prayers at the start and end of the day, and also before lunch time usually. They can say their prayers in Irish and in English :) They also have religion as a subject, but they don't learn it every day as they would Maths, English, and Irish. In addition, any upcoming events in the church that involve the children, such as confirmation or first communions, would be prepared for at the school. For example: when the 2nd class students were getting ready for their first communion, they practiced their songs and lines at school, and took a couple school field trips to the church in order to practice walking down to the altar and saying their parts. All of the students from 3rd class up also participated: they played musical instruments and sang in the "choir" during the first communion. It is common for the whole school to support students in these important milestone events.

In an average day at the school, school starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 2:40 PM. There is a small break at 10:45, and a big break at 12:30. The kids eat their lunch and play during both breaks, while the teachers congregate in the staff room for a "cuppa" and a chat. In general, the teachers are in charge of teaching extra-curricular subjects such as art, music, and p.e. However, outside teachers come in once-a-week for special classes. A music teacher comes in on Thursdays and an Irish dance teacher comes in on Tuesdays. Also, some lads from a local hurling club come in some days to work with the kids and teach them skills. They love this, and so do their teachers :) Often times, school sports matches such as hurling, football, or even swimming will be held during school hours and the participating students and teachers will leave on a bus during the day to go to their match. On these days, not much study is accomplished.

My school is very small compared to what I'm used to. There are about 140 students from the ages of 4 (junior infants) up to age 12 (6th class). There are 6 different classrooms and 6 different teachers for 8 grade levels. There are also a couple teachers that come into the school for learning support jobs, working with students with disabilities. The principal of the school teaches the 5th and 6th class students, along with performing her administrative duties. The teachers are all women, except for the brave 1st class teacher, Sean.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

If you want to sing out, sing out

In school the past week, the kids had their trophy day for Irish dancing. Claire Grealey, 4 time world Irish dancing champion and alumni of Bawnmore National School, made a special visit to watch the students dance and hand out trophies. All of the kids were very excited :)

The students were devastated when they learned that I would be going home soon. They were all hoping that the Iceland volcano would erupt again and keep me from leaving. They all offered that I could stay at their houses... it was very sweet :)

Here are some popular Irish names:

For girls: Ciara (Keera), Aoife (Eefa), Niamh (Neeve), Órlaith (Orla), Róisín (Rosheen), Siobhan (Shivawn), Sinead (Shenade)

For boys: Darragh, Oisín (Osheen), Conor, Sean, Gerard, Mícheál (Meehawl)

In one class at school there are 2 Aoife's (Eefa), an Aeobhe (Ava) and an Aisling (Ashleen). Very confusing.

Some fun quotes from the classroom (I love listening to these kids talk. Imagine these in an Irish accent):

"Please don't make me go first, if I don't get one I like, I'll go cracked!"

"He's top class!"

(In a very dramatic voice) "Oh teacher, I've a terrible pain in my stomach!"

"You're from Indiana... do you know Indiana Jones?"

"Teacher, they're being bold!"

"He's takin' the micky out of me!"

... and the phrase I hear the most often: "teacher, can I go toilet?" (they ask me this in Irish as well, but don't ask me to say/spell it.)

In school the other day, I taught my kids the song "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens. They still seem to love "Leaving on a Jet Plane" best though, I don't know why. They used to giggle at the kissing parts, but they've gotten a bit better about it.

As of yet, I still have not found a leprechaun or an Irish boyfriend, but there is still time...

Speaking of Rugby...

Here's what I've learned about the game so far:

• In Ireland, there are four major teams for four provinces: Munster, Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht.

• A try is worth 5 points and is awarded when a player crosses the tryline at the end of the field and touches the ball to the ground.

• A conversion, worth 2 points, can be attempted after a try is scored. The kicker must place the ball between two posts at the end of the field.

• The game is played in two 40 minute halves.

• Players can only pass behind them.

• The “scrum” is the huddle in the middle of the field where the two teams push against each other to gain ground.

• The “hooker” is the most respected player on the team, and is in the center of the scrum.

• An old Irish Rugby joke- “It is the height of pride for a father when his son is the hooker for Munster. It is the height of shame for a father when his daughter is the hooker for Munster”.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ireland's Call

This is another song that the kids like to sing for me. Here's some Irish culture for you- the National Rugby Anthem.

Come the day
And come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our country's call...
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We'll answer Irelands call.

From the mighty
Glens of Antrim
From the rugged hills of Galway
From the walls of Limerick
And Dublin Bay
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.

Hearts of steel
And heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight, until
We can fight no more.
For the four proud provinces of Ireland...

I can tell that we're going to be friends...

The kids in the first grade class sang We're Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes for me the other day, and it was the cutest thing ever :)

"We're Going To Be Friends" written by Jack White

Fall is here,hear the yell
back to school,ring the bell
brand new shoes,walking blues
climb the fence,books and pens
I can tell that we're going to be friends

Walk with me,Suzy Lee
through the park and by the tree
we will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we found
then safely walk to school
without a sound

Well here we are,no one else
we walked to school all by ourselves
there's dirt on our uniforms
from chasing all the ants and worms
we clean up and now its time to learn

Numbers,letters,learn to spell
nouns,and books,and show and tell
at playtime we will throw the ball
back to class,through the hall
teacher marks our height
against the wall

And we don't notice any time pass
we don't notice anything
we sit side by side in every class
teacher thinks that I sound funny
but she likes the way you sing

Tonight I'll dream while I'm in bed
when silly thoughts go through my head
about the bugs and alphabet
and when I wake tomorow I'll bet
that you and I will walk together again
cause I can tell that we're going to be friends

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Only 2 weeks left...

Where did the time go? I've been slacking off on blog posts, so I'll try to catch up:

Gaelic Football:

I've been training with the women's Gaelic Football team during the week, sort-of as part of a community involvement project. It's been a great way to get to know people around my own age, and stay in shape. I haven't run sprints like this since soccer training in high school! As of right now, I'm really terrible at the sport, but they're trying to learn me some skills. Gaelic Football, along with Hurling, is one of the national Irish sports. The rules as I have learned them so far are as follows: 15 players to a side, and you can either score by getting the ball past the keeper int the net (3 points), or getting it over the goal between 2 tall posts (1 point). Players can hold the ball and can take 4-5 steps before bouncing it on the ground or off of a foot (soloing). The ball can be passed either with a hand pass (similar to volleyball), or by drop-kicking it. Physical contact rules are similar to soccer: you can shoulder or use your hips against another player, but you can't grab another player or tackle. The girls have been a lot of fun to hang out with. I went with them to their last match and cheered them on, and then we all went out afterward to hang. Quote of that night, by Teresa: "It looks a bit dodgy, I'm scared to go in... Send in the American!"

Stars of Our Bars:

Over the past few weeks, there has been an ongoing singing competition in a local pub, and a contestant gets eliminated every week. I have heard several old Irish songs, as well as songs such as Cannonball by Damien Rice, and even Halo by Beyonce. After the competition, a band would play and everyone got up and danced. I'm surprised at how many familiar songs I hear. They really like their Johnny Cash here: I've heard the Ring of Fire loads of times. I also heard Bicycle Built for Two :) It's kinda nice to go out and hear music besides blaring rap all the time, nothing wrong with a bit of variety. Wonderwall by Oaisis and Michael Jackson are also popular among the young people here. In Irish dance at school, if the kids have extra time, their teacher lets them do the Thriller dance :)

Bunratty Castle:

This is a really old castle in County Clare that I went to see one day. It's been fixed up and refurbished to look like it might have back in the day, along with all the surrounding cottages and grounds. Lots of spiral staircases, nooks and crannies, dungeon, turrets, etc. Went to a local tea room for lunch and had vegetable soup and brown bread, and homemade apple pie, mmmmmm.

My favorite Irish food so far is probably the bacon and cabbage, minus the cabbage.

I've been able to make it to a few hurling matches lately, and that's been interesting. I don't think I would be very good at it; I have trouble enough being coordinated without a stick in my hand. Wouldn't wanna get hit with one of those bad boys... they do wear helmets though. There is a girl's version of hurling, it's called camogie. It's basically the same thing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aran Islands

I visited Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, a ferry ride away from Galway City. The Aran Islands are one of the few sites in Ireland where Irish is still spoken as a first language. Very small, everyone knows everyone. We stayed at the Kilronan hostel, run by and Italian of all people, Marco. We liked Marco, he was a good fellow :) He gave us biscuits. Cycled around the whole island during the day, and Irish music at "Watty's" at night. They have seals there, and some pretty cool ruins, like the Black Fort. I think I preferred the cliffs here to the Cliffs of Moher- more remote, untamed. Anne Marie brought us to visit her Garda friend, Brian. He took us around the island in his Garda car and showed us some of the harder-to-reach areas.

Lately, I've been getting involved with a women's Gaelic Football team. There's not a ton I can do to help out, but I run sprints with them and they're teaching me how to play :) It's been fun to get involved and learn a new sport. More about that later.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Random Thoughts

-I've watched more Desperate Housewives and Glee since I've been here than I ever did in the States.

-It's great getting to watch soccer on the "telly" whenever I want.

-Some of my host mom's favorite names for me are "Pet", "Chicken", and "Ducky".

-Don't ask someone to "give you a ride", they might get the wrong idea. You "collect" someone, or "give them a lift".

-Fries are "chips" and chips are "crisps".

-A pencil sharpener is a "topper" and "rubbers" are erasers.

What do I miss the most?

Hugs. People don't seem as physically affectionate here and you don't normally see friends hug each other in greeting, especially not the men. Saiorse's pretty much the only one I ever get a hug from, at night before she goes to bed :)

In general, people here have a very good sense of humor and they're constantly slaggin' on each other. There are always plenty of laughs to be had.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stranded in Lisdoonvarna

On Wednesday I went through the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher. The weather was crrrazy! It snowed in the morning, then was sunny and beautiful on the drive. Then, at the cliffs, we got caught in a hailstorm! That lasted about 10 minutes, and then it was sunny and beautiful again. I thought Indiana weather was unpredictable, but only in Ireland. The cliffs were amazing though, and when we could actually see it was a great view :) A "hooker" is the name for a small sailboat. My friend and I got off at a little town called Lisdoonvarna for lunch, and planned to take a bus to Ennis from there. Little did we know that the bus had stopped running already.. oops. So, we're stuck in a strange town, almost everything's closed for the season, and we feel a little we're in a slasher movie. What should we do? Hitchhike? Walk? Hostel? Ended up getting collected by a friend, AnneMarie and she took us to Ennis, that was lucky.

That night, had some Italian food, then went to a local pub with Matt, AnneMarie and Paul to listen to traditional Irish music. Loved it. The band consisted of a banjo, guitar, accordion, and flute. They were amazing :) The best part of it is, anyone who wants to can randomly just start singing or playing. My friend played and sang a few songs, and some other dude started singing some old Irish songs acapela. Everyone in the place joined in when they knew the words, it was awesome. The atmosphere was extremely personal and friendly.

Some more Irish terms:

Slagging, Blaggarding (both meaning something like making fun or teasing) I've been slagged on a lot since I've been here.


In the nip

Monday, March 29, 2010


So, the notorious Irish rain that I had so far avoided attacked today with a fury! My poor, flimsy little umbrella never had a chance. If you were in Galway City today, you might have spotted a rain-drenched American girl running through the streets after an inside-out umbrella that had become more of a hazard than a rain repellent.

Baileys Cheesecake!

It’s been a busy weekend. We got out at noon on Friday, in honor of the upcoming break, and all the teachers went out to lunch at a place called the Huntsman. We started around 2, and didn’t end up leaving ‘til around 7. Food was great, I had breaded chicken stuffed with spinach and mascarpone, with mushroom sauce, and mashed potatoes. Standard Irish food= meat, potatoes, and veggies :) I also tried the Pavalova, which is a merengue-type cake with cream and fruit on top, yummmmm! I had my first taste of Guinness in Ireland. It was great just to get out and get to know the other teachers, some are fairly young(24, 26), so not too much older than I am. The whole outing was “a great craic” :)

Saturday night, I went to a party with my host mother and father. It was a surprise 30th birthday party for a friend of theirs. They had it at a castle!

Sunday, one of the teachers took me out to lunch. Baileys cheesecake is the best thing ever!! Mmmmmmmmmm. Then we went in to Salthill and walked along the Prom for a bit, stopped in at a local pub and watched some soccer, then visited a cathedral in Galway City. It had the most beautiful stained glass windows.

It’s Easter break! That means that I have 2 weeks off to travel around and enjoy this beautiful country :D Did I mention that my host dad is teaching me to drive a stick shift?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Top 5 Favorite Irish Terms So Far:

1. Cheeky

2. Wanky

3. Brilliant

4. Bloody

5. Cuppa

‘Awesome’ is a very stereotypically American word, and they like to make fun of it.

Interesting fact: a period at the end of a sentence is called a "full stop".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Week 2

The older kids at our school (Bawnmore National) had a Gaelic football match during school yesterday, and that was fun to watch. Pretty much the whole school got to take a break for an hour to watch! I wish we could do that in the States. Gaelic football is a lot like soccer, except you can pick up the ball and run with it, and you can throw it. There are two goals, like in soccer, but there are also posts sticking up on either side of the goals, kinda like in American football. Getting the ball in the net is called a goal and is worth 3 points. Punting the ball between the two posts is worth 1 point. I also had the chance to learn a bit of Hurling while I was here. Hurling is kinda like hockey, but played on the grass with wooden paddles and a small ball, about the size of a tennis ball. I learned how to 'solo' the other day, which is when you balance the ball on the end of your paddle, or 'hurl', and run with it! Hurling, Gaelic football, and rugby are some of the biggest sports here. Soccer is also pretty popular.

Today in school, the kids were doing Irish dancing as part of their PE. So fun to watch! These kids have so many extracurricular activities: dancing, sports, music, and they're all learning Irish too! I'm making a note to learn some Irish dancing before I leave.

At home, I've been getting along really well with the family. Ruairi, the oldest, is learning guitar and he's been letting me play on his whenever I want :) Also, Saoirse has a keyboard! I'm not wanting for a musical outlet here. I've been trying to run most days after school. The weather's been pretty good for it: a bit cold and windy, but not too bad. There's a pitch a ways down the road that I can go to and run around. Guitar, running, Judo... what more could I want?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Galway City

It was a beautiful day in Galway City. About 50 degrees and sunny. I spent several hours just walking around... awesome. It's a small city, but so much going on! Lots of shops, pubs, and restaurants. Live music on the streets, and some interesting people dressed up like statues. I took loads of pictures. The ocean was absolutely gorgeous with the sunlight glittering off of it, and lots of white birds were out flying around. Very peaceful. I found a coffee shop called Mocha Beans, and I had my first cup of brewed coffee since I've been in Ireland! Oh, I had missed it so... instant coffee just isn't the same. This city definitely warrants several more trips.


I'm really blessed to find a judo school here, because I've been told they're pretty rare. It's mostly boxing in Ireland. I went with Ru, and his age group meets right after Saoirse's. It was adorable watching all the little kids throwing each other around :) I was the oldest person there, aside from the instructor. We started out doing some warmups, and then got with a partner and repped some throws across the mat. I was kinda lost on some of it; most of the kids have been doing it for a while. They were really helpful though, and I was able to pick things up pretty quickly. I learned a new throw! Tai-otoshi. I need to brush up on the Japanese names for things :s After that, we just free-sparred with different partners- starting from standing up, and on our knees. I got rocked for the most part with throws, but I held my own on the ground. I wasn't expecting to groundfight as much as I did, and I guess that wasn't normal. Usually matches end with a hold of some kind, but I think the instructor added in some groundwork for my benefit. At the end of the day, I got thrown around a lot, got a few taps, and got a really good workout. It meets once a week for an hour, and it's less than five bucks! Not bad. I think this will be really good for my game.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Day of School

Love the school, love the teachers. The children are awesome. They are all very curious, and they have the most beautiful eyes!

Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. My little sister goes to this school and was very excited to introduce me to everyone :) I spent my first day walking around and visiting different classrooms of ages ranging from 5 to 10. I read to some of the classes, including a chapter from Charlotte’s Web. I also had the opportunity to play on a guitar and sing for a class :) The first year teacher plays songs to his class often, and he welcomed me with an Irish tune. Then, the kids decided that I should have to play for them as well! I played “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and they enjoyed it. They were singing along with me by the end. The children are all learning Irish in school, as well as English, and at times the teachers will switch to Irish when teaching. I will be learning right along with my students!

Sláinte! (pronounced ‘slauncha’, meaning “good luck”, or “cheers”)

First Impressions

So the past couple of days have been a whirlwind of emotions! Getting off the plane, I was tired and hungry and felt completely lost. I was sure everyone knew I was a stupid American. However, when my host mother met me at the bus station, she gave me a hug and told me that I was "very welcome to Ireland!" She and the whole family have made me feel completely at ease here. Their house is beautiful, about 20 minutes from Galway City, and I have my own room and bathroom.

The family consists of the mother and father, a 7-year-old girl named Saoirse (pronounced Seersha), and a 14-year-old boy named Ruairi (pronounced Roory). Both children are very active and involved in hurling, swimming, and judo! The girl does Irish dancing and plays piano as well. I told them that they will have to take me to judo sometime, so that I can train while I'm here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
We went into town to see the parade today. No school on St. Patrick's Day :) Most of the shops were closed to day, but I've been told that it's not that big of a deal here. It's mainly an excuse for people to hit the pubs, which are pretty much the only places that stay open. I guess the custom of pinching people if they don't wear green is totally American. The kids got a kick out of it when I told them about though, and kept referring to it throughout the day. "You can't pinch me, I'm wearing green!"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Getting Pumped...

So I'm going to Ireland soon and decided to keep a blog... we'll see how that goes. I'm going to try to post fairly regularly.

I will be student teaching in a primary school of 148 students from mid-March to late May. I don't really know a whole lot else yet, but I'll be finding out before too long!

This song got me kinda pumped one day: maybe it's cheesy, but I don't care. Oh, I'm going to Galway by the way ;)

No, I don't have black hair and blue eyes, but close enough.