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It has been almost two months since I posted. I have been back in America for the last month and let me say that I procrastinated posting a new entry to the EXTEME. Yes, the study abroad program in Dublin has been officially over for me for quite some time (month and a half now). However, I need to at least put some closure on the whole experience. I would hate to be left hanging if one blog or another was not finished. I mean, who ever did read my blog would say, ” common Jude! Do not leave me hangin’ girl”.

And so, I left you all hangin’.

So, I digress and let me tell you, my trip to the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland was an experience of a life time. My roommate and I were waiting on the sidelines, during the end of April, to see if the Icelandic volcano would bless us the good fortune of ending the chaos (the plumes of smoke that canceled thousands of flights). Europe was being showered with ash and I was stuck waiting “patiently”. In the end, I was able to go and had a great time!

In Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague I could not have been more thankful for a free walking tour company. This company is known as SANDEMANs New Europe. Throughout major cities in Europe (also in Dublin), this tour company gives free walking tours daily. In each of the three cities, the English-speaking tour guides (two from the Unites States and one from England) gave entertaining and historical information through the few hours I walked with them. To sum it up, if I did not go on these tours, I would have missed out on much of the city.

My favorite city was Prague, Czech Republic. Not only was the art and architecture purely amazing, the night life was over the top! I signed myself up for my first ever pub crawl. Clock Tower Pub Crawl gave me the night life experience I was missing on this trip. We went to four different pubs/ clubs throughout the night and met English-speaking people from all over the world!

Now, my heritage goes back to Polish roots (also German, French Canadian, and Native American), so traveling through Poland was beyond comparable to other feelings I had for other countries. Traveling on the train to Krakow gave me this weird, however wonderful sense of being home, even though it was my Great Grandparents who had been in Poland last. Most of the houses I passed were run down small houses, but for some reason the place had a huge charm to it.

I was finally in Poland.

I was going for my family (my dad and aunt had this utmost desire for me to go) and I did it for myself.  What a beautiful country to have gone through so much with powerful overbearing countries residing next to her.

I also took a train exploration to Oświęcim (the town of Auschwitz satellite camps) and walked to the Auschwitz-I (the Stammlager or main camp) from the train station (20-30 min walk). Some visitors were crying at the site and I was deeply moved.

There were many things that I saw in the museum that trying rung me to the core (the room of shoes, clumps of hair, clothing, suitcases, all life possessions in general). The tiny baby clothes. I cannot begin to understand how they felt. The fear? Death? Loss of family? Torture? . . . .

Those feelings only brush the surface of it all. To only be there for a few hours does not even grasp it. Not even close.

The Auschwitz II-Birkenau (Vernichtungslager or extermination camp) was down the road from Auschwitz-I, however I did not have enough time to walk in. I was able to look from the outer walls and obviously looked just as morbid as Auschwitz I.

Overall, the trip to the four countries was a huge eye opener. I learned more about where my family came from and was able to get a historical on-site experience.

It was a glorious adventure!

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hey who ever is actually is still reading this! Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic! Holy cow this place is AMAZING! I was going to talk about the Dropkick Murpheys concert that I went to last week but never got to posting. It was a super sweet concert in Dublin! Anyways, I just jumped on the computer to say hello! I know I haven’t posted in a week or so, however you will be getting a BIG post after this week. I am doing a “blitzkreig” (use the term loosely) through a few countries over the next several days. Two days ago I was in Amsterdam; yesterday, in Berlin; today and tomorrow in Prague; and the following two days in Krakow which I will visit one of the Auschwitz concentration camps. This week definitely has a World War II feel to it. All of the cities have been affected by the war one way or another.

I’ll post next week. I wish I could stay in each city a few days longer than I planned, however, this is my free week “study week” (who studies during study week when you got the opportunity of a life time to travel? seriously), followed by finals week next week. Anyways, you see I am on a tight schedule.

Final statement: I AM COMING BACK TO THESE PLACES! Wow, words cannot describe the trip. Simply, too beautiful, too wonderful.

Peace Out!

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This weekend was pretty much a last minute decision. The only plan we had was to head to Cork first and then go from there. The girls and I took a bus from Dublin to Cork in what we thought was only going to be a three hour ride. Wrong. Five hours later that involved many stops in between to pick others up on the way to Cork, we arrived with no plans of what we were going to do. The plus side of the bus ride was seeing all the cute little towns on the way, which were pretty brief visits of sight seeing, via bus. Anyways after getting off the bus, the first thing on our minds was…FOOD. So after a satisfying trip to subway (which was plopped down perfectly right next to the station), we decided to head to Blarney where we could kiss the blarney stone. The ride was only five miles from Cork, so we thought that we should see that first and then come back to see the night life of Cork.

The town of Blarney was cute and the Blarney Castle was even more. After paying eight euro, we were able to explore the grounds where the Castle resides as well as climb up to the top of the Castle. Going through the castle was interesting enough. Most floors were pretty much gone so I could see from the cellar barn all the way up to the living room three floors up. On the very top of the Castle was our destination though because the Blarney stone was practically waiting for us. Kissing the Blarney Stone was said to give any kisser the “gift of gab”. The gift of gab was said to give the kisser “the skill at flattery” (thank you wikipedia).

I’m already flattering…

After puckering the stone up, the girls and I walked around the grounds a little bit (and playing on the kids playground) before heading back into Cork where we planned to stay the night instead of leaving. We were thinking of leaving Cork for Galway that evening but since we did not explore Cork city yet and since there were no night buses running, we rented a hostel room instead. I was surprised at how cool the city was. Since Cork won the most cultural city of the year, a few years back, they decided to remodel a few of the main streets. They were cool to walk through with the pretty brick layered streets and fancy shops. The next morning after getting a cup of mocha at this really sweet coffee shop, we walked to the English Market. With my Ireland guide book, I found out that the market had over 140 stalls of different foods. I only bought a fruit scone though (reminds me of a biscuit with berries added). Later on, we decided to talk the 3 hour bus (ended up being 5 hour bus ride again) to Galway. It was a beautiful ride through the country side again.

Once in Galway, we dropped our bags off at only of the girls friends flat who was also studying abroad (in Galway though). After that, we all walked around the city (which was super cute and small). The last place to see was the fast paced river, which led into the bay. There was a big patch of grass that young people alike were out chilling by which made us decide to skip the pubs and bring our drinks out to the river instead. We all say random music of the 90’s and resided under the star lit sky.

The night was a blast…especially seeing a flock of over 40 swans grouped together next to the river. Woo hoo!

To top off the weekend, we took a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. To get there, we took a few stops first. Dunguaire Castle was one them. A beautiful castle that resides over a body of water. Our tour guide stated that there are a portion of Guinness commercials filmed at Dunguaire Castle. I can see why Guinness would use this site. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It’s magical. But after taking our quick five minute bus break to take pictures, we had to keep moving. Next stop was Ireland’s “Burren”. The burren is a site of limestone rock that fully covers mountains and valleys in the area. The farms inside the burren provide the best nutrients for the animals and plants, provided by the nutrients of the limestone. The grass sure looked loads greener in those parts. Over 11,000 species of plants reside in the burren as well which equals to about 70 percent of Ireland’s plant species reside in this limestone covered area.

Leaving the Burren, we stopped for lunch before heading off to one of the most prettiest, most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The Cliffs of Moher. To top off our weekend, we were allowed an hour and a half stop at the cliffs. We were able to hike around for that period to different parts of the cliffs. However, there was a sign at one point that said, “Please Do Not Go Beyond This Point”. Beyond this point was private property. However, a friend of ours told us to skip pass the sign and follow the people who went past it.
So, we went beyond “this point”. Was it destiny to go beyond? I think so.

Going beyond the point proved to be the most worthwhile part of the trip. I was able to get so many more beautiful views on the other side of the sign. I could see two caves down below. One of which was used in the six movie of the Harry Potter series. The “Horcrux” Cave. However, the only part of the cave at the cliffs used was the outer part. I can see how it looks foreboding with 710 feet high cliffs.

With the 710 feet worth of nothing to stop someones fall other than the water below, we were at the very edge of the cliff the whole time walking by it. I checked on the internet later and it shows that at least one person falls from the cliffs every year, whether through the wind blowing someone down, you take the wrong step and fall (which apparently happened to a man trying to take a picture of a group of people and stepped backwords wrongly and fell), or commit suicide.

Let’s move past the morbidity shall we?

Anyways, we could not have gotten a better day for the cliffs. Light breeze, 65 degree weather, and sunny. There were even kiyakers below, paddling their way around the cliffs.

That was the end of a beautiful and perfect weekend. I want to kiyak around the cliffs some day. That would be amazing!

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This was not the first time away from my family for Easter Sunday, but after talking with everyone from home made me miss them a lot that day. However, I had a great time. I woke up to my roommates shouting “HAPPY EASTER” and throwing a bag of chocolates on top of me. They really surprised me. I was not expecting that at all. However, it made my day. Along with the wake up call, we all dressed up as if we were home and all went to the other apartment to have an easter dinner with the rest of the crew. It felt as though I had my family with me in spirit.

After dinner consisted of church, which was crazy boring. No music at the night mass that made the whole easter celebration less joyful. It was too serious. Anyways, my night ended with me skyping my whole family at my grandparents house. Each one of them taking their turn stealing the computer, with my grandma reluctant to give up the computer for others. Haha

I have a month and a week left before I go home. This adventure of a semester has gone by too fast. But at this point, I am excited to go home. I’ miss my family and friends a lot. I plan to spend the next few weeks finishing up term papers, exams, explore the city, and travel like a crazy girl before hopping on that plane, destined for the new world.

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I was pumped for the big day. However, I made my way through the city throughout the week. The population went from 2 million to WHO KNOWS? Tourists flooded the city and since my backyard is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tourist buses lined themselves up next to my apartment building. I have never seen it so crowded.

St. Paddy’s Day started off very early. I woke up at 7:30 to prepare for the festivities. In preparation, I bought orange, white, and green face paint along with green hairspray, shamrock antenaes, and a green guiness shirt. Now, I will talk later about the increased popularity I had for the face paint.
Anyways, the group was out the door a little after nine o’clock with a skip in our step. We were excited to say the least. The first thing we accomplished was having a traditional Irish breakfast at little restaurant near our apartments. Heads turned when we fashionably entered the restaurant in full out green. It was a site to remember. I did not notice, but one of the girls showed off the look on one of the customers when we walked in. However, three things happened to me while in the restaurant:

1. One my study abroad friends said I looked like on of those actors from braveheart with the painted face.

2. A local Irishman claimed I looked like an Avatar from Pandora. RAWR.

3. A 45 (or 48? cant remember) year old Mongolian woman initiated a conversation with me, which half the time I could not understand, in telling me how she loved when she was our age. Sandra, the Mongolian woman, came up to me after the chat and two things happened.

She gave me a hug.

And then handed me a container of grapes for the group.

Now, a container of grapes? She along with the rest of the restaurant is either eating an Irish Breakfast or drinking Guinness at 10 in the morning and she for some reason had a container of grapes? I will not further acknowledge what happpened. But the grapes were delicious.

Wherever she got them from.

Now the day was perfect. The warmest day so far with 60 degree weather and bright blue sunny skies. We walked around the city through various sites to see the parade. Kids and adults everywhere were decked out in green. Face painting and hair coloring stands were everywhere (I looked better than any of them!). It was an excited time. The place was PACKED. No where to manuver as rows deep of people were waiting for the parade to go by. Little children nestled on top of parents shoulders, people on ladders, on statues, and on rooftops just to see the parade. Since we knew we were not going to see anything, we decided to head back to my apartment, which is right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to watch the parade.

However when the parade came by, I could not really see it from the rooftop because the parade was a few hundred feet away, so I left the rooftop and made my way towards it. Slightly better being close up, but again we were blocked out by people being the way from getting a good view. During this time, I met three Russians from Moscow who decided they wanted a picture with me (I know I am famous. My crazy face paint works wonders on my popularity…now if I had known this in high school….). Two of them were also practicing their English and used me as their guinea pig, which was awesome. I am pretty open with talking to anyone. I had a fun time!

The rest of the day consisted of getting sushi for lunch (first time having Sushi and it was very good! It had salmon and cream cheese in it), parading myself through the city, going to a pub, and making my way through the dance floor at a night club (washed the face paint off because I knew it would be rather disgusting with sweat mixed in and some were disappointed I took the face paint off….o well).

One of the best days I had in Dublin thus far. I met people from Mongolia, Russia, Ireland, and the United States. However, people were from all over the world and St. Patrick’s Day was an awesome experience to be emersed in so much culture and with people from all over who just wanted to have a great time and celebrate what makes life special.

St. Paddy’s Day was a site to see and I am thankful to celebrate the holy day in the greatest city to do so.

Dublin.

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Sorry for the delay of posting. This should have been in last week, but I am back! Two weekends ago I took the train to Belfast. Belfast was my first experience being in the United Kingdom… seeing as Northern Ireland is it’s own entity from the Republic of Ireland. Belfast is known for it’s civil unrest between the Protestants and Catholics. In fact, I was told to stay away from certain places when I went to Belfast seeing as I would definitely meet trouble between the religions. Thank fully, the only trouble I had was moi versus the torrential down pour of rain. The first thing that my study abroad mates and I noticed was the rain. I mean how can you not? We exited the train station and had to walk a quarter of a mile down a road that had only a few feet of sidewalk between the road and wall that entrapped us in. Every time a car or bus drove by, we were splashed with waves of  water. You would think it only happened in movies. No way! After being soaked multiple times by vehicles who did not give a hoot, we were miserable. I remember running down the rest of the street when a bus was coming apon us. I made it from the water that would have drenched me. But, the squeals behind me as I ran prove that we all did not make it. My friends were hit.

Thank you Belfast. What a welcoming city.

The people were great and were friendly enough. All day Friday was dedicated to keeping warm in the pubs. We were soaked to the bone as it was. However, Belfast proved to be the first and worst time spent in a hostel. I was to stay in a twelve person room with no one I knew (but you know me, I probably would have gotten along great with random people). However, my friends gratefully were able to switch me to their room. The twelve person room would host mostly drunk students who came in after we went to bed. In the end, I was not able to sleep for long as some random people decided to wake the whole building up at 3:30. For the longest time, we heard people chasing other people through the building as they were playing “hide and go seek”. Now, the only places that were available to hide were the bathrooms. And for some reason or another, there were things left in the bathroom that I will not disclose in this blog.

It was pure disgusting.

The second day in Belfast proved to be our last. We decided not to waste our money on the Titanic tour as we were still pretty moody from the day before. Belfast is known as the city who built the Titanic. You can hear locals saying that the Titanic was in perfect shape when it left! Do not blame us!

Overall experience…I did not enjoy the rainy weekend. I think we visited the city on the wrong days. However, the city is too industrialized (not even close to Dublin’s beauty). I feel as though the city is still climbing out of the difficulties it has between the two religions. We went to the city just days after a bombing that went down between the two religions.
Maybe in the future give it another shot? I dont know…

I was super excited to get back in Dublin. I was practically skipping when I came back. It’s just the warmth of Dublin that brings me in. I feel more at home in Dublin when I am over in Europe. Not like being in my hometown in the U.S., but for the last couple of months it has been my true European home.

I embrace the city and am having the time of my life. Two months down and two more left. Has it really gone by that quick?

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trying to salvage a weekend.

Previously last Friday, I was scheduled to meet up with one of my best friends in Barcelona who has been studying abroad in Spain. To quicken up the story, lets just say that I never made my flight. I was not late for the flight, because I sat at the boarding gate two hours early. However, since I was not a European Union citizen I was required to have a certain boarding stamp on my ticket, which I did not have and had no idea that I needed. The stamp certifies that my human self identifies with what my passport says. Hence, I am not traveling on a stolen passport.

Well, I had no idea that I needed to go to the checked baggage line when I had not bags to check in to get said stamp. So, I was denied access to the plane. I was devastated.

I am attempting a visit to my friend in Spain soon. Let’s hope it works out.
So, the title of my blog for this past weekend explains that I am trying to salvage my weekend. Since, I was planning to have an awesome time in Barcelona. And now that I was stuck in Dublin, I made no plans. Once I explained to my Dublin roommates of what occurred, they grouped together to help make my weekend better. They. Are. Awesome.

We went and saw the movie “Wolfman”. I had no idea it was going to be a movie that dates back in time, as I was expecting it to be filmed around this era. Also, the girls who did not travel any where else this past weekend went to the Dublin Zoo with me. It was fun just staring at the Giraffes in the African safari. It was as though they were modeling for us on a runway. Also, a baby giraffe continuously tried to chase an Ostrich around. The giraffe was cute and funny as hell. And the baby had some spunk. We also saw Rhino’s and other animals gallivanting around as though they were the most popular being in town. It was fun, but very chilly.
That same day we watched a rugby match in a pub for the Six Nations Tour. Ireland Versus France. There were more people cheering for France than fans cheering on Ireland. What is going on with this world? And, France dominated and won this weekends match up. It was an overall pleasant experience to be in an atmosphere that just showed so much pride for the sport of Rugby. There was  a soccer/ football match showing on the other television at the same time. There were so many Spanish in the pub cheering on their team. What a diverse showing in the pub.

Lastly, moving on to Sunday, a group of us went to a Chinese new year festival that took place on the north side of Dublin (North of the River Liffey is north side, and the same with the south. I live on the south side). The festival was pretty boring. We went later on and missed most of the excitement. However, there was a ferris wheel that we went on and we were able to see the whole city at sunset. It was beautiful! And the cart that we were in was able to spin if we wanted too. I did not, seeing as how I got pretty nauseous on the first spin around. But, the people working the machine did not care. Even though we asked them not to spin us, they exhaled, “WHY NOT”! and twirled us around anyways.
Jerks.

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