Kari: Homestay Weekend & the Past Week

February 6, 2009

Homestay Weekend

Friday: We arrived in Navan, Co. Meath, in the Republic of Ireland around 5:30 in the evening. It was Erin (Baz) and I staying at our homestay together. We were welcomed with open arms by Bernie, our host mother, and two young girls, who were neighborhood children. Firstly, we were brought upstairs straightaway to put our bags in our rooms and to get settled in. We then headed back downstairs to talk with the lovely neighbor girls and to meet Bernie’s two dogs, Serenity and Courage, and her 8 week old kitten, Wisdom. We were then offered tea, which of course, we couldn’t resist. Dinner followed shortly after tea, which consisted of breaded chicken, mashed potatoes, and mashed peas. So delicious! After dinner came six (6) hours of watching television, or ‘tellie’ as they call it here. What an amazing release to have after not having a TV for SO LONG. The TV line-up was Simpsons, Superstars of Dance (which when it ended, Ireland was in 1st place and the US was in 2nd place), news, The Late, Late Show, and Mr. Wrong (a really horrible movie with Ellen DeGeneres, who I love, so I had to watch). Along with TV came more tea, ice cream & jelly, crisps, and diet coke, with a candy bar. I think you will catch a theme by the end of this blog. We ate A LOT. I swear that I did not go hungry at all. Bernie headed to bed around 1 AM, while Baz and I forced (struggled) our way through Mr. Wrong. We headed to bed around 2 AM and I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had since I’ve been in Ireland.

Saturday: A lazy day was on the schedule. We ate a very late breakfast, and then sat around and watched TV. I never thought that I’d take TV for granted before coming here, but I was completely wrong. Just to have the background noise in the apartment was enough. Around 2:30 PM, we were then fed the most amazing Irish meal; roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, Irish bacon (essentially ham), cabbage, carrots, and tea. It was hands down the best meal I’d eaten since I’ve been here. After lunch, we finally changed out of our sweats and into jeans and headed off to the shops. I just bought some cards and sweets at the Euro Shop. We then headed to Bernie’s daughter’s beautiful house and saw their horses and had more tea and biscuits. After that, we headed back to Bernie’s house to change back into our sweats and plop ourselves in front of the TV again. Later, two of Bernie’s friends came over for tea and dessert. They were two wonderful women who we got to know quite well. Some people say that Irish people take a while to open up to others, but I have not experienced that since I’ve been here.

Sunday: We got up around 10 AM, and just had a large Irish breakfast, with everything except blood sausage. After that, we quickly got ready and headed to the site of the Battle of the Boyne. What a historical place to see. I hope that I have a chance to go back before I leave Ireland because I’d love to learn more. Bernie then gave us a mini driving tour of Slane and the Slane Castle (where the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna have played). We then headed back to Navan and had a quick lunch of leftovers, which ended up being a huge meal, and finished the weekend off with some warm custard and apple crisp. I promise you, again, we never went hungry. It actually took a lot of will power from Baz and I to finish that dessert. We didn’t want to let Bernie down and not eat what she had prepared for us. We were picked up by our taxi driver at 3 PM to head back to Belfast. It was a wonderful weekend with a wonderful woman. I really enjoyed myself.

After I got home about an hour and a half later than I expected, I had to rush and get ready for church service. Andrew, a friend that we met the first time we went to First Carrickfergus Presbyterian Church, who is a high school teacher at an all girls school in Belfast, was coming to pick Kelsey, Bethany and myself up. We went to the upbeat ‘Youth Service’, which they have every month on the first Sunday and included worship songs that I am used to from back home in Minneapolis. After the service, we met some more people from the church, a couple that even offered us rides to service whenever we needed them, which I thought was amazing of them. After mingling for awhile and meeting some college aged students at the church, the girls (Kelsey & Bethany) and I were invited out for coffee and dessert with a group of college aged students and Andrew. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that night, and I’m excited to attend this Sunday’s service to hear the message, but to also see the wonderful people that I had met the last weekend.

Week #2 of modules:

Monday: Same old, same old. I had class in the morning for a couple of hours, then I headed back to the apartment for a pretty lazy day of doing nothing. I got to talk to my parents that evening, and that was definitely the highlight. A couple of girls and I then headed to the Union (a bar on campus) for a drink, then called it a night.

Tuesday: I didn’t have class until 3:15 that day, so I slept in. I think I really needed that! I haven’t been able to do much because I’m not registered for classes online yet, so I actually made a list of things I needed to get done, so I could start on them on Wednesday. The highlight of Tuesday was the start of small group, or bible study. I’ll probably refer to it as both. There were about ten of us there that evening, and we are going to study Ephesians throughout the semester. Before we started study, however, we played a couple of ice breaker games and got to know each other. We then had a great conversation going during study, and we ended with a game that I like to call, “Ask the Americans”. The Irish students asked Kelsey, Amanda and I multiple questions about anything and everything you could imagine; snow, driving, and school, mostly. We were able to connect with the other students at small group and get to ask them questions about Irish culture, as well, which really helped me out. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed as hard as I did at small group. It was a blast, and for stretching myself to even join a bible study in the first place, so far, I’m completely glad that I did. I can tell already, that it’s going to help me grow so much.

Wednesday: I had class from 9:15 AM until 1:15 PM. I grabbed some lunch with Amanda and Bethany, then headed to the library in order to get some books for class, and to try to figure out e-mail and WebCT. After a couple hours in the library, I headed back to my place and got ready to go out. 5 of us girls went out to the ballet for the night in Belfast. We got student rush tickets for only 10 pounds and we had really great seats. It was a beautiful production of Sleeping Beauty.

Thursday: It snowed and everyone freaked out. No, seriously freaked out and it wasn’t even snowing hard enough for it to stick to the ground. I went to my first class at 9:15 AM, and there were 6 students there out of 40. I find it hard to believe that it took 2.5 hours to get from Carrickfergus to Jordanstown in the snow, which is about a 10-15 minute drive away in perfectly fine weather. It was a weird experience for me, because it was the first day that kinda felt like home. After my first lab session, which we had to tape ourselves having an interpersonal communication, I went to a seminar at 11:15 AM, which was great to finally see some theories being applied to certain research. After seminar, I finally went and signed up and paid for the gym, so I will actually go and work out.

Friday: Today, well for me it’s actually now Saturday, but for those back home, it’s still Friday, I went shopping. I needed new jeans, so a couple girls and I headed to Belfast. When we got back from shopping and hanging out for awhile, Kelsey, Amanda and I were pleasantly surprised with an e-mail from Jonny, a guy from our bible study, who invited us to see a movie with him and a friend of his this evening. We decided to see Slumdog Millionaire. It was myself, Kelsey, Baz, Kara, Emily and Bethany, along with Jonny and his friend Dean. The movie was BRILLIANT! It was one of the best movies that I have seen in a really long time. I highly suggest you see it immediately. It was a really fun night and I’m glad that I was able to go.

It is now 2:33 AM on Saturday morning. I am exhausted from such a long day, but I knew I needed to get this blog updated. If I may leave you with a quote that I received just the other day. It’s encouraged me to make the most out of my trip and take every possible opportunity at hand and run with it: “The problem in my life and other people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it.”

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