Wednesday, December 21, 2011

i'll be home for christmas.

Currently,  I'm laying in my big bed back in Naperville. This post was written on the plane. Enjoy.


Halfway across the Atlantic, I'm nearly home after four months on the Emerald Isle. It's impossible to describe a study abroad experience without using clichés. My adventures will be ones I will never forget. I will always be grateful of the time I spent abroad and all the people I met. Near the end of the whole experience, I was getting rather culturally sick. I missed the things I took for granted in the United States, such as businesses being open past 6pm, cheap Mexican food, and the validity of a driver's license. I was telling Mark during the last few days that if I could take all of my friends from Ireland, Chicago, and Los Angeles and move them to one place (which would be Chicago, but transplanted to where LA is), I totally fucking would. While this wasn't the first time I've had to say goodbye to people I may never see again, it was definitely the hardest. Over the past four months, I gained friends that I was comfortable enough to be my nerdy self. They introduced me to things I would never have done before Ireland.

So, thank you. Thank you everyone involved with my study abroad experience in Cork. And I mean everyone. From my parents, for funding the whole trip; to Lynda, my best American friend; to Mark, my kindred spirit; to my crazy fucking roommates; to Haley, one of my few Stateside friends to regularly talk to me. And to you, reading my blog. If it weren't for all of you (yes, I'm talking about you), I don't think I could have done it.

If this sounds cheesy, it should. Thank you cards are always the cheesiest cards on the rack because even Hallmark hasn't figured out a way to make appreciation and thanks sound genuine. (And they've figured out how to say everything.) I wish I knew a way for all of you to feel how much I really appreciate the support while I've been in Ireland. To know that I wasn't forgotten on another continent is a great feeling. To be welcomed into a fairly established group of friends is overwhelmingly fantastic. To be able to break down and share the most intimate thoughts is so dear.

I know I didn't talk much about my feelings while I'd been away. If I had a problem or frustration, I couldn't find a way to work it into the blog. Either that, or I would sound like a 14 year old emo kid with a Xanga writing terrible poetry. I saved many of those thoughts for a different blog where I would complain about the weather in Ireland, how I stopped finding things to eat, or being constantly referred to as 'the American'. (Those who know how much I detest pride in America understand where I'm coming from.) My homesickness came late in the game compared to many of my fellow American cohorts. It didn't rear its ugly head until around November when I ached for certain pleasures (i.e. food) I couldn't find in Ireland.

I started hating Ireland during November. I couldn't wait to go home to my mom and dad, where I knew what I liked to eat, and could go wherever I wanted to go. Every time I left on a trip outside of Ireland, I never wanted to go back. I wanted to stay in Edinburgh/Berlin/Munich/Budapest/Prague/Krakow. I had had enough of Ireland and Cork. The more research I did into the politics of Ireland, the angrier I got. My entire final paper for my undergrad career was basically a rant on how archaic and unfair most of Ireland's laws are regarding families. I couldn't stand it. The more I looked into the place I was living, the more I hated it. Before the Extraordinary Eastern European Extravaganza, I loathed Ireland. I hated UCC and college in Ireland. I never wanted to go back. I've been paying attention to American politics and societal shit and I don't want to go back either. Yet, I know how to deal with it there. I know that despite my country going to shit, I can live around the laws and the policies in place. Ireland, I don't understand you. Mark explained it to me best: he doesn't find Ireland as crazy as the States because that's what he's used to. The U.S. is what I'm used to. Some cultural norms were driving me insane and I needed release.

Now that I'm leaving, of course I know I'm going to miss Ireland. Maybe not the crazy ideals or the chokehold Catholicism still has on the country, but I'm going to miss my friends and the craic. I may or may not miss Cork. Jury's still out on that one. I'll miss the ability to up and travel somewhere new in a different country. I won't miss the lacadaisicality of the education system, but I will miss the interesting classes I took while there (with the exception of Family Policy). I will hardcore miss WARPS and all the people there. You all are amazing and should know that about yourselves. I have never met a group of people who are so passionate about the nerdiest things and I love it. My only hope is that I can find a group like y'all when I move out to LA. I need RPG and nerds in my life at all times.

I know I thanked you, the reader, for reading this blog. It's tacky to thank the reader, but seriously, thank you. As a self-absorbed writer, I like knowing that people are reading what I'm writing and (hopefully) enjoying it. I write them as a reflective method for myself, but also as a way to share my experiences in a timely manner. Nothing's worse than asking someone "So what did you do overseas?" Unless you had six hours, three bags of kettle corn, and a 12-pack of good beer, I couldn't do it. It's hard to think back to everything you've done in four months. Bet you can't do it either. Blogs are so helpful with thought-keeping. I'm pleased to be returning to my LA blog when I get back there. I may even start another of just my random thoughts. (Have I ever told you my Brownie Theory?)

Goodbye, Ireland. It's been real good craic like. I'll be back to visit. Maybe not for a while (because I'll be poor) but I will be back.

Hello, Chicago. Sweet home Chicago. I'll be home for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

in which gabby drunkenly mistakes dollars for euros.

The title is a true story, but we'll get to that.

Thursday morning was spent missing the 6am train from Krakow's city center and getting on the 6:30am after a bit of slight hysterics. We made it to the airport with almost too much time to spare. So, naturally, we sat around, found stale food, and waited for our flight to be called. We were on a pond-jumper airplane and were thrilled with the hour of free reading. Lufthansa is also the best airline. Free drinks, free luggage check-in, and awesome German efficiency. Best.

After landing in Munich, we made our way to the S-Bahn and took that 45 minutes into the city -- more reading. We walked to our hostel, dumped off our bags, and headed into town. (Fun fact: our hostel is quite close to the hotel I stayed at the first time I was in Munich!)

Munich was all decked out for Christmas with all the stores hanging garland and tinsel in their windows. Our first stop was Karlsplatz -- but there was an ice skating rink in the way! It was the start of the Christmas Market that started at Karlsplatz and ended at Marienplatz. And what do you do at the start of a long day of shopping? Eat. We stopped at the big cabin-looking building in the middle of Karlsplatz to grab a bite to eat and watch some of the ice skaters. Little did we know, we were being eavesdropped on. We had two reporters from a newspaper wanting to interview us Americans as to why we chose to come to Munich's Christmas Market. How cool! So, after a brief interview, they wanted to get a picture of us on the ice rink. We pushed around one of the penguin skating guiders, in our gym shoes, while the photographer got pictures. It was quite a start to Munich.

Once that finished, we started our way down the Christmas Market. Most of the stalls were selling similar things to what we found in Budapest, Prague, and Krakow. At least, when it came to ornaments. I was looking for one for my mom and it was proving to be difficult. The ones I did find were either 1. breakable, or 2. extremely breakable. It wouldn't be until late at night that I'd find one. (In other words, Happy Belated Birthday, Mom!)

Regardless, we sought out Frauenkirche, a cathedral near Marienplatz. It was on Gabby's list of things to see. Absolutely gorgeous, as always.

We spent the majority of the day shopping and looking around Munich. By this point in the traveling, we were pretty tired so we took a break and went back to our hostel. Gabby read and I finished my last essay of my undergraduate career. Unbelievable.

Since the weather was supposed to be worst on Friday, it seemed like the perfect day to spend indoors. Our first stop was at The Residenz, the home of the King of Bavaria. It's a huge house with tons of ornate rooms. Some of the rooms were destroyed in World War II bombing of Munich, but they've been restored to the point where if I didn't know any better, I would think it was original. We took the long tour and saw the whole Residenz and the Treasury (royal keepsakes, jewels, and porcelain). Later, we would return to see the Theater which definitely did not disappoint.

Between The Residenz and the Carilles-Theater,  we went all the way over to the Deutsches Museum. The brochures had boasted that the museum was all about technology with many hands-on exhibist -- which we later discovered were all mostly out of order. It wasn't the most exciting part of the day since we were tired and many of the exhibits were in German. Unlike the exhibits in Hungary, I could read the exhibits. Yet, as those who have intermediate skills in another language, it's really exhausting. I resorted to my typical museum behaviour: push all of the buttons. And as I said before, most of them didn't work. Sad day.

We cut our visit to the museum short when both our feet were crying for release. We found an Italian restaurant since I was craving a pizza. It's hard to find a traditional German restaurant that has vegetarian options, let me tell you. Poor Gabby didn't get much traditional German food since the Germans love their meat (especially the pig).

Once again, we went back the hostel to read. We were both reading 'A Game of Thrones' and were both anxiously wanting to know what was going to happen. Our bodies also wanted breaks. It seemed like an obvious choice.

Hunger drove us out of the hostel to find food, specifically Dampfnudel mit Vanillesosse und Zimt (Giant Fucking Dumpling with Vanilla Sauce and Cinnamon). We saw some ladies getting them the day before and had this need to try it. It was thick and I was having trouble digesting it. Gabby ate it right up.

Our last stop in Germany was the famous Hofbrauhaus. It's a huge traditional Bavarian beer house that caters to tourists. The staff is dressed in near-traditional German wear (no lederhosen, but definitely dirndls) and they have a live German polka band playing. We found seats with this Greek woman who was by herself. She didn't speak much German or English, but she was very kind to let us sit with her. When she left, she was replaced by a German family who Gabby and I later befriended and were invited to stay with them if we ever return to Germany. Yay friends!

But the best part of the night was just coming. Hofbrauhaus serves its half-liter beers in giant mugs. They're heavy and do not make drinking beer a simple task. Through our exhaustion, I somehow wordlessly convinced Gabby to a drinking contest in which we both chugged down our beers. Now, I'm not a light-weight, but Gabby is. She had also been searching for a sweatshirt for the better part of the trip. She decided that a Hofbrauhaus sweatshirt was a great idea. It's a cool place, so why not? After we bid ado to our German family friends, we went to the shop. When Gabby went to purchase her sweatshirt, she handed the cashier US dollars without realizing it -- until the cashier says, 'Um, these aren't Euros.' I nearly pissed myself laughing while Gabby struggled to put her dollars away and get out her Euros. The entire walk back to the hostel consisted of me laughing at Gabby and her trying to walk in a straight line. Good times. (She will deny all of this happened in this fashion, but this is fact because I wrote it first.)

Went into a coma after returning to the hostel to wake up and get back to Ireland. We made it to the S-Bahn and sat with two Americans, one who was working in Germany and the other was visiting her. The ride was going swimmingly until everyone heading to the airport was instructed to leave the train at a stop that was definitely not the airport. So, there were are, about 100 people going to the airport, standing at this random train station in the snow for 20 minutes before the next train showed up. We ended up befriending a random Welsh man who shared with the four of us some of his horrific travel experiences. Gotta love horrific travel experiences.

Eventually, we got to the airport and boarded our flight in which I was naturally seated in front of a 18 mo. old who would not stop kicking my chair. I pushed the images of me squishing the child's head like a grapefruit and concentrated on finishing Game of Thrones.

Our flight landed and we made it to the train and back to Cork. It was a long journey, but I'm glad we did it. I got to go to three cities I've never been to as well as revisit a beloved city of mine. I'm also really glad Gabby came with me. Originally, I was thinking of doing the trip by myself. Now, after the trip, I don't think I would have made it. It would have been lonely and stressful to be by myself for a little over a week in four different countries. Besides, now I've got some great Gabby stories.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a fog always sits on auschwitz-birkenau.

Literally 24 hours in Krakow, Poland. We didn't come here for shits and giggles. We came here with a purpose: to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

Last night was the first time I ever slept in a sleeper car on a train. How cool is that? I had the room to myself and went to bed early, listening to Mumford & Sons before sleeping. It was pretty relaxing and I slept pretty well minus being incredibly hot.

We got into Krakow, Poland at 7:30am and went to our hostel. We weren't able to check-in or anything, so we left our luggage, found food, and did some minor sightseeing around the city prior to our tour pick-up. Krakow is a beautiful city in the morning. It's a shame we don't get to see more of it.

Our driver picked us up at 9:15am to drive us out to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It's about 45 minutes away from Krakow and the drive was through Polish countryside. It was a beautiful drive, but there was a slight chill about where we were going. We were dropped off at Auschwitz I, the smaller of the two camps, and awaited our guided tour to begin. I had never been on a tour in which we wear headphones to listen to our guide, but it made the experience much easier to gain information and take pictures.

We began by walking through the infamous gate of Auschwitz: 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work Makes Free). At Sachsenhausen and Dachau, their entrance gates contained this similar phrase. However, Auschwitz's was much larger and much more eerie. It gave me the odd feeling I was entering some twisted amusement park that was going to steal my soul -- and in a way, it did for the prisoners.

Our tour visited some of the small museums and exhibits on the Auschwitz grounds, some of them creepier and sadder than others. As a Concentration Camp Enthusiast (as horrible as that sounds), I had seen a good portion of the exhibits at either other concentration camps or the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C..Yet, it never stops to be striking and poignant. For example, one exhibit at Auschwitz contained a good portion of suitcases people had brought with them. Prisoners were convinced by Nazis that they were being taken to a better place, to Canada (why Canada, I'll never know). They packed all of their personal belongings and took them on the trains. When they arrived, these things were taken from them and put in storage, known as 'The So-Called Canada'. Their suitcases were kept as well and are currently on display at Auschwitz. The worst rooms were the rooms with the shoes -- as they filled nearly and entire room -- and the room with the hair. Prisoners had their heads shaved and the Nazis kept the hair to be made into cheap fabric.

While much of Auschwitz I was similar to much of the Holocaust stuff I had seen previously, one of the biggest differences was the way the Nazis tortured the prisoners. They were kept in pitch black rooms until they suffocated. Four people were held in a 3x3ft cell where they could only stand. (And we noticed that they had to crawl to get in.) People were eventually taken out to the yard and shot, two by two. Auschwitz was known for how much it tortured its prisoners, but the worst was not over

The second half of our tour led us to Auschwitz II, or Birkenau. This is the most famous concentration camp. You've seen the entrance in pictures. It's bleak, desolate, and utterly terrifying. A fog lingers over the camp. It's chilling to be there, knowing this was the worst of the worst. Thousands of people were kept at Birkenau. Thousands of people died at Birkenau. Now, all that's left is ruins. What used to be bunks are now a forest of chimneys. The four crematoriums were demolished and a monument was placed between Crematoriums II and III, warning the human race of the atrocities that happened there and to not let it happen again.

As our tour guide was finishing up our tour, the sun came out from behind the clouds. It was disgustingly poetic.

I will always have a fascination with Concentration Camps, and I'm glad we went to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Going to a Concentration Camp site is a humbling experience and lets you reflect on the freedoms and the joy we're allowed to have now. For some of our ancestors weren't so lucky.

After returning to Krakow, Gabby and I took a short nap, then went out to the Christmas Market. It was quite quaint. We had delicious pierogis for dinner and I'm vowing to learn to make them. Of course there was shopping involved. I was shopping specifically for my Aunt Theresa. She's 100% Polish, and last April, her family's house caught fire and they lost nearly everything either to flames or dousing water. I figured she'd love some Polish things to help redecorate her house.

Gabby and I went to bed early to make sure we caught our 8:45am flight to Munich. It was a long, emotionally tiring day, but definitely worthwhile.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

czech in, czech out: prague.

Prague, Prague, Prague. What to say about you, you beautiful city? Well, I could start off by saying that you're beautiful because that's a fact. If you have ever thought about going to Prague, go. If you've never thought about going to Prague, go. Seriously a beautiful city. We did Prague in about 24 hours and wished we could have stayed longer. We've graciously started calling this trip our 'Taste of Eastern Europe'.

We got in last night after a 7 hour train ride through Budapest, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, to finally stop in Prague. We hurried ourselves out of the train station to our hostel and were shocked to see how utterly nice our hostel was. It's part hostel, part hotel, so you can only imagine. Like, I don't think I've even stayed in any hotels that were this fancy.

Our hostel gave us a map and we trekked out to the Old Town of Prague. We came upon the Prague Christmas Market which was way better than Budapest's Christmas Market (as in, it existed). There was a stage with traditional entertainment and tons of little shops with souvenirs, gifts, food, and drinks. It was wonderful to be able to look around at all the shops after spending a day on the train. I even had a palaciny (palachinka)! We had dinner and shopped a bit before wandering over to the Charles Bridge.

The Charles Bridge is absolutely gorgeous at night. They light the ends of the bridge with bottom front light to give the turrets this dark, mysterious look. The view of Prague itself, including Prague Castle, was amazing all lit up.

Back in the square, we trolled around a little more. At 9pm, we started on our Ghost Tour of Prague city. Our tour guide, Maya, was actually from San Diego and moved to Prague after she studied abroad there. How cool is that? She showed us around the city, telling us some of Prague's ghost stories and the mysterious deaths that have happened there.

After our tour, we went back to the hostel, showered, and slept. I was so wiped that I passed out the moment my head hit the fluffy pillow. I didn't even hear our roommates come in.

This morning, we woke up a little later than we had been and had breakfast at the hostel. I had buttermilk pancakes this morning! Real pancakes! I don't think I've been so excited for a breakfast food in my life. Once our nourishment was in our systems, we went in search of the Vysehrad Citadel.

The Vysehrad Citadel was pretty cool. The most impressive parts were the Basilica Minor and the Vysehrad Cemetery. The cemetery had a huge variety of headstones and graves in it. It was impressive. So many different types of headstones really reflecting the person who was buried. The Vysehrad Citadel wasn't much else other than some spectacular views of south Prague and a small kid's carnival going on. It was cool, but we wanted more.

Next, after some struggles with trams, we made it all the way up to Prague Castle. One thing we noticed about both Buda Castle and Prague Castle is that these castles love their inner walkways and plazas. Prague Castle loves its inner buildings, that's for sure. One of the most famous buildings in Prague is the Cathedral of St. Vitus. It is a huge cathedral in the middle of Prague Castle and absolutely stunning inside. They have a slightly smaller cathedral, St. Georg Cathedral, that was the worship space  for the nuns that resided near Prague Castle. Also within the walls of Prague Castle was Golden Lane, the place where writer Franz Kafka lived. Golden Lane's houses were all incredibly small, but very interesting. Some were converted to shops (such as Kafka's home), but some were left as exhibits of who used to live at Golden Lane. Prague Castle was very cool and I'm glad we figured out the tram situation since it's way up on a hill, overlooking the city of Prague.

Once we got down from Prague Castle, we walked across Charles Bridge to see it in the day time. It wasn't as impressive as it was at night, particularly since there were little vendors and artists all up and down the bridge. One group on the bridge was the Bridge Band, a Dixieland band of Czech gentlemen who play on the bridge. As a sucker for Dixieland and bands with tuba players, I bought a CD. Can't wait to listen to more of their music.

We did a little more shopping and eating prior to going into the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Remember I mentioned in my last blog post that we were going to an Advent Vigil? Apparently, it was at 7am, not 7pm. Oops. At least we were able to go into the church at some time. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures, so nothing from in there. It was pretty cool, but I don't think anything compares to St. Vitus. Tyn Church, though, is still way awesome from the outside. That I will not argue with.

For dinner, Gabby and I got traditional Czech food, but made for vegetarians and vegans! Most Czech food is meat-heavy, so Maya recommended us go to this restaurant for good veggie food. Definitely did not disappoint.

Prague was absolutely beautiful and I would love to come back here again just to relax. I cannot stress enough that you need to see pictures of Prague. I'll be posting them when we're not so stressed for time and when I have an internet connection. Currently, we're sitting in the lounge room of our hostel waiting to head over to the train station for our overnight train to Krakow. You know, no big deal.

Monday, December 12, 2011

dumps with nut.

I am Hungarian. Ok, mostly Hungarian. Now that I've visited Budapest, the capital of the motherland, I am more absolutely proud to say I'm Hungarian. Let me explain.

First of all, you should know that the Hungarians do not half-ass anything. Their statues are intense, their pálinka is strong, and they drive fast. When we first arrived in Budapest Airport, our driver picked us up and sped off toward the hostel. We were there in no time, excited to see the hostel and get started on our traveling the next day. We checked in and befriended a girl from our flight, Ellie, who was staying at our hostel as well. Gabby, Ellie, and I went to a traditional Hungarian restaurant for dinner since our flight covered all normal dinner times. We each got something different and ordered the best dessert ever: "dumps with nuts". The restaurant we went to did not translate their menu very well, so what they meant was doughy dumplings with nuts and vanilla pudding. Regardless, it was delicious.

The next morning, the three of us set out for the wonderful city of Budapest! Our first stop was Buda Castle. The castle is situated on the west bank of the Danube River in the Buda side of Budapest. Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest (pronounced 'pesht), that came together to create the capital city. There wasn't much left of Buda Castle since the city has been destroyed so many times, but there were some buildings left. One of which housed the Budapest Historical Museum. We spent the afternoon looking at all the cool Budapest artifacts and reading about Budapest history before setting out to St. Mattias Cathedral and the Fishermen's Bastion. Both were very close to the castle, but had very different architectural styles. St. Mattias Cathedral had a very colourful roof, whereas the Fishermen's Bastion looked like it came straight out of 'The Little Mermaid'. Regardless, it was all super cool up by the castle. Beautiful views of the city as well.

One of Ellie's goals was to walk on Margit Island. It's a recreational island located in the middle of the Danube. It's said to be beautiful in the summer, but for those of us who find beauty in chilly near-winter weather, it was wonderful. The island has always been a leisure island for the Hungarians, so we weren't surprised when there were restaurants, running paths, and even a church on the island. It was nice to be able to walk around in a not-so populated area even for just half an hour.

From Margit Island, we went to Ellie's other destination: Heroes Square. Hungarian epicness really shines through at Heroes Square. There are statures of historical figures who help shape Hungary, as well as the angel Gabriel looking epic, and the four ethics. It was amazing. We also found a building nearby that looked like it belonged in Harry Potter so of course we went for a little inspection. Very cool.

By that time, it was pretty dark, so we went in search of dinner and landed at Kiodá, a small restaurant/pub where we tried pálinka. To the people on Budapest tourist websites who recommended trying pálinka: you people are assholes. If you want your chest to burn or if you enjoy drinking rubbing alcohol, then pálinka is the drink for you. Luckily, we were smart enough to get the smallest shots of the drink because I think we would have died if we had more. It is strong, let me tell you.

Alas, we did not find the Christmas Market that was advertised either of the nights we looked, but there were plenty of little shop-towns set up all over the city. They were selling all sorts of trinkets and food. Adorable.

That night, we bid ado to Ellie as she was leaving the next morning before we would be awake. It was nice to have someone else to hang out with who was just excited about this fabulous little city. She was off to Salzburg, which is a wonderful city in Austria. I was there in 2007, so I know she'll love it.

The next day, Gabby and I went out to St. Stephen's Basilica. It was the first thing on my list of things to do in Budapest. I'm not religious, but I have a thing for cathedrals. They're so beautiful and ornate. Hardly any other buildings match the intricate details like cathedrals do. St. Stephen's Basilica was no different. The interior has gold and marble everywhere, portraits and statues of saints, and holy water basins near every pillar. The organ was playing which totally set the mood. We eventually got chased out of the non-tourist area and took that as our leave.

We walked down the Hungarian National Museum which, to me, would have been better had more than the first room been written in English. There were tons of Hungarian artifacts, but for me, I enjoy knowing what the thing is and what it was used for. Unfortunately, it was all guesswork and we breezed through the exhibits. Hungarian is an interesting language that doesn't match English or German, despite their numerous German invasions. We're guessing it's Celtic mashed with Turkish mashed with Russian. Hungary has a history of being invaded constantly, only regaining their freedom from the communist hold of Russia about 15-20 years ago. After World War II, 80% of Budapest's buildings were destroyed. They haven't had the best or most positive history, but Budapest is still holding its head high.

Gabby and I went on our first Hop On, Hop Off bus tour that took us around the city. Surprisingly, we had seen 90% of the sights on the tour, but we didn't mind. One of the stops was the Gellert Citadel, located high up on Gellert Hill. We weren't going to walk up there ourselves. The bus tour had a 10 minute stop at the Citadel, so we frantically took tons of pictures and got back on the bus. It took us all the way back to the Oktogon, an eight-sided intersection near our hostel. We ate dinner at a place called 'Pizza EATaliano', which had delicious pizza. Om nom nom.

We departed from there and walked to the Nyugati Train Station. The Nyugati was beautiful—from the outside. Inside, it's a bleak train station. The adjacent McDonald's was more beautiful inside than the train station. Ridiculous, right?

We went back to the hostel and settled in for the night. This morning we got up early to catch our 9:25am train to Prague… that we are still currently on as I write this. We're getting closer to Prague and as we do, we're getting more excited. Tonight, we're attending an Advent Vigil at the Church of Our Lady before Tŷn and going on a ghost tour! We've only got a day and a half in Prague, so we're making the most of it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

journey's end.

No, I'm not coming home yet, but that day is surely coming! I'm flying back to Chicago on December 20th and I couldn't be more excited. I miss home terribly and cannot wait to eat some awesome Chicago food.

And before you ask, "But Kelly, won't you miss Ireland?" I will say this: I will definitely miss all of my friends, the vast majority of people I've met, the ridiculousness of my flatmates, the general friendliness I encounter on a daily basis, and the beer. I won't miss the rainy icky weather, walking everywhere, the crazy colloquial terms, or grocery shopping. (It's different here. Trust me on this one.) One thing I definitely won't miss is school.

Because I never have another class ever again.

At 11am today, I ended my last class of my undergraduate career. Of course, I still have a paper due, but it's half-written and I feel pretty confident about it. Should be great. I'm absolutely thrilled to be finished with school entirely. I don't have plans to attend graduate school and get a MA or MFA or whatever, so this is it.

Crazy, right? It's strange to think that I've been in school for 17 years, from preschool all the way through college. I completed two Bachelors degrees from the University of Iowa in 3.5 years: a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a B.A. in Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. It's weird to be so close to honestly closing this chapter in my life, but I'm so incredibly ready for it. I feel that being in school for so long has closed me off to the real world. The only heartbreak I've ever really experienced was when I got bad grades on things. I want a challenge. I've been playing the school game so long that it's boring. I know my working habits and I know how to procrastinate like a champ.

So bring it on, Life. Can't wait for the problems you're gonna throw at me.

But before that, I'm gonna take a swing through Eastern Europe. Be right back.