Summer adventures, continued

Some noteworthy that have happened since my last blog post:

Day trip to Connemara and Galway with friends

This included a lot of sitting on a very bouncy bus, with stops at a peat bog, Kylemore Abbey (so beautiful it looks fake), an hour long cruise from Killary Harbor around Ireland’s only fjord, a tiny little town where I got a handmade leather wallet, and an hour in Galway city (where we could’ve spent a lot more time!). Overall, it was a good trip! (PS – I haven’t edited all any of the photos from my nice camera, so a lot of these are just quick phone snapshots!)

 

Spent time drinking delicious tea and reading

Some days after work, I spent some time sitting in Bewley’s Cafe or in the friendly, hip Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge, sipping on tea and reading. While I’ve been here, I finished Looking for Alaska by John Green. It was a quick read and was well written for a young adult novel (his debut novel as well!), but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t really like any of them, and felt annoyed with the narrator (a 16/17 year old boy) most of the time. The ending of the book was the kind that gave me goosebumps because it closed out the story so well, and the story itself was pretty gripping, but I just didn’t come away from the book with a great overall feeling. John Green gets a lot of praise for being a great YA lit author (and a lot of hate/criticism, some of which I really agree with), but this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. It’ll be interesting to see the movie version of it! I am now reading It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice. It’s already incredibly moving and powerful!

 

Went to Longitude Festival with my friend Sara

My boss was kind enough to let me take a half day on a Friday to go to the Longitude Festival out in Marlay Park! My friend Sara and I had looked at tickets for it earlier in the summer, since we both love Bastille and they were playing on the main stage, but had decided back then that the tickets were too pricey. One week before the festival, we impulsively decided to go! Bastille doesn’t tour around the US very often, so this was a great opportunity to see them. We left Dublin via coach bus around 2pm, and spent the day watching new (to us) bands perform and getting excited about Bastille. The set-up for the festival at the sprawling Marlay Park was awesome – there were different stages tucked in random wooded fields and there were tons of delicious food stands. It was forecasted to rain that day, but it was barely even cloudy – we lucked out! Bastille was excellent (aside from the tall annoying man standing in front of me) and they’re even better live than they are on their album. I also discovered Hudson Taylor, a brother duo from Dublin who perform folksy-indie original songs that make me very happy to listen to! It was a long day, and we got back to Dublin around 11:30pm after a lot of walking, but it was definitely time and money well spent!

 

But wait, there’s A LOT more!

Solo travel day: Bray & Greystones

Ever since I started thinking about what I was going to do this summer, I knew that wherever I ended up, I wanted to do a little solo traveling for the first time. I’ve traveled by plane on my own to and from college, but I’ve never traveled on my own to a place where I don’t know anyone. I’ve always had someone waiting for me at the end of the trip. I wanted to experience more independence than ever this summer by traveling to a place where I have no connections.

I didn’t end up with the time (or money, really) to spend a whole weekend away, or even one night in a different city, so I chose to go on a day trip within County Dublin. The actual city centre that I’ve been spending most of my time in is pretty tiny compared to the rest of the county! There’s a lot to see, and it’s not too difficult to get around the area. So I planned to take the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) on Saturday morning out to Bray (and maybe Dun Laoghaire and maybe wherever else looked interesting from the train) for the day!

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On Saturday morning I woke up a little later than I planned, which is probably just what my body really needed. I took my time, since I had no one to meet, ate a good breakfast, packed up my purse and made sure my camera was charged up, and headed on my way to the nearest DART station. It was unfortunately a very overcast day that looked as if it could turn to rain at any second, so I made sure to bring a raincoat and a plastic bag to cover my semi-waterproof camera bag if needed. The Lansdowne Road station was about a 15-20 minute walk away from my apartment, and is right next to the stunning, glass-covered Aviva Stadium, where they play rugby. Apparently, it’s shaped like a giant rugby ball! (Is that the right term? Can you tell I know nothing about rugby?)

I topped up my newly purchased LEAP card (like a SmarTrip card in DC or a Charlie Card in Boston) at the station, and went through the (open, but I paid) faregates. The station was pretty empty when I got there! That always makes me a little bit nervous, but it was an open air station, and soon a few families came onto the platform as well. I had no idea what side of the tracks to stand on because the signage was a little confusing, so I ended up standing on the wrong side of the tracks, and watched the train I had aimed to take pass me by! The next train wasn’t coming for another 25 minutes – that reminded me a little of being at home on the DC Metro!

After I awkwardly made my way over to the right side of the tracks, I waited another 20 minutes or so, and finally the right train came by. Getting on was a little confusing, because you have to press a button on the door to open it once the train is fully stopped. I kind of stood there expecting the doors to open automatically, until I looked at the other people around me easily getting on the train, and I followed suit. The DART trains look a little old from the outside, but on the inside, they are clean, spacious, and have very comfortable seats. Remembering a recommendation from my boss to sit on the left side of the train for the best views, I found a seat, and the train started to move.

The sun started to shine and the clouds parted the minute the train pulled out of the station – no exaggeration! I took that as a good sign for the rest of the day. I definitely didn’t mind the view from the train. We passed gorgeous beaches, green grassy fields, and even went through tunnels in the hills. I felt like such a silly tourist taking photos out the window with my phone through the entire ride, but I couldn’t resist! I wanted to get off at every stop and explore, but knew I wouldn’t have the time for that. I had read about the Bray Cliff Walk from a guide book, and settled on taking the train to its second to last stop to check it out. At 11:39 on the dot, I stepped off the train in Bray, found a tourist map to get my bearings, and started exploring!

But wait, there’s more!

A little update – with photos!

What would a blog post be without a ton of photos?

I’ve been taking quick snapshots almost every day I’ve been here – of things that catch my eye in the city, of cafes I’m starting to love, of my lunch, a latte, or just anything I think would be worth sharing with those I love back home. I have been uploading them in big chunks to Facebook, but am realizing that there’s a lot of my time here in Dublin that hasn’t yet been recorded on my blog! Instead of slowly back-tracking and writing blog posts on things that happened two weeks ago, I’m just going to do a serious photo-dump, complete with lots of captions. Be warned, the photos were all taken with my iPhone, so they’re not great quality. Hopefully it will give you (whoever you are) a bit of an idea of what my month in Dublin has been like so far!

One thing that I had been really looking forward to trying out was the Dublin Unitarian Church. Here are some pictures from my first visit:

Following the Sunday morning church visit, I did a little tourist-ing at the Old Jameson Distillery, and ate lunch in St. Stephen’s Green.

But wait, there’s more!

Rewind: Day trip to Glendalough and Kilkenny

There are two things I can be a little slow at: editing photos, and writing blog posts. Sorry for the long gap!

As a part of the Global Experiences program fee, a few weekday outings and weekend trips were planned for all of the interns. So far, these have included a Viking Splash tour of Dublin, a very nice dinner, and a traditional music pub crawl. They’ve all been tons of fun and are a great way for the group to get back together and reconnect. We had our first weekend day trip on June 22, when we went via tour bus (with a chatty tour guide) to Glendalough and Kilkenny.

I was surprised at how close they both were to Dublin, with Glendalough barely an hour’s drive away, but how different it felt from the city. Glendalough (pronounced glen-duh-lock) is more beautiful than words can describe, with its clear lakes, incredibly green landscape, and old monastic ruins. Our tour guide patiently waited for our slow group that couldn’t stop taking photos of the beauty around us, and gave us a great tour of the area. I am so impressed by the memory that tour guides have for history and facts!

But wait, there’s more!

First week of my internship, complete!

Well!

I started my internship this Tuesday, and finished up my first week this evening! It’s been a whirlwind of a week, with a lot of learning about how the organization is run and meeting tons of new people (many of whom are named Siobhan), but I’m really enjoying the experience so far!

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I asked one of the receptionists to take a photo for my blog! My head is unfortunately blocking the cool part of the logo.

I’m interning at the Dublin Well Woman Centre, which provides reproductive health services at three clinics across Dublin. The services can range from simple pap smears to more serious things like crisis pregnancy counseling, all of which are incredibly important. I will be doing work with Well Woman’s website content, social media platforms (just Facebook right now – maybe a blog soon!) and governance/best practice. I still have a TON to learn and spent most of this week doing research to see how other organizations are run and present themselves, which is really interesting to see. I think Well Woman has room to improve, and I feel so lucky that they’re willing to let me try to help!

But wait, there’s more!

The first few days in Dublin

It has been quite a whirlwind of a trip so far, even though it’s just been a few days since I nervously boarded that flight to Dublin!

After a long, semi-sleepless flight, I arrived at the Dublin airport on Saturday morning, and got through customs with no problems and got my checked bag right away. There was another girl from Global Experiences on my flight, which was awesome. I would have been stressed if I had to get to the apartments alone! A few other girls from GE met up with us at the airport, and we excitedly found ourselves taxis to take us to our home for the next 8 weeks! It was nice to have lots of people from Global Experiences at the Lad Lane Apartments to greet us and help with our luggage. Luckily, there’s a small elevator in the building, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle to get up to the top floor, where I met my roommate and began to get settled in, one jet lagged step at a time.

Our location coordinator, Peter, invited the few of us that had arrived on a walk in the area by our apartment. We’re in a nice area with a few other residential buildings, a lot of small offices, and plenty of places to eat and go grocery shopping. It was nice to move around after sitting for such a long time! Our weary group went out for lunch, and all headed back to the apartments to either nap or just relax and decompress.

But wait, there’s more!

2 Months in Dublin!

If you had told me three years ago that I would be spending my summer in Dublin, I don’t think I would have believed you.

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This summer, I will be interning and living in Dublin, Ireland for two months. As I type this, I am attempting (keyword: attempting) to finish up the last bits of my packing. I am feeling an incredible mixture of emotions, everything from fear and anxiety to excitement and happiness! After many many months of research for programs that would take me to Europe for the summer, a handful of phone calls, a few pro/con lists, and one application, I ended up deciding to go to Dublin through Global Experiences and their 8-week internship program. I traveled around Ireland for a week with my family a two years ago, and loved it so much that I knew Dublin would be a great place for me to spend my summer interning. They helped me find what looks to be a very exciting internship with the Dublin Well Woman Centre, which provides reproductive health care and services, including counseling and information regarding traveling to other places in Europe to get an abortion, since the procedure is still illegal in the Republic of Ireland. They were founded in 1978, and provided family planning information and services to Irish women at a time when contraception was illegal. I am sure I will learn a lot from this internship!

While in Dublin, I hope to immerse myself in the Irish culture and learn all about the city. All of the other interns (there are a lot of us!) are staying together in an apartment near the city centre, which is in a great location for exploration. If I have the time and the money, I really want to travel to other parts of Europe – maybe London or Edinburgh!

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, since I’ve still got a lot to check off on my final to do list! I will be using this blog to update you (whoever you may be) on my travels, my internship, and life in Dublin. I’ve never been out of the US for more than a week, so this should be quite an adventure!!

Thanks for reading! Margaret

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Our Campus, Our Stories

As a Women’s and Gender Studies major at Wheaton College (MA), I was incredibly excited to be able to take the Violence Against Women course that is only offered every two years. It is taught by two amazing professors (one in the sociology department, the other in anthropology) who have basically made studying violence against women their life’s work. During the first half of the course, we read academic articles about the many different aspects within the overarching topic of violence against women. It is not an easy class to take, as the material is incredibly hard to read sometimes. However, the second half of the course is designed to make the students into activists that can make a difference on our campus. We are required to design a symposium week together as a class that aims to raise awareness about violence against women and the way it is manifested on Wheaton’s campus. Our symposium week (which is happening right now!) has included events about our school’s sexual misconduct policy, a visit from a local SANE nurse for our pre-health students, public art displays, and more.

For my group’s part of the symposium, we decided to make a video about healthy and unhealthy relationships. We surveyed the Wheaton community (students, faculty, and staff) and asked them to tell us about an experience from a healthy relationship and/or an experience from an unhealthy relationship. We received an overwhelming number of responses – half of which made us grin from ear to ear, and the other half which made us feel incredibly sad. We took these statements, edited them down, and chose about 30 healthy and 30 unhealthy statements to put in our video. We went around campus and asked students and staff to say these statements while we filmed them, with the understanding that these stories are not their own but that they represent anonymous experiences from the Wheaton community. The filming experience itself was powerful (for us and the actors) and we were all so grateful to the large numbers of students who were willing to participate in this project. I learned a lot about filming and how to use my camera in ways I hadn’t before, too. After many many MANY hours of editing (done by a group member and an awesome film student who volunteered to help, thanks Nico), we finally had our video.

We released it on YouTube on Sunday night, and by Monday night, we had over 1,000 views. The response from the Wheaton community and from those outside of it has been incredible! We are beyond happy with the final product and the story that it tells.

YOU deserve to be in a healthy, happy relationship, and our video can help you understand what that relationship can and should sound like. We have the power to change the narrative.

 

Please share the video so we can extend our reach throughout the Wheaton community and beyond. Thanks for reading! Margaret.