So this year, my brother graduated high school. It looked like it was going to be a logistical nightmare to get me home for his graduation (not to mention the cost!!), so I booked my own flights back in February, managed to keep the surprise to myself until 3 weeks before the trip (my family is not very good at surprises, we like to be informed), and surprised everyone by showing up to my little brother’s graduation!!
When I first booked the flights, I thought I would feel not-great about the amount of money they cost, but I actually felt a great weight lifted from my soul because I wasn’t going to miss my only little brother’s only high school graduation.
Over the course of the week, I saw my grandparents, my mom’s younger brother and his wife, family friends, Danny’s friends, some high school friends, and, of course, neighbors. I also made use of mom’s sewing machine and supplies and made a few gifts (which I can’t post photos of yet, because I haven’t given them) and a dress and ran a bunch of errands.
I even ended up with a flight delay of 24-hours (I voluntarily chose to reschedule and go home than to get stuck in Chicago O’Hare for an indeterminate number of hours) that worked out really, really well. I got a post card I would’ve otherwise missed, grabbed the books I meant to bring with me but forgot, and set up my parents website on the exact day mine renewed! Crazy timing.
Which brings me to the updates!!
As some of you may know, but probably not, I have a portfolio set up on this website as well as a digital repository set up on a subdomain. Over the next few weeks (hopefully), I’ll be updating the portfolio with info on setting up and using WordPress as well as a few other techie things for my parents, who will be new to the blogosphere. I’ll, of course, add a link to their website when it’s up and functional. Currently, it’s empty.
I’ve also migrated My Makeshift Kitchen into this website, no more separate URL for it! In light of that, different post types have different headers, which you might have noticed! (Probably not, it was a really quiet change 😛 ) I aim to have header images for the different projects within my portfolio, for the locations in the travel blog section, for My Makeshift Kitchen, and for those that don’t particularly fall under any of the previous categories (which I mentally refer to as Articles).
Today, my friend Lisa (who I met in Shanghai and hung out with many times in Beijing and visited last November in Leeds) went back home after visiting for a few days. We didn’t really get up to much, we spent a day wandering about and then hung out at my house the next day. I made vegetarian sloppy joes and Snickerdoodles, though, for that Ultimate American Experience (obviously).
Two weeks ago, I submitted my final assignment for semester 2. That means I’m now finished with classes for my master’s degree and just have the capstone (like a group thesis project) to focus on over the summer. Looking at my grades, I’m doing pretty well. I haven’t gotten less than a B- and in Ireland, it’s a lot harder to get an A than in the US. At least, according to everyone I talk to and everything I read.
About a month before that, I finished up my crazy-busy travel month. In the month of March, I went to London twice, went on a road trip around Ireland with my family, and visited Milan, so here’s a quick breakdown of those trips:
I spent a few days in Milan, where I saw the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as a museum full of da Vinci sketches. I went to a lot of churches, but the coolest was climbing a million stairs to get to the top of the Duomo cathedral.
A week after Milan, I met my family in London where we spent 2 days before going on an Irish road trip. We went to Bru na Boinne, Newgrange, Belfast, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Blarney Castle, and Cork (plus 12 places in London and 5 in Dublin and we spent a day in Maynooth). It was an exhausting trip, but I’m glad I waited to go to most of the places on our trip instead of going without my family. Even though I’m used to traveling by myself, the Mittelstaedt Family Trip is an awesome tradition and it’s nice to spend that time with my family instead of not spending quality time with them now that I’m grown up.
It’s hard to say what was my favorite location on the trip, but I think it was the Tower of London and the little place Danny and I hiked just before we got to the Cliffs of Moher. We got lucky on our trip because it was sunny the days we went to Giant’s Causeway and the Cliffs of Moher, but started raining as we were on our way back.
I started the month of April with a weekend trip to London where I met up with family friends I’ve known since I was very young. I had a great time showing them all my favorite places of London and going on (yet more) walking tours with them. For whatever reason, I didn’t write down all the places we went and they sort of blur together with visiting London with my family, but I did get the chance to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum (on my own, they were still in Paris when I arrived) and we went to Tower of London (which I still really enjoyed!)
One thing I didn’t even think to do when my family was visiting was go on a Jack the Ripper tour. We went on the one done by the Beefeaters (the guards at the Tower of London) and it was fantastic. I had such a great time showing the Hughes around London, I could honestly be a tour guide (HINT HINT LITERALLY ANYONE NEEDING A TOUR GUIDE IN DUBLIN).
I’m currently sitting in a tea shop (the same one I’ve come to like 5 times in the past week in Dublin) waiting for my friend to meet me, but I hope to write an article-style post about dead things to see in Dublin and maybe another about museums to visit here. I’ve found that my favorite museums in Dublin have dead things as my favorite exhibit, so look out for that.
Wow! I’m already halfway through what I hope will be my busiest month this year! I’ll try to update my blog as time passes, but it’s going to be tough as I’m only halfway through and I’m already exhausted!
I have written about my Milan trip, but I won’t type it up and upload it until after the post cards have made it to the US! I don’t want the tidbits and info on the cards to be spoiled by those who (maybe??) read my blog. (Does anyone read this thing?! If yes, COMMENT! If no,
My family will be here to visit in a week (or so), but I do have some posts scheduled in my Portfolio that post Mondays at 4:30pm GMT. 😀 I’m currently working on a lot of neato school projects that I’ll get to uploading once I’ve finished them / turned them in, but in the mean time I’ve got some projects from last semester and my internship uploading. I’m probably going to upload some projects from my undergrad days as well, so keep an eye on that page!
I’m most excited about this cool project I’m working on for my Digital Libraries course, which should be live the first week of May! (It is, after all, DUE the first week of May…)
Anyway, I’m going to go crash in exhaustion as it’s currently day 2 of 3 of a 9-5 course that’s basically a workshop. The stuff I’m working on will be part of my portfolio eventually but, as I said, I have to finish it first!
I know, I know, it’s been over two months since I’ve updated but I’ve been busy! Here’s a brief summary:
8 Dec – Made it home in time for my brother’s 18th birthday
9 Dec – Bro’s BDAY NOW AN ADULT WHAT
16 Dec – Turned in my last assignment… Semester one complete!
20 Dec – Started the trip to gramma&pa’s house!
22 Dec – Gramma&pa’s house!
25 Dec – Merry Christmas! My aunt (mom’s sis) and cousin (mom’s oldest bro’s daughter) surprised gramma & grampa by coming to visit, another cousin (mom’s oldest bro’s son) got engaged, and we had the whole family (gramma&pa, mom & dad, her 2 bros, her sis, uncle’s wife, 3 cousins, me & Danny, cousin’s fiance & her son) all together for the first time in years and years and years! AND IT WAS A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!
29 Dec – Snowed in on the way home. I hate snow!
31 Dec – New Year’s with mah gurrrls + drunk Yoshi’s Wooly World
1 Jan – We didn’t get tHAT drunk
3 Jan – Family “Christmas” movie (we go to a movie on Christmas Day if we’re not traveling, after Christmas if we are) STAR WARS VII
8 Jan – Piercings with mah bff!!
11 Jan – STAR WARS VII with mah other bff!!
13 Jan – Back to Ireland!
27 Jan – Semester starts!
That’s it in a nutshell! I’ve been working hard this semester because I’m also planning on traveling through Europe as much as I can. Today I booked my first weekend trip, so here’s upcoming plans:
6-8 Mar – Family friends visit Dublin
9-13 Mar – Milan, Italy
22-25 Mar – #MittelstaedtFamilyTrip2016 in London
25 Mar-1 Apr – #MittelstaedtFamilyTrip2016 in Ireland
I’ve also got a few other weekends “flagged” for travel, so as long as I stay on top of my assignments, I’ve got a big semester ahead of me! Then the summer session where I’ll be continuing work on the group capstone project (like a thesis, but with a group) and that’s done 22 Aug. Hopefully after that all my bffs will come visit me in Ireland and then graduation! Alongside all that, I’m already applying for jobs and hopefully I’ll be working on building a better portfolio of my projects on here. 😀
So I realize now that I didn’t actually write very extensively about my trip to NYC and DC, but I do consider the trip to DC to be an extended Great Museum Expedition,which of course first started when I went to as many museums in a day as I possibly could when I was in Hong Kong. Over the course of two days in DC, I visited … well, actually I don’t remember how many I visited. I think it was about three or four a day? Regardless, I definitely beat my own record this time.
Today started off unlike the previous Museum Expeditions because I know I’ll be back in Dublin come January and will have more time to spend in the museums. So of course, I used the chance to break my previous museums in a day record, but at least I also slept in. In Dublin, there are quite a few museums and libraries that also double as museums, so I started by looking at the National Museum of Ireland locations and choosing my ending place as the Chester Beatty Library. As with all best laid plans, they gang aft aglay, but this time not in a bad way and in more of a “well now I have a reason to do this again” kind of way. Armed with a pretty decent knowledge of Dublin City Centre and my bus route, I put some little stars on a Google Map and made my way into town.
Although it opened at 10am, I arrived at the first museum, the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History Museum, around 11am. For the first half hour of my trip through the museum, I was the only person there… I follow the NMI Twitter account, so I couldn’t help but Tweet at them this strange phenomenon a couple of times.
I’d previously gotten a reply from the Denver Nature and Science Museum while I was there and I wanted the chance to tell the museum what aspects I liked and what I thought of the exhibits. I didn’t spend much time in the History exhibits, I’ll admit, but I really enjoyed the Curator’s Choice exhibit because each artifact’s historical significance was highlighted in its information and there was often a quote from the curator himself about why he liked the piece or what it meant to him in relation to Dublin’s history. When I was walking through the third floor, I heard a rhythmic ticking and wondered if there was a temporary installation but, instead, I found a really neat clock! I took a video or two of it before going through to the next room, where I asked the at ending if the clock still chimed. He replied in the affirmative, so I walked through a couple rooms before coming back just in time to arch the clock mechanism chime for noon. I think it would’ve been cool to also see the bells themselves, but I understand that would be super loud and thought the clock was really cool regardless. As I was trying to leave, I found a dead horse skeleton, which I was not expecting…
My next stop was lunch, I tried to go to a place called Mandarin House because I found a review on Yelp that featured a photo of the salty Beijing noodles I have been searching for, but I ended up eating forlornly in the Centra across the street. After my not-noodles lunch, I walked to the shopping section because I wanted to catch a bus to my next location and I wanted to get my phone sorted out. The phone guy was super helpful and bumped up the amount of my top up so I didn’t have to pay for more data between now and when I go back to the US in six days, so that was super helpful.
Then I went and caught a bus to my next stop, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. Turns out the NMI – Archaeology location was in the same gate as the National Library of Ireland, which we’d had a talk about during my course, so I figured once I finished at the Archaeology museum, I would go check out the Yeats exhibit there. The most fascinating and simultaneously gross exhibit at the Archaeology museum was the bog men, who had been found preserved in the peat bogs of Ireland. The first one I looked at was mostly a skeleton and I think I went through the bog exhibit backwards because after I read the info about the second and third bog men I saw, I began to realize that these weren’t just really old bodies preserved in the bog, they were really old murdered bodies that were preserved in the bog.
BOG MEN A photo posted by April (@apparentlyapril) on
There were two other American girls going through the bog men exhibit at the same time as me and I had a chat with them next to the final bog body, but at least it wasn’t the one with part of his face because I found him to be the most unnerving. They invited me to go to the National Leprechaun Museum, but I had only just arrived at the museum and wasn’t heading in that direction, but I told them I thought my friend was working there at the time. Later, Aoife commented on my Facebook status saying she sold them tickets to the museum!
Once I finished there, I got directions to the NMI – Natural History before heading across the courtyard (by going out the gate and then back in the other one) to the National Library of Ireland. They have an ongoing Yeats exhibit, which it really enjoyed. It reminded me a lot of the Alice in Wonderland exhibit I went to in NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum over the summer. I especially enjoyed the video room exhibit sections, but was somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t read the poems that were projected in light on the screens. Behind the screens, were the “hallways” that went behind the screen exhibit and you could see landscapes and paintings through the screens. Kind of hard to explain, sorry! I also enjoyed the exit activity of “What is your favorite poem?” Where you write down you favorite poem title, the author, and your name and post it up. Katherine McSharry, the NLI Head of Outreach, said during her guest lecture at UCD that they tally the answers at the end of the year. I chose To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell.
By this point in the day, I was definitely jonesing for a tea break, but also determined to museum it up in the last hours of the working day, so I walked over to the NMI – Natural History. As I was walking, I was thinking about my usual refrain regarding Natural History Museums: they’re usually the same. A standard natural history museum has mummies, dinosaurs, and space. Natural history isn’t really all that different around the world, but when I got to the NMI – Natural History I was surprised.
It reminded me a lot of the Pirates! In an Adventure with Science! scene where they meet the scientists.
I imagined the NH Museum was the kind of place where scientists in the early 1900s talked about dead animals. I made my way to the back and went through a closed door, which is a very uncomfortable experience for me, I don’t like to open closed doors – they’re closed for a reason! Went up the stairs and…. WOAH. At the end of the room was a sign saying this particular museum is frequently called the “dead zoo” and to that I say, yes accurate!
Dead Zoo is a very good description of the @NMIreland NH… I felt unsafe being that close to zoo animals! — April (@ApparentlyApril) December 2, 2015
It was really impressive, though. I couldn’t get up to the balcony because, according to a very official sign and gate, there isn’t a good way to evacuate the balconies. A friend told me later they were doing a tour with teachers about three years ago when the staircase collapsed. No thanks, I’ll wait until they fix it up. (Dear National Museum of Ireland, please fix it up! I want to see the giraffe’s face!) After the Natural History Museum, I went to catch a bus to my final stop, the Chester Beatty Library, but I was really needing a tea pick-me-up, so I swung through the National Gallery Ireland and had a spot of tea there beforehand. A lot of the NGI is currently under construction and I’ll have to go back once more of it is open, but the paintings were lovely and I was somewhat surprised at the number of teens to young adults I saw in there on a Wednesday afternoon. As I was making my way through Dublin Castle’s grounds on my way to the Chester Beatty Library, I was seriously weighing coming back when I wasn’t so tired, it wasn’t so dark out, and when I would have enough time to go through Dublin Castle’s things. The decision was made for me, though, as I made it to the library just as the man was locking the doors. And that concluded (today’s) Great Museum Exhibition, with five museums visited! I realize now this blog post itself is the length of the essays I should’ve been doing instead of going on a Great Museum Expedition, but whatever. I had a good time and hope you’ve read this far! Especially because next week I’ll be home for Christmas holiday! I leave on Tuesday and I’m really excited because I’ll be home in time for my little bro’s birthday. And now, it’s time for me to say adieu and get back to those essays!
14/11/15: ThoughtBubble Festival
I had an absolutely fantastic day. Lisa and I got breakfast (my favorite kind of food) before heading to ThoughtBubble Festival (where she so very patiently dealt with me fangirling about the things around me). I met Kate Ashwin, the writer/artist for Widdershins, and got a signed copy of vol1, met Isa & Meg, the artist and writer (respectively) of Namesake and got signed copies of Isa’s comics Jabberwocky and Knot, but the very best part that almost had my crying in joy was meeting Noelle Stevenson, author of Nimona and co-creator of Lumberjanes among other things.
Lisa could completely tell that was the highlight of my day when I was nearly vibrating in excitement while standing in line to get my Lumberjanes Volume 1 signed. At the time we were standing in line, there wasn’t a guarantee that she would be back in time to sign anything before the panel she was doing, so I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to meet her but then boom there she was like a little magical pixie and I probably almost cried. She was so lovely and nice and she even drew April, a character from Lumberjanes, in my book! I told her I was growing my hair out because my name is also April and she said she’d heard of people cutting their hair to be like the Lumberjanes, but never growing it out!
After I got my volume and a print signed, we went to have a look around before getting in line for the panel, which also worked out really well in our favor because we watched a lot of people get turned away because of capacity issues, but we not only were before the venue limit, we also managed to get pretty good seats! Although I hadn’t read many of the comics the creators were talking about (outside of Nimona and Lumberjanes…), I had read enough webcomics to still understand what they were talking about. Lisa was totally zoned out, but after the con we walked and got Thai food before heading through the Leeds Chriskindlmarkt where we picked up some doughnuts before heading back to her place to watch White Christmas. What can I say? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, toys in every store!
15/11/15: (Old) York
We got up in time to have breakfast in a cute little place in Leeds before catching the train to York. Unfortunately, the train was late due to flooding, but it meant that I had time to grab a Starbucks before we got on the train. Once we got to York, we headed towards the Castle Museum, which meant we had to walk through the town a bit. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it was a very lovely little place, especially with the Christmas decorations everywhere. The museum wasn’t really what I was expecting, as it had exhibits that weren’t related to the castle. In fact, only one of the exhibits was really related to the castle. We had a nice time going through and staying out of the rain, though. Lisa had mentioned a tea place as we were walking through town that was famous for its tea and service and whatnot, so we went and waited in a very long line to have our tea there, but it was worth it.
Especially since it was Sunday and a lot of things would close well before we had to catch our train back. Once done with tea, we tried to go to the outdoor market, but a combination of the hour and the weather meant that everyone was packing up and there weren’t very many people set up anyways. We decided to head to the train station and try to get an earlier train since we had run out of things to do, but the train service we were taking didn’t have a ticket station and we couldn’t switch it to an earlier train. We ended up waiting in the train station for a couple of hours and when we got back to Lisa’s we hung out for a bit before heading to the bus for the airport. I had decided to spend the night in the airport because it was a better alternative to catching a bus to the airport at 3am…
Whew! I know, I know, it’s been a while! But, hey, in my defense, I’ve been busy!
So this past week was the half-way mark in the semester. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by! I’m at least on top of my courses and assignments in a way I never was in high school or my undergrad. I guess the more school I do, the better I am at it… If I decide to go for a phd, I’ll probably be perfect…. Or at least a master! (Geddit?!)
Anyway, I’m mostly trying to keep on top of my assignments, although I do have a trip to Leeds planned in November and Thanksgiving, as well as a trip home for Christmas and my family’s trip here in Spring! That, and my friend Lisa (who I am visiting in Leeds) is planning on visiting at the end of our Christmas break and we (hopefully) will visit Barcelona at some point! 😀
Well, if anyone can handle that many trips to plan and assignments to finish, I hope it will be me! One of our assignments this term is weekly blog posts, which I have imported to this website and are now in the Management for Information Professionals category!
Yeah so tomorrow is Monday. Ok, I admit, Monday is in 33 minutes, but whatever. Last week was my first week of classes and it went really well. I made some friends (pretty easy to do when we all have all of our classes together!) and probably won’t have an anxiety attack getting to class in the morning… Unless I miss the bus, which so far *knock on wood* seems unlikely.
I have a lot of things to do this semester, but that’s ok because I like school. And my coursemates are cool. At least the ones I’ve met thus far. I’ve got a few things planned out, like reunions with my Moy 3 housemates, but I’m most excited to go to the ThoughtBubble comic con in November up in Leeds. Mostly because that’s where Lisa goes to uni and we went from seeing each other every day, to every week, to every few weeks, and now it’s been months! I miss her!
I do still need to send some post cards, so if you want one, you’ll have to let me know! I haven’t gotten any yet, but I will soon. There aren’t many things left on my original checklist, actually.
SIM card for phone
uCard (student ID)
Student Leap Card (bus/transit pass)
Register with Garda
Get shelf for closet
Hang stars & decorate
The last thing I have to do is register with the Garda, but I need an appointment for that and I have until November, anyway. I’m going to talk to the woman at UCD who sets up the appointments for us on Monday, if she doesn’t call me back.
This past weekend I went on a trip to see my friend Eanna in Kilkenny. I re-met a lot of people I knew when I studied abroad here, so it was really nice to see them again. Plus, Kilkenny was a nice little place with a neat castle we took a tour of. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I went to a museum with another person, let alone a group of people, so it was a little strange to not be alone in a museum. It was cold (to me) and I got the sniffles now, but I’ll survive. I’ve got sh*t ta do.
Speaking of sh*t ta do, I’m meant to be doing my reading for tomorrow’s class, but I didn’t. I did get started on my assignments for this week and got my planner all set up and ready to go, though. One of our assignments this semester is to have a blog, but unfortunately I can’t use this one since it has to be solely for the class. Once the class is over, though, I’ll probably migrate everything here. If you want to check it out, you can click here or just wait until it’s migrated here.
Anyway, sleep time, I’ve got an early day tomorrow!
I seriously have loved this song since I was a kid, except I always called it “the Chinese Chicken song” because of the lyric “Chickity China the Chinese chicken You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'”.
Anyways. I’ve been living in Ireland for a week already (can you believe it?!) and it’s not nearly as tough of an adjustment as the last time I moved abroad. I think it really hit me how much I’ve changed since the last time I lived in Maynooth, but especially since I moved to China, when the taxi driver said he could tell I traveled a lot because I was confident and self-assured and I thought, “Wow, I really am!”
Before I got here, I had a lot of things I needed to get done on my checklist, and thus far it looks like this:
SIM card for phone
uCard (student ID)
Student Leap Card (bus/transit pass)
Register with Garda
Get shelf for closet
Hang stars & decorate
So I think I’ve done a pretty decent job. My suitcases were empty pretty quickly, although I do feel like I’m in perpetual need for a nice nap. I went to Dublin and picked up some boots before going out to the university to have a look around and pick up my ID card.
Classes start 1 week from today and I hope I’m ready. My room is too small for a desk, but the Maynooth University isn’t too far from here and I read somewhere that I can still get access to it somehow? I’ll have to investigate that further… tomorrow. 😛
One thing that makes me sad is that the shows I was watching on Netflix at home aren’t on Irish Netflix. :'(
Once I get my room a bit more tidied and organized (and my stars up!), I’ll try to remember to post pictures somewhere!
My life is currently boiled down to two large suitcases, a small suitcase, a backpack, and a few leftovers. Right now, I want it to boil down to a nap, but that’s a personal travel no-no, since I don’t sleep the night before an over night flight. Especially since this one will land in the morning, which is always my LEAST FAVORITE. The first thing I want to do after I’ve flown for ages is go to sleep, but when I land in a new timezone in the morning (this time at 9:15am) I don’t let myself. So instead, I don’t sleep the night before so I can sleep the entire plane ride.
This is not how I pack, if you were wondering. For one thing, I’m not allowed to bring that many books. My mom says she won’t get rid of any of them, though, so that’s nice.
If only I had a magical suitcase. I don’t, though, so huge shoutout to my mom for starting by “only being here to make sure you stay on task” and then actually helping me pack because we both know I would’ve gotten it done on my own, but not nearly as efficiently or quickly….
So, yeah, today I leave and tomorrow I’ll be there. It’s crazy to think that I was going to Ireland to study abroad three years ago and now I’m going back for my Master’s degree. So much has changed in those three years, most notably me. I could go into detail, but instead I think I’ll quit procrastinating and finish packing.
I hate packing and I hate unpacking, but in the end the travel is worth it.