Posted in 2015 (Europe), Blog

26/05/16: A Backlog of Updates

Hello, readers! Thanks so much for reading even though I’m a trash panda (n; raccoon I’m tired of those trash pandas eating my garbage.) and can never stick with an update schedule. Or even remember to update hardly anything.

So let’s work our way backwards.


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:

Milan

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.

251 stairs later…

A video posted by Apers (@apparentlyapril) on

I also went to a really nice Alfons Mucha exhibit that was absolutely gorgeous.

The last thing I did was wait in line for a really long time to get a ticket to an opera at the Teatro alla Scalla, where I paid 13 Euro and ended up sitting in a 200+ seat.

What a great way to end this trip! #IdueFoscari

A photo posted by Apers (@apparentlyapril) on

Mittelstaedt Family Trip 2016

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.

My brother is soooo attractive and also singlleeeeeee

A photo posted by Apers (@apparentlyapril) on

London with the Hughes Family

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.

Anyway, Happy May!

<3 April

Posted in 2015 (Europe), Blog

31/08/15: One Week

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
  • Boots
  • Groceries
  • uCard (student ID)
  • Bank account
  • Student Leap Card (bus/transit pass)
  • Register with Garda
  • Get shelf for closet
  • Unpack
  • 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. :'(

Dr Reid! I missss hiiiimmmmmm

Once I get my room a bit more tidied and organized (and my stars up!), I’ll try to remember to post pictures somewhere!

Have a great Monday (and week!)
<3 April

Posted in 2015 (Europe)

23/08/14: One Day

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.

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

27/09/12: Walking Myself Home

As I walked myself home at 1 in the morning, I got to thinking about how safe I felt while I was walking. After all, I was raised in what is called “rape culture” because I have always been told to never walk myself home after a certain hour (usually dark) and to make sure I was always with people I trust. At UNCW, I always walked myself home after dark. For three years, I’ve been warned against it. “I really wish you would ride your bike home instead of walking.” That’s never what I wanted to do, I wanted to walk. So I did.

There, I felt safe, but I was always wary of people I heard walking behind me or coming up in front of me. I would make eye contact really quickly and then look back at the ground, always listening, always careful. Here I still feel safe. UNCW has approximately 14,000 students, NUI Maynooth has approximately 8,500 students; Wilmington, NC has about 106,000 resident, Maynooth, Co Kildare has approximately 10,000. I feel safe here. I still pay attention to where I am and who is around me, but I’m not panicky or stressed. Even when I was in Dublin, I didn’t feel worried. I was with three other people, but even if I wasn’t with them, I don’t think I would be afraid.

I think part of the problem is that I’m taught to be afraid. I’m taught to be constantly wary of people. I, however, love to meet new people. I love to talk to people and I know when I don’t feel comfortable and I know how to leave. I might end up traveling on my own while I’m here, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find people that will be wonderful and helpful. I might run into people that could be creepy and weird, but I don’t think that will be the case.

I’ve been taught to never talk to strangers, but what good is that when the world is filled with such fascinating ones?


Interested in photos? You can see all of them from Fall 2012 and from Ireland at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

23/09/12: Differences and their Perceptions

It’s hard to describe the differences between Ireland and home to someone who’s not here. The people here speak English and they don’t look all that different (in fact, on numerous occasions I have been asked if I’m Irish). Some people have deep accents and some sound almost American to me. The slang is different and sometimes what we call things, but my roommates and I seem to manage alright. Sometimes we have to stop and clarify, but usually our “arguments” are good-natured (pasta vs noodles, presses vs cabinets). One of the main things I’ve noticed is that they say “half eleven” instead of “eleven thirty” and “one euro twenty” instead of “one euro and twenty cents”. The accent they have also loses the “th” sound before the “-r” sound or at the end of the word. So “three thirty” becomes “t’ree t’irty” and “Maynooth” becomes “Maynoot’ “. Sometimes that makes the word sound completely different than how I’m used to saying it.

Things aren’t drastically different here. Even the differences between lectures and classes aren’t that noticeable (as mentioned in my previous post). The differences sort of sneak up on you when you’re not paying attention (like when I needed lotion and had to ask for moisturizer). Once, when I was in the grocery store, I wanted some cherry jam and I so I asked the clerk where the jelly was. He brought me to the Jello section. That’s when I remembered that jelly is what I would call Jello and I needed to ask for jam. I tried to explain the difference to my roommates (jelly has less chunks of fruit in it than jam does), but it was a bit of a struggle.

Once when Louise and I were walking home from the store, some boys must have heard me talking because they asked me if I knew what the ball they were carrying was. “Yes, it’s a rugby ball,” I replied in irritation. “Just because I’m American doesn’t mean I’m stupid,” I told Louise after the guys had passed us. “My university has a rugby team.”

I wish I could take a linguistics class that covers Irish-English like I took back home for American-English, but that doesn’t exist here. 🙁 Instead, I’ll be taking Irish Language. When I told my roommates that, they replied with incredulous “Why?!”s. They don’t seem to understand how much I love language and the German students don’t understand why I don’t think German is an ugly language. Languages just rock.


Interested in photos? You can see all of them from Fall 2012 and from Ireland at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

19/09/12: Lectures and Classes, a Reflection

There seems to be quite a difference between lectures and my classes back at home. For one thing, if a class is on the timetable more than once, you don’t pick between the two, you attend them both (or however many there are). For another, there’s no space between the blocks of lectures, so they have to start five minutes after they’re on the schedule and they end five minutes before the schedule says. Hopefully, if you have a class across campus, your professor doesn’t take up the whole time or go over it. Some of the lecturers have to tell their students that “This is a small enough class, you’re welcome to stop me and ask questions at any time.” That’s sort of a given back home, usually there’s a small enough class so people can ask and discuss, but here the lectures are quite large. It reminds me of my basic courses when I was a first-year back home; they’re trying to get as many students into one lecture as they can so they only need one lecturer for the entire subject and it only has to meet once or twice a week. At this point in my schooling career, I have been in more discussion-based courses than I have lectures in the last year or two. It might have something to do with me being an international student and so I’m in first or second year courses, but it’s hard to tell. As it is back home, some of the lecturers seem to be able to use the technology and some of them seem to struggle. I suppose that would be the same everywhere. But here, they have lectures and tutorials. I’m not really sure what tutorials are just yet, but from what it sounds like, they’re sort of like the discussions that the lectures are missing.

I’m not really sure what else to say, so goodbye and thanks for reading!


Interested in photos? You can see all of them from Fall 2012 and from Ireland at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

12-13/09/12: Orientation and Why I Skipped Out

Orientation days: we wake up early, sit and listen to people talk about boring things we could have just Googled, and generally just hate our lives.

The only plus side to orientation was that it helped me get used to the time zone.

My roommates had orientation, too, but they didn’t skip out on theirs. They, after all, are first year students and haven’t been through a college orientation before. I have. This is my fourth (and final) year of university. I think I know how to be a college student by now. The entire orientation process was very disorganized; it was almost as if they didn’t expect the 200+ international students to all show up when they were supposed to…

I ended up with Hilary (from Kentucky), Nansen (from Canada), Amy (from Australia), Jenna (from UNCW), and Kym (from UNCW). We would often be joined by Cade (from Mississippi), but she’s a grad student and had a different orientation.  We decided to skip out on some of the scheduled orientation things just because they were boring and we were hungry.

After our first day of orientation, Nansen and I went to a sports thing where they showed people how to play traditional Irish sports. While I stood and watched, I ended up talking to Emilie (French), Colleen (American), and Maria (Polish, though she lives in France). It was very cold outside and Colleen and Maria’s friend Steve (American visitor) was participating in the demonstration with Nansen, so we girls stood around and complained about being cold. Just before it ended, we got tired of standing there, so we walked to the on-campus pub in the student union and the boys met up with us there. We chatted with everyone and were later joined by Jenna. For a sense of decency, I’ll just tell you that the DJ was a bit of a sleaze bag and by the end of the night, he had convinced a very drunk girl to take her top off.

After our second day, we all went to the Roost, which is a pub off campus, for their International Welcome night or whatever.  At that pub, I walked around and talked to some amazing new people. It’s hard to go through and remember them all now, but just know I talked to a lot of people. As per usual, free water, so I didn’t spend a dime to have a great time.

After we left each of the pubs, we could hear our ears ringing because it’s always so loud in the pubs. In the US, we have nightclubs or dance clubs where the music is loud and no one bothers trying to talk and then we have bars where it’s quieter and people can drink and talk. Here, it seems, they have become one in the form of pubs. The music is crazy loud and people still drink and try to talk. I wish it was separate here, too, but I guess that takes some of the appeal out of it. Why go to two places when you can go to one?

It’s still fun to shout into other people’s ears and try to decipher their accents. I’m so glad I can understand everyone. 😀


Interested in photos? You can see all of them from Fall 2012 and from Ireland at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

10/09/12: Tired, but Determined

I suppose no one really cares about the flight except perhaps small details: the flights went smoothly, my 30lbs back pack was amusing to a lot of people when I was trying to put it on my 100lbs frame, and I got a lot of help from tall people putting it in the storage compartments above people’s heads.

It was easy enough to find the Maynooth girl waiting for us to check in, so we stood around and waited for other students hoping they’d check in before the bus left. My plane landed at 6:55am, so it was early (but I suspect they do that on purpose, airplanes). The bus arrived right on time at nine and we got on it (obviously). We arrived at the university at 9:30-something and had to wait until about 10:15 for the check-in office to open.

I hadn’t packed my coat and let me tell you, it was cold. It woke me up a bit, though, since I was starting to get sleepy. After waiting outside in the cold drizzle, the people finally decided we could wait INSIDE, which was so thoughtful of them. We checked in and were given directions to our apartments.

Mine is on the second floor in Moy Hall, so I took the elevator because my luggage was enormous. All the doors were hanging open except the first on my right, so I figured one person had moved in. I got to the end of the hall where my room is and set all my stuff down. The first thing I really wanted to do was shower, but I had no towel, so I figured maybe I’d unpack and then find someone to go to the store. Lady Luck was quite helpful when my roommate came to introduce herself since she’d spent the last night by herself. We chatted for a bit before she went “You’re American!” and I went “Yes, yes I am.” Luckily, she lent me a towel so I could shower and said she would go to the store with me. She’s from a place in Ireland called Ballagan, but I don’t really know where that is.

After I showered and sort of unpacked, we went shopping at a place called Dunne’s, which is like Walmart but less dirty and smaller. It took us a while to get everything I needed and a couple of stops at Dunne’s and then we finally went back to our apartment. I started lackadaisically unpacking by dumping all of my stuff into the drawer under my bed and then sorting it. Now that I had sheets, I figured I probably ought to wash them, so Louise and I went to the laundry place where we found out we need tokens to do laundry here. We waited for the lady with the tokens to come back for quite a while, sitting on a table that was near the queue for people that were checking in. People kept thinking we were in the queue, but we weren’t, so I would tell them that we were the “philosophical queue” or the “hypothetical queue” and direct them to the queue they needed. Mind you, I hadn’t slept since the night before I left, even though I dozed on the plane ride. At that point, it was some time in the afternoon, so I was going back and forth between being tired and not being tired. When the queue was non-existant for the first time, I asked if I could retake my picture because I assumed it would have been awful. Thankfully, they agreed because apparently the lady who took my picture when I checked in didn’t get my entire head in it? I don’t know how she managed that one… When retaking my picture, we found out the people at the desk had tokens the entire time, so I paid 3.20€ for a dryer token and 3.20€ for a washer token. (Louise is over my shoulder going “The Euro sign goes before the numbers” as I’m typing this. I told her so does the dollar sign, but that’s not how you say it, so that’s not how I write it.)

We found out that there was a laundry place in our apartment building, so we walked back to get our laundry started. After looking into the tiny little washing machine, I realized that I’m probably not going to be doing much laundry this semester. The washer is very very tiny and it costs 3.20€ just to run the wash.

We spent a lot of time wandering around town running errands and things, so it’s not terribly interesting and I don’t really remember what order any of it went in, but that’s what we did. At some point, our roommate Sharon moved in, she’s from almost the Northernmost point of the Republic of Ireland before it becomes Northern Ireland. She can be hard to understand because she has a thick accent, but I manage to understand her most of the time.

We got supper (“Tea!” Louise would shout if she was still in my room) at a place called the Roost, which is apparently a popular pub in Maynooth town. After tea, we came back to Moy and just hung out for the rest of the night. Everyone was extremely tired and no one but Louise was in the correct time zone.


Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Fall 2012 and from Ireland at my Flickr page!