Student Blogs

From Weihnachtsmärkte to A New Start

February 4th, 2017 adchri18

Hey there!  It’s been a while!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and have started the New Year off on the right foot! I know it’s now the beginning of February 2017 – making my first blog post of the year well overdue – but I hope to make up for the gap between posts by talking about everything I’ve done the past few months: from visiting Germany for a few days before bumbling my way through finals to traveling home to Florida to spend time with family and friends at the beach (as Floridians are wont to do), then heading back to Ireland to start class and visit Dublin for the first time. Let’s get to it!

 

Trip to Germany

I wasn’t able to travel a lot outside Ireland last semester because of my accident, but I was fortunate to be able visit my boyfriend Aaron in Bamberg, Germany just before the finals period began. We stayed in Bamberg most of the time I was there, but we also traveled to Nuremberg and Munich for a day. Not only was it a huge plus to be able to travel abroad with a fellow HC student, but it was an even bigger advantage to stay in a foreign country with someone who could act as your personal translator. Before I got to Germany I had no idea what to expect; I didn’t know very much about the country or its history apart from what I’d learned in school. In a way I suppose that made the trip an even bigger and better surprise.

I was absolutely blown away by the architecture and how old many of the buildings were. We passed by several churches that were hundreds of years old, and the first dinner I had in Bamberg was at a brewery that was originally established in 1405. Walking through the streets felt like walking through a fairy tale – if you’ve ever seen any adaptations of German folk tales (this includes stories by the Brothers Grimm!), you might have noticed how many illustrations draw influence from the original, Gothic style of German architecture. Needless to say, it was certainly a treat to see this style – among many others – stand the test of time to the present day. One of my favorite sights in Bamberg is of the Old Town Hall, which is detailed with magnificent painting and carvings that make it a true German icon. In Nuremberg you can check out the Nuremberg Castle, an impressive landmark as old as the Holy Roman Empire. Munich, the biggest of the three cities we visited, has an incredible central square (called the Marienplatz, or “Mary’s Square”) with a massive and intricately-designed town hall that is definitely worth seeing!

A shot of the gorgeous New Town Hall in Munich.

The level of on Munich’s town hall building is astounding!

A view of Nuremberg Castle from one of its towers.

The outside of the Schlenkerla in Bamberg, a 600 year old brewery famous for its smoked beer (which, oddly enough, tastes a little like bacon)! (PC: Aaron Katz)

(PC: Aaron Katz)

A view of the Town Hall in Bamberg from one of the bridges (PC: Aaron Katz)

I love the painting on the side of Bamberg’s Town Hall!

A Lego model of Bamberg’s Town Hall found in one of its shops.

 

Even more beautiful and mind-blowing than the cities themselves was the Christmas markets within them (or Weihnachtsmärkte, as they’re called in Germany). I had heard from a friend that they were much bigger than the one we had in Galway, but I wasn’t prepared for how massive they truly were. Even in Bamberg, a smaller town than Nuremberg and Munich, the streets were lined with local vendors selling handmade goods, sweets, bratwurst, and glühwein, a kind of mulled wine exclusive to the Germans. I had never seen a city so alive with music, lights, and tourists and locals alike enjoying the holiday season despite the bitter cold.

Munich Christmas Market.

 

Munich Christmas market during the day

 

(PC: Aaron Katz)

Christmas market in Nuremberg (PC: Aaron Katz)

Christmas market in Bamberg during the day.

 

Aaron and I walked through all three cities and all three markets for hours, and it truly was an incredible experience. In fact, I plan on visiting again in the spring when the weather will be slightly warmer. For now though, I still have lots of traveling left to do within Ireland!

 

Back Home

Finals were a pain – as they usually are – but I got through with them in time to enjoy the holidays with my family and friends back home. We didn’t go on any vacations – living in Florida, where the weather can be 72° and sunny even on Christmas day, is a vacation in itself. I got to spend quality time with my family at home and even went on a bike ride to the beach with my sister. It wasn’t the first time I’ve come home to my family after being away for a few months, but being away in Ireland made the homecoming even more meaningful.

I also got to spend time with my best friends the week after Christmas. After some much-needed catching up and lunch at Panera (one of many American restaurants I’ve missed!), we went to see an event the beaches area holds every year called “Deck the Chairs”, where the city center is filled with holiday decorations made entirely out of lifeguard chairs. In my opinion, it’s the best way to make use of them during the off-season!

(PC: Lauren Hawley)

(PC: Lauren Hawley)

(PC: Lauren Hawley)

This Harry Potter-themes setup was sponsored by our local library (PC: Lauren Hawley)

This massive tree — the pièce de résistance of the event — had lights that changed colors and patterns with the music that was playing. Definitely my favorite! (PC: Lauren Hawley)

 

But of course, all good things must come to an end. I’d be lying if I said I was ready to return to Galway, but it was time to start a new semester.

 

Back to my Second Home

My second semester started off in a far less confusing manner than the first one did: I didn’t have to apply for any classes this time, so I could get right into two Classics courses (one about Roman Architecture, the other comparing the Roman author Seneca to Shakespeare), two English courses (one about Drama and Theatre studies, the other a Film Studies seminar), a psychology course on theories of personality, and a course on basic Irish studies of literature and history. I’ve just finished my fourth week of classes and so far everything is going swimmingly!

I’ve also taken on a couple theatre projects for the beginning of the semester before I start Choral Scholar rehearsals again towards the end of February. I was chosen to direct an original one act play titled Good Morning Kindergarten!, a hilarious play about kindergarten students putting on their very own news show, during the Drama Society’s theatre week from February 22-24. It’s the first time I’ve ever led a project like this, and after two days of auditions I’m excited to get rehearsals underway soon! In addition, I’ve also signed on to help with a project orchestrated by the NUIG Career Development Center, in which we intend to stage skits of what not to do during a job interview, that will also take place at the end of February. Needless to say, February is going to be quite a busy month for me.

 

Trip to Dublin

Just over a week ago I went on a brief weekend trip to Dublin with our advisor Kathleen and with a group of other Holy Cross students. After having dinner at a Mexican restaurant, the next day we went on a walking tour of the city and saw many historical and cultural sites, including the City Hall and Dublin castle. We also took a stroll down the streets of Merrion Square, where we saw Oscar Wilde’s house and noted the unique 19th century Georgian style of the buildings. We even got to see inside one of the houses that had been recently refurbished with wallpaper and furniture corresponding with the original style. Some of the flooring and fireplaces were still intact as well!

This seagull was photo-ready as it perched alongside the River Liffey

One of my favorite pictures from inside Dublin’s 200+ year old city hall!

Oscar Wilde’s house in Merrion Square

The inside of another building in Merrion Square. The furniture is new, but the style is close to original!

What can I say? I’m a sucker for antiques.

 

Afterward we went to visit Trinity College, which reminded so much of Holy Cross with its stonework and vines. There we got to see the Book of Kells, which is a fantastic manuscript of the 4 Gospels in the Bible that was created in an Irish monastery around 800 CE.  The Book is encased in a glass box in a small museum that describes the history of the manuscript and the types of inks and papers used in this and other manuscripts throughout history.  I was particularly excited to read about the history since I had just taken a class last semester about the transmission of Classical texts.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the document directly, but I was able to take pictures of a part of Trinity library known as the Long Room library. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a long room full of old books and busts of famous authors – from Greek philosophers to English playwrights, and everyone in between. It may not sound like much, but I can assure you that the inside was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was walking through the Hogwarts library, and was silently hoping the busts would start chatting quietly amongst themselves.

A first look at Trinity’s campus.

The Long Room inside Trinity Library

 

Once again, I plan on visiting again when the weather outside is slightly warmer!

 

What’s Next

I won’t be doing quite as much traveling as I have done the past couple months, but this month marks a new start of not just the semester, but the start of more exciting adventures in Ireland and beyond. I will certainly keep you up to date on new developments on my theatre projects and post pictures of new things I see in and outside of Galway. Until then, I hope everyone has a great start to the second semester! Take care!

 

Cheers,
Ali

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