Wow it’s been forever since I’ve posted an update! Time has been racing by and we just keep getting closer and closer to the holidays! The city is already starting to decorate for Christmas; Grafton Street is covered in lights and garland, and caroling groups have started to join the usual set of musicians and other performers. My friends and I think it’s way too early to start the festivities, and we say we won’t start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but we’ve already caught Frenchie singing some carols every now and then.
With such anticipation for Christmas, Halloween passed quickly, although that doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate! We spent Halloween night carving pumpkins and listening to Halloween music (which means we basically listened to the same five songs over and over again). We sort of half-dressed up, as none of us really had anything that would be a good costume, but one of my American friends went full out as a panda, making the rest of us look pretty boring. Panda also brought some candy for us to snack on throughout the evening. American candy doesn’t exist here, so we got to try the Irish version of Halloween sweets. My American friends and I agreed that it was good, but it still doesn’t match the stuff we have back home. Gummy candy is very popular here (they call them “jellies”), so we had a bunch of jellies in almost every shape and color. The chocolate was good, but it’s much sweeter than the chocolate back home. And of course almost every time of chocolate bar seemed to be Cadbury something or another.
The rest of the week went by quickly as we were all getting ready for our reading week (week off). On Thursday one of my American friends and Frenchie begged me to go with them to a reggae hip hop class that evening with the dance society. I was a little skeptical at first, but I had really enjoyed the Irish class I took a few weeks earlier, and I had nothing else to do that evening, so I went along. The class ended up being so much fun, and we learned a part of a dance that we kept performing over and over until we were dying of exhaustion. Afterwards we went back to my apartment for some tacos (gotta eat that tex-mex).
This past week was our week off, which means it has been pretty quiet here at Halls. My Irish flatmates went home (although sometimes they come back every now and then) and Frenchie has some family visiting so she has stayed with them. Since it has been pretty quiet I have been able to use the week for what it’s meant for (studying). But the week hasn’t been all that boring! I tagged along with one of my American friends and Frenchie to Pennys because Frenchie wanted to find some new jeans. We split up in the store to look around, and after a while my friend and I realized we couldn’t find Frenchie. We spent about an hour looking, but the store was packed so we couldn’t find her anywhere. The French are on holiday right now so the entire store was filled with French people (and Dublin itself too. Sometimes I feel like I’m in France instead of Ireland). Frenchie only has a French phone plan so we couldn’t get in contact with her. We really considered getting her a pager until we finally found her downstairs in the Christmas section. Eventually we were able to pull her away, and we went to get some famous Butlers hot chocolate on our way back home.
On Tuesday I went with my American/German friend to the airport because she was going to spend the rest of the week with family back in Germany. I helped her film a part of her economics project at the airport before her flight. We took a different bus than the usual airport bus because it was a lot cheaper, so we got to see more of the residential parts of Dublin, as the route took the backway to the airport.
The next day I went back to Trinity to work on a computing assignment in the computing labs. The assignment sounds simple, pretty much just write a program that functions as a calculator to manipulate numbers, but it was certainly the hardest assignment from any module that we have had so far. I could have written the program in minutes if I were using Java, but in computing we are using ARM assembly language, which is basically a language one step above 1s and 0s. This means we have to do tons of number conversions, between decimal, hexadecimal, ASCII values, etc. and make sure we correctly use the right memory slots (called registers) to store value information. The logic is also different and a lot more meticulous than other languages, which means we usually get stuck going around in circles until our brains hurt.
Nevertheless, I made some pretty good progress that day, and my classmates who had joined me in the labs went back home with me to hang out. They had never been to Halls before, since they all live in Dublin, so they wanted to see where a large portion of first year students lived. They also wanted me to try some Irish snacks, so they brought soda bread, Irish candy, and Taytos (the most popular crisps here; there’s even a theme part for them). I made American biscuits for them to try (scones for them). We spent the afternoon chatting and playing cards, having a grand old time.
The rest of the week I spent in the computer labs with my classmates. We would stare at our screens for a few hours trying to write the code, then we would need a break so we’d stare at each others screens and try to fix each others code. After six or seven hours we would call it a day, especially since it gets dark around 4:30 and staying any later starts to feel depressing. Yesterday I had my program pretty much finished, but there was this little bug that happened when I wanted to calculate numbers with zeros in them. I had this issue for a couple days so I was ready to just leave it and come up with ways to avoid the issue when demonstrating my program this coming Friday. My classmate came over to look at my code and suggested I move one line about three more lines down. I did so, and the code worked perfectly, no matter how many times I tried to break it; I was super excited. Unfortunately, my classmate never got hers to work (I think she took the wrong approach, but she didn’t want to go back and change everything), so she keeps reminding me daily that she was the one who solved my bug. I just respond that I’ve helped her with every programming assignment so far and the first part of the computing assignment, so as of now we are even. Now we’re just waiting to see who will tip the scales next.
This weekend should be pretty chill, I have the apartment to myself, so I’ll probably catch up on the boring things like laundry and grocery. I’m so used to being surrounded by people and friends that it feels different to have some alone time to do pretty anything that I want. But it’s not going to last long as college starts up again on Monday, so I better enjoy it while it lasts! Hope everyone else enjoys their weekend, slán!