Slán, Dublin

First semester is officially over, and now it is time to celebrate for the holidays!  Term ended on Friday, so this weekend everyone has been busy packing and getting ready to go home.  My flight back home is tomorrow, so I’ve spent the day getting my stuff together and cleaning up my room and the apartment.  Most of my flatmates have already left, so it has been pretty quiet the past couple of days.  It’s going to be strange to be away from everyone for a month, but I’m super excited to come home and see my friends and family.

These past few weeks have flown by so quickly; my classmates and I have been very busy getting our final assignments in for the semester.  We don’t have finals this semester because all of the exams are at the end of the year, even for one semester long classes (however this is the last year it will be like this because starting next year we will have mid year exams).  It’s nice not to have to stress out about exams at the moment, but it’s going to be difficult to have to remember all the material from my one semester classes for the exams at the end of the year.

Other than finishing up some work, I’ve spent the past few weeks hanging out with my classmates and learning more about the Irish culture.  My Irish friends are constantly teaching me “the proper way to speak,”  and we seem to have linguistic debates almost every day.  The most recent difference we banter about is spelling.  I am already a really bad speller, so trying to learn the Irish spelling for my essays and compositions is a challenge.  I sort of just mix the two systems together and throw in my own little twists every now and then and everything is grand.  

Other than playing the “how is Maddie different game,” we play a lot of cards to pass the time in between classes.  One of my friends was determined to teach me some card tricks and how to shuffle the cards properly this semster.  I’ve picked up on the shuffling, but I am still really slow at the card tricks.  I managed to get the hang of one of them, so now I annoy basically everyone I know with the same trick over and over again.  This same friend surprised me with my own deck of cards the other day, so now I have a set to take with me back home (I promised her I wouldn’t annoy the people next to me on the plane home with my newfound skills).  

Dublin has been prepared for Christmas since about the end of October, but finally it’s starting to really feel like the holiday season.  Last week was the annual lighting of the tree in Trinity front square.  Everyone gathered around the square and waited for the lights on the large Christmas tree to be switched on.  Afterwards they handed out free mince pies and mulled wine.  Everyone started singing Christmas carols and started spreading the Christmas spirit.  

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On Friday my course held a DCLRS (Dublin computational linguistics research seminar) Christmas Conference, where everyone in my course (CSL) comes and listens to the 4th years speak about their final year projects that they will be working on.  Some of the projects sounded really interesting, such as working with virtual reality or testing the speech tones and patterns of people having different types of conversations.  Others were completely over my head and didn’t make much sense, but I’m assuming I’ll come to learn more about computational linguistics as I continue with the course.  After the conference a few friends and I went to get some food and then bought Christmas crackers, which was something I was not very familiar with.  Christmas crackers are connected tubes of cardboard with little prizes inside.  Two people pull on the tubes at once and one person will end up with the half with the prizes in it.  I ended up with a lot of useless plastic toys and pieces of paper with really bad jokes.  

Last week was Trinity Halls’ musical!  We went to see their production of Into the Woods, and they did a really great job.  The second act is always a drag, but the singing and acting were very nice.  Frenchie and I have been singing the songs almost every day; it’s so hard not to!  I only knew a couple of the people who were performing, but it was fun to see who else living at Halls is involved with theater.  A funny part of the musical though was the actors’ attempt to do the show with American accents.  We all got the auditions email around the beginning of the year, and a part of the audition was trying to imitate the American accent.  Some of the actors tried their best on stage, and others didn’t even try at all.  It was interesting to see the two princes argue with each other in heavy Cork accents.

I can’t believe an entire semester is already over; my friends and I have been saying this for days now.  But it will be great to be home, just have to get through a very long day of traveling tomorrow!  I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and a good holiday, and I’ll be back again with more updates this next semester!  Until then, Nollaig Shona!  (Happy Christmas) 🙂

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