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Rachel’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 20 Apr 2006

Location: Cork, Ireland

MapGuess who turns 23 tomorrow?? Rachel is getting old...

I've been here for two months now. CRAZY. I can't believe how fast the time is flying.

People have been asking about my job, where I live, what I've been doing, etc., so here's an attempt to answer at least one of those questions - where does Rachel rest her weary blond head at night?

For starters, I'm obviously in Cork, not Dublin. I just couldn't make myself live there for four months. I didn't like Dublin the first time I was there three years ago, and when I and my five tons of luggage were deposited unceremoniously on its doorstep in February, it was clear that absence had definitely NOT made the heart grow fonder. Dublin is one of the least pretty European cities you'll ever find - apparently it's taking lessons from the U.S. on How To Make Your Country A Hideous Victim of Urban Sprawl. And the River Liffey, running through the heart of the city, challenges even some of Spain's rivers as Most Unremarkable Body of Water in Europe Ever. Dublin is also incredibly crowded (I thought this was still low season for tourists! Why am I being blinded by camera flashes every 7 seconds??) and the traffic is HORRIBLE. More about Irish traffic jams on another day...

To be fair to Dublin, though, it DOES have a quirky, fun personality, and I have to admit that it's started to grow on me after spending a weekend there as a tourist instead of a resident. I'm much more of a fan now. Again, more about that later.

So anyway, I got into Dublin on Tuesday afternoon, attended Orientation on Wednesday morning (and met plenty of other people with the same deer in the headlights look as we all asked ourselves, "What in the heck have I gotten myself into?!"), and was gone by Thursday evening, fleeing the East coast for the South coast and the ever peculiar County Cork.

Why Cork? Well, to start, one of my college friends from St. Thomas, Bekah, is studying abroad for the year in Cork at UCC (University College Cork... in case anyone should get confused as to what it is, I'd like to make the motion to change its name to University College School Institute of Higher Learning Educational Establishment Cork). Bekah offered to let me sleep on the floor of her apartment while I looked for an apartment of my own. How could I refuse an offer that would let me move out of the simply charming hostels?? (In case you're a litte slow today, the use of charming as an adjective was meant SARCASTICALLY.) Not to mention the fact that it was wonderful to have a familiar face around...

Second, Cork (I'm referring to the city here - both the city and the county are called Cork) is a much more manageable size than Dulbin is in terms of getting to know the city and the people, but it's also big enough to have a decent sized job market and plenty of things to do on the weekend. Unfortunately for my checking account, it also has a lot of places to shop. And restaurants to eat at. And pubs to grab a pint (although the pub thing applies to every square inch of Ireland). Do you hear that? It's the sound of money WHOOSHING out of my wallet.

Third, County Cork (yes, the "county" part comes before the name) is very pretty and is also closer to places like the Ring of Kerry than Dublin is, which makes weekend trips a little bit easier. Although on the downside, flying out of Cork to any other country is harder than it would have been if I'd stayed in Dulbin.

And finally, some of my Irish ancestors on my mom's side came from County Cork. So now I get to discover where some of the Stevens Family's Weirdness comes from.

Right then. So I found an apartment, and within 6 days of landing in Ireland I was moved in. It's an almost brand new building that caters to the foreign European students who come here to study English for a few weeks to a few months at a time. I've had to more or less sell my soul in order to pay the ridiculously high rent, but it's worth it for several reasons. And of course I'll share those reasons with you - were you hoping that this entry was finished? Not quite.

Anyway. So my apartment is awesome because: Most apartments want you to stay for at least 6 months, but this one doesn't care because it has students coming and going all the time. Margaret, the 60-something-year-old landlady is awesome, and in true Irish fashion she'll talk your ear off if you let her - paying rent last week led to a 45 minute conversation. None of my roommates are American, which makes me happy. Because the apartment is so new, it's also really CLEAN (are you all familiar with Rachel's dislike of Other People Germs & Dirt?). The setup is perfect, too - there are seven bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, and the family room and kitchen are the shared area. In case you can't grasp the particular wonderfulness of this, let me ask you this: would YOU want to share a bathroom with stinky European boys you've never met before? Didn't think so. And finally, I'm a mere 5 minutes from the main bus station (well, it's more like about 8 minutes, but because I'm always running late, I've learned to make it there in 5. As if you thought my off-schedule ways would get any better over here...) and 10 minutes from city center.

So now that my hands and arms have become permanently stuck in the typing position, I'll end this for now.

The next entry, coming soon: Rachel's Roommates (oh, you're darn tootin' they're worth a whole entry devoted to just them). Followed by: Rachel's Job.