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Dublin, Ireland

Shorthand link:


...and so it concludes.

Chicago, United States

I’ve been back home for about a day now. Yesterday I was saddened to have to say goodbye to Dublin, yet at the same time I was excited to say hello to Chicago… and more importantly to my friends and family! It’s weird to sit here in my bedroom in the States when just yesterday I was sitting in my apartment in Ireland.

For my internship portfolio I had to write a paper on how living in Ireland for this summer has impacted me as a person. I began the paper by explaining how difficult that is to do. I think when someone is still in the midst of a life-changing experience it is difficult to see the full meaning of what that experience will one day mean to them. Ask me a year from now, five years from now and I may have the answer they’re looking for. But ask me today and you will only get the jumbled mess of emotions I’m feeling after just having left Dublin and just having said goodbye to the country that had become my home these past eight weeks.

I can still remember when the plane landed on the tarmac at Dublin Airport back in May. I stepped off the plane knowing that the experiences I was going to have this summer would leave me changed forever. I suppose I realized that the person stepping off the plane at Dublin Airport in May would not be the same person stepping back on it in July. Part of that feeling left me a little scared I’ll admit. It’s always scary to change because you’re not always sure who you’re changing into. A better person, a worse person, a stronger person, a weaker person? I’m still not sure I can say exactly what type of person I’ve been changed into but I hope it is for the better.

I made friends more easily than I ever expected going to Ireland. By the time I’d landed in Dublin I’d already met two of the people I would hang out with the rest of the summer. When someone lands in a new country by themselves it only makes sense that they are going to gravitate towards those people who are in the same position as them and hold on for dear life. So that’s what I did. And by the end of the summer I had a group of girls that I spent the last eight weeks of my life with. I know I will always look back on them fondly because it was these friendships I created that made this experience not only easier, but also so much more enjoyable.

I think it would be hard to have an experience like I’ve had this summer and not remember the people who were around me as I was experiencing it. All the people I’ve met on this trip, whether they’re the group of girls I regularly hung out with or the random stranger in the pub, will have a lasting impact on my life because they were there when this summer changed me. They have a unique view of me that no one else will have because they saw these changes occur as they happened. I left my family one person but came back another. The people in Ireland, however, have been able to see this small transformation as it was happening. Though, I’m still not completely sure who I’ve been transformed into.

It’s not just Ireland that’s changed me though; it’s the travelling outside of Ireland too. Travelling is such an eye opening and life-affirming experience that I feel it is impossible to do so without it having a great impact on your life. Especially when it’s in a foreign country so far from home.

Of course the trip that had the most impact on me was Dachau. I feel that visit changed me more this summer than any amount of pub hopping or site seeing in Dublin will. It amazes me to think I spent eight weeks in Ireland yet I think the eight hours I spent in that camp will change me far more. Of course, spending the time in Dachau wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t come to Ireland to study abroad. Maybe that’s what Ireland really was for me- an entranceway to newer and greater possibilities.

Of course my internship also had a great impact on me! I feel like everyday I had an experience there that changed me. Sometimes it was the silliest of things too, such as getting to hold a book from 1846. Something so random for any other person and yet so meaningful for me.

Also, I always felt like I was leaving my mark on history when I was working in the museum. I was opening up exhibit cabinets that hadn’t been opened in a hundred years and then locking them back up where they probably wouldn’t be opened again for another fifty years. It’s odd, and somehow powerful for me, to walk past one of those display cases and know I was the person who handled the specimen and affixed its registration number to it. I can go back in five years, ten years, twenty years and stand at that same specimen remembering back to when I picked it up and held it in my hands. The little experiences like that are actually what I feel impacted me the most and will stay with me the longest.

Actually maybe its not that those little experiences impacted me the most I think instead it’s that those experiences are the easiest for me to see the impact of right away. Maybe because they are so simple and small. It’s the bigger experiences that will take me a little bit longer to process. Even just thinking about all the great people I got to work with this summer and all the different tasks I got to do. I think a few years from now I’m going to look back on this internship and say, “Wow! I actually did that?!” In fact, I think that sums up this entire summer- wow, I actually did do that!

There are still times when I can’t believe I actually spent my summer living in Dublin, even while I was still there. Even now, eight weeks after getting to Dublin and a day after heading home, I can’t believe that I actually lived in another country for a summer. It’s something that I think will take a while before I can ever fully process it.

And then it was time to head home- that was a whole other experience in itself. It’s all so bittersweet too because while I was so excited to be heading home and seeing my friends and family, I was also sad at having to say goodbye to Dublin, which has become my home these past eight weeks.

This feeling of sadness is probably the best indicator of how much Ireland has changed me and I think it shows how I’ve been changed for the better. If I had a poor time while here or thought it had negativley changed who I am then I’m sure I would have felt more relief at leaving. Instead I wanted to continue the amazing expereinces I had in Dublin and that means that I was sad to have to say goodbye.

So what did I get from my time in Ireland? Memories mostly, memories of a summer when I was twenty that impacted the rest of my life. Experiences too, I have lots of those. Experiences of a new culture so different from my own that became my culture for a short period of time. The biggest thing I got from my time in Dublin though is the new person I have become from these memories and experiences. A person that I may not fully understand for another five, ten, or twenty years.

I’m still not sure if I wrote the type of paper that my professor wanted for my personal project on how Ireland impacted me. I could have talked about the differences in the Irish and American workplace or the differences in our culture- but most of that I talked about in the weekly entry journals I also had to submit. I could have made up stuff about how this experience has changed me instead of fully admitting that I’m still not sure yet of its impact. I could have done all that and maybe it would have been what he wanted. But that’s not me, this is. And this is me admitting I still don’t fully know what this summer has meant to me… but I sure can’t wait to find out in the years to come.

Thanks all for sharing this summer with me and taking the time to read my blogs and look at my photos. It really was one hell of a ride…

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 26, 2009 from Chicago, United States
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Sheep Chaser! (Named by Katie, Inspired by Todd)

Dublin, Ireland

Fisrt let me explain the name of this blog because it goes back to before I was even in Ireland. Back in Boston there's a boxing club I workout at and before I left I was talking to one of the coaches, Todd, about how I was going to stay in shape over summer. "They have hills in Ireland, right? And lots of sheep? Perfect! Just chase the sheep up and down the hills!" Yeah, right, perfect. I told my sister about this and told her I would have to talk about my chasing sheep in one of my blogs. You can name it, "Sheep Chaser!" she said... and so I told her I would but would have to save the name for a really great blog. I would add "Named by Katie, Inspired by Todd" to the title I told her. And so I decided to leave this great name to my last Dublin blog- So here it goes...

I sit here in my Dublin apartment with a cab coming in less than an hour to take me to the airport where I will fly back to Chicago… I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet. This summer has been so amazing in so many ways that I’m saddened to have to leave Ireland. At the same time I can’t wait to be back home and see my friends and family.

My last night in Dublin was pretty amazing though, which I guess is fitting considering how great the rest of my summer was! Let me give you the cliffnotes to help you understand: I got home from the night at 7am = awesome night! I leave for the airport at 8am = rough morning! Luckily I had just enough time to get home, jump in the shower, and sit here to write my last Dublin blog.

We didn’t get downtown until nearly midnight last night. U2 is playing in Dublin right now and the concert had just gotten out so O’Connell Street was a mess with 80,000 people emerging on it at once! We went straight to Palace Bar, our favorite in Dublin, and spent our night there. The bar was open until two, though it normally closes closer to twelve; I think with the U2 concert most pubs stayed open late.

We met some interesting characters last night and at one point Meghan and I had a gentlemen come up to us and ask us back to his apartment… in case he wasn’t clear enough by this gesture he clarified further, “You know I’m taking about sex, right?” Yeah, we got that. Thanks. Shockingly enough we kindly refused his offer, but hey we did get a free drink out of it… and a lot of laughs too! I swear the pub was filled with all of Dublin’s creeps last night and they all seemed to come up to me! Eh, I guess it made for an interesting last night, haha.

Although they made the last call a dozen times after closing at two most of the people didn’t actually leave until past three. Since we had been there so much throughout the summer we knew all of the bartenders and stayed past closing to hang out with them for our last night. After everyone left around three Willie, the owner’s son, asked us we wanted to have a nightcap of some Jamison. Although we tried to decline he wouldn’t let us, “When is the last time the five of you are going to be sitting at a pub together in Dublin?!” And he proceeded to pour us our whiskey, haha. Followed by another one later in the night of course. He also gave me a ‘Palace Bar’ t-shirt, which I was very excited about!

We had a fun time just all sitting around talking about whatever it was we talked about. Of course every time I looked at the clock I though, “Okay now I have four hours before my cab comes, nope three hours, sweet two hours!” But I would much rather have had it that way because it really was a great night!

Around 6am we ate “breakfast” in the bar, which consisted of another Jamison and a quarter of a bar sandwich- yummy! Finally around 6:30am we realized that we should probably get going since some of us hadn’t even packed yet! We said goodbye to our lovely bartenders and in turn said goodbye to Palace Bar and downtown Dublin… aw, I miss it already!

Well now my cab is going to be here in about twenty minutes and I have to finish throwing the last of my things (including this laptop) into my suitcase. I’ll put up one last blog tomorrow when I’m back in Chicago to properly wrap up my summer. But I guess this will be my last blog from Dublin… can we give one big “Awww!”

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 25, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Dublin, Ireland

My final week at the museum was a great wrap up to my summer. Blair finished early on Monday because she was leaving for India Wednesday morning so the staff had a going away party for her and me during break that day. When we got to Beggars Bush we told them it was Blair’s last day and they all felt bad that they hadn’t gotten cake or anything. Matthew left for a few minutes and when he came back he was carrying a bunch of boxes of desserts for us! So we took an early afternoon tea break and were able to all sit together and have some tea and cake to celebrate Blair’s and mine last week. They really are amazing- all these people I got to work with. It was a pretty relaxed workweek overall and I think it was a really great way to end my internship.

I did a couple tasks for Matthew this week, especially on Monday. I still wasn’t feeling the best Monday from my small case of pneumonia and Matthew (and everyone else) was so good about making sure I was feeling okay. I was working on the computer in the breakroom typing up some manuscripts for Matthew and he kept poking his head in to make sure I was feeling okay. He kept telling me I could go home if I didn’t feel well and he would even drive me back to DCU if I wanted. Although I did feel really sick, I actually felt better just knowing that everyone here was looking out for me.

I really wish that Matthew had been our supervisor throughout this whole summer instead of Nigel. Especially because in most ways he basically was! I barely ever saw Nigel and never really worked with him, plus he was gone three of the seven weeks we were interning and was even gone for our last week. He always seemed too busy to be bothered to deal with Blair and me and so the two of us were often on our own in finding tasks to do. But Matthew took us under his wing and always made sure he had work for us to do over at Beggars Bush. He was always so grateful too! Even when I was doing something as simple as typing up a manuscript he would tell me how much he appreciated it, how important it was, and how much it was helping him out. I think a task, any task, is so much easier and more gratifying when you feel like it’s actually helping someone and you’re a benefit to the organization. That’s what Matthew does, he makes me feel like I’m really valued here and that’s something I never felt from Nigel.

Honestly I think it’s the people I got to work with this summer that really made the entire experience so much better! On my last day I started off at the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street so I could say goodbye to my co-workers there. We took some pictures, including a bunch of funny ones with the animals. I also got to take a lot more pictures of the museum and also went up to the galleries to take some pictures of the different specimens I got to work with throughout the summer. As I was standing there, on the top balcony looking down at the museum, I really started to get sad at having to leave it. And not just sad at leaving the museum in general, but also having to leave all those people.

Alice is moving to Chicago at the end of October and I gave her my contact information so we could get together when I’m back home for Christmas. She said she definitely wanted to get together for a drink so I really hope we do.

I’m already thinking about how I want to come back and visit the museum once its reopened and get to see everyone again. A friend of mine is starting her PhD program at Trinity College in the fall and I’m already making plans to come visit her. Hopefully during these visits I can head back to the museum and visit there too!

I ended my internship at Beggars Bush where I took more pictures and said some more goodbyes.

Honestly I didn’t actually do anything on Wednesday (my last day) except really say goodbye to everyone. (Which was perfect since I’d had a late night the night before, haha).

Leaving this internship behind is by far the hardest part about leaving Dublin. I thought leaving the actual city, leaving the pubs, leaving the sites would be the hard part. But instead it’s leaving behind this museum and these people. Saying goodbye- that’s definitely the hardest part. When I left the musuem and then Beggars Bush for the last time I was surprised at how emotional I felt at having to say goodbye. But in the end I was grateful- because I’d rather be sad at having to leave because it was such a great internship than glad its finally over because I had a bad time there.

I guess it just all goes back to that old saying- don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened. And I’m definatley smiling.

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 23, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
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Life is for living, so f**king live it.

Dublin, Ireland

I write this latest blog as a legal-to-drink-in-the-United-States 21 year-old!! My birthday was absolutely fabulous and I now have the joy of always getting to talk about turning 21 in Europe! Wow, do I have it tough.

I was actually a little worried about my birthday because I wasn’t sure how it was going to be away from home without my friends and family. Especially since it was on a random Tuesday night and we all had work the next morning I wasn’t sure who would actually want to go out and celebrate with me. Plus without my friends and family it almost didn’t seem like there was a point in actually celebrating my birthday. Then there was the whole anti-climactic part of not turning 21 in America and having been able to legally drink since I got to Ireland in May. Luckily though I’ve met some great people here in Dublin and they made it an amazing birthday for me!

Monday night I went out to some pubs with Denise and Jahna and we ended the night at our favorite pub- The Palace Bar. They gave me a free shot at midnight to ring in my first legal drink (of course we’d already been drinking since ten but it was the symbolism behind the drink that mattered! Haha).

We didn’t stay out too late Monday night since we all had work the next day and we knew we’d head out again Tuesday night to really celebrate my birthday.

Tuesday morning my supervisor let me and the other intern, Rory, come into work late so we could go out to breakfast for my birthday! We ate at this great little crepe restaurant that was delicious.

Unfortunately the weather was really crappy in the morning with lots of rain (gotta love that Irish weather) so we then had to make our way to Beggars Bush in the pouring rain and subsequently we got soaking wet (it was one of those rains where umbrellas do you little good).

Work was good and they let us go a bit early so Rory and I walked around in City Centre for a bit before meeting up with the rest of my friends for dinner. I’d been craving Italian food since I got here and Rory knew of a great Italian restaurant so that’s where we went for dinner (it didn’t compare to Spaghetti Warehouse but was still delicious). I had some delicious brushetta with the most amazing fresh tomatoes and some yummy ravioli along with tiramisu for dessert of course. A couple people couldn’t make it to dinner so it was actually pretty low-key with about six of us.

At breakfast Rory had surprised me with a huge 21st birthday pin that she insisted I wear so I had it on throughout dinner! haha

We went back to the apartment after dinner to freshen up and then Meghan and I headed back to city centre around ten for the night. We went to Palace Bar and it was pretty low key but tons of fun. I actually kind of liked that it was just Meghan and me and we had a blast! It’s funny actually, this whole summer when I would talk about my birthday and how I wasn’t sure how it would be since I was away from my friends and family and already legal to drink here Jahna would be the one to tell me that we would make it a great birthday and go out and all that. But in the end she wasn’t able to come to either dinner (because of a work thing) or drinks (because she was exhausted). She did take me out Monday night though, which was great. It’s just funny I guess because I always thought Jahna would be the one I’d spend my birthday with instead of Meghan- but in the end I wound up having a bbllaasst with Meghan!!

We listened to some music at the Palace and had a bunch of drinks and shots of course! Since we know all the bartenders we stayed past closing and hung out for a bit. After that we walked over to Doyles and had a couple shots there as well- (I’m not sure whose idea tequila shots at two in the morning was but somehow even with that the next morning wasn’t too brutal.)

We headed home around three and I was dreading having to get up for work this morning but it actually wasn’t too bad considering. It also helped that I really didn’t do much at work, haha, but more on my last week in a later blog.

Now I can’t wait to get home and continue my birthday celebration with my family and friends!! I guess in the end I realize now that I get the best of both worlds- turning 21 while in Europe and then coming home a week later to celebrate with everyone back in Chicago!! Can’t wait!

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 22, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
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Crepes in France really do taste so much better!

Paris, France

This weekend was pretty normal… you know, just jetted off to Paris for a couple days! We left Dublin around 8 Friday night so didn’t arrive at our hotel in Paris until past midnight. Our hotel was right off the metro line though so it was super convenient! It was a cute little place with a lot of… character? By character I mean the floor of our room slanted so much I literally thought I was going to roll off my bed in the middle of the night. But still, I loved it! It was a quad with four single beds but since there were five of us we snuck one person in, haha. Then we pushed two of the beds together and Lindsay, Kelsie, and Ellie slept on our makeshift queen sized bed.

Saturday morning Lindsay, Kelsie, Ellie, and I headed into the city centre to grab some breakfast (Amy was doing her own thing throughout the day). We ate at this great little café where we all ordered crepes and coffee! Luckily Ellie still remembered some French from her high school days and helped us out a lot during the trip!

The café was right by Notre Dame so that’s where we started off our day.

It was amazing- with such intricate work around the doors and all over the exterior. It was a pretty long line to get inside so we decided to just stick with seeing the outside of it since we had only a short time in Paris. (Now I really wish I’d taken the time to go inside though! Oh well…)

After Notre Dame we walked around a bit as we made our way over to the Louvre.

It was so much bigger than I’d ever realized!! And so gorgeous too! The entrance way is the giant glass pyramid that actually seems a little odd with the old architecture of the rest of the building… yet somehow it works! Haha.

We took some pictures of the museum and the girls then seemed satisfied to go to our next location. I couldn’t believe they didn’t want to go inside! I may have passed on Notre Dame but I wasn’t about to pass up on the Louvre- it was one of the main things I wanted to see in Paris!! So I told the girls they could do whatever they liked but I was going to spend sometime in the museum, at least a couple hours. “A couple hours?!” It was sort of funny how much shock they had at my wanting to spend time in the museum… but I am a history major, right? It was 11:45 so I said I was going to stay until about 1:30 and then grab lunch. Ellie said she wanted to see the Mona Lisa so her and I went into the museum while Kelsie and Lindsay went off on their own for a bit.

Two hours was not nearly enough time to see it all- which I knew it wouldn’t be! But I got to see the main highlights of what interested me. Ellie was great because all she really cared about was seeing the Mona Lisa so she let me direct us through the museum to the areas I was interested in.

I got to see the Venus de Milo, which was amazing of course!

And also spent some time looking at the other Roman and Greek statues. We were both amazed at all the artwork that was on the walls and ceilings of the museum. We kept joking that you could walk through the museum looking at only the ceiling and still see so many amazing things! One of our favorite rooms was the one that had the coronation crown of King Louis XV. The entire room, from floor to ceiling and including the ceiling, was covered with gold! We walked into the room and both looked at each other with the same expression of awe and both saying the same thing… Woooooow!

Of course our next stop was the Mona Lisa!!!

It was so much smaller than I ever realized but so amazing to see! I stood there with this feeling of awe as I thought about the fact that I was looking at the actual painting of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa… amazing!!

After the Louvre we met back up with Lindsay and Kelsie and made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

From a distance we kept saying how small it was compared to what we had thought it would be like… but once we were actually underneath it I think we all changed our minds on its size! So big! Again it was one of those moments where I kept having to remind myself that I was standing in front of the actual Eiffel Tower.

We went to a small café for dinner after that where I had some great pasta, bread, and wine… really, what more could I ask for?! Ellie ordered frog legs, something she’s always wanted to try, and so I got to have a taste. They don’t necessarily taste like chicken as everyone says, but they really weren’t too bad! Amy met up with us for dinner and we all headed back to the hotel after that to freshen up and change.

We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower so we could see it lit up at night and take the elevator to the top.
It was freezing up there and so windy! And we had to wait outside on the second floor for about a half-hour before we could get to the top! Really the views from the second and top floor were pretty similar and going only to the second floor probably would have sufficed. But at least now I can say I’ve been to the TOP of the Eiffel Tower!!

The night ended rather early, around 1am; I figured I should take it a bit easy given that I’m still trying to get over this ‘pneumonia’ bug! All in all it was a pretty great weekend and I’m glad I had the chance to go to Paris. I was telling my parents though that it’s not really a place I’d be interested in visiting for a long period of time. I wouldn’t take a trip to Europe just to go there like I would to Germany or Italy. Instead if I ever head back to Europe I may take a couple days and go to Paris in between wherever else I visit so I can spend more time at the Louvre and see more of the sights. But really, I wouldn’t be interested in more than three days or so.

I’m also happy to report that the French weren’t nearly as mean to us Americans as everyone said they would be. We actually met quite a few nice Frenchmen that helped us out along the way. That had actually been something I was worried about because I didn’t want to deal with that rudeness, but luckily we didn’t have to!

It’s hard to believe this is my last week in Dublin, I’m going to be so sad to say goodbye to it on Saturday! (Even though I’m stoked to see my family and friends back home!) I’m especially excited to be able to celebrate my 21st birthday at home with my friends next week. Even though my real birthday is tomorrow I feel like it’s going to be rather anti-climactic and I’m pretty sad that I can’t spend it with my family and friends back home. I guess I’ll just have to settle for celebrating it twice: once in Ireland and once back home in Chicago!

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 20, 2009 from Paris, France
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because pneumonia is the cool thing to have.

Dublin, Ireland

Only one more week left of my internship- crazy!!! I spent most of my time over at Beggars Bush again this week. We went back there on Monday so that Rory and I could finish up Bubba (the seal we were cleaning). I wound up not getting to see Bubba finished after all though because all the dust from cleaning the bones started to upset my asthma quite bad. Leona was supervising us however, and she was really great at finding me tasks I could do that would minimize my interaction with all the dust. Truth is I probably stayed with him a little bit longer than I should’ve and I definitely paid the price for it. Even though we were wearing dusk masks, when I took mine off the white had turned to black and I had to wonder how much dust got past the mask and into my longs? …eeew!

After the dust started to bother me though I worked with Leona on topping up the IMS jars. Which basically means we poured a preservation solution into all the jars with specimens in them, such as the fish. At first I was really grossed out by having to look at all these gross fish while I refilled the jars but after a while I realized I’d grown used to it.

Another day I worked with Leona and Rebecca as we switched out the insect traps they have all throughout Beggars Bush… fun. Really though it wasn’t too bad because it was another experience where I was really opened up to the little tasks that have to be done to make the museum work and really to keep the specimens safe. Leona explained the importance of monitoring the insects and bugs in the museum and storage facilities because infestations of certain bugs can cause a lot of damage to the specimens. It was something I had never given much thought to but once she mentioned it I really began to think about the kind of damage that could be done if this type of care wasn’t taken.

The beginning of the week was pretty hard on my breathing with all the dust we were working with but I thought it was just allergies so I didn’t worry about it too much. But by Tuesday afternoon my breathing was pretty bad and I hadn’t even been working with dust for a while. I wound up leaving work after lunch and went home so I could get some rest. When I still felt bad on Wednesday I decided to go to the doctor in the morning and just head into work late. And what did I find out? I have the beginnings of pneumonia! Of course, only me. First strep throat and now pnemonia?!

I went back to work after visiting the doctor and the first thing my boss said to me when he saw me was, “Go home.” Apparently I looked as bad as I felt. I told him that I didn’t want to because I felt bad that I’d already missed two days from strep. But when he asked what the doctor said and I had to reply ‘pneumonia’ it really wasn’t up for discussion anymore. In fact he even gave me a ride back to campus, which was so much better than having to take the bus! I was going to go in yesterday but he suggested that I take another day of rest and just come back Monday (since we don’t work on Fridays.) Again I told him I felt bad for having already missed work because of my strep, but like he said, there’s not much you can do about being sick!

I slept basically allll day yesterday, which meant I felt the teeniest bit better today. But still my wheezing was pretty bad so I went back to the doctor- especially since I’m going to Paris tonight!! The doc basically said that my lungs don’t sound worse but they also don’t sound better so she put me on some more meds. She said Paris will be okay I just have to take it easy and go to a doctor out there if my lungs get bad, but I think I can make it through the weekend- at least I hope I can! Lol. We leave tonight at 8 and I’m supppper excited! Look for my next blog about my trip with lots of pics!!

(Oh and Nigel sent Blair and me an e-mail earlier today to tell us he read our signage report and found it very good and also very useful. He asked that we send him an electronic copy of it so he can make some suggestions and then sign off on it. He plans to submit it to the ‘front of house’ group that will be meeting in August! I was so excited to hear this because one of my worries was that the project would just wind up on somebody’s desk and not be valuable to the museum. Instead it looks like its at least being taken seriously and hopefully some of our suggestions will even be implemented at Collins Barracks!)

((Double oh- I guess I have a lot to say for this blog- but anyway I had my final for my class today so the class portion of the trip is at least over. I think it went pretty well, in fact I think it went really well- oy, I hope I didn’t just jinx it! I was a little worried because with being sick and all I didn’t have a lot of time to study. But it was just two essays we had to write and I think I did a pretty good job with both of them so I guess we’ll see. Okay, done now… off to Paris! hehe))

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 17, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
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With my hands, I give you my heart, crowned with love.

Dublin, Ireland

This past weekend was a blast because it was Jahna’s twenty-first birthday on Saturday so we did lots of celebrating!!

I should begin though by talking about Saturday morning where I went and got another tattoo… yes, that makes three for those counting. I got the clauddaugh symbol on the back of my neck (something I’ve been wanting for a long time!) And what better place to get it than in Ireland!? Originally I was going to put my grand-dad’s initials in the middle of the heart but unfortunately I would have had to make the tattoo much bigger than I wanted so I scratched that idea.

Kelsie and Lindsay had been talking all summer about getting a tattoo so I told them I’d go with and get one also. I didn’t talk about it much throughout the summer though because I was set on what I was getting and where I was getting it. (Where as they talked non-stop about it trying to decide where to put it and what to get.) So I think they were actually a little surprised when I actually got mine since I didn’t talk about it much but that’s only because I was so sure about it.

I kept joking with them all summer that I’d be the only one to leave the tattoo parlor with a tattoo… and I was. lol. They both backed out when they couldn’t decide exactly what they wanted, which I guess is the best thing to do. With something as permanent as a tattoo you sort of have to be sure about it! Lol (Oh and the neck, definitely hurt worse than my wrist or ankle for those wondering. But still, it wasn’t too bad considering.)

A couple different people had told me that tattoos in Ireland are expensive (like everything else here I suppose) so I was trying to decide what my spending limit would be. I decided I would go up to 120 euro (about $170), which I’ll admit was still probably way too much but oh well. That’s what the guy at the tattoo place told me it would be so I figured I would splurge (I’m only in Ireland for this whole summer once, right?). But when I went to pay he only charged me 80 euro (about $110) so it really wasn’t much more than I probably would’ve paid in the states. And now I can say I got it in Ireland! hehe

Anyway Saturday night we went out for Jahna’s birthday and ate at this great Lebanese Restaurant, since she’s Lebanese herself.

Her brother, Saade, flew in on Thursday so it was nice that he got to celebrate with her. Our dinner lasted about three hours (typical for a traditional Lebanese meal according to Jahna) and it was all really good!

Jahna had been in the restaurant once before so they knew her there and knew it was her birthday. We asked for the check but still hadn’t gotten it after a while.

That’s because the waiters came out and surprised Jahna with a great dessert platter that we all shared! Then a little while after that they came out with another dessert platter of all ice cream where they also played ‘Happy Birthday’ over the loudspeakers in both English and Lebanese… Jahna was pretty embarrassed but it was great! Finally they came out a third time with some Persian coffee for Jahna. So an hour after asking, we finally got the check but at least we understood why it took so long… and we got lots of free goodies out of it!

After dinner we wound up going to the thai restaurant I went to for Rory’s birthday on Thursday. Jahna knew the owners there (she really is one of those girls that makes friends everywhere she goes, I love it!) and so we went to have a few drinks at their bar. We each ordered a couple cocktails that were delicious! And what made them even more delicious was that they were on the house! Considering they were 10 euro (nearly $15!) cocktails we saved quite a bit! Lol We ended the night at the Palace Bar, one of Jahna’s favorite pubs in the city. Jahna knows all the bartenders there really well (of course!) so we stayed past closing and had some drinks.

Sunday was one of the final games for Gaelic Football so we went back to the Palace Bar to watch the Dubs play during the afternoon. (We won of course!) Before that though Jahna and I stopped off at Cassidy’s (another favorite pub) and watched the first half of the game while we had some lunch, which was a lot of fun.

After the game Jahna, Meghan, and I walked around the city for a bit while we waited for Saade to meet up with us (he went rock climbing at one of the local colleges for the day). We grabbed some dinner and then headed back to Palace Bar to finish off our night. I got tired pretty early though so Saade and I headed back to campus around 1a before everyone else. Considering I had work this morning I didn’t want to stay out too late and make it too brutal of a day (all in all work wasn’t too bad though!).

This weekend was actually probably one of my favorites of the trip! Obviously it was great finally getting the tattoo I’ve wanted for so long but I also just had a really great time for Jahna’s birthday. Sitting down for such a nice meal was a lot of fun too and Sunday was a blast. Next weekend we head to Paris, which I’m sure will be amazing as well! Then the weekend after that I’m home… how crazy is that?!

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 13, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
from the travel blog: Dublin, Ireland
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Lions and Tigers and... Seals? Oh my!

Dublin, Ireland

Wow, have I already been at my internship for five weeks?! We got another intern at the museum this week and I was honestly really annoyed at first. It seems like Nigel barely has enough time to supervise Blair and me so I couldn’t understand why they would give him another intern. (Although things have been better for us lately but that’s really only because we took the initiative and it didn’t have much to do with Nigel at all.) But it doesn’t really matter because now that it’s the end of the week I love our new intern!!

We got to spend most of our week over at the storage facility at Beggars Bush, which was great because we hadn’t been able to do a lot of work there before. The first two days I worked with the new intern, Rory, as we re-shelved the small library that’s held there. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of educational value that went into this task I still really enjoyed it.

For one we got to deal with books that were as old as 1847, which was honestly just a really cool thing. Also I really enjoyed the time I got to spend working with Rory because we got into some really great discussions and actually had a blast!

She’s also from the United States (a small school in Maryland) and also an educational history major so we already had a lot in common. I told her all about my trip to Dachau last weekend and since she’s also a history education major she understood what I was talking about when I started discussing how I could use that experience of mine in a classroom. It was just nice getting to talk to someone that was on the same ‘level’ as me. She had also visited the camp when she was much younger so we got to compare and contrast our visits, each occurring at such different times of our lives.

I also got to spend some time cleaning bones this week! I felt like I was an archaeologist from Jurassic Park or something, haha. Sitting there in my white lab coat, with my gloves and dust mask… and of course my paintbrush for wiping away the dust! Rory and I worked on a skeleton together that we originally thought was a dolphin, then someone said it was some type of big cat (puma, lion, or tiger), it was later changed to a deer and we finally found out it was a seal!

Rory named it Bubba Odysseus!!

Blair and I also took this week to finish up our report on the signage problems at the History Museum- I don’t remember if I talked about it in previous blogs. But anyway it was basically just a report on what problems we found with signage in relation to the ease of navigation at the museum and what we thought could be done to remedy the situation. It came out great and with all the appendices and results wound up being ten pages! I’m actually rather proud of it, haha. We were even able to add graphs by using the data we complied from some visitor surveys we did- it looked quite spiffy if I do say so myself.

Last night was Rory’s twenty-first birthday so I went out with her and a bunch of her friends to this great thai restaurant. (First time having thai and it was yummy!) It was a really cool atmosphere and the food there was great! I actually only ordered an appetizer because the food was kind of expensive. But then one of Rory’s friends realized the meal he’d ordered had shrimp in it, which he’s deathly allergic to, so I told him I’d switch if he wanted to. So it was actually a pretty sweet deal- I got a main course for an appetizer price, hehe.

After dinner we went to a pub called The Porterhouse and had a few drinks there. I couldn’t really afford to stay out too late since I had a quiz this morning in class (which went okay I guess). It was kind of funny because one of Rory’s friends wanted to go home after dinner because he had to be up early. Well we convinced him to come to the Porterhouse with us for an hour then when Rory and I were leaving at one he still wanted to stay out! He said since he was out he was going to stay until closing, which was at 3! We gave him a hard time since he was the one that hadn’t wanted to go in the first place but he said it was all or nothing and now that he went out he was staying until 3… because that makes a lot of sense! Haha

It was cool getting to hang out with a group of kids that aren’t the normal people I’ve been hanging out with these past six weeks (even though I love hanging out with all of them.) Some of Rory’s group were from Seattle, others from Ohio, and a few from Rory’s school in Maryland. Overall it was just a really fun night! Jahna’s twenty-first birthday is tomorrow so I’m sure we’ll be out late for that and having tons of fun!! Stay tuned…

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 10, 2009 from Dublin, Ireland
from the travel blog: Dublin, Ireland
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How many more are there we don't know about? ...how many more without a name?

Dachau, Germany

In March of 1933 in a small town in southern Germany named Dachau a man named Adolph Hitler opened what was termed a ‘concentration camp.’ Over the course of the next decade hundreds more of these camps would be opened across Europe with Dachau serving as the prototype and model for the others that followed…

Words can never express the depth of emotion I felt on Saturday morning when I took a trip to that small town in Germany, to that camp…

Amy, Lindsay, and Kelsie wanted to take a tour of some castle in the Alps (apparently it’s the one Walt Disney based his Sleeping Beauty castle off of). Although this sounded like fun we only had limited time in Munich and I didn’t fancy spending four hours on a train to go see some castle (it was two hours both ways just to get there and back!) Also, I was interested in visiting Dachau, especially given my background in history and particular interest in World War II.

Amy had found an all-English guided tour that brought us from the train station in Munich to Dachau and then gave us a guided tour of the camp- overall the tour was over five hours! Though it was only about a ten-minute train ride to Dachau and then another ten-minute bus ride. So the three other girls went to look at a castle and I went to see where Hitler’s “final solution” truly began.

In the days leading up to my tour I spent some time trying to mentally prepare myself for what I would see and feel once at the camp. As we took the short train ride to the camp I prepared myself for the rush of tears I was sure would come once I stepped foot in the camp… once the true emotion of what happened there hit me. Our tour guide immediately pointed out how the camp is just off the main road of Dachau- He posed the question, “Did the locals know the camp was here?” “Yes, they couldn’t have missed it.” But he also explained how well the Nazi propaganda had led the locals to believe it was something completely different from what it was. How the SS Soldiers had actually invited them to see the camp as they set up mach portrayals of the camp, basically using the prisoners as actors. Still I had to wonder- did these townspeople really not know what was going on there?

We walked the same road the prisoners walked to the camp’s entrance and already I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me. We stood outside the original building that is the entrance to the camp with the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the prison’s gates – translated literally in English as “Work Makes (one) Free.”

I expected to step through those gates and immediately burst into tears… but I didn’t. In fact though there were times when I cried some, there was never a point where I really bawled like I honestly expected to. At first I didn’t understand… How could this not affect me- am I that cold a person, why am I not crying?

And then I understood. Even as I stood there and saw what I saw, heard what I heard, understood as I understood- I could never fully comprehend the depth of what was before me, the depth of what had happened there. If I were to be able to fully comprehend it all, I never would have stopped crying…

We walked through the gates and entered the prison and I suddenly became very aware of the ground I was walking on… because I suddenly began to think of all the prisoners who had walked on that same ground.

The camp was originally built for a capacity of 4,000 – 5,000 political prisoners; by the time of its liberation it held over 40,000 prisoners of all types.

There were originally about thirty barracks but after liberation they were knocked down. When the camp became a memorial they rebuilt a set of barracks to show the visitors what they were like. They actually did a good job of showing the transformation of the camp from 1933 as a prison for political prisoners to the full-blown concentration camp it was by 1945. The barracks were set up so that each room represented a different period of the camp’s time.

The first room was set up to house about 50 men and they actually had quite a bit of space with a small “common area” of benches set up. By 1944 when the camp was liberated that same sized room now held over 500 men…

After the barracks we were taken to the prison cells in which there were about 140 in a row. Before heading into that building though we stopped in an alleyway type of space between what used to be the main building of the camp and the prison cells.

Here is where our tour guide talked about the executions and torture that occurred at the camp… he looked around at where we stood in this small space between the two buildings: “Here are where the executions and torture took place,” he said. And then he pointed to the wall behind us, the wall no one had even noticed before, the wall that was riddled with bullet holes. I thought I was going to be sick.

We walked through the prison and got to hear about some of the more “notable” prisoners they kept there. Among them were mainly priests and rabbis but also was a man who had tried to assassinate Hitler and other political prisoners. In some of the cells they had put paper over the window so that it was dark and they beamed a light on the wall with quotes from prisoners who had survived the camp… each more gut wrenching then the one before it.

After seeing the prison cells we watched a twenty-minute movie about the camp that basically relayed everything our tour guide had told us but this time with actual footage and pictures from the camp. In this darkened theater is where I cried for the first time. After the movie we took about a half hour to spend in the memorial’s museum, which was set up in what used to be the camp’s main building.

It was actually very emotional being at the camp on Fourth of July- obviously such a notable day back home in America. As our tour guide mentioned the camp’s liberation by U.S. troops, and as I read about it in the museum, I was never more proud to be an American. Yes, we were not the only ones fighting in the war. Yes, it was not solely us who made the liberation possible. But yes, it was American troops who walked through the camp’s gates in 1945 to bring liberation to the camp that had been open for twelve years. Standing in the museum, reading about the camp’s liberation and first-hand accounts from both the liberators and the prisoners being liberated, I began to cry again.

After visiting the museum our guide spent some time discussing the camp’s actual memorial.

The sculpture in the center is supposed to represent the twisted bodies of the dead, while the posts represent the prison’s walls. The two blocks of gravel in front of the memorial represent the place where the prisoners had to walk for roll call everyday- often so sick and hungry that simply walking to the location was a feat in itself. To the left of the memorial is a stone wall that holds the ashes of some of the prisoners who died at the camp- on the wall in five different languages reads the message: Never Again. The main theme throughout the entire memorial.

We then walked down the long road that used to house all the barracks to the back of the camp. The walk only took us three, maybe five minutes.

When we got to the end our tour guide had us turn around and look at the distance we had travelled. “Not long at all, right?” he said. “Now imagine walking that distance in the snow, the rain, the cold. Imagine walking starved from not eating properly for weeks, months, years. Imagine walking it sick, injured, dying.” I thought about it, I looked at that distance, I tried to imagine… and I cried once again.

At the end of the camp are four different memorials. One for the Catholics, one for the Jewish, one for the Russian Orthodox, and one for the Protestants.

The Protestant memorial captured me the most because the building held very few, if any, 90-degree angels. The architect specifically avoided them because he said the prisoners lived their lives in that “right angle” mentality. They had to do everything just so, had to take orders from the guards, had to live their lives in that strict pattern. So the architect avoided the ‘strict pattern’ of right angels.

Our tour guide showed us a re-creation done of the security measures on the camp.

He explained that if a prisoner even stepped foot on the grass they would immediately be shot dead with no questions asked. He then explained how many soldiers would purposely step onto the grass if only to end their own agony.

The last part of the tour was by far the hardest. We walked over a small bridge that went over a small stream of water and it was so peaceful you almost forgot where you were for a minute. Then you continued walking and you hit the sign: “Krematorium.” Right, I remember now.

We saw the old crematoriums first, the one’s held in a small shed that only had two.

The ones they used before they could no longer ‘keep up’ with the amount of bodies. Then we saw the long building that held the new crematoriums- the crematoriums that the prisoners themselves had to build. The crematoriums that sat right next to the newly built gas chambers, also built by the prisoners.

Our guide explained how the gas chambers worked- he showed us where the chemicals were put in and where the soldiers looked through to see if everyone had been killed.

He explained it all but what he could not explain was the questions that had been eating me up inside all morning- How could this happen?! How could the guards do this?! How was it not stopped sooner?! Our tour guide could not answer these questions… nobody can answer these questions. And so I entered the building with the most important questions forever unanswered.

I saw where the mechanics for the gas chambers were held. I saw the room where the prisoners waited to be brought in to the “showers” the guards claimed they were going to, and then I saw the gas chambers. I walked in to the small concrete room, with the ceilings so much lower than everywhere else, and I truly thought I was going to be sick. It’s a feeling I have never felt before, a feeling I can never describe, a feeling I prey I never feel again.

I walked to the next room, the room where the dead bodies were brought after being in the gas chamber. I walked past that to the ‘new’ crematoriums and then I walked to the final room where bodies were piled when there were too may to be burned. The sick feeling, though not as intense, came back.

Our tour guide explained that after liberating the camp the U.S. troops were so angry at the local townspeople for allowing this to happen that they brought them to the camp to see the bodies. During the film we saw the locals being brought into this same room where bodies were piled in the corners- the look of pure shock and horror as they left that room was a sight I will never forget. I feel as though every person who leaves that room has that same look in some very small way.

Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945 by U.S. troops. A recorded 30,000 people died during the camps twelve-year existence. However the camp had been open for several years before deaths began to be recorded and many deaths were not considered “worth” reporting. For instance, no Jewish person killed was reported nor were many executions. The estimated total deaths are 40,000- many people go as high as 120,000. Some say a quarter million people died at Dachau- its very possible that number is not far off from the true total.

A few years ago they decided to dig up the mass graves that lay behind the camp in an effort to identify the bodies. Between the two mass graves there were nearly 7,500 bodies- only 200 could be identified.

As I left the concentration camp I knew that those five hours spent within its walls would leave me changed forever. I looked at the pictures I took and tried to think how I could use this experience in my future classrooms. I tired to think how I could explain my experience here, how I could make others understand and I realized I couldn’t because even I don’t understand. Even now I don’t believe the full depth of everything I saw and felt at the camp has hit me, I’m not sure it ever fully will or ever fully can.

I left the camp proud to be an American, proud of our soldiers who liberated the camp sixty-four years ago. I left the camp thinking of those 30,000, 41,000, 120,000, people we were too late to save.

I also left the camp ashamed, ashamed to be a world citizen who allowed such an atrocity to occur. I left the camp thinking of those 30,000, 41,000, 120,000, people we were too late to save and I prayed it would never happen again. Then I thought of the atrocities currently happening in the world and I wondered if we would ever learn from our past…

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 6, 2009 from Dachau, Germany
from the travel blog: Dublin, Ireland
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What the hell happened to my beer?!

Munich, Germany

I’ll do what I did a couple weekends ago and split my weekend into two blogs. This covers Friday.

We had to leave for the airport pretty early because our flight to Germany left around 9:30. We flew into a small town called Memmingen about an hour and a half outside of Munich. When we landed I think we all had the same obvious realization- ‘F! We don’t speak their language!’ Luckily enough people at the airport spoke English that we were able to find out the best way to Munich was a train and somehow me managed to get to the train station and get a ticket to Munich.

We were actually pretty excited because what we thought would be a thirty euro round-trip bus ticket turned into a fifteen euro round-trip train ticket! So we figured the trip was already off to a pretty good start!

Our good start went downhill, however, after we arrived in Munich and it was pouring rain. And I’m not just talking rain here; I’m talking crazy loud thunder and huge streaks of lightening with torrential downpour rain. Luckily we found another English speaking person and found our way to the tram that would get us to our hotel.

(After some of the girls at a bad hostel experience in London we decided to splurge and stay in a Holiday Inn instead- when split between the four of us it actually turned out to be cheaper than a hostel!!) We thought were doing dandy (yes, I just used the word dandy) until a nice young lady informed us we were going the wrong way on the tram. So we had to get off, in the torrential downpour mind you, to get back on the tram going the opposite way.

Finally we made it to our hotel and our first order of business was dinner! We ate at the hotel’s restaurant where we all ordered pizza. Yes, we flew thousands of miles to Germany to eat pizza- but it happened to be the menus cheapest and also sounded the yummiest! For dessert though we got Bavarian apple strudel, which was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It made me laugh because whenever we go to the German restaurant in Disney World about the only ‘German food’ I like is their apple strudel! This actually turned out to be the only ‘German’ food I ate during the trip, not counting their soft-baked pretzels that seem to be very popular (though I’m not sure that actually counts as ‘German’ food, but yummy all the same!)

Given that we were not in the beer capital of the world it only seemed right to go out for the night and grab some drinks. While we still had a couple hours of daylight we decided to walk around the city. Oh my gosh- it. was. beautiful! I basically fell in love with it instantly and we had such a fun time walking around. We stopped at their City Hall, which was freaking beautiful. And also went to the Residential Palace and Museum (though we didn’t go inside either since they were probably closed for the night).

After walking around for a bit we ended up at Hofbräuhaus- a huge beer garden in the center of Munich. We got huge pints of beer (I think these are double pints actually) and had a great time just sitting around and talking for a couple hours. I should add that it took me ten minutes to finish my beer… it took the other girls about an hour and ten minutes. What can I say? I know how to drink my beer! And it definitely was some yummy beer! We also got one of their huge soft-baked pretzels to split between us!

After we finished our beer (though I had been done for quite some time) we decided to head back to the hotel because we had to be up early for a tour we were taking in the morning. On our way out two guys called us over to have a drink with them. We sort of ignored them since we figured there would be a language barrier but I stopped to ask if they spoke English. The one said he did a little and it turned out so did the other. The other girls weren’t sure what to do so finally I just made the executive decision that we were only in Munich for a couple days and should take advantage and we went and sat down with them. (I also knew the bar was closing so we couldn’t get another drink, which was good because I didn’t want one. Hehe, I know, I’m sneaky.)

It turned out they were from Austria and I forgot their names once they said them since I couldn’t even begin to pronounce them! We had a good time talking to them especially once we stopped being frustrated by them having their side conversations in German. We realized we were basically doing the same with our English since they couldn’t understand us when we talked fast to one another. It was amusing though because every once in a while we’d be talking and they’d have to stop and say, “Wait, how do you say [insert German word here> in English?” as they were trying to explain something to us.

In Germany they say Munich differently than we do- they spell it München and pronounce it completely different. That whole day we had been trying to figure out how they pronounce it. So I asked one of the guys how they pronounce ‘Munich’ and he looked at me and said, “What’s Munich?” I laughed and responded, “The city we’re in!” And he looked at me very confused. So finally I asked him what city we were in and he said “Oh! München!” and pronounced it the German way. “Okay, well we pronounce it Munich!” He got a big kick out of that and it was a pretty funny conversation all the way around!

After the beer garden closed the guys wanted to go out for aonther drink, which Kelsie and I were completely up for.

Unforunatley Lindsay and Amy were tired and wanted to head back to the hotel. Since we knew we had to be up early the next morning anyway Kelsie and I decided that was probably for the best and we all headed back together. We knew Saturday was going to be a long day…

permalink written by  kmr788 on July 5, 2009 from Munich, Germany
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