I'm still somehow a Blogger formatting newbie, so, the order of the blog post will be: photos first, with most recent events first (Dingle, Soccer, Irish Studies field trips, and finally Berlin). And then I have a big hunk of writing, in chronological order, addressing the topics listed in my blog post title. I am also going to make another post, soon after publishing this one, showing some of my recent art work stuffs done here at the BCA.
Here are photos (and video) from the class trip to Dingle Peninsula in southwest Ireland, as well as the bus ride back (the first two photos are actually the bus ride back; the first photo in fact is Galway Bay, right in front of Ballyvaughan):
A photo from one of our fairly informal soccer games:
The most recent Irish Studies trip, below:
Berlin photos below (blog post is further down still):
Being pretty sick at the moment, I thought I'd take some time to do some good old writing. Like usual, I don't know if I'll cover every last little thing, and I might forget some things. I guess I will do my best (and if I give up early on some descriptions, you can blame my cold, because yes, its reach is actually extending into my desire to stare at a computer screen for too long).
This was only my third time on a plane. I think it was AerLingus. I am going to be flying Ryanair in the two week travel period afterward; hoping that it's not extremely horrible as many people make it out to be..I've heard there are hidden fees, and that you have to pay to use the restroom.. as long as I get there safe and sound, I'll try not to worry about it.
Anyway, got to Berlin; felt very significant, as we landed, got off the plane, and made our way via bus to the hostel; this was my first time in a completely non-English speaking country. Right away after checking in at the hostel, we went on a school-led tour (faculty accompanied us on this trip). Saw where the Berlin Wall used to be, near Checkpoint Charlie, in the middle of the city. Walked through the Brandenberg Gate, and saw the Reichstag (the main government building) from the outside. Briefly saw the Holocaust Memorial sculpture from the outside, but at this point some of the group split off to go back to the hostel, because it was getting very cold. I was in this group, and we almost seemed to get lost, but eventually made it back. This tour marked my first time on an underground rail, or subway.
The next day, we visited some galleries on faculty-led tours. Some interesting art here and there. It was an early time to get up, though, and no time for naps or snacks left me fairly hungry and tired much of the day. Still a cool experience, though. Saw the building that used to be the SS headquarters during WWII, but which has since been occupied by squatting artists. Lots of neat graffiti and some cool arts and crafts for sale. Ate some food at a Singapore restaurant; visited a cool mask and costume shop. That night, I chose to go bed early while Dylan went out with some classmates to this same place, where they had a bar and a live show going on. Either this night or the next, before Dylan went out, we also visited a used clothing store called The Garage, but did not buy anything.
The next day, we had more scheduled tours, this time to a museum. Very old and astounding artifacts, and very large too (almost complete pillars from Roman coliseums, which were at least forty feet high) Then we had free time. We split and joined back up with a couple different groups at various points. Walked through a Turkish market, had a good cheesy sandwich/flat-wrap like thing. Lots of the kiosks were not necessarily Turkish, but many were. Found a cool little kid's playground with some classmates and friends, back behind the market, in between some buildings. This night, which I think was the last night, I traveled with Dylan to an area near our hostel that was supposed to have good bookstores. We found a neat little semi-basement coffee shop, and a bookstore. The clerk at the bookstore helped us pick some specific-to-Germany illustrated children's books, and we picked a couple that we thought just looked neat, too.
The next morning, we had some scheduled tours, then had the afternoon free. We spent much of the time finding a couple bookstores the northern portion of the Mitte area. One store, called Grober Unfug, yielded a couple good finds that we bought (one of which was partially in English, and another one that was completely, but which the clerk said were German artists).
Also, I was called an Old Maid during a card game of that same name, one night at the hostel (the name-calling was part of the fun).
Irish Studies field trips
Every Friday, we have a lecture in the morning for Irish Studies, and then we go out on a field trip to sites that relate to what we talked about in class. Besides the lack of bathroom breaks, it's an informative experience, and it's neat to see and touch such ancient sites up close. The instructor, Gordon D'Arcy, is a wealth of knowledge (and is an author and artist himself; the book for the class is partially written by him, and many of the illustrations are by him as well).
Some people here at the BCA have been getting together and playing soccer for a few weeks now. It's been very exhausting, but very fun. Lots of people and things to laugh at, very good release. When the BCA groundskeeper joined in one day, it was a pleasant surprise. 2/3 of the people playing have hardly or never played soccer (or futbol), but it's still really fun.
I felt that my crits went really well. The main thing I was personally worried about was that I wasn't pushing out of my comfort zone enough, but I may be doing that currently (more on that later). Sitting through other peoples' crits was not as tiresome as I expected; I probably could have spoken up more than the one time I did, though. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have been sick and sit through the critiques, though (Thinking of a particular vegan friend. I'm feeling the having-a-cold-pain now, but thankfully not during Crit week).
The presentation by Tom Molloy, an artist who used to work at the Burren, but who is now pursuing his own work on the contemporary art scene (nationally and internationally), was very interesting, and relevant to our world today for sure. Respectable how much mind-numbingly repetitive work he puts into much of his art.
Most recently to the writing of this blog post (just got back on Sunday), we visited the Dingle Peninsula in southwest Ireland. In this region, enough people speak Gaelic/Irish that many sign posts are written only in this language. We went on a couple scheduled stops and tours the first day, including a scenic beach next to some amazing cliffs, and then a tour of a museum dedicated to the former residents of the nearby Blasket Islands; before 1953, it had a population of 200 at its peak, and the residents lived very isolated and harsh lives.
That night, I walked around with a couple different groups to a few different pubs, ending up in one with some live music. The next day we went to an aquarium, and got to pet several small sting-rays, and hold a starfish (both cool experiences). There were also sharks. And ice cream later.
Okay, as I said earlier, I am feeling pretty under the weather as I'm writing this. I could include more, but I want to get to the last stage, which is posting photos (and video). And actually, the photos will appear at the top of the post, which you probably already saw of course, if you are a read-from-top-to-bottom sort of person. The videos may appear below:
A crab trying to communicate with Meghann at the aquarium in Dingle: