Episode 4- Headless Chicken Behavior

From last Tuesday to today I walked a total of 130,203 steps, so saying that I stayed busy this week might be a bit of an understatement. Excited to return to the US with the world's most defined calves!

3 Things I am Grateful For:

1) Ben, Mike, Meredith & Kat's hospitality

2) Name etymology

3) The free coffee for a month raffle I won (also dangerous)

3 Things I have learned:

1) All of my roommates know the US national anthem & I yet again feel like an uncultured American for only knowing ours

2) Drivers in London are much more aggressive than drivers in Galway

3) 24 hours is a generous amount of time to see a city if you're dedicated to adrenaline-filled exploration

This week I began to recognize that would be very easy for me to settle into this school. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only here for a few months and that traveling should be a bigger priority than I currently place it. Nonetheless, I still let NUIG's clubs day get the better of me as I ran around signing up for as many intriguing clubs as I could possibly reach. You're looking at the newest member of the Surf, Mountaineering, Kayak, Windsurfing, Karate, Archery, and Rowing clubs (the promise of learning many of these skills for the first time was clearly VERY tempting haha). It is very easy to avoid my distaste for stagnation in a place that is filled with energy at every corner.

On Thursday I started a class I have been been looking forward to since I initially signed up for it called Indigenous Arts Appreciation. This lecture of about 15 students is a two hour long course dedicated to learning, hearing, or trying something new every week. I have learning the harp, hearing a pipe performance and attending a field trip to a dance performance in Connemara to look forward to this semester. But my favorite aspect of the first day of the course came with the introductions. Standing in a circle and going through the typical introduction facts (name, school, hometown), our professor listened attentively as he picked out a few details about everyone that he could connect back to Ireland. Pittsburgh has a lot of Irish history, a background in music is great for this course, South Bend to Ireland seems like it will be an easy transition for you, Mairead is such an Irish name... all brief tidbits until we got to me.

"Bridget! Wow, that's... That is very indigenous of you! Go on, tell the group about the significance of your name and why it's fitting for you to take this course!" 

There were two problems with this:

1) I know very little about my name or the history behind it. I know St. Brigid (and wear a necklace asking for strength, but it's definitely a St. Bridget of Sweden necklace so the consistency isn't really there) and have recently learned that I am about 1 of 17 Bridgets in my family tree, but beyond that I only know it to mean "strong"

2) I took this course... well, I took the course so I could sit back and listen to music for an easy A.

Luckily the professor had the words that my mouth lacked.

"Bridget means strength, exhaulted one, light, virtue... all of those things. I am actually impressed that it's your name, tell your mother she chose well in naming you. It is an incredibly traditional name so you won't meet many Bridgets under the age of 65... Bridget is a great example of an indigenous tradition of naming your children after members of your family before you. This practice came with the idea of incarnation, so that every Brigid, Bridget, Bride etc. just created a legacy building up within the current Bridget. Sharing a name was more than just so that the name would live on, sharing the name means sharing all of the hard work, virtues, wisdom and strength of the namesake before you. I know today people choose names based on aesthetic appeal but the name choosing process used to be a very sacred process. You carry a lot of your family with you, everywhere you go, because you share in that tradition that is often forgotten or mocked."

A lot to think about for a Thursday morning. 

Friday marked the beginning of the world's most tumultuous 28 hour trip to London that I am positive has ever been attempted. Emily and I hopped on a flight from Dublin to London at 10pm and grabbed a bus to Regent's University to arrive around 12:15am. We met up with Mike, Ben, Meredith and Katherine- all John Carroll students currently studying abroad- who were gracious enough to host us for our brief little trip. 

Emily, Ben and I woke up at 6:45am, excited to squeeze in as much as we could in a day. We took the tube from Baker's Street (what's up Sherlock?) to start our morning with a service at Westminster Abbey. We walked in through the massive doors of the West Entrance to the powerful vaulted ceilings, walls covered with tombs and remembrances of the English before them. After an Anglican service in one of the four small chapels, we walked at a snail's pace as the guards ushered us out, trying to sneak a photo here and there and squeeze as much as we could out of this. 

Westminster Abbey

From there we ventured out to explore Buckingham Palace and St. James Park, both gorgeous in the morning sun with all sorts of different birds to join us along the way.

Buckingham Palace!

We walked past some parliament buildings, saw what was could of Big Ben (it was under construction oops), and the London Eye before walking to get some breakfast across from Trafalgar Square. After breakfast, we went to explore the National Gallery, which fulfilled a few of my World History and Humanities dreams. We saw Cezanne's Bathers, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors, van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, and my absolute favorite artist with Degas- whose Ballet Dancers in real life actually floored me. 

From there we toured the Tower of London, where we saw a lion's pit, a royal chamber, the crown jewels, and few golden royal relics on display. After spending a few hours exploring all that the massive structure had to offer (well worth the tour... so so much to see), we walked across the Tower Bridge and through Camden Market. The market was filled with a hearty mix of the smell of food and energetic people catching up- plus a man playing the tuba with FIRE shooting out of it. We walked more of the River Thames and saw Shakespeare's Globe Theater while enjoying the fortunately beautiful weather.

Emily, Ben, Mike & I outside Tower Bridge

It was 3 pm and, knowing that the sun sets at 4:30, Ben asked if there was anything we wanted to do last minute while we had the chance. I suggested Abbey Road- without being fully aware of the journey this suggestion would send us on. Naively, we looked up the stop called “Abbey Road” on the Underground & took the three connecting trains it required us to take to get there. 

We got off the stop to see… Liverpool? That doesn’t seem right...

Emily approached a transit worker with, “Hey... this is a touristy question but... abbey road.. the beatles one- is that here?” The man just stared at us blankly and told us that the one we wanted was literally all the way across the city... one stop before Baker Street. Where we started our day.

One stop away from Regent’s University. Woof. 

We looked at the map and saw that we were just on a road NAMED Abbey Road and that we would need to take all those connecting trains back to get on a train to our stop- all before the sunset! It was a true race across the clock situation as we sprinted through the tunnels to get to where we needed to be. 

But this race got the best of us as we ran for every train's closing doors, even if the prospects of all of us getting on were low. Every man for themselves, people!! There was one that I hopped on as the doors started to actually CLOSE on me- but I HAD to get to that Holy Beatles mecca even if it was the end of me, CLEARLY. I turned around to brush off the mark the door gave me to see mike and Emily's faces RUSHING past me on the other side of the door, jaw dropped in absolute horror, TERRIFYING me to think that i was the only one ON THE TRAIN. 

BUT I looked a door down to my left and made eye contact with BEN and erupted into laughter. A flashed a thumbs up to a couple on the train laughing at me after the door caught me and I lost my friends. We’re still in this! 

We eventually meet back up with Mike and Emily and hopped onto our next train. The suns getting real low, Ben’s almost asleep from this exhausting adventure and I’m feeling so bad for suggesting this mess when ben suddenly JERKS UP to inform us that we stayed on the tube for one stop too many. GAHH. We SPRINT OFF and up to above ground looking for the next underground station only to reassess our maps and decide that we were actually supposed to STAY ON THAT TUBE so we run back down & take that tube allllll the way back to bond ave. The correct Abbey Road stop. 

Someone suggested that this journey was akin to a leg of the Amazing Race. I’d agree. 

We got our photo despite the mess. Worth it.

The night ended with burgers and Piccadilly Circus before Emily and I had to leave for our 6am flight back to Dublin. Phil probably would have eliminated us from the race. 

Other things:

1) I made homemade Mac N Cheese for my housemates and the general consensus was that American food is just mess hall food. I mean. I guess. 

2) Ireland’s “biggest super bowl party” takes place in Galway and they served wings with... tartar sauce. ranch is nonexistent. 

3) This email is way later than I wanted it to be because of the Good Place finale (still grieving) and because I got caught up in training for Galway 2020 happening tomorrow. Fire bearer Bridget making an appearance, folks! 

Irish Phrase of the week:

Eist moran agus can beagan = Hear much and say little

With love from Galway,