Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thoughts & Noticings, Part 2

~ I wasn't a tea drinker before I came here, but I drink it daily now and enjoy it.

~ They do not really eat pumpkin here. I brought two cans of pumpkin with me from home ("tinned" as they would say, not "canned"), and made pumpkin bread to take to school, and pumpkin pie for my family. The girls in my host family had never eaten pumpkin before, but everyone enjoyed the pie.

~ As my host family pointed out to me, people here talk about the weather all the time, even though it barely changes; it's always cold, and usually gray and/or rainy. (On very yucky weather days, someone always says to me, "You're getting a taste of the Irish weather, aren't you?") The heat isn't kept on in the house during the day. It's in the 20s (Fahrenheit) at night, 30s-40s during the day, but the heat is on for maybe a couple hours in the evening when everyone is home.

~ Mathematics shortened is "maths," not "math" (after all, mathematics is plural).

~ It is interesting to teach literacy in a place where some letters are pronounced differently. For example, they say "zed" for "z" and "haich" for "h" (instead of "aich"). Some letter sounds are also different; for example, they say a short /a/ sound when the word "a" stands on its own. Many people also pronounce the /th/ sound almost the same as the /t/ sound, so the words "three" and "tree" both pretty much sound like "tree." (This is because of the way the sound is pronounced in Irish, and it also varies around the country.)

~ In general, I feel like my students and I understand each other pretty well, but this week, one of the junior infants asked me, "Do you speak English?" So maybe we don't understand each other as well as I thought... ;)

~ I have learned a few Irish words and phrases from school and life here - key words a few. One of my favorites is the word for pencil, "peann luaidhe." (If you're interested, you can Google the pronunciation because the link here isn't working.)

~ I also love hearing the Irish pronunciations of town names while riding on the Luas. My stop, Cherrywood, is Coill na Silíní...I can't begin to write a pronunciation for it, sorry. (Ask me to say it for you when I get home.) Without knowing Irish, it is impossible to know the pronunciation of written words because the letter sounds are so different from English. It is a fascinating language!

~ I was supervising the fourth class while they worked on writing sentences in Irish one day this week, and they got a kick out of me telling them to ask a classmate for help because I don't speak Irish. During the short time when I was the only teacher in the room, quite a few of them needed to go to the bathroom, and I think it was just so they could ask me in Irish and watch me try to figure out what they said!

Alrighty, here are a couple random pictures to end this long post:

~ This week I talked a lot about parades with the junior infants because they were so interested when I told them about the Macy's Thanksgiving parade last week. One day we made postcards with parade pictures, and I thought I'd share a couple with you. (Don't you love the chicken float on the bottom one?)

~ They eat a lot of Cadbury chocolate products here, and I especially enjoy these crunchy chocolate-covered cookies.


I'll talk to you again soon!
Slan leat <3

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I must admit it felt strange to be here, knowing that everyone was celebrating back home, but I created my own little festivities here. I brought two cans of pumpkin with me, and used it to make pumpkin bread on Wednesday and a pie on Thursday. The teachers loved the pumpkin bread, and it was my host family's first time eating pumpkin pie, which they really liked. I have been thinking about pumpkin a lot lately, and I found myself scraping every last bit of my bread batter out of the bowl to eat - such a delicious and familiar taste! The food here is not that unlike home, but the flavors seem just slightly different. My list of foods I look forward to eating when I get home is growing...

Once again it is so interesting to see the United States from an outside perspective. At our school assembly on Wednesday, one of the speakers mentioned that it would be Thanksgiving in the United States on Thursday, and the principal said, "And we have an American teacher here," prompting the whole school to turn and look at me. Quite a few people have asked me if Thanksgiving is "bigger than Christmas" at home, and some have asked what Americans do on Thanksgiving. When I was talking to the junior infants about typical Thanksgiving foods (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce), one little girl said, "and beans on toast?" Not exactly...

Some other highlights since I last wrote:
~ Seeing the Christmas lights in Dublin. Since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, the Christmas season starts right after Halloween! There are holiday decorations all over the stores.

~ Visiting Kilkenny last Saturday - I spent a lovely day touring the castle and wandering the city with a couple of my new student teacher friends. We especially loved these little duck houses on the River Nore.

~ Attending a service at the beautiful St. Patrick's Cathedral last Sunday.

~ A fun and successful art lesson with the 4th class (even though this iguana doesn't look too happy). The kids did oil pastel and watercolor resist paintings of colorful creatures.

I can't believe we are coming to the end of November already! I only have three more weeks of school, and then I will be joined by my dearest friend for a final week of Irish exploration before I come home. I am going to make the most of the rest of my time here by visiting more of the country and enjoying the rest of my time with the kiddos at school! I'll keep you all posted here.

Slán leat!

P.S. A correction from my previous "Thoughts & Noticings" post: In the phrase I mentioned, "What's the crack?" it is actually spelled "craic." Just in case you're ever spelling that out for anyone. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Marketplace

Dun Laoghaire has a lovely market on Sundays, so I thought I'd share a mainly-pictures post of my visit there today. It was a gorgeous day - the weather this whole week has been beautiful! (Meaning it's been freezing, but not rainy.)

 The market has tons of food: fruits and veggies (or "veg" as they say here),

Crates & crates of potatoes

 plenty of bread products,
jams, pasta sauces, & pasta,

And lots of sweet things: doughnuts,

little pies and cakes,



and more fudge (in towers)...

It was sooo hard to decide what to eat, but I went with a falafel pita...

...and a crepe with Nutella, banana, and marshmallows. And it was all delicious!

There are lots of crafty booths in addition to food...

Finished off the afternoon with a walk down the pier and watching some sailing classes.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, too!
Slán go fóill

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts & Noticings...

~ Sometimes vocabulary differences are more difficult to understand than the accent. (I haven't had as much trouble understanding accents as I thought I might.)
     Some of my favorites:
  • "TK Maxx" = TJ Maxx
  • "Half nine" = Nine thirty
  • "What's the craic?" (pronounced "crack") = What's going on?
  • "Panto" = Show/play (short for pantomime, which is a play)
  • "After-dos"  = Wedding reception or an after-party of any kind 
  • "Bin it." = Put it in the trash can. (Trash is rubbish, and the trash can is the bin.)

~ I very much appreciate tables with fresh breads and pastries laid out in gas station convenience stores. I would like for this to happen in the U.S. (I will try to get a picture to share.)

~ I am not very good at using my left hand for my fork. (Here, they eat "properly." ;) When using a knife, you keep the fork in your left hand and knife in your right hand.) 

~ Eggs are not refrigerated in the grocery store.

~ There are different terms of endearment. The most common ones I've heard are "love" and "pet." "Pet" is used a lot with the junior and senior infants at school.

~ I love the beautiful sunsets over the "hills" (not mountains) when it's not rainy. The sun now starts to set shortly after 4 pm.

Probably more random thoughts in a future post...
Slán go fóill!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Hills Are Alive

I know it's not Austria, but traveling around such beautiful countryside makes me have music from The Sound of Music in my head all the time! This week my student teacher friends and I have been wandering around Ireland singing and soaking up the beauty (and literally soaking up the rain a lot of the time). I have been glad to get to know three other student teachers in the Dublin area - it is great to have other people to travel with. We have seen a good amount of Ireland in this one week, mostly through a tour company called Paddywagon. Here's a quick summary of my week off of school:

~On Saturday we left on a two-day Paddywagon tour to Northern Ireland, staying in Belfast overnight, and going to the Giant's Causeway on Sunday. The weather on Saturday was just beautiful - I mean, freezing, but sunny. We stopped in a couple of places on our way up to Belfast...St. Peter's Church in Drogheda, where Archbishop Oliver Plunkett's head has been preserved since his death in 1681, and Monasterboice cemetery, which holds three of the biggest Celtic crosses in Ireland. It is said that if you can wrap your arms around one of the crosses, your wish will come true, but they are so wide I think you'd have to be a giant to get your arms all the way around!  In Belfast we had a couple hours to explore the city before we went to the Titanic Museum, and then we were dropped off at our hostel for the night. I was a little nervous about my first hostel experience, but we ended up being placed in an apartment complete with living room and kitchen! Some people might be excited to go out and party in Belfast, but these girls opted for a party with Domino's pizza and movies in our hostel apartment. On Sunday we continued our drive north, stopping at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to wobble our way across the bridge to the island in the cold wind and rain. We arrived at Giant's Causeway around lunchtime and hiked down to see the fascinating sight.

There is a legend behind the Giant's Causeway, of course, but rather than write it out here, you can check it out on Wikipedia if you're interested. (The link isn't working at the moment, but you can look it up if you like.)

~On Monday, I recovered from the busy weekend, taking a quick trip into nearby Dalkey, and walking on Killiney Beach, just a 10-minute walk from my house.

~On Tuesday and Wednesday we had tickets for a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus, so we explored a bunch of the stops around Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, Kilmainham Gaol (Jail), O'Connell Street, and Grafton Street. We had dinner at the Arlington Hotel on Wednesday, where they have Irish music and dancing every night, which was quite fun!

~Thursday was a Paddywagon day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. (see the pictures above) Everyone says you should visit the cliffs on a nice day, but of course when we got there the weather was awful! The wind was so strong we could barely walk, and the rain felt like ice hitting our faces. But, the cliffs were still gorgeous, and it was worth the bus ride back to Dublin with soaked shoes...

~Finally, on Friday we did one last Paddywagon day trip to the Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny, a cute little city with a beautiful castle and lots of fun shops. We stopped in a lovely valley called Glendalough, where there are beautiful lakes and a tiny 6th century church and round tower, and a small cemetery. This time I was able to get my arms around a smaller Celtic cross! Now to see if my wish comes true...

Okay, so that wasn't such a quick summary, but I wanted to give you the whole story. It is just incredible to see all of these historical places in person and imagine their history. It was a fabulous week, and I can't wait to see more of beautiful Ireland as my time here continues. Now I'm enjoying a restful weekend before heading back to school on Monday. It's hard to believe I have been here for three weeks! I'll leave you with my favorite picture from the week - a castle and a rainbow...what more could you ask for?

Dunguaire Castle - a famous Norman castle built in 1520