Nollaig sa Ghearmáin / Christmas in Germany

Nollaig Shona Daoibh, a chairde, agus Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise!

Tá muid díreach ar ais pilleadh abhaile ón Ghearmáin, agus bhí turas agus Nollaig iontach againn ag fanacht le mo sheanchara Molly. Tá sí ina cónaí i mBann, thart fá uair an chloig ó Frankfurt, agus oibríonn sí mar bhanaltra san arm Meiriceánach. Le cuidiú Dé, beidh sí críochnaithe ansin i mbliana agus ag pilleadh ar ais go Meiriceá lena buachaill, agus bhí sé go hiontach a saol a fheiceáil (fá deireadh!) i dtír úr, shuimiúil.

Nuair a bhí muid ansin, ghlac muid cúpla turas go háiteanna éagsúla. An chéad lá, chuaigh muid go Aachen agus thug muid cuairt ar an siopa Lindt! Fuair muid bosca mór seacláide (YUM!), agus bhí sé deacair stopadh ansin! Ina dhiaidh sin, chuaigh muid go pointe idir an Ghearmáin, an Bheilg, agus an Ísealtír, agus ghlac muid pictiúir agus muid inár seasamh i dtrí tír ag am amháin! Agus mar deireadh an lae, chuaigh muid go Valkenberg san Ísealtír, áit ina raibh margadh mór na Nollag i bpluaiseanna fán talamh! Ar laethanta eile, chuaigh muid go Heidelberg (cathair álainn!), Nuremberg (cathair álainn eile, agus bhuail muid le seanchara liom ón tréimhse a chaith mé i gCorcaigh, Vlad, agus a theaghlach), Frankfurt (níl an chathair seo róálainn ach bhuail muid le cara eile de mo chuid ón tréimhse i gCorcaigh, Irene!), agus Strasbourg sa Fhrainc (shroic muid an chathair ar thráthnóna ach bhí sé go hálainn ar fad!). Bhí margaí na Nollag/Athbhliana, maisiúcháin gálanta, agus bia iontach in achan áit!

I dteannta leis na turais deasa sin, chaith muid am deas le Molly, ag bacáil brioscaí (pfeffernusse, traidisiún na Nollag), agus ag dul siar ar na blianta, agus bhuail me lena fiancé Grady. Is breá linn é agus oireann siad go hiontach dá chéile. Bhí sé go hiontach mo chara a fheiceáil chomh sásta agus atá sí, cuireann sé sonas i mo chroí. 🙂

Seo cúpla pictiúr ón turas seo. Tá súil againn go raibh Nollaig agus laethanta saoire maithe agaibh, a chairde!

Le grá,

Amanda

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

We’ve just returned from our trip to Germany, and we had a wonderful trip and Christmas, staying with my dear friend Molly. She lives in Bann, a small town about an hour away from Frankfurt, and she works as a nurse in the army there. Hopefully, she’ll be finishing up this year in Germany and will be able to return to the states with her fiancee, and it was so great to see her life (finally!) in a very interesting and new (for us) country.

While we were there, we took a couple of trips to various places. The first day, we went to Aachen to visit the Lindt chocolate outlet! We got a big box of chocolate (YUM!) and it was hard to walk away with only that much! Afterwards, we went to a point where Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium all touch and took our pictures standing in three countries at once. At the end of the day, we went to Valkenberg in the Netherlands and went to a huge Christmas market in underground caves! On other days, we took trips to Heidelberg (a beautiful city!), Nuremberg (another beautiful city where we met with my old friend Vlad from the semester I spend in Cork years ago, along with his fiancee and new baby), Frankfurt (not so nice a city but we met up with my dear friend Irene, also from the semester in Cork!), and Strasbourg in France (we arrived in the city in the evening for a New Year’s Market and it was really beautiful). Christmas/New Year’s Markets, beautiful decorations, and fabulous food were everywhere!

Along with these fun trips, we spent lovely time with Molly, baking cookies (pfeffernusse, a Christmas tradition) and catching up, and got to meet her fiancee Grady. We love him and they fit each other so well. It was wonderful to see my dear friend so happy, and it gladdens my heart. 🙂

Above are a couple of pictures from our adventures. We hope you all had a great Christmas and holiday!

With love,

Amanda

I mBaile Átha Cliath roimh dul chuig an Ghearmáin / In Dublin before heading to Germany

Tá muid i mBaile Átha Cliath fá láthair, ag éirí réidh don turas chuig an Ghearmáin amárach!! Tá muid ag súil go mór leis an turas agus an sos seo. Bhí muid ag obair ó dhubh go dubh na seachtainí a chuaigh thart, ag déanamh taighde agus ag scríóbh aistí. Tá achan rud chóir a bheth déanta anois, áfach, agus bainfidh muid leas as an treimhse seo sa Ghearmáin chun ár scith a ligean mar is ceart!

Shroich muid BÁC inné thart fan cúig an chloig, fuair muid an eochair d’árasán Shannon (go raibh maith agat, a Shannon, as d’fhlaithiúlacht arís!), agus ansin fuair muid SUSHI don dinnéar… wow, bhí sé go hálainn, agus cha raibh a fhios againn go dtí a d’ith muid cad é chomh mór a bhí sushi in easnamh inar saol i nGaillimh! 🙂 San oíche, chuaigh muid chuig drama/ceolchoirm ag Smock Alley Theatre, rud a raibh Maeve, cara d’ár gcuid, páirteach de. Bhí meascán rudaí iontach ann, agus spreag sé mé a bheith páirteach i rud ceolmhar nuair a bheas muid ar ais sa bhaile (mar ghrúpa A Capella, nó choir nó rud mar sin). Tá an oiread rud mar sin ar siúl i mBÁC i gcónaí, feictear domh.

Inniu, chuaigh muid chuig oifig Na Píobairí Uilleann, ceanncheathrú phíobaireacht an domhain! Bhí sé go hiontach agus mholfainn go rachfadh aon duine a bhfuil suim aige/aici chuig an foirgneamh sin. Tá an foireann lach ar fad agus fuair muid turas deas an fhoirgnimh agus ansin bhí seans againn bheith páirteach i rang píobaireachta le Gay McKeon agus beirt bhean eile. Fuair mé cás ceart do mo phíobaí (fá dheireadh! Ní bheith mé ag úsáid mála Top Shop níos mó!), fosta. Anocht beidh seans againn an tráthnóna a chaitheamh lenar gcairde Maitiú agus Maeve, agus tá muid ag súil go mór leis mar is fada an lá ón uair dheireanach a chonaic muid an bheirt acu.

Agus amárach, go dtí an Ghearmáin!! Tá pictiúir le teacht, geallaim daoibh. Go dtí sin, slán go fóillín!

Amanda

__________________________________________________________________________________________

So we’re in Dublin at the moment, getting ready for our trip to Germany tomorrow!! We’re really looking forward to the trip and to the much-needed break. We have been working from dawn till dusk the last couple weeks, doing research and writing essays. Now everything is pretty much done, however, and will will take advantage of this period in Germany to really relax and chill.

We arriving in Dublin yesterday about 5pm, we got the key to Shannon’s apartment (thank you so much again, Shannon, for your generosity!), and then we got SUSHI for dinner! Wow, it was awesome, and we hadn’t realized how much we missed sushi in our lives in Galway until we ate some last night! 🙂 At night we went to a drama/concert at the Smock Alley Theatre, something that one of our friends Maeve was involved in. There was a big mix of things going on there, and it inspired me to take part in something to do with singing when we get home (maybe make an A Capella group or join a choir or something). There are so many of these cool things going on in Dublin, it seems!

Today, we went to the Na Píobairí Uilleann office, the world headquarters of piping! It was excellent and I would suggest to anybody interested in piping to go to that building. The staff is really pleasant and we got a great tour of the building and then go a chance to take part in a piping class with Gay McKeon and a couple other lovely ladies. I got a proper case for my pipes (finally! I won’t be using that Top Shop bag anymore!), as well. Tonight we’ll have a chance to spend the evening with our two dear friends, Maitiú and Maeve, and we’re really looking forward to it as we haven’t seen both of them in a really long time.

And tomorrow, it’s off to Germany! Pictures will come, I promise you. Until then, ciao for now!

Amanda

Being Present While Thinking of the Future

A chairde Gaeil, brón orm. Bhí an t-ábhar seo teibí ar fad agus níl mórán ama agam an mhaidin seo le Gaeilge a chur air mar gheall ar na haistí atá le scríobh agam inniu, ach bhí mé ag iarraidh é a scríobh amach. Déanfaidh mé iarracht Gaeilge a chur air i gceann tamaill, nó scríobhfaidh mé rud eile go luath i nGaeilge. Go raibh maith agaibh as bhur dtuiscint!

Something I have had trouble with for a long time is not over-focusing on what my place in the world is in the future. For years, through high school, college, my years of working at CISabroad, and now in this great Irish language adventure of ours, I have wondered where I am supposed to end up… career-wise, mostly, but in a greater sense of the work I will be doing for the world and the kind of impact I will be making.

I suppose it’s not a terrible thing to be thinking of your place in the world, but I’m finding it to be detrimental to my ability to be fully present in my day-to-day comings and goings. This is the case particularly this year, I think, since I made a very big decision to leave the job and field (study abroad) I had been growing and learning in for over 4 years to pursue this somewhat obscure, very specialized language that has come to mean so much to me. That decision was a heart-led decision, no doubt… something I felt I needed to do, and not something that had much logical, economic inspiration behind it. It felt so right to make that decision and to make this leap of faith as we moved across the ocean and buried ourselves in the study of Irish… It still feels right to be here, learning and working in the language, but now, with the first half of the year finishing up, I find myself consistently thinking of what I will do with my Irish once we’re done with the program. Will I be able to teach it back in MA? Will I seek a chance to work with the language here in Ireland? Will I pursue a PhD in the language or in sociolinguistics (a topic which has greatly inspired me as we’ve studied here)? Will I need to put aside further pursuit of this language and do something more fiscally responsible upon our return to the states? And what future plan will work the best for both of us?

I practice the Alexander Technique, which can be described, at its most basic, as a physical therapy method that you practice all the time to learn to use your body in its most natural and efficient way. At the risk of not explaining it well, I urge you to visit this website to learn more about it: http://www.alexandertechnique.com/ It’s amazing and has changed my life in more ways than one! One of the philosophies that comes with studying the Technique, as you learn to reshape your movement habits, is to stop yourself thinking about the goal of a practice and instead be present in the practice itself… through that presentness, the goal will occur naturally and more easefully than if you strive for the goal alone. I want to embody this philosophy in my musings of my place in the greater world, my place with the Irish language, what I will end up doing back in the states after this year, etc.

But it’s so hard to do this, because every time I’ve ended up in a place I wanted to be it was because I worked my way into that place with a particular goal in mind! And that’s also the American mindset, isn’t it? Work hard enough at your dream and you can achieve anything, but you have to work to achieve it. Most recently, Jonathan and I had to work really hard to achieve our place on this Master’s program at NUIG, and if we hadn’t done all that we could to make that happen, we wouldn’t be here this year. So how do you know when it’s time to act and when it’s time to allow? I suppose that’s a balance I’m still learning about, and I hope this year of uncertainty will eventually end up being a good exercise in allowance. May I be patient enough to see the outcome!

Wishing you all well,

Amanda