We had orientation on Friday morning for our early start programs, and the professors and classes seem very laid back. I thought Iowa State was a pretty campus, but UCC doesn't even seem real. For early start, international students have the option of picking a class from a set list that they focus on for three weeks until all of the Irish students come back and regular classes begin in September. Once the regular semester begins, I will have two classes on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays and will have every Thursday-Monday off. They also told us to never expect homework. Seems too good to be true, but their education system is a lot more easy-going than America's. We met some people in our early start classes and made friends with a group from Boston College and we all headed out to the pubs later that night to listen to some live music. We ended up at a nightclub, Holy Cow, and it is a lot different than anything you would see at Iowa State. We were all sore the next day from dancing so much. Pathetic, I know. We ran into the entertainment leader for the student union while out the night before and the next morning he gave us an extensive lesson in Irish slang. 'Craic', pronounced 'crack', is slang for fun or a good time. So, "we had a lot of craic last night" means, "we had a lot of fun last night". I'm still caught off guard though when someone asks if you want to have some craic.
The Sunday morning before our early start classes began we took a day trip to Blarney Castle, which is only about 10 minutes outside of the city. We waited in line to kiss the famous Blarney Stone at the top of the castle, which is said to give you the gift of gab. This is also a lot scarier than people think. Afterwards we spent the afternoon walking through the poison garden, the wooded trails, the rock closes, and the waterfalls. Before catching our bus back to Cork, Clare, Bridget, and I decided to grab dinner at a pub. Blarney village is very small and we only had a few options to choose from, but the fish and chips were so good. There was a Gaelic football match on TV and the pub was filled with screaming fans. The table sitting next to us was from Nebraska and knew where Clear Lake was, and our waiter told us a story about going to Chicago to be with a girl from Iowa who he had met while she was in Ireland. Small world.