dork = dublin + cork and now rachel = dork for such a lame word merge but i just couldn't help myself.

this past week was a quiet one, which was fine by me as it gave me time to rest up for my first big irish expedition which took place just this weekend.

it took me a few weeks to get acquainted with ireland and comfortable with the idea of traveling out of limerick.  i get a little intimidated by unfamiliar public transportation (a result of growing up in the rural midwest) and i'm a homebody, so once i got here and began to establish my routine within the city and my internship i was content with staying settled for a while.  silly, because, duh hello i am in ireland, but i just chalk it up as some coping mechanism of sorts.  a temporary one, though, and by the middle of last week i was itching for an adventure, welcoming new scenery and an exploration of unfamiliar lands.
i was invited by my supervisor to attend a seminar concerning crisis management and supporting international students during times of crisis in dublin hosted by ICOS, the irish council for international students, on thursday.  i was so giddy about the opportunity to meet other local professionals in the field and have open conversations and learn from them about supporting our students to the best of our abilities during challenging times and i was on a high all week from it - i love my job.  so thursday morning i happily hopped on a train (my second-ever train - my first real train i may dare to say, as the one other was a 12 hour overnight train ride from granada to barcelona, an entire beast of its own) and headed to dublin!  
it was my first time in the city and i'd planned to arrive much earlier than necessary so i could grab lunch and wander a bit before the seminar started in the afternoon.  dublin is quite lovely actually - i really liked it, and i'm not much of a city girl.  there were cute shops and restaurants on every corner, historic monuments, government buildings, parks, tourist attractions and local hang-outs all very centrally located.  considering its size, it felt very quaint and calm.  i grabbed a panini at a little cafe and spent the morning winding through city center.
after the seminar (which WAS AWESOME, ps) i made my way back to the train station where i met up with jordan, one of my close friends whom i met at work at eastern!  jordan just graduated from EIU and has been traveling around europe the last three weeks and so generously made a stop in ireland so we could spend the weekend together!  from the station, we grabbed a train to cork, where we'd planned to spend friday.
last fall, jordan and i worked together on fridays which we quickly deemed "rachdan fridays" to make a long friday afternoon a little more enjoyable.  we continued the tradition of little fri-dates during the spring and just so happened to be in cork together on a friday -the ultimate of the ultimate rachdan fridays.    
i did really enjoy cork, but it was not at all what i expected.  i don't know what i was thinking!?  it was bigger and hillier than i'd imagined and very shopping-oriented.  river lee runs through cork and parts around the city center, putting downtown on a little island in the middle of the river.  it only takes about 15 minutes to walk from one end of the island to the other, but the city is constantly buzzing between each end point.
we didn't have any serious intentions for cork or things we wanted to check off our list which are my favorite kinds of days in cities.  we scoped out a city map the evening before and got an idea of a few of the things we'd like to see - the cathedral, sit atop one of the hills for an overlook of the city, st. anne's church, the bell tower, university college cork (this list addition driven by yours truly #studentaffairsproprobz) the english market, st. patrick's street, and whatever we could stumble upon in between.  we decided we'd make a bit of a loop around the city to hit up each attraction.
although we had the best of intentions, we managed to get so turned around and spend 87% of the day lost and confused.  haha jordan and i both humbly consider ourselves to have fairly keen senses of direction, so cork was a total shot to our self-esteems.  we couldn't ever find our location on the map and managed to miss the largest, most happening shopping street smack dab in the middle of city center all day until our last hour.  so. much. confusion.
i think my favorite part of cork was seeing university college cork.  it's like something out of a fairytale land and it was lovely getting to interact with professionals on campus and see students in action.  the campus houses the most stunning little chapel as well as an inviting student center and modern academic buildings.

the president's office at UCC - if i didn't want to be a college president before, i think i do now!
by friday afternoon we said peace out, cork! and headed to limerick.  i was so pleased to play host and share my new home with jordan.  i took her out for the best fish and chips at bobby byrnes pub that night and we called it a night shortly after.  

we were both feeling a little run down saturday morning, so we took it easy that morning and slowly made our way to the milk market, my favorite part of limerick.  it was so special to share this with her and i think she thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
i grabbed my chocolate croissant, as per routine, and we easily convinced each other to sample all of the cheese samples, try an adventurous market snack for lunch (we each got a leek potato and cheese pastie - YES - and a lemon and sugar crepe for dessert) and grab some fresh market treats to have for dinner later.
after the market, we did a little shopping and we walked to see st. mary's cathedral and st. john's castle.  aside from a little drizzle in cork, we were lucky to have beautiful weather.  we went on a final mission to find the stormy teacup, a little nook of a coffee shop i'd heard about, and we spent the afternoon chatting over tea, a rachdan specialty.
we made our way back to our hostel where we had dinner - baguettes with ham, turkey, brie, and fresh strawberries, like the true europeans we both secretly are.
and doritos.  we also had doritos.  okay?  like true americans.  i'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that.
what a refreshing weekend this was.  there was something so fulfilling about having a familiar face and close friend to visit and explore the area with.  i don't think i realized how isolated i was feeling and how much i needed some friend time... friend time and company and adventure was exactly what this weekend offered, and my heart could not be left feeling more full!

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