Friday, July 31, 2015

#210: International Business Class (with me in it)

For my journey home, I was fortunate enough to get a Business Class ticket from London to Dallas, which then turns to 1st Class in the States. After flying coach on the 6 hours flight from Philadelphia to Glasgow I was excited for the upgrade on the 9 1/2 hour return flight. American Airlines did not disappoint! It was a new plane, so I had my own "pod". A big TV with a ton of movies & TV shows (I watched 3: A Streetcar Named Desire, Home, and The Kingsmen. Unlimited supplies of beverages and nuts. Two meals. Hot towels before the first one. Lots of room for my luggage. A little table. Bose headsets. A kit with earplugs, a face mask, Scope and more. The seat transformed into a flat bed. Lots of lighting (or not). A really nice (for a plane) restroom that wasn't cramped. And a baggage check limit of 3 bags.
The cherry on top of this ice cream sundae was the final leg of my trip from Phoenix to Boise: I ran into good friends who have a daughter I have sort of adopted, and she and I got to sit together in first class! Bonus!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#209: The shortest drive

They wouldn't just put me on a bus to get to my hotel near Heathrow; my friend insisted on driving me the 2 hours from their house to deposit me in ready-position to get to the airport at 6:30 tomorrow morning. She also said it would take me all day and all night to get there by bus or train, but still...

And so we went to the beach during the day:

Ate the perfect meal at the perfect restaurant: 

Went back home, packed me up and drove to Heathrow, singing Roar by Katy Perry 3 times at the top of our lungs:

 The said a sad goodbye in front of the hotel:

I am so sad to leave, but can't wait to come back. We decided I'd come visit again next year after I finish MAET, where hopefully they can come on holiday to celebrate my graduation with me. I am so lucky to have such good friends!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#208: Punting on the Cam, Cambridge

Today I went punting on the Cam. Which has nothing to do with football or soccer--it's about floating on a river, in this case, through the middle of Cambridge University (which is really all over the city, not just one location). It rained about 1/2 the trip, but we still finished the trip smarter than when we started!

The punter - whose name escapes me, but was terrific!
One of the many bridges we went under.
This is how you sit- at the same level as your feet.
Notice the wetness of the wood and the umbrella nearby.

Sharing an umbrella with my British "daughter".
The goose is moving faster than the boat, actually. 
At the beginning of our tour. Note the sunshine!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#207: Strobe lights in the guest room

I've arrived in Britain! I am staying with my friend and her husband and daughter Northeast of London. My room was recently the daughters, and the lights are colored and can strobe! How cool is that?!?!  

Monday, July 27, 2015

#206: Tooling around southern Ireland

Kinsale & Ballycotton!
Trying to do The Sound of Music thing!

My cousin and I listening to Irish music in Kinsale
On the "Cliff Walk" in Ballycotton- we didn't beet the rain.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

#205: Finding your family in a foreign country!

It's not very often in my life that I get to meet up with family in a foreign country--family that I didn't travel with on my entire trip.

Today, however, three of us finally, found each other in the Dublin airport!  I came by train and by bus; my aunt came on a plane from Glasgow that was supposed to arrive at 3:55 but actually landed at 4:35; and my cousin came in from London at 4:40 on a plane that was supposed to arrive at 3:15.

After a few trips between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and back again, the next phase of my Summer 2015 Adventure began!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#204: MAET Year 2: Completed!

2015 MAET Overseas Year 2 Cohort
photo by Leigh Graves Wolf
Today was our final day of MAET.  Tonight we dine together then say goodbye till (most of us) next year, though a few of our group have graduated.

These 15 people have been my family for the past month, and I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be with. They are wickedly talented, fun, dedicated professionals in the field of education. They have all become friends. Special bonds grow between people when you live and work in such intense and pressurized circumstances. I didn't realize how much a part of me they had become until we reunited this summer (our second). I have learned so much about myself from working with them and about living simply by watching and listening to them.

The Master's of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) Overseas Cohort has absolutely changed my life:

  • I have gained confidence in myself and my work
  • I have created things I never knew I could do
  • I get to spend 3 summers in Ireland
  • It has helped me find and calibrate the life compass inside myself that has been out of use for a long time.
  • I have numerous tools I can take back to Boise and share with anyone who wants them
  • I have a wealth of new friends and connections around the world
See you next year, Galway!

#203: Graduating friends

I am so grateful that I was able to get to know these people. It has been an honor to know and learn and grow with them!

Friday, July 24, 2015

#202: I. Can.

The day is from July, at the end of Year 2 of my MAET program. Now that 2016 is moments away, it's time to put "pen to paper". This summer, more than any other experience or schooling, taught me useful, profound, simple tools for use professionally and personally. I was challenged mentally and emotionally even physically like never before.

I sensed a problem when it was time to start practicing for my presentation for the #Great15 Conference. Our professors kept telling us to write out exactly what we were going to say and practice in front of a mirror as many times as possible. For me this was a problem because in order to write out what I was going to say I had to decide what I wanted to say which meant I had to sit still and research and read and organize.

It was daunting and painful and awful and stressful and the day before the conference I was in the weeds and freaking out and I wanted to change my entire idea. However, my professor stepped in to help. She told worked through the whole thing with me and told me under no circumstance was I allowed to change what we came up with together. I finally sat down, painful as it was, and typed out every single word I would say. I timed myself in practice 4 times before the actual conference. The "live" take was totally acceptable and I was utterly proud of myself for pulling it together enough to give a respectable presentation.

The things I learned that I use every single day throughout all areas of my life are endless: that I can create something, from start to finish. That creating something requires hard work, diligence, persistence, some measure of pain and discomfort, and decisions. That ideas are malleable and that the one you start with is hardly ever the one you finish with, and this is how it works. That I am not inherently bad at creating, I am just unpracticed. That I am not inherently bad at all. That my work may be a reflection of parts of me but is in no way a reflection of my value as a person. That writing down the plan is almost always a very good thing, akin to other tenets I've heard: millionaires know how much everything costs; perfect practice makes perfect; and writing down lesson plans really does make me a better teacher. I learned that writing it down, whatever it is, and having a plan does not diminish my creativity and is not self-will getting in the way of what God was going to just bestow on me without any work on my part, but is in fact a tool that God can use to enhance my creativity. Always edit. Always go over it one more time. When it is done, be proud, critical, open-minded, then let it go.

I learned that finished is better than perfect.

I learned that I can.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#201: No-guilt naps

I don't think I'll ever get tired of being grateful for naps!

No homework tonight, so my nap from 4-7:30 was luscious because the stress of having to get up and work was gone. Okay, this isn't entirely true that there is no work to be done. I still need to work on my website and get a domain name, but these things are fun!

However, the big huge portions of my work this summer have been completed--putting on a conference and a research to practice lesson plan. If you need some light reading before bed, here's what I've been working on all summer.

The nap was one of those knock-out-cold-big-mac-truck-is-not-waking-this-woman-up type naps. The kind where you don't wake up groggy (I went to the gym) but could go back to sleep at any time.

By the way, good Southern girls take naps. It's only them Yankees that don't!

Monday, July 20, 2015

#200: Gaelic Football

I have now experienced the Irish version of what we in Texas call L.I.F.E.

Gaelic Football, or GAA. It's played on a pitch. My version is that it is a mixture of basketball, football (American), soccer and probably some other stuff. It looks like there are a bunch of guys running after each other in gym class chasing a ball, trying to get it into a goal.

I just watched Mayo play Sligo, though really it was Mayo beating on Sligo. Here's the stats.
My hosts for the day
Before game festivities - note that it is NOT raining
The sky on the way back to Galway!
(it was raining when we got there)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#199: I beat last year's time!

I ran the Run Killarney Half Marathon this morning. Though it was really, really hard, I managed to beat last year's time by over two minutes!

Friday, July 17, 2015

#198: Galway Artwork

A few nights ago I went to St. Nickolas Church in Galway to hear John C. Reilley play music. I arrived early, however, and went to scavenge for food. Upon my return, take-away sweet potato fries in hand, I started talking to to gentlemen that were putting away their booth at the market that surrounds the church on weekends and much of the summer.

I shared my fries and we talked about their art. On every trip I take I like to buy original artwork from the artist. When my dad and I went to Italy, Paris and London, for example, I bought a canvas off of someone outside the Orsay Museum, had it framed and put it in my hallway where I get to see it everyday. 

These two men in Galway were packed up, but I went back today and bought two painting that are done on discarded slate roof tiles that this man pays someone at the landfill a few Euros to salvage for him. How cool is that?!?!  He signed the backs and threw is a little magnet, as well. Upon my return, only one of the guys was there, so we took this picture to make his business partner jealous. 

If you're interested, I have their email!

#197: The Quiet Man

I was told by an Irish friend of mine that The Quiet Man is one of the greatest films ever.  So we watched it tonight. 

If you don't want me to taint your opinion, stop reading now!  If you want to read something else instead, here is some trivia on the film.

  • John Wayne is too old for Maureen O'Hara. 
  • John Wayne is always John Wayne.
  • I loved that it is set in Ireland, and I loved hearing the accents.
  • I understood about 47 percent of what the Irish people said. I had to ask my friend to pause & translate quite a few times.
  • I really don't like the way Sean treats Mary Kate. It really really bothered me.
  • I just now read it won 2 Oscars. This makes me mad.
  • In the end, I really liked the movie. The fact that it got me all fired up really just helps make the point of the movie.
  • I still don't see what was attractive about John Wayne.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#196: My first conference presentation ever

Today I presented to a group of leaders in my profession for the first time ever. I was terribly nervous until the day of, but I did this thing called practice every day beforehand for about 3 days, and the morning of I was calm. It's a miracle! I've heard of this practice thing before, but I really only employed it in tasks like learning to code in html or how to do an exercise at the gym. 

I did have a brief moment of panic when I put it together that I was presenting right after the keynote speaker, Stephen Howell, who was amazing, dynamic and inspirational. My gut instinct was to rewrite my entire presentation right then, but I did not. I stuck to the plan and was, well, let's just say, less amazing, dynamic and inspirational then he. That didn't stop me, however, from feeling like a million bucks when I was done!
I am so proud of myself for all I have accomplished! I experienced the results of practicing and writing out verbatim what to say. I stuck with the plan and made it the best plan I could with the resources and time available. I felt awesome about something I accomplished because I know I absolutely did my very best.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#195: I made the bus to Killarney!

I almost didn't! After class ended at noon, I ate lunch then went down for a nap before I was to catch the 5 o'clock shuttle to the bus station for my journey to Killarney. That bus was scheduled for 5:30.

However, though I thought I snoozed my alarm to wake up from the nap at 4:30, I actually turned it off. Thank goodness I awoke at 5:07!  I popped up, called for a taxi and ran outside.

The driver seemed unconcerned about my situation. I was irritated, but forced myself to calm down. The traffic in Galway has been horrendous since all the festivals began, but this driver was clever and got me close to the bus station then told me to get out and run!

I did and got there at 5:30, and my bus was delayed due to all the traffic!  Woo hoo!!!

#194: A Taste of Home at the Galway Film Fleadh

In July every year, the Galway Film Fleadh comes to town. As I have heard it said the participation is the key to harmony, I like to participate when I can. I also have the fear of missing out, but that's a post for a different day.

I went to a film today called The Jones Family Will Make a Way. It is the story of a family of gospel singers who want to carry the message of God but also would like to make a living singing.  The head of the family befriends a music critic in Austin, Texas (read: MY HOME TOWN!) named Michael Corcoran.

It was such a pleasant surprise to see the familiar sights of my home town, hear the thick Southern drawls and pretend like I was in the warm sunshine while sitting in rainy Galway.

#193: Music by the sea

As part of the Galway Film Fleadh, the Esker Festival Orchestra played tunes from movies to celebrate Galway's new designation as a UNESCO City of Film.  This open air concert was super fun and we were required to go to it as part of our class that day!  (Yay MAET Overseas!)  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#192: Once - The Musical

A bunch of us went to Dublin (together and separately) to see the musical Once this past Saturday. At least one song was familiar, though I had never heard of the musical before.  

The story is set in Dublin, so it was only fitting to experience it in its hometown!

It was wonderful! One of the fun parts of this show is that beforehand, you can go up on stage and hang out. And drink beer. And purchase beer. From the set--which is a bar.

We had a lovely meal before the show where there may or may not have been some crying at the curtain feel.
A delicious pre-show meal at the Green Hen with great company.  
The cast playing before the show with audience members watching around them.
Looking out from the stage.

#191: Skywhale ?!?!

The best view I got. Believe me, it's not better from the front.
This is so creepy.

But that's what an art festival is all about, right?

The Galway Arts Festival is underway, supervised by the Australian Skywhale.

I really don't have anything else to say about this.

The rear view.

Monday, July 13, 2015

#190: John C. Reilly & Friends in the Cathedral

Several of us went to hear John C. Reilly play folk music at St. Nicholas Collegiate Church. I think he was here as part of the Galway Film Fleadh, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

It was extraordinary! I had not idea he is a musician-and a very talented one at that!

A Sunday evening outing.
Who knew?
They posed for pictures, then "asked" us to put our phones away.