“Quiet, dim, crowded, and bustling with a business calm. The people are friendly, but don’t smile too much and don’t come across as fake.” –my first journal entry since being in Ireland
I arrived in Galway on Tuesday morning at 11am which, to an extremely jetlagged and luggage-lacking American felt like I think the indie film feel comes from the chronic low lighting. I’m not using chronic as if dimness is a disease or anything, it’s just a fact of being here. The 3 lights in our apartment (or flat as its properly called here) living room/kitchen area heat the room to a soft glow at night, but rarely shine to the voltage I’m used to. And although this is the nicest stretch of non-rainy weather the locals have seen in weeks, the mornings and afternoons are cast in pale sun rays streaking through clouds.
Our apartment is between a parking garage for the Corrib Shopping Center and Sleep Zone which is a hostel. It’s on the back side of the downtown and a five minute walk from the National University of Ireland at Galway (NUIG) which is where I will be studying. It’s a total of four rooms (two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen/living room combo) and a tiny balcony. The balcony’s my favorite because it’s a great place for watching sunsets. Tonight when I stepped on it to admire the orange glow sinking down next to the cathedral’s copper dome I met one of the neighbors who’s a freshman at NUIG. He said “What’s crackin” and I mumbled good back to him. I know crack means good/fun/sick/sweet/awesome but “What’s crackin'” threw me for a loop. I should have asked him what people normally reply, but I accidentally saved that question for our next balcony meeting, whenever that will be.
One out of two flatmates have arrived, Taylor, the main friend I’ve kept in touch with since transferring from Mount Holyoke. Yesterday we visited the bank and the grocery store where we managed to buy bananas and a stalk of broccali. It wasn’t until we got back to the flat that we realized how horribly these two items combine in a meal anywhere near normal. We got Chinese take-out (what I can call take away for the next four months) and ate in our apartment hiding from the Irish indie film even though we were really living in it.
Today was much better and less jet lag infused. I started with a run along the Corrib River which is wide, shallow, and tinted emerald green. The path slinked along the top of a stone wall and the scenery quickly turned more rural. Thank goodness because I hate running in front of people! This was where I discvered the University’s horse pastures and a place called the Black Box which is apparently a wrestling theater. I trotted past a tent set up along the river which didn’t appear to have anyone inside. I was a little envious because living in a tent there looked secluded and comfy, plus you’d wake up to a great view.
After, Taylor and i went down to the Eyre Square area, to visit a coffee shop where we sat outside to tourist-watch and listen to buskers. One man looked super intently at the ground and then his phone, but sang the most striking ballad about lost love. Then he sped away down the bustling street. Fueled on caffeine and Irish whole milk in our lattes, we walked on the Salt Hill Promenade, walkway stretching for miles along the bay. The ocean was so still that it looked like opal glass and few waves rolled gently on to the shore. A white-gray cloud cover gave way to subtle patches of clear blue.
Maybe it’s beginnger’s luck or the ambivalent edge of the indie film where things are always about to happen and never do, but as of September 3rd, Galway’s a city without rain.