Feckin goodbye

Hiya! How are you? I’m leaving town tomorrow, did you know tha’? Oh shi’, I’m even leaving the feckin country! Going back to me folks, that is. Oh, it’ll be grand, I’m sure.
I know my Irish voice is really bad. But no time to improve it anymore: Tomorrow around noon it’s going to be o-v-e-r. I’m going back home. What a day I’ve had! No wait, what an awesome year I had! I’m so happy that I took the chance to come to Dublin and study at UCD!
Let’s reflect for a moment. I came here in late August 2014 and the first semester started in September. Let’s be honest I didn’t really have the typical Erasmus experience (meaning you get drunk a lot, party a lot and learn nothing but bad English). The first semester was actually quite the opposite. I was stressed but happy. I took three English modules, two language courses and one German class. Except from the language courses(of which one was French – need I say more?) I absolutely loved it! I learned so much about Jane Austen (more than I imagined possible!), Romanticism and English Literature in general that there was nothing wrong with my head being buried in a book for the whole time. Seriously, people from the first semester must have thought me a real nerd with an all-time appearance of carrying loads of books around. Oh and when people asked what my plans were, I usually told them I had to catch up with my reading. Because back then I thought I had to do all the reading! Well, I still think that but this semester I didn’t really do it anymore. I didn’t bother, ’cause nobody else seemed to bother. I still think that I read more over the past few months than at other times in my life. Right, where was I? The first semester was great but busy. So I decided to take it easy this semester and I only took one English module(and didn’t read all the books I was supposed to. But, seriously, who can expect me to read books from that many male Victorian authors? I only read the good stuff. I read Charlotte Brontë’s Villette and wrote an essay about it. Which was challenging enough! Jane Eyre is definitely made of lighter material! I started Dicken’s Pickwick Papers, Collins Moonstone and had a look into The Secret Agent which bored me, sorry. Maybe I’ll give them another try in the far future. I wrote my exam about Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which scared the hell out of me (I can also really recommend the movie adaptation The Innocents! Youtube has it.). In the paper I compared it to Elizabeth Gaskell’s An Old Nurse’s Story which was also really scary – I give you a hint: Both are ghost stories! Oh and I loved Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”! Such interesting themes! I read somewhere that this poem can be interpreted as a story about sisterly love, criticism against consumption, rape, the pros and cons of masturbation (hahahahahaha – whaaat??), Christian redemption and many more. Anyway, let’s close this bracket!) So this was my one English module, as you can see it still pretty much occupied my mind. I took another German class with my fellow Irish students that are learning this beautiful language. It was actually quite interesting and I do like Christa Wolf. Then there was my one history class which was very interesting. I learned a lot about Irish history of the 19th Century! I can understand the Irish’s hatred towards the English a little better now. No, I just think that the English should have treated the Irish better, then I could love both countries in the same way. I’m only joking. Ireland wins either way, sorry England. They always have the advantage of having their own lovely language. This brings me to my second last class this year: IRISH. First I hated it, then I loved it! It was so complicated and mean to learn all the strange structures and pronunciation. But then it got easier and made more and more sense to me. I’ll miss the Irish language! Why can’t I continue learning it? The other day I got stopped on the street by an older Irishman. We talked a little and he told me to continue learning Irish (USE IT OR LOSE IT!). That would be great! But I suppose noone in Germany bothers learning this tricky language and I’m guessing in my beginner course I only had a glimpse on the comlplicated system behind that language and maybe I should be glad that I can’t continue learning it. Now to my last class. I totally loved (I can’t believe how many times I’m using this word, but it’s true!) my Creative Writing class! Again, I learned so much! I learned about how to begin a story and just go with the flow. I had so much fun inventing short stories for the sake of my teacher’s amusement. After all, this class was my only one that doesn’t count towards my degree which is a shame because I got a nice, fancy A. No, I enjoyed taking this class just for the experience itself. A few clues were: “Show, don’t tell!” or “Let the readers guess/think for themselves!” or “Dialogue is important!” or “Listing things can help!” I bet you appreciate these clues, don’t you?!
Next to my classes I had some good craig this year! I went to Temple Bar quite a few times, saw lots of movies (I really mean LOTS OF!), got around the country and city a little and I met loads of great and inspiring people! I met Jo Baker, author of Longbourn, the director of ONCE and BEGIN AGAIN John Carney, Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental and interviewed the German author Judith Hermann. That was only this semester! Of course, I really l-o-v-e-d the good old Guinness! Guinness is good for you! Thank you UCD, cheers Dublin and slainté Éire! I will miss you all!


My oral exam in Irish tomorrow

I know, my last post is not that long ago but I feel like I have to write another post before my oral exam tomorrow! Let’s talk Irish! I’m really scared, so maybe this post will help!
Around 12 tomorrow morning (or noon) I will enter a room in #myUCD and stand (or sit?) in front of two (or three?) examiners (or experts of the Irish language). They will probably greet me first and say: Dia duit! And I will then proudly reply: Dia is muire doibh! So far, so good. The hard part will start after that. I will be given a short Irish text to read out loud for them. Happy pronunciation. Luckily, they already put the text (or a similar one) on the intranet and I could practise it a little. But, alas! then they will start asking questions. And there is nothing I can do about it. I’m just hoping I’ll understand them! You must know, there are three different accents of Irish. I mean there are three main ones. Not to mention all the different varieties I have never heard of. But the conversation will (hopefully) go somewhat like this:
Examiner: Cad is ainm duit? – What is your name? OR (in a rude way) Cé tusa? – Who are you?
Me: Aoife is ainm dom (EVA IS ANIM DOM).
Examiner: Conas atá tú? – Wie geht’s? – How are you?
Me: Tá mé go breá, ach tá mé neirbhíseach, go raibh maith agat. (There’s no way, I’ll give such a long answer but you can dream! But seriously, look at these words! How would YOU pronounce that?) – I am well, but I am nervous, thank you.
Examiner: Cad as duit? – Where are you from?
Me: Is an nGhermáin dom. – I am German (Deutsch!)
Examiner: Cá gcónaíonn tú? OR Cá bhfuil tú i do chónai? – Where do you live?
Me: Cónáim i mBaile Átha Cliath anois. – I live in Dublin(!) now.
Then the examiner might ask me (I hope he won’t) if I live on Campus. I do not. But I might not understand the question, so I will look confused and I might remember how to say EXCUSE ME? in Irish, which is TÁ BRÓN ORM? (But this little phrase can also mean I’M SAD, so I’m not sure if we made any progress by this point.) We will probably move on without an answer.
Examiner: Cén tsli bheata atá agat? – What profession do you have?
Me: Is mac léinn mé. – I am a student. Literally, it means I am a son-of-learning, so I might say “Is inion (daughter) léinn mé” instead. If I am in a feministic mood. But again, I’m not sure if you can actually say that.
Examiner: Cén aois duit? – How old are you?
Me (happy because I know that answer!): Tá mé trí bliana is fiche d’aois. – you have to figure this out, yourself! It’s not that hard.
Now we’re done with me and turn to me folks. Hahahahahaha…
Examiner: An bhfuil deartháir nó deirfúr agat? – Do you have any brother(s) or sister(s)? (For some reason they don’t use plural here.)
Me: Tá beirt deartháiracha (try saying this word! of course, NOW it’s plural!) agus deirfúr amhain agam. – I have two brothers and one sister.
Examiner: Cad is ainm dóibh (pronounced like the German word doof)? – What are their names?
I will then tell him their complicated German names and we will turn to their ages. Which is total fun because it’s already so easy to remember these in German! If you have more than one sibling, you’ll know what I mean. I think I will vary their ages a little bit, to make it as easy as possible.
Examiner: Cén aois iad? – How old are they?
Me: blablablablablabla
At least, I don’t have any pets. That makes it easier. But then there are still my parents, their complicated German names, their difficult ages and most importantly their strange jobs. Try to explain a job that doesn’t exist in any other country than Germany (as far as I know). I will just say that they’re teachers. Is muinteóirí iad. Oh, and then I almost forgot, I will have to talk about the weather in present, past and future tense. That’ll be fun! Tá sé ag cur báistí anocht. – It’s raining tonight.
Wish me luck! Luck o’ the Irish!

An Irish lesson

Let’s learn a little bit of Irish. I’m taking an Irish class this semester and I need to practise a little. But I won’t be the only one profitting by this recall of my so-far-Irish. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Let’s see if I can teach you a little.

I’m greeting you with: “Dia duit!” – You answer: “Dia is muire duit!”
(These are two versions of hello, literally meaning something like “God for you” and “God and Mary for you” — or similar to the “Grüß Gott!” of Austrian German)
I want to know how you’re feeling today: “Conas atá tú?” Your answer: “Tá mé go breá.” (“I’m grand.” -> perfectly accurate for an Irish person) However, if you’re like me and your answer always has to be that you’re tired, you have to reply with “Tá mé tuirseach.” If you want to share with me that you’re drunk for some reason, you simply say: “Tá mé ar meisce.” (Don’t ask me why this is on my worksheet – my guess is that my teacher has a good sort of humour.)
Now let’s turn to names. By the way, I love Irish names. They’re wonderful because you never know what to expect when you see them written down. That is, you never know how to pronounce them until you hear them. But of course, that applies to the whole Irish language (which is why I like it even more). First nothing is making any sense. But sooner or later you realise, there are rules. You just have to follow them. So, here we go.
You’re asking me: What’s your name? = “Cad is ainm duit?” I tell you: “Aoife is ainm dom.” Obviously, the first word is my name and it’s almost true. There is a dude on youtube pronouncing Irish names, have a look (hear, hear!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7D25ZsJdHQ
My personal favourite is still the name Saoirse. It’s like Aoife a female Irish name and means freedom. I like that. I first came across that name in my last year at school before the ABITUR, when we had to read a novel by Roddy Doyle. I hated A star called Henry because of all the swearing 😀 and violence and detailed sex description of the hero/star. It was about the Easter Rising, so I get that it has to be violent to some degree but that still doesn’t make it my cup of tea. I know now that Roddy Doyle is a very popular Irish author but I still have missed out on giving him a second chance. Maybe I will read a children’s book by him someday. No chance of appearances of any of the above there. I flipped through one in a bookstore already.
Anyway, Saoirse (Henry’s first daughter with his former teacher who was like 15 years older than him and fell in love with him and had sex with him (as if!) when he was a stupid little boy which is kind of sick) has the same letter sequence as Aoife, at least with the vowels. So for the first time since I came across that Irish freedom, I actually know how to pronounce it. I just have to think of my own name and put some s-sounds in there.
Maybe next time we will talk about numbers – I just got introduced to them this week and I have to tell you that I again see some similarity to the Austrian or Swiss German here. Ains, Swei, Dreii, … No, not really. Well, very quickly, see for yourself: a haon 1, a dó 2, a trí 3, a ceathair 4, a cúig 5, a sé 6, a seacht 7, a hocht 8(ACHT –> deutsch!), a naoi 9 (look at the German neun!), a deich 10.
That’s it for today. Slán leat!