Love Letters in Sunshine

For hours and miles it is nothing but dry, yellowed fields of grass, occasional farms and distant, yet slowly approaching mountains that almost hug the sky. Despite it being unusually chilly for late June in Spain, it is serene. I was cursing the humid, sticky weather back home, but here I think I like it. We pass a long, distant castle; protector of the skies, guard dogs of the Spanish countryside. It is incredibly unlike Ireland and yet, I am strangely not homesick.

The next few mornings are hectic and I am continuously vibrating, a robotic battle bee, floating around the scenic La Alberca. I settle in well, meet new people and become part of a summer camp family. It is the most unexpected kinds of people that you will bond with the most. I thought I would eventually be slapped in the face with the mental train wreck that is homesickness. But no. I don’t want to go home. I am almost like a new person out here, with a double dose of manic, colourful crazy energy.

The bell tower chiming is a rhythmic prayer, an hourly lull away from the busyness of camp afternoons with over 90 hyperactive teenagers. I do not yet know whether it is them or I who is crazier.

I think I will miss the quiet moments in the mornings, with only the bell tower chiming for company the most. It is distraction from an otherwise never ending day of bouncing, laughing and constant excitement. Butterflies come and go from my balcony, I can almost hear their tiny morning song.

I think at last I have found peaceful escape. But could I ever truly forget the hectic yet small, rainy and usually chilly Cork? I don’t think so.  But for now I will flourish, watching morning sunlight filter through the tree branches, hearing the chirps of new kinds of birds and learning to be a little daring, writing my love letters to Spain.

yannicksmells

Wheatfield with Crows, Vincent Van Gogh

 

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My Experience Learning Spanish!

Hello friends, or should I say…hola amigos! This year in university I did beginner’s Spanish as one of my four arts subjects for first year. Despite the stress that came with exams and my occasional sassy remarks in class, I had a pretty nice time. Spanish is a beautiful language that isn’t too difficult grammar wise. (I say now having finished classes, knowing I am not keeping it on due to my love for sociology) Even irregular verbs tend to follow a fairly straight forward pattern.

I’ve learnt a lot this year, like how to juggle 3 in class tests, a group project and an oral exam. I’ve also learned that despite my anger with the subject throughout the year, I actually love the language! Although I am not keeping it on for 2nd and 3rd year, I do plan to keep up learning the language. I’ve come to appreciate a few handy know-hows that really help with learning a language.

For example, using a variety of colours can really help. My notes resemble a jumbled up rubix cube at the best of times, due to the sheer number of different colours I use. (Being a stationary addict helps supply this; I cannot walk around the 2nd floor of Eason’s without leaving with a new notebook or set of pens that come in at least three different colours). I always have highlighters and coloured pencils by my side when I study. As a visual learner, this made a massive difference. Also, the splash of colour peaked my interest, much like silver does for a magpie…

Doing a little bit of revision every day is important too. Do NOT do what I did at times and leave a lot of it until last minute- it only creates more problems.

But finally, I’ve come to re-appreciate a dear friend living in Seville. She basically never speaks English when we’re texting each other; which is both a blessing and a curse. (But mostly a blessing.) She’s been so helpful for letting me practice my sometimes dodgy language skills with her.

Learning a new language is a challenge. It’s sometimes stressful and requires a lot of work. But the rewards you get out of it are worth the hard work and occasional I-want-to-rip-my-hair-out moments. Being able to actually visit Spain and know that I can survive (somewhat) without speaking English is a huge achievement. I’m proud of myself and I invite you all to try your hand at a language. You never know, you may discover a passion you never knew you had!

End note: if you are interested in learning Spanish or another language, memrise.com or Duolingo (app available for Android/iPhone) do fantastic courses in a variety of languages, for free!

 

Cork City’s Finest Features!

The Best Features of Cork City

As most people would be, I’m extremely proud of where I come from. Cork City is one of the most unique places in Ireland and Europe. We pride ourselves on our individuality and our culture. For me, Cork City is the best place I can possibly be. These are just a few of the great things we have on offer here in Cork.

1 – The English Market

You can’t come to Cork City and simply ignore the English Market. It’s a fantastic place, even if you just want to stroll around and was visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. It is full of a variety of food stalls, from local produce to new, foreign and very exquisite cuisine. It is beautifully designed, with a gorgeous fountain in the middle of the Market. It prides itself on its large stock of organic food and drink, as well as clothes and art supply shops, and a wonderful little shop that sells every type of wool and knitting accessory you can think of.

2 – University College Cork

I could go on for ages on how wonderful UCC is. It has a beautiful campus, full of both the original campus and newer additions. The Quad itself is a picturesque heaven, with a wonderful collection of Ogham stones for any Irish history enthusiasts. There are plenty of places to chill out and grab food or coffee, as well as the wonderful Lewis Glucksman art gallery. The university is well worth a visit during your stay in Cork city.

3 – Our Music Scene

Cork city is very proud to present its very own local music scene! There are regular gigs played by local, young bands, in places such as Fred Zeppelin’s alternative bar, Camden Palace, Cyprus Avenue and the YMCA, all within the city centre! Young people are encouraged to share their music with the community and it is a wonderful experience for all involved!

4 – Grand Parade Christmas Market

Every winter there is a fantastic Christmas market opened up on the Grand Parade, in front of Cork City Library. From food stalls of every kind, to choirs singing Christmas carols, even a huge Ferris Wheel for the public to use! It’s a fantastic place to visit, and the view from the top of the wheel is amazing! You can see the whole city up there! Definitely worth a visit this winter.

5 – Duke’s Café

Located towards the top of Carey’s Lane, just below Paul Street, is a wonderful two floor café known as Duke’s. From pastries of every kind, to yummy milkshakes and the best cup of coffee in the entire county, this café is a must visit! It serves some delicious meals there too, and has a basket of blankets kept outside its door for people who want to sit outside and may get cold. (A very adorable feature I must say!)


  1. Vibes and Scribes Bookshop

Located on Lavitt’s Quay, this adorable bookshop has just about any book you can think of, no matter how obscure it may be! It has a great range of second hand books, and there is another shop with a huge range of art supplies, located on Patrick’s Hill. (Thankfully towards the bottom!)

7 – St.Finbarr’s Cathedral

This beautiful protestant cathedral is a wonderful example our great range of art and architecture. Between its beautifully painted ceiling, well carved gargoyles and picturesque stained glass windows, you do not have to be a religious person to enjoy this old, but scenic cathedral.

 

These are just some of the amazing things to see in Cork city. There are plenty more, but I just simply don’t have the time to go through it all. Cork is a wonderful place that I am delighted to be able to call my home and you should not give it a miss!