The Curse of the green Island

English

2dyVRmpIf you saw my last blog post, you should already know how Ireland looked like a few days ago. It happened at around four O’clock in the afternoon. I was desperately studying for my chemistry exam as I suddenly heard Conor screaming: “snow!, It’s snowing!” I immediately threw my books away and ran downstairs. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was indeed snowing, but there were more than just a few snowflakes, way more!

iMessage-IconMy excitement at that point was indescribable as I knew, as soon as the buses stop working, everyone is going to get a text-message from our school, informing us, that we will have the day off tomorrow. Do you remember that we have the so called “January exams” this week? As announced in “The day the Earth Stood still”, I would have a huge chemistry exam this Friday. But it was snowing so heavily, that I was absolutely and utterly convinced that the question wasn’t if, but when I will receive this “message of freedom”.

In my excitement I ran upstairs into my room again, turned on my computer and asked pretty much all my Irish friends (via Facebook) how much more snow it would take, until our principal would have to close the school. The majority of my friends responded that if it keeps snowing like that for a couple of hours, they will have to close the school for sure.

coldI thought that I don’t have to study chemistry anymore and got ready for a little adventure outside in the cold. I took my camera and my warmest jacket and went outside. I’ve spent quite a bit of time out there, long enough to realize, that I forgot the probably most vital part of my “equipment” at home: My gloves! It wasn’t long until my hands went through a significant change in colour. If you would have placed a tomato next to my hands, I guarantee you that my hands would have been redder. They also became quite swollen, but the fact that I was walking around with “tomato hands” didn’t prevent me from taking pictures. The only problem was, that after a certain amount of time, I couldn’t move my fingers anymore, therefore I couldn’t press the buttons on my camera and I had to go back home again.

snowman26On my way back to my host family’s house, I realized that the Jacket I was wearing, isn’t the best choice for snow adventures. Somehow, the snow would rather stick onto my jacket than onto the ground. The more I was covered in the white powder, the more weight I gained. Eventually a group of little kids was chasing me as they thought I’m a living snowman.

Home again it took about an hour until my hands got their original colour back and I was able to move my fingers again. I went upstairs and continued studying until I suddenly heard an absolutely horrific noise coming from my window. I already knew what it was, but I just couldn’t believe it! Devastated as I was, I opened the window, just to see how the rain gave the landscape its colour back. It’s the curse of Ireland…

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… And yes I had to do my huge chemistry exam on Friday, it wasn’t fun.

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

English

af5e66a7e130da36a7985e35f184dbc3Sunday, January 25 –It is the day before our January exams start and I have a terrible headache. It’s so bad that I’m having trouble even turning my head without feeling a nasty pain. But there is a good reason for the headache: I have been studying all day long without a break.  And I’m not finished, there’s still an enormous amount of work ahead of me. I’ve been thinking of calling in sick but I’m not sure if it’s really a good idea. I don’t think you are allowed to retake the exams unless you have a very good reason (like a shark attack or being run over by a bus).

So what subject am I studying for? EVERY SUBJECT. Everything we’ve learned so far this school year will be part of the test. So much to do, and so little time!

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To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, here’s my exam schedule for next week:

DAY TIME SUBJECT
Monday 8:45 – 10:45

1:45 – 3:45

English

History

Tuesday 8:45 – 10:45

11:15 – 1:15

Maths

Biology

Wednesday 11:15 – 1:15 Economics
Thursday 11:15 – 1:15 French
Friday 8:45 – 10:45 Chemistry

I have already spent all of Saturday studying for the history exam. Basically I had to reread most of my school books and take notes. The main topics that will be tested are:

  • The US Economy 1945 – 1989flag-40724_640
  • The American Way of Life
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott 1956
  • B. Johnson and The Vietnam War 1963 – 1968
  • The Moon Landing
  • Martin Luther King

As you can see it’s mostly about US history because that’s what we’ve been learning about the past couple of months.

blog-time2With history covered, it’s now time to start reviewing the topics for the English test. You may have noticed the two week gap between my blog posts. I don’t really have a lot of time for anything but the test preparations.

In English we are going to be tested on the following authors and books:

William Shakespeare:

  • King Lear

Sylvia Plath:

  • Black Rook in Rainy Weather                            FlBHOW1422479224
  • The Times Are Tidy
  • Morning Song
  • Mirror
  • Poppies in July
  • Child

Elizabeth Bishop:

  • The FishljMt6z1422479184
  • The Bight
  • At the Fishhouses
  • The Prodigal
  • The Armadillo
  • Filling Station

In both History and English we will be expected to write essays about a random topic. I just hope there will be enough time to finish all the essays. It’s quite a challenge since we’re also expected to include famous quotes by the authors and each essay has to be at least five pages long.

wish me luck

There’s another long night of learning ahead of me. Hopefully it will all be worth the effort and I’ll pass the exams. Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed!

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The Jingle Bells Race

English

9.1.-SLOW-MOTION-RUNNINGThe runners are facing the track. We are lined up at the starting line and we are waiting for the countdown. Who are we? We are the competitive runners of the Jingle Bells Race 2014. The countdown begins: 10,9,8…. For a moment, it feels as though time itself has stopped or as if everything is moving in slow-motion. Suddenly we hear the shout ‘GO’ and the spell is broken….

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flashbackIt was the last Thursday before the Christmas holiday and everyone was wearing the sports uniform. The event was called ‘Jinge Bells Fun Run’. Like most events here, any money earned will be donated to a charity. The event is mandatory for all students but you get to choose if you want to just walk, jog along at a leisurely pace or (as I did) run like hell and try to win the race.

I love running! I have already taken part in many competitive races both here in Ireland (Zombie Run) and back home in Switzerland. The rest of my class did not share my spirit of competition and they all picked walking or jogging.

checkered-flags-icon copyThe principal announced the race over the speaker system and we all had to assemble in an area near the start line. Another nice bonus: The planned chemistry test for the same day was cancelled. That’s what I call a ‘Win-Win’ situation. So I was already in a brilliant mood and ready for the race. Everyone had to wait in a very crowded area. Everyone except the competitive runners. Although I was the only one from my class to take part in the competitive race, there were quite a few from other classes. And they all looked well trained! We were allowed to wait directly behind the start line.

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MzIIuf1422397121When I heard the word ‘GO’ I started running immediately. My heart rate quickly increased as my body prepared itself for the long run. The longest run I have ever taken part in, was a 12 km run in Switzerland. So I do have a bit of experience with distance running. But this run would only cover a distance of 5km. So I tried to run at a fast pace, with the goal of overtaking most other runners at the beginning of the race. I made it to second place, with only one other runner before me. From experience I know that you should never overtake the front runner early in the race. Why? Because then you would waste a lot of energy trying to keep your pole position. The best strategy is to wait until shortly before the finish line and the run as fast as you can and overtake your opponent at the last second so that he doesn’t have time to react.

stick_figure_running_icon_800_clr_3621So I stayed behind him at the same pace for the entire run at a distance of about five meters. After 4km we saw some teachers and they were cheering us on and they were telling us that the finish line was very close. So I increased my speed and ran like crazy and tried to overtake the front runner. However, he started sprinting as well and as we turned the next corner I realized that there was still a bit of distance before the finish line. I should have waited a bit longer! So I finished the race in second place overall but I was the first place for runners of my grade. The winner was an older student (sixth grade) who has won this race for several years in a row.

After the two of us had made it past the finish line, we waited for the third place runner to arrive. And we had to wait for quite some time! The first three runners got announced over the speaker system and we all received a 10 Euro voucher for the canteen.

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By the way if any of you use twitter: This is my schools Twitter account.

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Click on me!

The schools twitter account doesn’t have as many followers as my blog but you can’t win everything, can you?

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Charred Burgers

English

storytime logo fall 2013This little story here happened just before Christmas and is the reason why I’m trying to stay away from the kitchen. I was just walking home from the gym when I heard an alarm in the distance. I was still quite far away from the house so I didn’t really pay attention to the sound. But as it got louder and I got closer to home, I was beginning to worry. But as I turned the corner, everything looked normal. The house looked quiet and there was nobody in sight.

1225769917616128498ossidiana_running_boy.svg.hiJust then the door burst open and Conor ran out of the house. He was running really fast and he was coughing violently at the same time. Thinking that Conor was acting a bit unusual but paying no further attention to his strange behaviour, I went into the house. But immediately, I saw a huge cloud of smoke coming my way from the general direction of the kitchen. So I turned around and went back outside and started looking for Conor.

I soon found him and he explained what happened. Margaret must have been cooking some burgers in the kitchen and then she must have left the kitchen unattended for just a couple of minutes. During this time the burgers must have caught fire.

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There is no fire alarm in the kitchen because the cooking fumes would cause too many false alarms. But as the fire got bigger and as the smoke clouds made their way into the living room, the fire alarm went off eventually.

fire_extinguisherThis is when Margaret finally realized that something was wrong and hurried back into the kitchen as quickly as possible. But she couldn’t do anything right away because the fire was already too big. Still somehow she must have managed to put out most of the fire before it caused any major damage.

Remember the incident where I had to throw the blender into the backyard? Well, this time it wasn’t me.

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Conor and I thought that the worst was over and after 15 minutes of standing and waiting for the smoke to clear, I made a bad decision. I tried to get back into my room. I held my breath and ran through the still heavy smoke up to the attic. The smoke was everywhere, not just in the kitchen and it seemed like my room was the worst place in the whole house. I held my hand in front of my face but I could not see it because of all the smoke. My room doesn’t have a door, so there’s no way to block out the fumes.

(For all the new followers who don’t know what my room looks like: here is a video)

I started to feel the lack of oxygen and had to cough and started to get the feeling that I was about to pass out. Just before that happened, I opened the window and leaned out, gasping for air. Once I had recovered a bit, I made my way to the other window in the room and opened that too.

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It took ages before the smoke finally cleared and I was able to close the windows again. With my lungs full of smoke and feeling really cold from the winter air, I went downstairs to check the kitchen. We were lucky, there wasn’t a big damage! Only the burgers were completely ruined.

I’m not making this incident up, this is exactly how it happened. And right after this I decided I wouldn’t cook any Swiss recipes for my host family for Christmas.

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Irish Christmas Reloaded

English

wolf-moon-artwork-1920x1200It was a typical freezing winter day in Ireland, the icy wind was blowing and everything was covered by heavy clouds of fog. It was still dark when I made my way to the bus station. The scenery reminded me of one of those classic B-movies where creatures of the night suddenly jump out of the fog and attack. A full moon was breaking through the clouds and the mood was strange and gloomy.

I could see the headlights of the bus approaching through the fog otherwise I might have missed it and would probably have been caught by a werewolf and dragged to some remote cave dwelling. They say that garlic can keep vampires away but a werewolf actually welcomes garlic because that way he can spice up his meal.

worried-omg-run-male-l (1)

Anyway, as soon as I passed the school doors I felt safe, because they lock up the school building during the day. They always tell us that those closed doors should prevent us from sneaking outside during class, but it’s probably also to keep strange creatures from entering the halls. Werewolves don’t carry school ID cards.

Download (1)Do you remember the King Lear essay I had to write at the end of the school term? Today as I was sitting in English class, I noticed a stack of these essays on my teacher’s desk.  Out teacher tells us that we still have to improve a lot and explains us our mistakes in details before she returns the graded essays. Whenever she talked about a mistake my first thought was: “Oh no, I think I did that too!” I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this. In the end, it turns out that I got a C1 which is a passing grade but not as good as I had hoped. The best grade was a B3, so I guess everyone had a a hard time with the difficult subject.

jackie-chan-wtf-meme-face-70958233396To make matters worse, the principal then announces the schedule for the January exams. They are going start two weeks from today and will cover everything we’ve learned so far in all subjects. The chemistry exam has been scheduled for next Friday. I guess I can say goodbye to another relaxing weekend. The holidays are well and truly over!

before_after_christmas_plaque-r3ec0fea7227e4a0eb599a0bbcf1249f4_ar56b_8byvr_324Speaking of holidays: As promised here is part two of story of Tim’s Irish Christmas. In this second part I’m going to tell you about the 25th of December and the actual Christmas day! What did you get for Christmas Tim? I got fat, that’s what I got, but also a few other gifts. I woke up at noon, walked downstairs where Margaret was already waiting for me with presents in her hand, presents for me! Unfortunately there was a condition I had to accept before she was willing to give me those presents. At first I thought that it couldn’t be that big of a deal and those presents were looking to nice to say no anyway.

The next thing I remember is sitting on the couch and being quite embarrassed. Why? The picture says it all. Do you notice the Christmas hat and the incredibly silly tie? I felt like Christmas clown. Of course, everyone else was also wearing a Christmas outfit so I was able to blend right in.

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Now that I was suitably dressed for the occasion, it was time to open the presents. I got a new cotton pyjama. Remember that my room is in the attic and that it can get a bit chilly especially during the winter season. So a warm pyjama is the perfect present. I also got a lot of chocolate and sweets.

WM7r3TiRemember my Blog post “Dreaming of an Irish Christmas” when I asked you for ideas for presents for my host family? Some of you have suggested baking or cooking for the family and actually that’s what I was planning to do. Unfortunately, we’ve had a small fire in the kitchen during the holiday. I swear, I had nothing to do with it this time! Remembering my own unfortunate accident with the mixer made me think twice about returning to the kitchen and the fire made me think that the kitchen might be cursed. So I decided on a different and more traditional present: Chocolate.

You should have seen me climbing down those stairs and carrying all the chocolate I bought. There are so many different types and flavours of chocolate that I decided to just buy them all:

toblerone-pieces-webToblerone, chocolate bars, chocolate gift boxes and more. I was the spirit of Chocolate Christmas… My Host-Family loves chocolate, so this was a very good idea. But I still ask myself how we were able to eat all this chocolate so fast.  A few days after Christmas everything was gone already! And that’s on top of everything else we ate that evening including the delicious Christmas dinner.

We started dinner at about three o’clock which was earlier than usual but there was so much to eat and so little time! There was so food, and I already felt full after the starter. It was so much that even two weeks after Christmas, I still get lunch sandwiches for school filled with Christmas ham. But I’m not complaining, in fact everything was absolutely delicious including the giant stuffed Christmas turkey.

After the Christmas dinner I couldn’t move for at least an hour, as I felt so full. And just when I thought I could not eat a single bite more, it was time for dessert: Christmas pudding! Robert had to set it ablaze with whisky first, which was an interesting experience. I know that I have some younger readers, so pleased kids don’t try this at home!

After this wonderful dinner we then went into the living room and watched some Christmas movies together. Every now and then one of us would head for the kitchen to get another round of dessert…

Here are some pictures of this memorable Christmas dinner.

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CLICK ON ME!

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Timcula, the Irish Vampire

English

During the holidays I usually stay up late, much later as when I have to go to school. I’m a nocturnal creature by nature, so as soon as night falls I become very active. After two weeks of holidays, it’s difficult to return to the daily routines.

Vampire_PNG_Clipart_PictureYes, I have to admit that I’m actually a vampire. I roam the streets of Dublin at night, looking for my next victim. I’ve made the switch from tomato smoothies over to the real red thing. The downside: People in the neighbourhood have recently started calling me “Timcula” and just the other day, a large group of people turned up unannounced and armed with pitchforks. They kept shouting “Down with Timcula”….

Ok, all this vampire talk is really just my imagination running wild, but the part about staying up late is very true. I stayed up late into the night and then usually slept just up until around lunchtime. Then I would stumble downstairs, bleary-eyed and drowsy and would treat myself to a late breakfast.

how-to-kill-a-vampireSo what did I do during these long nights? Two weeks after starting school again in Switzerland, I will have to pass an end-of-term math test. Let me bring this into perspective with another hilarious Dracula analogy: Failing this important test is similar to having a stake driven through your heart by Van Helsing and his goons. So my plan is to study each and every page of my Swiss math book, the whole 600 pages. It will take more than two weeks to complete this monstrous task, but I’ve made a good start. How did I come up with this plan? It was actually one of my New Year resolutions. I’m sure you’ve made your own New Years resolutions and are just dying to share them with me via the comments section!

garlic1It seems that I’m not the only vampire in town, as everyone at school today looked a bit pale and even the teachers looked like they were ready to bite someone’s head of. I kept some garlic in my pocket for protection and it worked. People stayed away from me but that might also have been due to the awful smell.

As promised, I now want to talk about the Irish Christmas, beginning with Christmas Eve (December 24th).

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In Switzerland I usually celebrate Christmas on the 24th but here it’s different. The Irish celebrate the real Christmas on the 25th of December. Technically, this is of course accurate but they are taking it so far as to have 25 doors on their advent calendars. In Switzerland, the last door on the calendar is number 24. But I prefer the Irish system because that way I get one more piece of chocolate.

vampireThe main celebration is on Christmas day but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate on Christmas Eve as well. Every family has their own Christmas traditions, some have dinner together (very common) others hunt for vampires in the woods (less common). My host family invited me to the traditional dinner at a nice restaurant. The restaurant is called “Joel’s” and it’s a fairly expensive place. The dinner went over several courses, starting with soup and bread and the followed by the main course. I had a “Chicken Marsala” which is a chicken in a mushroom sauce, with onions, basil and parmesan and all mixed in with tasty pasta. I don’t know about you but reading about food always makes me very hungry. So when you finish this text, I want you to go to your fridge and treat yourself to a lovely snack. But don’t eat in front of the computer or you’ll get crumbs on the keyboard! But I digress… the best thing about the dinner was the dessert: Probably the best strawberry ice cream I’ve had in a long time, it was really delicious.

Dessert

On this picture you can see my whole host family. From left to right: “Conor, Margaret, Me, Robert, “Granddad”, Sean

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PS – Dear EF: This is NOT my Guinness on this picture, its Robert’s!

“Granddad” is Margaret’s father and he spends a lot of time with us. Ever since I told him that army service in Switzerland is mandatory, he insists on calling me Private Ryan. He always cracks jokes and is generally a very funny person but he is also quite wise. We often debate topics and because of his extensive general knowledge, he typically wins all arguments…. He also has a small dog named Sam. Whenever Sam is separated from his master, he starts to howl and he doesn’t stop before his master has returned. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minute or an hour, he will howl and howl until he is happily reunited.

Anyway, the dinner was absolutely delicious and I already said thank you for this nice dinner. But just in case a member of my host family reads this post: Thank you very much for this, it was absolutely brilliant and I will always remember this experience!

That’s all I have for you today, but in my next post I will write about the actual Christmas Day.

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