A Short Update & Some Chowder

Well, I’ve certainly failed at posting regular updates about this great adventure.

First semester was a whirl of new experiences, adjustments, and its own fair share of growing pains.  I’ve moved across the city since my last post, and am thoroughly enjoying a quieter neighborhood along Grand Canal.

Grand canal

Walking along the Canal.

I still don’t have my exam results back, though I feel they went well overall.

The viva voces, our oral component of the anatomy exam, was about as terrifying as I figured it would be.  The exam is split into two viva stations and three spotter stations, three minutes per station.  And boy, do those three minutes fly!  You’re given four questions at each spotter: two structures to identify on a bone, an x-ray, or on the donor, a question about a structure’s blood or nerve supply, and a final clinical question.

At the viva stations, you spend your three minutes with a professor or demonstrator trying to answer as many questions as you can about a given body region, starting with disarticulated bones and slowly progressing to clinical applications.  The professors clearly want you to succeed and redirect their questions to keep you talking, but it’s still intimidating knowing how fast you have to come up with your answers.  At my first station I made it to the clinical questions; at the second I made it to identifying structures on the donor, the step right before clinical questions.  It gives me hope I scored well.

So far, second semester is going smoothly.  Some of our classes haven’t started yet, so I have more free time than I did before.  I’m trying to take advantage of that time and work on book edits again, but Friday I took a break and left the city for Howth.


Outskirts of Howth, from the DART.

Howth is only a 30 minute train ride by DART from the biomedical center, so when my mom (currently visiting) and I decided we needed a break from Dublin’s hustle and bustle, it was a clear choice where we’d venture to.  I’ve wanted to see Howth for quite some time – between its cliff walk, castle, and a portal tomb, it’s right up my alley.  But with the late winter’s brisk winds and a definite chill still in the air, we decided to save those sights for another time and track down some seafood chowder.


The ultimate seafood chowder at The Brass Monkey.  Yum!

Seafood chowder is one of my favorite things to eat while traveling near the ocean.  I joke it’s the best way to explore what’s swimming just offshore, but it’s true – when a chowder’s made with locally sourced ingredients, you get a taste of what the area’s like.

The chowder at Howth’s The Brass Monkey didn’t disappoint.  There’s just so much packed into one bowl it’s almost overwhelming, yet it all strikes a perfect, delicious balance.  Between the sweet notes from the shrimp and crab, salmon and mussels’ distinct textures, and scallops that melted away with each bite, we were blown away.  Each spoonful had a different, yet complementary mouthful – we just couldn’t get enough, and have already decided we have to visit Howth again, for this chowder if nothing else.


If this past year has taught me anything, it’s that life is crazy and unpredictable.  But I’m enjoying every minute of this crazy ride, and have no regrets in choosing to study medicine at Trinity.  I’m hoping this current peaceful time continues though, and I’ll be able to slip out of the city for another quick break.

Until then, here’s to more bowls of wonderful chowder!


The Beginning of Schemes

So, about two weeks ago, I started a blog on Blogger.  However, I have learned that I’m not too fond of that particular interface… I don’t know why, but WordPress suits my fancy more.  It’s true that I’ve never truly blogged before, but I have had some experience with WordPress through a failed attempt at blogging (read this as putting up two pictures then scrapping the idea).

Anyhow, that’s the main reason I’m here now – I feel the need and desire to blog, and I like this format a bit more.  And what shall I blog about?  Well…

First off, my name’s Rachel.  I’m 19 years old and a college student working towards a bs biology degree.  Pre-med track.  My days are continually filled with reading about different biological processes in the body, as well as related chemistry topics.  I also fancy myself as a writer, but at the moment I struggle to find the time and energy to work on plot development for my self published novel’s sequel.

But probably more relevant to this blog, I’m obsessed with Ireland.

Back in 2011, my family and I went on a 10 day vacation in Ireland.  It was the best experience I’ve ever had, and truly changed me.  I went from being someone who never expected to travel, to someone that yearned to be abroad more than anything. I still spend most of my days dreaming about returning back to Ireland, spending more time exploring the countryside and some of the different sights to be had.

You see, for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere.  It’s not to say my family doesn’t love me, believe me, I know they do.  But my mannerisms are quite different from most people in my community, both hometown and collegetown.  And while we were there, some of my little ticks that make me look like a weirdo here actually made me fit in over there, to the point another foreigner came up to me in Dublin and asked for directions because he thought I was a local.

Since 2011, I’ve graduated high school and completed my first year of college.  I’ve made new friends, become more certain in my chosen field, and never stopped dreaming.  Some people have even forbidden Ireland to be mentioned in a conversation around me, just because of how twitchy I get.  In secret, I planned on saving up and disappearing for a few weeks before entering medical school.

But then Chy, my dorm neighbor and sister in many ways, prompted after I prattle one day, “Then why don’t we go the summer after graduation?”

We began plotting.  I graduate in December 2015, she graduates May 2016, assuming her recent major change from pre-vet to equestrian studies doesn’t force her to stay an extra semester.  June 2016 has become our goal.  My mother has even agreed that we should do it, though she requests we not mention it around too many people.

Chy and I have started picking out different places we want to see, and we’ve decided to give each other different jobs as well.  She will be taking care of things such as driving, and she feels the need to mother me.  I’m in charge of all things money.  It’s up to me to set a budget for our travels and figure out exactly how long we’ll be able to stay.  Her boyfriend is planning on joining us on this trip, serving as our driver.

In this blog, I’ll be tracking our progress and gathering details about the different places we’ll be visiting.  First up will be Dublin, where we’ll begin our travels.

Here’s to planning!