November Rains

November in Ireland means rain. It has rained almost every single day since the month started, and I’m getting the feeling that I should probably start preparing for the downpours. I have no gear that is made to protect me from rain, so most of the time when I go out, I come home damp. I want to buy an umbrella, but I have this weird laziness that just prevents me from doing small chores like that. I don’t have a problem doing important work, I could write an essay and polish it up and make it really good. That takes a lot of work; it takes reading and writing and editing and planning. But I will put off doing something that takes seconds, like checking email, for weeks at a time. It’s just so easy not to walk to the store that even though I know it would help me enormously to get an umbrella, I haven’t been able to make myself do it. At this point I want to stick it out until December so I can say I spent winter in Ireland without any waterproof material; that’s an accomplishment I want on my résumé.

November in Ireland also means darkness: The days here are short and the sun never gets to be over your head. It’s weird; every moment of the day looks near a sunset or a sunrise. This is fine with me as I have never been a huge fan of the sun and its attempts to char my milky skin, but I do get a little sad when it’s dark by 4:30PM.

This past weekend I took a trip to county Cork with the API Dublin group. The first thing we did was stop at the famous Blarney Castle. The castle is awesome, the staircases are very cramped, but the view from the top is worth the somewhat awkward climb. But what I liked the most about Blarney wasn’t kissing the stone, it was the park around the castle. There’s a beautiful river that runs along the side of the castle and it was very scenic in the autumn foliage. There were also gardens on one side of the castle; one of the gardens was called Poison Garden and every plant in it was poisonous in some way or another. Some were even growing inside cages so that people couldn’t hurt themselves by accidentally touching them. I don’t know exactly why they decide to keep this dangerous garden around, but I’m glad they do because I have never seen anything like it. One plant I recognized from Breaking Bad! It’s called Lily of the Valley and it’s used during, in my opinion, the most unnerving part of the show. It didn’t look the way I remembered it looking, but it was cool to see something familiar.

The time is flying by over here. I try to keep busy during the week, so on top of my classes I joined the Maynooth soccer team. I started playing soccer when I was five and my love for the sport has grown every day. Something about the flow of a soccer game is beautiful to watch, and I know it will eventually become a huge sport in America. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to play competitively since my senior year of high school, so I jumped at the chance to play for Maynooth. The team is great; we practice a couple times a week and we have played three games so far. The latest game was incredible. We were playing away against Athlone, a town in the center of Ireland, and we were losing early. We were dominating the game, but two lapses of concentration meant we were down 2-1. A minute before half time I fouled a player in the box and gave away a penalty kick, which they scored. Not one of my finer moments. We were losing 3-1 at halftime and the worst part was that we knew we were better than the other team. When you are losing like that, it’s hard to stay in the game. It’s hard to keep yourself from getting angry about every tiny mistake and we needed something to swing the momentum. We got that with a goal almost immediately in the second half, making it 3-2. The game changed after we scored. Athlone seemed to lose confidence, and we only played harder. Not even four minutes after our second goal we scored again, this one was off a beautiful shot from about 22 yards away. The ball absolutely flew into the top corner of the net off our right wing’s foot. I don’t think Tim Howard could have saved that shot. So the game was tied 3-3. For the rest of the second half we were getting close, just missing the final touch to take the lead. But with about five minutes left in the game a beautiful ball over the top of the defense created a fast break that our striker put away. We held out and won 4-3. And it was one of the best games I’ve been a part of.

Below there’s a picture of us celebrating the game winning goal. Celebrating goals is really common in professional soccer, but when I played we weren’t allowed to celebrate. They called it bad sportsmanship, which is stupid if you ask me. I don’t know if all the Irish referees allow celebrations, but this one did. The game was especially tough because it had rained all day, so the field was wrecked. Even in cleats it was impossible to start running. I felt like Road Runner, my first couple steps I would just spin my feet and stay in the same spot before I gained some traction. But anyway, Cheers to a great week and a great win and some very sore muscles!

Below there’s a picture of us celebrating the game winning goal. Celebrating goals is really common in professional soccer, but when I played we weren’t allowed to celebrate. They called it bad sportsmanship, which is stupid if you ask me. I don’t know if all the Irish referees allow celebrations, but this one did. The game was especially tough because it had rained all day, so the field was wrecked. Even in cleats it was impossible to start running. I felt like Road Runner, my first couple steps I would just spin my feet and stay in the same spot before I gained some traction. But anyway, Cheers to a great week and a great win and some very sore muscles!

After the game winning goal, I’m number 3

After the game winning goal, I’m number 3.

Tom Harnett is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and an official API Student Blogger. Tom is studying abroad with API in Dublin, Ireland.

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