Sunday, 30 August 2015

Summer's Last Weekend: Debs Night

On Thursday, I accompanied my friend Ciaran to his Debs (or Prom, for my American readers). It was a fantastic night - here's how it all went down, in excruciating detail. The exciting bits are towards the end. 

I was dropped into town around 7:30 a.m., carrying my ukulele, bag with Debs outfit and overnight bag for my upcoming three-night stay in Dublin. I found a 2L bottle of knockoff Fanta in Tesco for 80c, so I was soon carrying that too, plus of course my trusty green handbag. Bored of the inventory yet?

I was let into the local youth cafe, Boomerang, around half eight, and hung out there for a while before walking up to the station to get a bus to meet Caoimhe, who was going to do my Debs makeup. I got super lost trying to find her house, but then we spent a nice few hours chatting while she did my makeup in the sun. She did a great job. 

On my way to steal yo girl. 

Around one, Ciaran's dad collected me and we had a really interesting chat about airport security while he drove me to DublIn. I said hi to Ciaran and Tracey (who had a great spread of food on the table), then chilled in his room for a bit before getting dressed. We did a ton of family photos around six, then hung out with Ciaran's friends Sean, Graham and Kevin until it was time to leave. 

I promise I'll replace the selfies with other photos when they're sent to me. 

Ciaran and I discussed space, computers and other sciencey stuff while being driven to the Osprey Hotel in a Bentley. The venue was pretty fancy. On the way in, we were asked for ID (I happened to have my passport) and then marked for death, by which I mean stamped with an X so we couldn't drink (not that I'd drink, but the X washed off). Then we were searched by security and rather invasively patted down I hadn't been warned about this, so I was quite affronted by 'Spread your legs' from the female guard. 

Anyway, then we went in and I chatted to some girls who introduced themselves as Jess and Ciara. Eventually (felt like forever because I was wearing heels) we sat down, and I was introduced to Aaron, Anto, Colm and Jayson from Ciaran's school. We talked and watched a video of clips from their school years - Ciaran featured - then had a small three-course meal. Afterwards, I went to the bathroom and tried in vain to remove my contacts before rushing to the nightclub before the doors closed. 

People juggled fire poi outside. 

The nightclub held the best part of the event for me, since I love music and dancing. Ciaran and I were intermittently dancing on the floor or chilling on the seats around the edges. We had a lot of fun around 1 a.m., highlights being Bad Touch, Blurred Lines (yeah, I know), Stacy's Mom (which Ciaran loved), Grease (danced to with Ciaran and Anto), Valerie and the absolutely euphoric finisher Shut Up and Dance With Me. There was a lot of crappy techno at the start, but a lot of old favourites came on as the night matured. What a weird phrase. 

The music stopped around three and we had breakfast, then got the bus back to Ciaran's school, from which we walked to his house. Well, he walked - I hobbled while he supported and eventually carried me. I must have seemed so drunk despite not having touched alcohol. 

We fell asleep pretty soon after getting home. It was a lovely night, and surprisingly enjoyable. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Outbox Days 14 and 15 (Saturday and Sunday): Ending

I'm combining the last two days for quicker blogging, but really they did feel like one day because I got about two and a half hours sleep on Saturday night. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

The room 7 people plus our adopted roomie Ciara slept in our own room for the first night since the window shattered. I actually became a fan of the bottom bunk during my time there. 

We were woken up using pots and pans to go dance. I almost didn't, but eventually we went downstairs and then outside in the blazing heat (26 C! Literally double Irish temperature) to do a dance class. I think we learned something Charleston-related. Our instructors were great and had great chemistry together. One of them was related to Sobelema, so it was funny watching her give orders. She's great. After the first routine, many of us went and stayed inside rehydrating and resting. It was just ridiculously hot. My Greek friend makes fun of me for saying that's hot, but again - double my normal heat. 

After that, we very briefly had a finger food lunch before spending two hours on various trains to get to Oxygen Freejumping, a trampolining place. I had to run around frantically looking for a pair of shoes before we left, because I very rarely needed shoes while there. I had an interesting conversation with Carmen on the way up to the first train station, she's lovely. 

The trains took forever (so glad they had AC) and I got a a headache, but eventually we reached the Freejumping place (OF). We queued for ages, then were told that their system had failed to book us in  and they wouldn't be ready for us for two hours. So we walked to the nearest shopping centre and hung out there for a while. Gabi, Ciara, Chloe and I bought twelve large cookies for £3.99 at Subway, then briefly went to Costa and a general shop before returning to the meeting point. We had good chats. 

I have become a hand. 

We went back to Jumpzone and queued some more, then finally got in properly at 5 pm. The jumping was alright, but there were individual small trampolines and they would only let one person on each, so what was the fun in that? Running and jumping onto the air cushion was quite fun though. At one point Amy and I went for a rest on rolled up carpets underneath the staircase. I discovered only at the end that there was actually free water. I wish I could've got photos, but alas I didn't bring in my iPad. 

After that, more tube and train rides so we only got home around eight. 

We tried to pull an all-nighter on Saturday night, the Room 7 crew including our two adoptees Amy and Ciara. Amy spent ages making the most amazing cards for us. 'I'm not good with words,' she said' 'So I made you a circuit.' We spent most of the evening with the five of us plus PJ (via Skype) and Cian (via Facebook call) playing party games. I fell asleep between two and four thirty in the morning (I was absolutely wrecked) then woke up in a panic thinking we were supposed to be up at four. But all was fine. I finished packing, finished writing goodbye letters to people, hugged a good few people, was very tired, left the house and got into the car with Catrina and Kate without my passport (luckily Chloe had brought it and my boarding pass for me) and then we were off, driving for an hour through early-morning London to get to Gatwick. 

Once at Gatwick, we reunited (there were a lot of Irish girls going home last Sunday, including Niamh, Gabi, Ciara, Chloe, Catrina and Kate) and went around the shops, getting food for a while before going to the gate in plenty of time. I sat beside Chloe on the plane even though I wasn't really supposed to and discovered that Ryanair is extremely cramped. Gabi was the only one not with us, as due to her age she had to go through Heathrow. Which was sad. 

I got to the see the coast, which was pretty awesome. 

We landed in Dublin after about 55 minutes and got through bag pickup and customs no problem, reunited with Gabi and then said goodbye to everyone. I waited about an hour for Dad to pick me up, texting Cian the whole time (shoutout to Cian). 

I got home around 1 p.m. and pretty much just dozed until seven, so when I woke up in the evening it felt like Monday. 

And that's how my Outbox experience ended. It's different from CTYI ending in a lot of ways - it's not over for everyone in Outbox yet, because we're all staggered, plus it's not like it's an annual experience I have to wait for. It's more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing I'm glad I got to experience. I'm not too worried about seeing my Irish people - I'm meeting up with some of them this Saturday at the CTYI reunion (!!!) and I'll see others at Outbox reunions. But I will miss my English Outbox friends quite a lot. Amy has promised to come over through Holyhead, so that's exciting. 

I'll probably do one more Outbox post, so stay posted.

On an unrelated note: This blog got long listed for the Irish Blog Awards 2015 in the Youth category! Yay! If it gets through to the shortlist and finals, I'm going to need you guys for the public vote. So look out for that too. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Outbox Days 12 and 13 (Thursday and Friday)


I woke up in Amy's bed on Thursday morning and discovered that (a) I sleep diagonally (b) she did really well in her GCSEs. I went down to the first session (on crowdfunding) with to-do list in hand, determined to be productive. I did pay some attention to the session though, and it was very interesting. I think my favourite moment was when a group had to pitch the invisibility cloak and used Gabi (who wasn't in the room) - "This is Gabi wearing our invisibility cloak". Crowd Cube, the crowdfunding company, seemed really cool, and the woman spoke well.

It was really hot outside (although it was even hotter yesterday, at 24 C - but time is all blending together).

I didn't go to the viral marketing session with someone from AirBnB although I'm sure it was great - I'm not really sure what I was doing, I think I felt sick and was probably hanging out in Room 9. Amy helped me with Python.

The only other thing I remember from Thursday was the  surprise party for Lucy, a departing Stemette. We played a lot of party games (beatmaster was fun) and Gabi introduced Werewolf to Outbox (you never realise how bewildering the rules are until you have to explain them to someone else). 

I ate many, many ice-creams that day because the Stemettes still haven't given back our food from the pantry.


We slept in Room 9 again Thursday night but this time I had a bed to myself. We woke up and just had a long chat about, among other things, why England should give back the Falklands. That became a recurring theme throughout the day. Amy came back in the late morning.

We went down, outraged, when we discovered they hadn't informed us of lunch and so we'd missed it. Most people made waffles; I sat on the ground and ate cereal out of the packet, and then Gabi and Milly made me a wrap. We went outside in the 24 C heat (which to me might as well have been 34 C) and did some ukulele, probably.

We went to the Current Affairs/Financial Times reading session and ending up having an interesting discussion and dissing America a lot. Everyone was so articulate, it was great. I also had a fun time bringing up British colonialism in a room full of English and Irish people. Even so, this was a more favourable session for DeutscheBank.

Chloe asks that I mention "Sweet Memes are Made of Bees", the lyrics to which are:

Sweet memes are made of bees
Who am I to diss a bee
I travelled the world with the seven bees
Everybody's looking for some memes.

The Science Rocks twins smashed a melon outside for some reason.

The Stemettes told us to tidy our rooms if we wanted our sweets back, so all of Room 7 just packed since we're leaving Sunday. No sweets yet though.

In the evening, we had pizza, Ben & Jerry's ice-cream and taught the English people some Irish dancing. We did An Dreoilín ad Siege of Ennis and taught the English how to do Walls of Limerick, which is my favourite.

Ciara slept over in our room last night, which was lovely. We watched GBF (Gay Best Friend), a fantastic movie, and hung out together. I'm officially declaring Ciara part of the Room 7 squad right now. When not watching the movie, I made some pretty particle physics notes. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Outbox Day 11 (Wednesday): Bloomberg

We had to get up horribly early yesterday (six thirty!) to be out of the house by 7.15 and take the train and Underground to Bloomberg. Shoutout to the lovely Ciara for making sure Room 7 got up. 

At Bloomberg, we got passes with wifi codes and were brought up into the pantry, where there's a ton of food. I had yoghurt, rice cakes (an employee saw me looking and said they're great, take loads of them so I took three packets), Fanta, croissant, jam pastry and more stuff I can't remember. We could take photos of anything except emergency exits.

We were then brought into the Ludlow suite to do a challenge where we were given an ambiguous object and had to come up with a one-minute pitch for it within fifteen minutes. Gabi, Edel, Ciara, Amy, Chloe and I had an amazing Communism-themed one going, it was hilarious, but then with four minutes to go they came over and said that wasn't appropriate. Which sucks.

So then we just used Amy's freaky skin (dermatographia) to say the red tube diagnosed disease. It's a great party trick. The team pitching a fortune-telling (if only you knew how amazing that pun is) yellow notebook won. In fairness, it's a great notebook and I was chuffed to get it later as part of my free merch. 

We then had a Q & A session with four software devs from the company. That was very interesting, but it was pretty chilling to see that the point of them is to make rich people/companies richer, and they're aware of this. I can see enjoying the technical challenge, but they sell their package for an exorbitant amount. Corporates are so weird.

Apparently Bloomberg has the most office fish in the world, or Britain. A lot of fish, anyway. It's because the founder's wife once insisted every employee have a fishbowl on their desk but that became unsustainable, so now they just have multiple fish tanks on the floors. They also have these "waste not want not" recycled sculptures ... which they throw out every six months.

Several trains later (my ticket actually worked this time!), we arrived back at the house at exactly one in the afternoon. We just wanted to sleep, but Dame Wendy Hall was there giving a talk about something she calls Web Science. Wendy is obviously a very busy lady, finding it hard to stay put in one place at a time. We have to thank her for spending time with us when she could be on holiday, her answers to our questions really saved time and were consistent in quality (shoutout to Jo). I found it really funny that Amy sitting beside me was also buds with Tim Berners-Lee. 

We went out to the garden for lunch and I played some ukulele, then we were called back in for a Q & A session with Wendy, in which she talked again about how she was supposed to be on holiday and being the busiest person in the world. She also talked about how she'd be talking to the government the next day - "when you're at my level and are talking to Prime Ministers and Queens". Honestly, we had a lot of fun during that session.

After that, we had a talk from two bankers from Deutschbank and some of the girls asked really tricky questions, it was very entertaining. People don't seem to like bankers much. 

We then went up to our room and had a ukulele jam (Gabi, Chloe, Edel, Ciara and I) for a while before going down to the main room where Amy's friend was teaching us how to do mechanical origami folding. I went back up to my room during that because I didn't feel great, and missed a feminism talk that was apparently amazing. Which sucks. I did get to talk to one of the women who'd given it though.

After that, we did some abstract painting which was a great stress reliever.

I was really, really tired yesterday so we went up to bed pretty early and I was ready to go asleep around half twelve (or whenever I said goodnight to Cian). But then, at 00:37, the window in our room began to crack until it looked like this:

We got the Stemettes and they papered over it and we moved into different rooms. The glass never actually fell out. It was kind of hilarious. Gabi and I slept with Amy and Ciara, and Chloe slept in Room 11, so all was well.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Outbox Day 10 (Tuesday): Gabi's birthday

After midnight on Monday night, the four of us hung out in Room 7 for a bit longer and were really cute, then finally went to bed.

In the morning, the Stemettes ran around banging pots and pans to get us up because the cleaner was coming, and one came in and kept, uh, urging us to get up, which I couldn't do because I was half-dressed. The fire alarm then mysteriously went off so we all had to get dressed really quickly and line up outside the house. Funny that. 

So we all sat in the main room talking, since we would normally be asleep for another few hours. Then, around eleven, we had architecture professor Shannon Chance come in to give us a workshop in design and architecture. After an hour of talking, we did the marshmallow challenge. Here are some of the results. It was funny because my group's structure was so different from all the others. I felt sick, I admit I wasn't much help. Proud of them though.

The press arrived sometime after that to chat to us. We had a nice time with Kayleigh Bateman from Computer Weekly, she's good at what she does. Gabi, Chloe and I of course ended up talking to her about gender discrimination because what else would girls talk about? (Yes, that is self-aware.)

Our second session was on Business Ethics with Charlotte from Salesforce. She told us some really interesting stories, like the downfalls of Enron and WorldCom (of which I'd, to her shock, never heard). She also talked a lot about Salesforce's philanthropy - Salesforce sponsor Outbox, you see. So we hear a lot about them (I'd actually never heard of them before this). I asked her what percentage of Salesforce's workforce is female and she refused to answer, saying they don't think about things like that although they do support equality. It's 15% in managerial roles and less than 30% overall, according to this.

After that, I just remember lying on the sofa across Gabi and Chloe. We had a really nice time, probably discussing identity politics because when aren't we? We're the ultimate roommates. One of the cameramen was surreptitiously filming us, though, which I was not a fan of. He also got Chloe and I to say scripted things into the camera. So if you're ever watching a documentary, just know that.

We had cake for Gabi's birthday. Happy 16th, darling! You're the best roommate a girl could ask for.

People had been cooking Thai green curry with Emma Black and I was quite looking forward to it, but it was way too spicy to eat much of. I quite enjoyed the crackers though.

Sometime after ten, while Ciara was hanging out with the three of us in our room, we were all called down to the kitchen (I was sure we'd get in trouble) to see this:

(We had been wondering why all the sweets had disappeared from the pantry.)

So for the next hour or so, while talking to Cian and Jason, I helped wash up. There was so much washing up, which happens when you have fifty people in a house.

The trio hung out in our room for a while, then a bit before midnight I went out to the staircase and chatted to Gabi, Edel, Ciara and Amy. it was really interesting and I've gained a lot of respect for them. Shoutout to Amy for being fab and not getting shouted out enough.

Outbox Day 9: Monday

I'm writing this on Tuesday evening because I'm terrible. When will I write the Tuesday post? Only the blog gods know. The blods.

We woke up at 9.53, seven minutes before we were supposed to be downstairs for the session to begin. I had a quick Muller Corner for breakfast (they restocked the pantry on Sunday, life is good) and then we ran down. We had two great sessions yesterday, I really enjoyed them. It also felt insanely hot (19 C according to the internet, but absolutely scorching in that garden). We had our first session outside. It was about UI and accessibility and involved redesigning popular sites and apps. I met a cool newbie with a beautiful name - Noor.

During lunch we played the name game for the newbies (mine is trash now thanks to darling Gabi) and then had another session. This one was also really cool. The visitor taught us how to develop a business plan and also said she could set me up with people, so that was awesome. I'm going to follow up with her, she was cool.

I video called Cian in the afternoon (that boy is great) and took photos of all the food in the pantry (shown here is just a small fraction). But the real fun happened in the evening.

Ciara, Gabi, Chloe and I were gathered around a table after dinner eating various fruits (Ciara got very upset over the thickness of the melon skin), and I was in the midst of an intense conversation with Jason with quite important results (in a silly teenage way). So it was lucky that the most amazing tunes started blasting, like Mr. Brightside and Don't Stop Me Now. We had a huge rock-out to them, climbing on the chairs and tables and stuff and just having a ball. It was a lot of fun.

We briefly said hi to people on Skype, then went up to our room and the three of us plus Ciara hung out for a while. Loads of people burst in at midnight with the most amazing cake, it was so funny but quite adorable.

We sang happy birthday, and that is as far as I can go under Monday.

See y'all tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Outbox Days 7 & 8 (Saturday & Sunday): Demo Day, Olympic Park, Newbies

I'm writing this post quite late so hopefully I won't have forgotten everything.

We got up early on Saturday to head to the 02 Think Big arena, which sucked because I'd been up until 4 a.m. the night before (my own fault, admittedly). We took a train (no wifi!) and the Underground (which was nice - I don't understand why people dislike it). One of the guys from the film crew tried to film me on the train and I was just like "can you not".

We got there and the place was a lot smaller than expected. Particularly since I'd stayed up so late, I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with the pitch (having two days to prepare didn't help either). But I wanted to go up and give it a go for the sake of it. Shoutout to Ciara S for supporting everyone so well. Here's us on the way there (Jo's photo):

Attempt at names, from left: Niamh, Saarah, Ellie, Elizabeth, Megan, Molly, Beth, people partially obscured, Kate, Ciara, Ellora, Michelle, Pips, Ciara, Camille, Catrina, Gabi, Aoife, Edel, Christine, me, Grace, Charlotte, and then Martha and Maisie in front. Not sure where Tyriah and Amy are, but they're around I'm sure.

This is a great picture of my friends right before pitching:

People won various things, then we chilled in the park outside for a bit and got this awesome photo. This is great for two reasons: we're being cute buds, and my smile actually looks decent in a photo. Amazing.

We were all wrecked so some people went home. The rest walked to the station, then got the Underground (I think) to Olympic Park. That was really cool, I haven't been to a funfair in forever. We mostly just ate and walked around, but it was really great bonding time and even though it was cloudy it was quite warm. Shoutout to Amy, Ciara, Christine, Gabi.

We got home in the evening and I don't even know what happened then. We pulled an all-nighter that night because people were leaving for the airport in the early morning and we wanted to see them off. I very nearly made it, sleeping for an hour at half four. I still got to say goodbye to people so it was okay. Emotional saying goodbye to my incubestie Christine:

It was sad to see the others go too. Shoutout to Ciara J, Aoife, Lauren and Aileen. We were all so sleep-deprived. At 7 on Sunday, I went back to sleep until twelve and really didn't do much that day until late afternoon. Two nights of extreme sleep deprivation will do that to you.

Saarah and I welcomed some newbies, Sonia and Emma, to the house around 5 p.m.  and gave them a house tour, then chilled in Room 8 for a while. I was just lying on the bed scrolling down my iPad when I dozed off. I was so tired.

Chloe arrived in the next batch, which was fun. We gave another tour, then chilled for a bit. This is what I say when I have no idea what we did.

Well, I know there was food on the tables and we talked to the newbs. Almost everyone had gone to the Sherlock BBC proms, at which Martin Freeman and Mrs. Hudson were present, so I had a really nice conversation with Chloe and one by text with Cian.

When they got back, we all watched the first episode of Sherlock and I had the bants with Kate. I'd never seen Sherlock before, and I'm pleased to report that it was brilliant. I love watching him show off his intelligence (the listing off of things he notices is pretty thrilling, amiright?) even though he speaks way too fast and low. The speed would be okay if he had a higher-pitched voice.

Chatting, cute roommate stuff (probably Gabi making us toast), sleep.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Outbox Days 4 and 5

I don't want to write a whole post about yesterday, so I'm combining them. The main things that happened yesterday were:

(a) I finally decided what I'm going to pitch on Demo Day on Saturday - Flaxim. I would link you to its website, but that's still very much under development. Flaxim aims to make allergies safer, and is inspired by my little brother and a girl in my school, both with severe allergies.

(b) A makeup artist called Jo came to the Outbox house and gave us makeup tutorials. As Elizabeth put it, at Outbox we were learning STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Makeup. I was texting Jason at the same time so I just drew some hearts and stuff on my face and, on his instructions, wrote "I am beautiful" on my forehead. Because why not. Millie and Cliona came out looking hilarious and Ciara looked like something out of a horror film (The Grudge, I think).

(c) We (Christine, Gabi, Ellora, Cliona, Grace, Ellie, I, Milly, Amy, later Edel, Beth, Molly and more) had an amazing jam session in Room 9. We really went for all the songs, which included Mr. Brightside, All Star, Taylor Swift, Riptide (of course that had to happen when I got the ukulele), Someone Like You, Single Ladies and many, many more. As the night went on we ended up pretty much screaming the lyrics because our voices were going. It was amazing fun but it got really hot in there. Such banter #theriseofnine.

(d) We all stayed up until one to go watch the meteor shower (Perseids, I think). Unfortunately, we couldn't see anything due to light pollution in London.

Then, today:

(a) I came up with a logo for Flaxim. I'm really not working fast enough - as I write this, there's only one full day left before Demo Day. It's difficult to get things clear in my head.

(b) One of the Outbox interns gave us the presentation they show at MIT Launch to teach you how to pitch to investors. It was funny because this girl did it last year with JuBo and Ciara did it this year with PurchaseMate (with team for both of them, because that's how the programme works).

(c) Gabi and I had a really lovely, deep conversation in our room, made toast with Nutella and passionately danced around to CTY songs before going down to a session with four people in it. We got to talk about our businesses, it was cool.

(d) It was Sobellama's 18th birthday today, so we got cake. She's really lovely, happy birthday!

(e) Dr. Sue Black came over and gave a talk about Bletchley Park (with all the female programmers), then people learned how to knit. Ann O' Dea was being great on Twitter and asked me to take a selfie with Sue, then was very complimentary. Thanks, guys.

(f) We had fab wraps for dinner ("Mexican Night"). I had, in case you were wondering, rice, chicken, lettuce and cheese on mine. I probably should have used some sauce. At dinner, all the Irish people reminisced about classic Irish stuff (mostly TV like Quiz Zone and Aifric and especially Jedward. Oh, Jedward. And sending Dustin the Turkey into the Eurovision.) and had a grand old time.

(g) We finally got to leave the house, so a bunch of us walked to the playground in the evening rain. Gabi and I were very close, it was great. We were total children on the swings.

I'm tired. I really need to make a to-do list and just get stuff done tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Outbox Day 3: My Birthday

I'm writing this in the afternoon on Day 4. Sorry about the backlog.

Anyway, yesterday was my seventeenth birthday. As I wrote yesterday, lots of Outbox execs came into my room at midnight to sing happy birthday, which was really nice and probably the high point of my birthday.

I'm not sure what session we had in the morning. I couldn't eat anything there was for lunch so I just got stuff from the pantry. For the second session, we learned some code. It was HTML & CSS and we made a webpage. It was pretty fun but would've been better if we'd gone faster, since I've already done a course in HTML & CSS so I would've preferred refresher pace. I did the HTML part and just went down to the chillout room where people were watching Pretty Little Liars during CSS. This wasn't great, since CSS was what I really needed to brush up on.

While I was down there, someone came and announced that there was cake for someone's birthday ("I wonder who!") so we all ran upstairs to the kitchen. They brought in a really cool cake plus lots of Swiss Roll while people sang Happy Birthday, then I blew out the four candles and cut the cake.

After we all had same, there was a group meeting in which Anne-Marie gave us some details on Demo Day on Saturday. There's lots of secrecy and things we have to keep away from the press until then. It's interesting, but odd.

Finally, names were pulled out of a hat to see who got to cook that night's dinner with Emma. I and nine others were chosen to make spag bol. I peeled and chopped carrots and people chopped so many onions it really hurt my eyes. People gave out about my chopping so it wasn't much fun. I popped back in every so often to help with bits and ended up doing such delightful activities as digging through and changing bins. We delivered the food about two hours late, tasting grand.

I Facebooked Jason and Cian and went up to my room around half ten. Gabi and Grace got their hands on my laptop and tablet and texted my friends (cyberbullying). It was meh. They also messaged one person I really did not want to have messaged at that point.

I had to sit outside in the hall to charge my stuff.

It was an alright birthday. Thanks to everyone who messaged me or posted on Facebook from home saying happy birthday.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Outbox Day 2

Yesterday was my first full day at Outbox. I got up with Gabi and Grace around half eight and used the house's awesome Alberto Balsam shampoo (why is this relevant? Because I have decided you all need to know about my love for pink Alberto Balsam). I had Coco Pops from the kitchen on our floor, then we went down for our first session at 10 a.m.

The first presentation was given by a woman who works for Cloud Sherpas (there's another of those today, called Kerry Townsend). She talked about projections, estimation and cats. It was pretty interesting.

After that it was lunchtime. We worked on our business projects for a bit, went out to practise doing elevator pitches (it was really cool hearing about everyone's ideas) and then had lunch. Lunch was actually really nice - buffet style again, with croutons (my fave), savoury crisps, bread, fruit, couscous and more.

Our next session was a long one, with Mark Quirk who founded Reach Remarkable. He worked in Microsoft for about twenty years, which is pretty cool. He said presenting here was like presenting at Microsoft because everyone is on their laptops. I'm going to choose to take that as a compliment even though it really isn't. He talked about meditation, goal-setting, athlete mentality and mindfulness.

I'm not entirely sure what we did after that - I think a lot of people went for a rest or some food. Ciara, Christine, Ellie and I went and made tea and had it in my room with Gabi and Grace. We had an interesting conversation about the health system, gene editing and disabilities while drinking tea.

Around seven we went down to say hi to Lavinia from Salesforce (Outbox sponsors), who brought us pizza. We then watched Coco before Chanel and I got comfy with my bae Gabi.

At one point I left to get a charger and found Ciara and Martha sprawled on the stairs and hung out with them for a bit. Later I got my ukulele from my room and we had a jam session. Turns out Ciara can play ukulele. I informed her that if she wants to equal Jason's triple Grade 8s she'll need to get one in singing too. One of the Stemettes made us stop jamming to Ho Hey so we went into the office and continued. Ciara performed a song she'd written, that was cool, then I did my three-song medley, then Christine did her cool twinkly song. We're still trying to convince Gabi to play for us.

We were about to go up to the room but then I played Don't Stop Believing and we had an epic jam session, which the Stemettes filmed. Christine, Gabi, Ciara and I helped clean up the room while dancing, which was a lot of fun. The Stemettes then got us to replay I'm Yours (Ciara) and Don't Stop Believing (me) so they could film it. It was so great.

Gabi and I went back to our room, then I went and found a little party on the staircase and chilled there for a bit. I went back to my room and my lovely roommates sang me Happy Birthday at midnight, and then Ciara and Martha and more burst into my room to join in. I walked out and found about twenty of them waiting outside singing it in, consecutively, English, Irish, French and German. It was adorable.

The Stemettes made us go back to our rooms, so then I chatted with Gabi and Grace for a bit more and went to sleep. Shoutout to my roommates for staying up.

It was a really lovely evening.

Monday, 10 August 2015

CTYI 2015: Highlights

Yes, I am currently at Outbox and not CTYI. I am nevertheless writing this overdue CTYI highlights post. Fight me.

Also, this is my first blog post in at least a month written on a laptop. So hopefully it'll be formatted better. It's back to Verdana, anyway.

So let's see how much of CTYI I can remember. As usual, these highlights are not numerically ranked. Or ranked at all, really. Vaguely chronological.

Study (Messing)

First of all, I want to say that I did do some work in study, primarily when there was an essay or debate due the next day. But there was a lot of banter in study, particularly between Jason and I. Being left helplessly giggling is a lot of fun, let's be real here. There were some terrible puns that left Jason prostrate in shame (this whole paragraph is so weird), and lots of really valuable conversations that I'm so glad we had. 

Even at times other than study, we had lots of shenanigans. For example, this really weird picture happened. 

It was just so much fun. Shoutout to Jason, Cian, Aaron, Eve and Kat. I had good craic with Arianna and Jason in class too, especially watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm specifically putting craic in here because it makes me laugh since last night my English roommate got very confused thinking Gabi and I were saying our friend PJ has great crack. "Your friend is a drug dealer?"

Best Friend + Mature Friendships

It's really nice having a best friend, even a seasonal one. Panagiotopouloughran for the win. The group of friends was amazing too, plus the constant hugs from friends and acquaintances alike. That's not just something from this year, though.

What is new this year is that - I think - these friendships are a bit more mature, since we're Nevermores and generally older. As I said in a recent blog post, CTYI friendships are fast and intense, but the friend group is more mature this year. As in, the nature of the friendship is - not the things they say.

We're a lot more open with each other too, which is lovely and freeing. .

Also, the gatherings in corridors, being creative fire hazards, and oh the windowsill. Aaron emailing Mam pretending to be my boyfriend was hilarious.  

Violin Concerts

I got Jason to play private or semi-private violin concerts for me a lot, and I absolutely loved it. He always made fun of the rapturous look on my face but I just love seeing competence. Also, at the end of one of the sessions I burst out "How do you not have a girlfriend?!" and two surprising things happened.

(a) Jason burst out laughing and said there are so many people in his school better than him (he has triple grade 8s, which makes me wonder just what kind of school he goes to).

(b) Someone heard me say that, or Jason spread it around, because after that people just kept shouting "How do you not have a girlfriend?!" at Jason.

I can't say I minded. 

Speaking of Jason, on the last day, without telling me, he wrote 'I am beautiful' on my head and that was a huge highlight. Aww. 


I remember my very first CTYI disco being one of the most amazing experiences of my life. They didn't play great music at the first disco this year and there was some awkwardness because of an incident earlier that day, but it was still amazing and just got better from there. The sense of connectedness during Street Spirit is honestly just euphoric. I'm annoyed I missed Gay Bar both times it played. 

Highlights of the discos would have to be Street Spirit every time, shoutout to Jason for his hand the last time; Bohemian Rhapsody and American Pie at the second disco, even though everyone's so tall it always strained my arms; slow-dancing with Jason to Iris at the last disco (ultimate fave); Cotton Eyed Joe (again with the connectedness); dancing ridiculously, often with Jason and/or Cian; dancing to Bad Touch, especially that time with poor Conal; Mr. Brightside ... CTY discos are incredible and will always hold a special place in my heart. I've made Jason promise that we'll slowdance again to Iris at some point despite being separated by national borders, and I trust you guys to keep us accountable. Within reason.

The hugs after the discos were always really emotionally charged too.

Talent Show Rehearsals

This was my second year performing in the talent show. While the show itself was great and all, the rehearsals were a lot of fun. I heard Kevin Foley tell his horrific jokes three times in a row, watched as Conal and Philip's MCing evolved dramatically, and after our run-through disappeared for ages down to the lobby of the theatre, which has way better acoustics than the theatre itself (assuming you like hard surfaces and echoing). He then practised violin (a bit of the piece he was doing for the show, then (at my insistence) my favourite, Resignation) while I interpretive-danced around the place. We also had a cool chat with an RA as we left the theatre and got so involved in it that we were about twenty minutes late for dinner. 


CTYI was very meme-themed this year, and there were more chants than ever before. It was a lot of fun and great for community. Chants included "Body of Christ!" "√Čamonn!", "Sports Sports Sports!", "SOME" followed by All Star, "MARX MARX MARX" (good little Communists), "Law!" "Fam!" (the law class was so obnoxious. I feel justified in saying this because Gabi sanctions it). These all featured prominently in the chaotic but hilarious Closing Ceremony. 

I also became a meme. It's not a career ambition I had, but I'm pretty happy with it. The meme penetrated so much that they put it up during my Talent Show performance. That was definitely a high point. Another somewhat unrelated high point was when my/Odgen's/Mark's labcoat made it into the official traditions book. It's also cool that two of my friends were handed down Traditions - PJ got Pirate and Gabi got the book. They suit it so well, it's fab.

Bots (Sunday)

On the first Sunday lots of my friend group didn't get into Bots, the activity we wanted, so we just signed out and went anyway. We just sat there and played Paranoia pretty much the whole day, then went for pizza having met up with Fez and Josh. A particularly fun bit was making Aaron attempt to find "the tree" in the Botanic Gardens. "We're beside a tree", we said in perhaps the leafiest place in Ireland. 

Ukulele Sunday Activity

Even before the ukulele thing, the Sunday Activity the first week was great craic. The first activity we did was Sad RA, where we had to cheer up two "crying" residential assistants. Sandy, Gillespie and I took charge and sang them songs. Gillespie was hilarious doing rebel songs and songs about being high I can't believe he got away with. Also, for another part we had to do a dance so we just followed Gillespie as he did what he liked.

Anyway, at the Closing Ceremony I was up in my seat carrying my ukulele around as usual when the RAs asked if anyone had one. I ran down with mine, thinking they wanted to play it, but nope, they wanted me to play it in front of everyone in the Larkin.

I have a policy of not saying no to this sort of thing, so I did it and it was a lot of fun. Someone in the front row shouted "Riptide!" so I did that, and after a few lines everyone started clapping and singing along. It's an amazing sort of energy. I bopped a lot. Euphoria.

I love how much my ukulele traveled around campus. Everyone had it. 

Language Club & Other Activities

Language Club was one of the 3-5 Activities and it was just totally hilarious thanks to RA Andrew. Check out the CTY Quotes page 2015 for some of what he said, it was just amazing. Another thing I liked, which might've been during this or some other activity (something about Musicals), was doing Time Warp up on the stage. Also, Potter Puppet Pals.

Book Club

This Activity gets its own section because even though it was quiet and pretty uneventful, it was amazing. Jason lent me a book of his called The Price of Inequality, which increased my respect for him, and he read some textbook-looking thing. We sat beside each other in Book Club and got really comfy towards the end. I'm not explaining this very well (look, I'm sitting with people in Outbox and using Internet Explorer because Microsoft gave us these computers and Chrome is refusing to download) but it was beautiful. 


Maybe a weird point, but I found the group chat really helpful, especially during CTY and in its immediate aftermath. It was great for staying connected and having the bants. It does get a ridiculous amount of messages nowadays though.


Some of CTYI has carried on, and of that I am very glad. Getting coffee with Daniel on the Friday it ended, then Niamh's 18th becoming a reunion, then my birthday the next day seeing Cian, Joe, Chloe and Amy again (I'd seen Katie already at the party). So all hope is not lost, except for those people who live overseas or in Cork and who should, as I said in my Nevermore speech, just move.

Also, Gabi and I are basically each other's summers, since we did CTYI together and now I'm sitting beside her in the Outbox house writing this post as we watch Coco Before Chanel in French.


I took quotes again this year and there are some amazing ones. Just check out although if you're not from CTYI I can't guarantee it'll make any sense to you.

Miscellaneous highlights include hanging with Cian at social time, being carried places, having deep conversations, Jason getting everyone involved in his indignant interventions, and all the typical CTY goodness.

Probably my last CTY post for a while, especially with Outbox and all. So my posts might be a bit more comprehensible after this summer camp stuff is over.

If you're feeling left out, I recommend checking my archives - there's a lot of less group-mentality material in there. Or head over to my book blog But I recommend the archives more - they're pretty cool.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Outbox Day 1: Sunday

Yo. I'm having fun with my roommates Gabi and Grace so I'll be brief. 

This is my first day at Outbox. Dad dropped me to the airport this morning so I entered the building and did everything myself. There was a disaster with checkin but the staff woman was great and sorted it out in the nick of time. I then found Christine and stayed with her and her parents for a bit before we left for the gate. We got through security and everything fine, then queued at the gate. I had priority boarding and for some reason Christine didn't, which was funny although I felt bad about it. We sat together on the plane and thought about business ideas. She also gave me my birthday present, the most amazingly decorated mixtape. It was adorable, I'll post photos tomorrow. 

We got off after a fifty-minute flight at Gatwick and were met by Jess the Stemette. We met up with the other girls on our flight and waited ages for the car - bonding time! It was fun. 

The car journey was really long to the top-secret location we're not allowed to geotag. I alternately chatted and read Temeraire: Throne of Jade. 

We were given a house tour by some of the girls, then settled in for the bants and had some food. We bonded a bit in the garden ... I'll describe this better tomorrow, I promise. Hopefully I'll have a working laptop by then.  

We watched half of The Imitation Game, Periscoped and read bad fanfiction. Twas fun. 

I've been chilling in my room for a while now talking to Grace and Gabi. More tomorrow.