Study Abroad Round Up

So now that I am back from studying in Ireland for 2 months, here’s a quick recap.  This is going to be my last feature on my TravelBlog, so I figured I’d do the same on my everyday blog.  Here’s all the figures I can think of when it comes to my time abroad.

16 million. Population of Chile. The answer to the tie braking trivia question to decide who wins second place and a free pitcher of beer at the Headline Bar on Thursday. Max Powell guessed 15 million. Victory (or second) is ours. An amazing accomplishment considering a lot of the questions were Ireland related.

12, 633. Miles traveled (estimated from my TravelBlog).

6,015. My spot in the queue line in Wimbledon after arriving at 7am. Capacity is 8,000. Success.

1,500. Millilitres in a wine bottle consumed by 3 of us at Trevi Fountain in Rome. At a mere cost of 4 euro.

119.5. Seconds it take for a Guinness Stout to settle. According to the Guinness tour.

70. Total days away from home.

64. Matches played in the World Cup. I watched over half of them.

60. Percent I earned in one of the Pass/Fail classes I took over here. The bare minimum to get credit.

57. Age of “Babraham Lincoln.” A woman who I couldn’t shake away from a bar one night. “Do you want to come back and play with my pussy… cats?” was one line she uttered to me.

>50. Half liters our team of 8 consumed at the best bar I’ve ever been to in Prague.

40. Straight hours without sleep (not counting plane sleep) when visiting Rome.

~35. Different types of beer tasted.

25. New best friends.

16. Days worked at an Irish company.

14. Kebabs eaten

13. Hours straight Danny and I slept in Amsterdam.

13. Flights taken, 8 of them being Ryanair.

12. Cities visited.

10. Weeks in Europe.

10. Euro paid for onsie pajamas at Penny’s

8. Countries visited.

8. Euro paid for cover at Dice’s one night.

7. Spanish soccer players that our group beat at Griffith College.

6. Nicknames Max and I thought up for random people at bars, usually whom were hitting on the girls in our group. Besides Babraham, there was Backpack Dude, Free Rhythm, Finbarr, Grand Theft Undie, and WinkyDink.

5. Time (am) we woke up to go to the Wimbledon Championships.

4. Pizzas eaten in 4 meals “When in Rome.”

3. Stories underground that a private liquor cellar is we visited in Muenchberg, Germany.

3. Time (a.m.) that we had to go to the airport to catch flights to Rome and Edinburgh.

2. New families. The Feins in Muenchberg, and the weekend trip family from the study group.

1. Amazing Summer

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Top 10 Disney Songs

Upon request by Brent Johnson, here are my Top 10 Disney songs. It started out as a top 5, but I couldn’t do it… need 10 spots. People like to say “they don’t make them like they used to” all the time, but that for sure holds true with Disney animated movies. The new Pixar ones are great, but there’s one thing they are lacking: MUSIC. Toy Story 3 has great music, but none of the characters bust out in song anymore.  I’ll take ye back to the good ol’ days with flying carpets, blue-butted-baboons and, of course, cross dressing.

Don’ forget to participate in the poll at the bottom of the page!

(All links open in new a new window.)

10. You’ll Be in My HeartTarzan

An Oscar winning song coming in at number 10. This is how just amazing this list is. I did not see all of Tarzan (I know, I know), but this song is definitely worthy of recognition.

9. Under the SeaLittle Mermaid

You can’t help singing along to this song. Ursula is one of the most evil Disney villans, and all the characters round out this movie to make it a true classic. All it needs is a winning tune and here it is, taking home the Oscar for best song (beating out Kiss the Girl) and helping the flick win best overall score.

8. Hakuna MatataLion King

It ain’t no passing craze, and 15 years later they were right. This Oscar nominated tune is the ultimate feel good Disney song rounding out my favorite Disney movie.

7. Colors of The WindPocahontas

It was a toss up between this one and “Just Around the River Bend,” but I have to go with colors. I watched this movie so much as a kid and could possibly be my biggest guilty pleasure today. It took home best overall music at the Oscars while this captured best song.  This movie is so much better than the 2009 3D re-make by James Cameron.

6. A Whole New World – Aladdin

Although I probably watched the second sequel “King of Thieves” more than the original, this song is an absolute classic. Jasmine is by far the hottest Disney princess. Is that weird to say? Anyway, Aladdin is a lucky dude.

You have to watch this video. Amazing. Home boy sings both Aladdin and Jasmines part perfectly.

5. I’ll Make a Man Out of YouMulan

This is the cross-dressing reference, if you didn’t already get it. Mulan was a decent movie. It is the typical story of a girl dressing as a guy to compete with the boys (Motocrossed, She’s the Man), but then again, most Disney stories can be considered typical. The fact is when Disney does it, they do it better than anyone. And the music just adds to the magic. The movie was nominated for best music in 1999 (surprise, surprise). This song makes me want to jump on the hockey rink and hit someone.

4. Can You Feel the Love TonightLion King

I actually feel horrible putting this so low, but the quality of this list is just that good. It took home the Oscar for best song in 1994. If I found my long lost love in a jungle and was about to go steal my kingdom back from my evil deformed uncle, this song would be playing. This is such a beautiful scene and the whole movie seems more like poetry in motion. Be sure to watch the video link, it’s an actual music video with Elton and all.

3.Strangers Like Me – Tarzan

Okay, so I’ve only seen half of this movie. But Phil Collins voice just screams drama and inspiration. Tarzan won the Academy Award for best song in 2000. It was for You’ll Be in My Heart, not this one, but I like this one better. Really makes me think about life and the meaning of it. Aren’t we all just strangers?

2. Go the DistanceHercules

Maybe my second favorite Disney movie, Hercules, is often overlooked. This movie had it all: good music (this one, Zero to Hero, I Won’t Say I’m in Love), amazing plot line, great character development, and a 3 headed monster. Yet again, this song was nominated for best song at the 1997 Oscars. If you think “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is inspiring, try this one. I just applied for 4 internships after listening to it.

1. Circle of Life – The Lion King

Every time you hear this song, you picture the African sun coming up beyond the horizon. You can’t help it. Elton John is the perfect person to do this soundtrack. Circle, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and Hakuna Matata were all nominated in 1995 for best song. Of course my number 4 won it, along with the film taking home best overall music.  This is the ultimate Disney song in the ultimate Disney movie. I can listen to the soundtrack and feel the intensity of every scene. This movie still holds up after 15 years. It’s easily my favorite Disney movie, and this song gets me pumped up every single time I watch it.

Makes me want to throw it all away and move to Congo.

Here’s your chance to chime in with the poll of the week!

So there you have it. Agree or not (you probably don’t), this is what I think I think.

Ireland Business Model

Bad service, Bad Quality, but Cheap as HELL

Anybody that has traveled around Europe has probably flown Ryanair . It’s the “low fares” airline. It’s truly the benchmark for a low cost business model. It was more expensive for me to take a taxi from Griffith College Dublin to the airport than it was for my flight from Dublin to London. This company is finding genious ways to charge customers for rinky-dink stuff ultimately lower the price of initial airfare.  They eventually want to make enough money on the side to be able to have free airfare. Some of the features of the Ryanair flying experience include:

  • Charging 40 Euro to print a boarding pass for you. You’re supposed to print it out online before you arrive at the airport. We met some American friends in the Dublin airport on the same flight as Edinburgh as us. They didn’t know about this and they were FURIOUS.
  • Non-Reclining seats. Having seats in the airplane that do not recline cuts down on cleaning time for planes between flights. This feature, or lack thereof, really doesn’t matter because you won’t find a Ryanair flight longer than 4 hours, and the average is flight is 90 minutes.
  • Charging for food and drinks during the flight. Other airlines just build it into the ticket. And again, the short flights make this more of a non issue.
  • Flying to a city’s secondary airport. This cuts down on costs to operate out of a certain city or region.
  • Minimal check in desks open. In London, we had to wait 2 hours just to get a stamp on our boarding pass because they had 2 desks open for about 200 people wanting to check in and check luggage.
  • Making their cabin crew pay for their uniforms. Kinda funny.
  • Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary even has joked that he has the pilots turn up the turbulence when the drink sales aren’t doing so hot. Wouldn’t put it past him.

Potential Plans for the future?

  • Charging to use the bathroom
  • “Fat Tax” charging overweight customers more
  • In-flight gambling
  • Standing room tickets

They get away with these gimmicks because of cheap prices. It works. Everyone flys Ryanair. It is the largest airline in the world when it comes to international passengers. Something tells me they don’t pay for the best aviators in the world either. Everybody in our study abroad group at one point in time has had major problems with ears not popping. The landings are the worst I’ve ever experienced. They are so consistently bad, that the whole cabin claps after a safe landing. One flight, we clapped twice.

Now for the positives, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary really is a phenomenal business man. I have a lot of respect for him. The man has a goal and he’s achieving it. O’Leary took over Ryanair when it was nothing and made it the most successful airline in Europe. He took a media beating when he announced plans to charge for the bathroom. His reasoning is this: O’Leary wants to remove 2 of the three bathrooms in every airplane. How do you get rid of the line for the single bathroom? Charge people for it. That way, people do their business before ever boarding the plane. The space avail by removing 2 bathrooms will be filled by 6 additional seats on every plane, ultimately lowering airfare for everyone by 4%. Seems okay by me! His ideas seem crazy, but who can blame him for perusing his goal of free airfare. I say reach for the stars, Mikey.

My second example is Pennys. This is a college girl’s dream. Super cheap, relatively stylish clothing. I bought a hoodie there for 9 euro ($12), a bowtie for 3, socks for 1, shoes for 9, a shirt for 3, and a onesie (yes, a onesie… be prepared Pi Kapp) for 10. Seeing a girl in Pennys is like seeing the T-Rex from Jurassic Park . They go nuts for all the shoes, jewelry, tops, everything. Shoes from 3 euro! The place is messy, and the clothes are’t good quality. My shoes are already ripping after a couple weeks. But again, people will put up with ANYTHING for low prices.

I’m well aware of this phenomenon. Wal-Mart is an example. But I find these two extraordinary examples of people putting up with a lot of crap just to save a buck (especially with Ryanair). Wal-Mart is cheap, but people also go there because it literally has everything.

Check out Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s thoughts. This is a great video.

He almost says “Fat Tax” haha.

So there you have it. Agree or not (you probably don’t), this is what I think I think.