Wednesday, 19 February 2014

As a TCD Malaysian Ambassador...

For my first year in college, I was honoured to become one of the international ambassadors in Trinity College under Education in Ireland. As part of our duties was to write blogs regarding student life in Ireland and here are both the contributions that I have made so far (apologies for not posting the first one earlier!)

Original posts can be seen at Education in Ireland blog


19 February 2014

As the wooden horse gallops in: Chinese New Year in Dublin


Our Trinity College Dublin and Malaysian ambassador Audrey Chew Ernern found her first experience of Chinese New Year celebrations in Ireland a heart-warming one. Read all about it…
On the 31 January 2014, the Year of the Wooden Horse was ushered in by many eager hearts around the world. As a Chinese Malaysian, it has been part of my culture to celebrate Chinese New Year every year since I was born. This event has always been a memorable one to look forward to due to the food, festivities and family time. As this was to be my first year celebrating it with the absence of family, it was not exactly a thrilling idea. However, being alone was far from what happened this year.
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I was invited by a friend to celebrate the New Year with others who too had no family with them. We began the celebrations with a “hot” show as the TCD Juggling Society collaborated with theChinese Society in putting on a fire display. Instead of fireworks, we watched them manoeuvre fireballs ever so beautifully and dangerously at the same time. Cheers and gasps from the audience echoed through the front square of Trinity College as they saw the performers dodge the flames elegantly.
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Chinese New Year is not just a one day event. In fact, it is a fifteen day festival that has different traditions on each day! And as food plays a large part in our celebrations, my friends and I organised three separate dinners together – two in a restaurant and one at home. When we gathered in the home, we made our very own pork dumplings (jiao zi) and steamed pork buns as well. As a fun fact, making dumplings is a prominent tradition in northern China as it symbolises wealth due to its similar shape to the Chinese traditional ingot. This year’s celebration was unique in the fact that it was spent with a group of almost entirely new friends, many of whom I did not know until the night itself. They consisted of people from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Ireland, Wales and the Philippines. This proved for me that the festival has become more than just a Chinese celebration as many other cultures are beginning to taste traditional food and get involved in the festival.
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The TCD Chinese Society also ran a cultural event which gave people the opportunity to try on thetraditional Han costume. Other than the costumes, they had stalls demonstrating calligraphy, traditional paper cutting, music and a variety of Chinese snacks – all of which were free!
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I took up the opportunity to try on one of the costumes, and was also presently surprised when I bumped into three other Malaysian students in the courtyard and welcomed them in to visit the event as well. That is the beauty of the celebration, it is in no way exclusionary. It was a day of experiencing my own traditions while introducing it to others. All in all, it was heart warming, adventurous and unexpected to have had one of my best Chinese New Year celebrations away from home.

13 January 2014
Ireland: Five essential tips

Our Trinity College Dublin and Malaysian ambassador, Audrey Chew Ernern, shares some of her essential tips around Irish language and culture.
When embarking on an adventure in the Emerald Isle, it helps to be fully equipped with the “must-knows” of the country. Nobody wants to be stuck in an awkward situation due to a misunderstanding – may it be yours, or someone else’s. So, I’m going to share with you five tips about living in Ireland that I’ve learned during my time here.

1. “Grand”

The Irish have a very useful and multipurpose word – grand. This word can be used in almost every imaginable situation! Some examples to illustrate my point: A: How’re you doing? B: I’m grand; A: What’s the weather like? B: ‘Tis grand sure; A: Would you like to eat some healthy vegetables? B: No, you’re grand; A: I’m going to fail my exam tomorrow! B: Ah, you’ll be grand. These examples are of course, not exhaustive. So, if you’re ever asked a question that you can’t answer, the word “grand” might save your skin.

2. Like, like, like…

An image with the word 'like' repeatedMany Irish people have the word, “like” deeply embedded within their conversations. This word is just part of the slang as a sort of sentence filler, as far as I can see! In their opinion, it completes their sentences. For instance, “whatever, like d’you get what I mean, like?, I don’t know like, and what are you talking about like?

3. Telling the time

ClockLearning some shortcuts is essential here when it comes to telling the time. This was one of the struggles I first faced when I arrived, I didn’t understand how the time was read! In Ireland, 5:30 is half five or half past five, 5:15 is a quarter past five, 4:45 is a quarter to five, 4:55 is five to five and so on and so on! However, it is very common for people to assume that you know what the hour is and totally omit the word “five” altogether. So often you’ll just be told “quarter past” or “quarter to” when you ask someone the time!

4. Slang words

670x300_AudreyChewErnern_TCD_IrishSlang101_Picture 4In every culture, there are new created words that sum up many different situations. The Irish are no exception to the rule. Here is a little list of some of the most common:
Craic: Lots of fun
Banter: Exchange of sarcasm and wit
Shift or meet: French kissing or making out
Fair play: An expression to say well done, and an acknowledgement of effort
Happy out: Filled with happiness
Sound (person): Good (person)
Genie Mack: Oh my gosh!
And my personal favourite, I’ll be there in 2 minutes: I’ll be there in 20 minutes (this may be better or worse in different situations!)

5. Penneys finest!

Pennys DublinShopping is always great when in a new country. However, the exchange of smaller currencies to the euro might cause your funds to dwindle a little. The solution? Penneys! It’s a department store available throughout Ireland which sells clothes, accessories and more for a very reasonable price. The merchandise available at Penneys, never fails to impress in terms of style. So don’t be surprised if you hear this, A: “oh that’s such a lovely dress, where did you get it? B: “Penneys finest sure!”
I have many more tips to share with you but these are a few for now. I hope you enjoyed them! All tips were done in good humour. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of them, you’ll be grand!

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