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Posts from the ‘Northern Ireland’ Category

Galway, St. Patrick’s Day and Glasgow Celtics

Briana O’Neill
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Spring 2012

The last couple of weeks… Tuesday 28 February I had dinner and then went to see a film with my hall, which since then we have decided to make a weekly occurrence every Tuesday, as the movies are cheaper then. Wednesday, the 29th I went with my ISA group to see a play called “Love Matters” at the CultreInn on the Falls Road. The next two nights I stayed home and worked on my schoolwork that I needed to catch up on. Sunday 4 March I climbed ‘Black Mountain’ with Elise and a few of my cousins. It wasn’t too much of a hike, just very cold and windy, and once you got to the top, you had a gorgeous 360-degree view of the whole city of Belfast!

Belfast city center on St. Patrick’s Day

Monday the 5th, I spent with my Irish family, celebrating the birthday of my aunt who just passed away last June.  It was sad but also very nice to be a part of, as I wouldn’t normally be around for these sorts of things since I am so far away in America. That week was basically just spent at school and hanging out with Elise in Elm’s Village (our accommodation). One day, Elise and I did spend the entire day shopping in lovely Victoria Square shopping center in the city center getting new European-looking outfits!

Saturday the 10th was my closest cousin John’s birthday, so we left Belfast early in the morning and drove down to Galway for the night. The drive there was along the West of Ireland and was so beautiful!! We went out to celebrate his birthday at a place called Taaffe’s and stayed in the Western Hotel, which was great! The next morning before leaving for home, we drove around and saw the town some and walked along the Atlantic Ocean for a while.

Road trip to Galway!

Our hotel in Galway- The Western

Atlantic coast in Galway

Interesting fact…that day was supposed to be when Daylight Saving Time began, but I learned that Ireland doesn’t have that, so now I am only 5 hours ahead of home versus the 6 we were before!

Last week, Monday I had class then I made fajitas for my cousin.  It was nice to have Mexican food again!  Tuesday, I did laundry all day and then went to the movies again with my floor to see John Carter (which I would not recommend). Wednesday I worked on my paper due at the end of the month for school and then went for a little bit with my floor to the St Patrick’s Day Party in the Treehouse Restaurant in Elm’s. Thursday, I had class all day (which was my last day for one week until next Thursday the 22nd).  Friday, since class was canceled for St Patrick’s Day weekend, I took the bus to the further part of the city to go to the zoo, but unfortunately it was raining too hard and we were unable to actually go in.  So instead we went bowling and then went to one of my floor mate’s family home and had a good meal cooked for us!

Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day!!  Elise and I went down to the city center to meet up with our friends and watch the parade. Afterward, we walked around the city center, which was packed full of people in green celebrating, and went to a tent that was set up by a place called Kelly’s Cellar and listened to traditional Irish music and watched the very intense, Ireland vs. England rugby game- that Ireland unfortunately lost. :(

Elise and I on St. Patrick’s Day before the music and festivities began

Sunday the 18th was Mother’s (or Mum’s as they say here) Day in Ireland, different from ours in America, which is interesting. That day, I went with Elise and my cousin John to a Celtic Match; we had to leave by 5:45 in the morning and didn’t get home until 2:00am Monday morning. We took a 2-hour ferry trip over to Scotland and then another 2-hour bus ride to Glasgow where the match was. Even though Celtic lost, it was a very good day and I met some of the most fun people ever, Celtic fans are pretty devoted and crazy, and Scotland was absolutely beautiful, I can’t wait to go again at the end of April!!

Beautiful Scotland from a train window

Hampden Stadium in Glasgow

Inside the stadium before the match!

Celtic fans making the Irish flag in the stands

Elise and I with the young Celtic supporters

On the boat, all dressed in our Celtic gear

One Month In…

I have been in Belfast for a month now!! Part of me can’t believe I have already been here for that long, while the other part of me feels as if I have been here forever; I have done so much and yet I still have so much I want to do.

So, school…lectures have continued on and tutorials began. The way most classes work here is you have two hour-long lectures and one hour-long tutorial in a week. So far, lectures have basically been the same as at home- typical professor stands in front of a large lecture hall and gives a lecture sometimes using a PowerPoint presentation. The tutorials however, were new to me, and so far not enjoyable. It is in a much smaller room with about 8-10 students and the professor or another leader, in one of my classes the tutorial leader gives us small discussion pieces to do in groups, another the professor from class basically just extends his lecture notes and each student has to write an essay one of the weeks and give main points to the class, in my third and final tutorial we have a reading to do ahead of time and then answer questions about it in the class with the professor randomly calling on you. I have a paper due for each class, one at the end of March, the other two at the end of April, and then a final exam for each class as well.

Tuesday, February 7th, the other four ISA girls and I went to the “UV Party” hosted by Queen’s in the Student Union Building, where highlighters and glow sticks were thrown all over and black lights were on, it was a lot of fun!

Elise and I ready to go to the UV Party!

All of the ISA girls going to the UV Party!

Then Wednesday, February 8th, the ISA girls, Paul (our ISA director), and I got a private tour of Belfast City Hall, and afterward got to sit in the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labor Party) office and have tea and biscuits and were each given a book about the City Hall and a nice pen. It was a great experience and we learned a lot of fun facts. We also got to meet the current Lord Mayor.

Inside beautiful Belfast City Hall

Elise and I ruling Belfast!

O'Neill - That's me!

The next evening, my floor in Elm’s Village had an “International Party” and invited a lot of Erasmus (European study abroad) students as well as Irish students, so we met people from all around the world, which was fun!

Sunday, February 12th, I went with my ISA group on a bus tour up the Causeway Coastal route stopping at many interesting places, including some castles, crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, and Bushmill’s whiskey distillery. It was so nice to see more of the typical Irish countryside, versus the city of Belfast, everything was so beautiful!

Driving along the amazing Irish Coast!

Elise and I nervously walking across the Carrick-a-rede Bridge

The Glens of Antrim - wow!

Me on the Giant's Causeway!

Old Bushmill's Wiskey Distillery

Old Bushmill's Distillery

The next night after class, my ISA group and I watched the film “Michael Collins” and ate pizza in a building at Queen’s. The film was very good as well as informative on Irish history and politics. The rest of the week, I was in my room sick with the flu, so not much to mention, except that I did go to the Queen’s Health Centre to see a doctor and she wrote me a prescription, and both the appointment and the medicine were free! Also, my mom and dad had sent me some care packages and they couldn’t have arrived at a better time than while I was in bed sick. I got some colorful cups and bowls, because they knew I hadn’t had a chance to buy any yet, and a pack of A&W Rootbeer, because it is my favorite and they don’t have it in Ireland! :)

Yay for A&W!

Tuesday night, February 21st, I got to be a part of the live audience of the BBC program called “Spotlight”, where local politicians are on a panel and answer questions about current issues and events, asked by the audience. It was very exciting and interesting and helped me understand more of the issues that my professors have been discussing in my politics classes.

The studios of BBC Spotlight where I got to be an audience member

This weekend was the ISA sponsored trip to Dublin; we took a train at 6:00 in the morning Saturday and spent all day Saturday and Sunday exploring the city before getting home Sunday night at about 8:00. After first arriving we went on a free walking tour of the city provided by our hostel, then had lunch in the Stag’s Head pub, we then walked around St. Stephen’s Green (and were lucky enough to have beautiful, sunny weather the whole time!) and Grafton Street and Temple Bar area. After getting ready, we went to the Brazen Head for “A night of Folklore, Fairies and Food”, where an Irish man told us stories of folklore and fairies from Irish culture, we ate a 3-course delicious meal and listened to traditional Irish music. Afterward, we went on a pub-crawl around the city to many of the popular pubs, including The Brazen Head, The Temple Bar and The Stag’s Head. The next morning we went on a tour of Kilmainham Gaol (jail), and a tour of the Guinness Factory which finishes with a free pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the top of the factory which gives you an amazing 360-degree view of Dublin. Then we ate lunch at O’Neill’s Pub (my last name!) and walked around and shopped on Grafton Street until our train at 6:00pm to head home to Belfast. Overall it was a really fun (and tiring!) weekend and I definitely plan on taking at least another daytrip to Dublin while I am here!!

The River Liffey that runs through Dublin

Dublin is known for its beautiful, colorful doors

In the Guinness Brewery

Welcome to the land of Guinness!

The ISA girls and I in Dublin!

Out to a fabulous dinner in Dublin

The Brazen Head- where we got to enjoy a great night of Irish folklore

Elise and I in St. Stephen's Green

The famous Temple Bar

Great shopping on Grafton Street

I have had such an amazing time so far and can’t believe it is already March this week and I only have until June!!

Briana O’Neill
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Spring 2012

Fabulously Belfast

Queen's University- isn't it beautiful?

First week in Belfast done, 18 weeks remaining! I am currently studying abroad at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and loving it!! One of my closest friends, Elise, is sharing this experience with me, which makes it all the more exciting!

Here's Elise and I after arriving in Belfast

Our first attempt to leave home was two weeks ago, Tuesday, January 24, but after a 6 hour delay in the airport; the flight was canceled and rescheduled for the following evening. Once finally arriving to Belfast, Thursday night, we were greeted and taken to our new dorm rooms in Elm’s Village, by the ISA director. My first impression of the room was not too good, because it is very small! But within the next few days, I was able to fill it with all of my stuff from home and get new bedding and everything to make it feel more comfy; I am feeling so much better about it now! Luckily, I have family here, who has been extremely helpful with getting us both settled in!

"Fabulously Belfast" on a coffee shop wall in Queen's Student Union

So far since I have been here, I have gone to Queen’s orientations, got signed up for classes, gone grocery shopping, shopping for bedding and room supplies, signed up for a bank card, done laundry, gone out to some pubs, took a train to a town called Cultra and went to the Ulster Folk museum, gone to classes a few times, met and made friends with all the people on my floor and watched the Super Bowl! All of these things together have added up to be an amazing first 10 days in Belfast!

Titanic replica at the Cultra Folk and Transport Museum

Belfast City Hall lit up at night

Although there are many aspects I miss about home, such as my family, my dog, my friends, my own bed, Mexican food and driving my own car, I have had such an experience already, and can only imagine how great the next 18 weeks will go!!

Briana O’Neill
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Spring 2012


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