Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

My Posts

{photos, text, video}

Exploring My Corner of Belfast

Time February 19th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Michelle and I decided to visit the bank and grab lunch last week. There was still snow (and ice!) on the ground, but the skies were relatively clear, so we enjoyed the sites along the way.

Image 

Stranmillis Student Union

Image

As we walked away from the campus, most of the people we passed wished us a pleasant afternoon. Locals here are much friendlier than the locals back in my part of Virginia.

I’m sure I looked a little bit tourist-y with my camera (It’s my first week here!), but I didn’t think I was too obvious until I got caught taking a photo of this here tree.

Image 

THE Tree

A passerby gave me a startled look, warmly exclaiming, “What! You’ve never seen a tree before?” I just laughed. Explaining that ivy rarely grows so thickly on tree trunks where I’m from would’ve taken far too long.

I was able to capture some quirky photos on my walk.

Image

Image

 

This would be labeled ‘Cigarettes’ and ‘Trash’ in the US

Image

ImageI love how all the churches around here seem to be older and gorgeous. Like George Clooney.

Image 

I love these photos of the city with those snowy hills in the distance.

This is a really cool-looking graveyard entrance.

This is a really cool-looking graveyard entrance.

We stopped by the bank and then looked for a place appropriate for lunch (and our student budgets). We decided on a place called ‘The Elms’ because the Queen’s students live in Elms Village, and we suspected the familiar name might be an indicator of a student hangout.

It was lunch time, and school wasn’t yet in session, so the place was pretty empty. Michelle and I liked the atmosphere, though. Laid-back, eclectic, and a little rough around the edges.

These bottles are used to hold candles in the evenings.

These bottles are used to hold candles in the evenings. If you look closely, you can see dripped wax down the sides.

My chili chicken wrap from lunch. I asked for no mayo and the server raised her eyebrows. After receiving this slightly-dry-but-still-good wrap, I understand the purpose of the mayo.

My chili chicken wrap from lunch. I asked for no mayo and the server raised her eyebrows. After receiving this slightly-dry-but-still-good wrap, I understood the purpose of the mayo.

I ordered water, but the server asked if I wanted 'something in it'. At first I was wondering if this was code for alcohol (or maybe a loogie) when she listed a few fruity options. I picked black currant. This is something I've heard of, but never actually tried or seen offered in the US. Other things like this? Rhubarb and turnips. By the way, the black currant water was delicious.

I ordered water, but the server asked if I wanted ‘something in it’. I was wondering if this was code for alcohol (or maybe a loogie if she was upset for some reason) when she listed a few fruity options. I picked black currant. This is something I’ve heard of, but never actually tried or seen offered in the US. Other things heard-of-but-unseen? Rhubarb and turnips. By the way, the black currant water was delicious.

On the way back to Stranmillis, we passed Queen’s. Of course I took photos. It’s so darned stately.

queens

Directly beside the Queen’s main building is the Queen’s Botanic Gardens. Even though it’s winter, Michelle and I decided to check it out.

botanic

Mostly it looked the way gardens are supposed to look in winter…

gardens Kelvin gardens1

We passed by the entrance of the Ulster Museum while in the gardens.

We passed by the entrance of the Ulster Museum while in the gardens.

gardens5 gardens4 gardens3 gardens2 gardens6

But then we found the greenhouse. As we entered, heat and humidity chased away the chill from outside. It was like finding a tropical forest, my own personal jungle, hidden away within a winter wonderland.

greenhouse14 greenhouse13 greenhouse11 greenhouse9 greenhouse10 greenhouse8 greenhouse7 greenhouse6 greenhouse5 greenhouse3 greenhouse2 greenhouse0 greenhouse1 greenhouse greenhouse4

And the gardens also included a Palm House.

palm house 11 palm house 10 palm house9 palm house8 palm house7 palm house6 palm house5 palm house 4 palm house3 Palm House1 palm house2 palm house

 

 

In the Palm House, I saw this sign. I really hope it’s a joke.

creepy

I saw one more memorable site on the way back. I’ve never been to Maggie Mays, but this oreo-eyed snowman was too cute to ignore! He demanded some camera time.

oreo

Bye for now!

Share

A Few Wee Adventures

Time January 30th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I landed in Northern Ireland on Sunday morning after a smooth flight and two hours of sleep. The weather here has been very similar to the weather back home recently. It’s snowed/drizzled constantly since I’ve been here, but it hasn’t been too cold or windy.

After arriving, my flatmate (Michelle, also in the IFSA-Butler Stranmillis program) and I went to coffee with Tim Conway, the IFSA-Butler Resident Director for Ireland Programs and Gerard Finn, the IFSA-Butler Student Services Director for Ireland Programs. They helped prepare us for the semester. Later that night, Michelle and I met one of our student buddies from Stranmillis, David, who took us to see Les Mis at the movie theatre.

On Monday, we started Stranmillis orientation. Michelle and I met with the Vice-Principle and her assistant. They were some of the most kind and welcoming people I’ve ever met! They were very informed about our schedules and ensured everything would be arranged for us. They also offered us tea, coffee, and “naughty things” (sweets). We then went on a walking tour of Stranmillis with an intern and the other international students.

Michelle on the tour of Stranmillis!

At Stranmillis, they actually have an international room were international students can hang out! Later that night we met the IFSA-Butler Queen’s student at dinner at Darcy’s. The food was excellent. IFSA-Butler covered all the costs, which was a relief to students on a tight budget.

Dinner at Darcy’s

Sweet Chili Chicken with “Prawns” and Garlic Potatoes

Bailey’s Cheesecake

On Tuesday Michelle and I joined the Queen’s students again for lunch and a tour of the Titanic Museum. I really enjoyedthe museum, but I would not really recommend it for children. The tour was informative and historical but not wildly entertaining.

lunch!

Mint leaves in the water

Original gates to shipyard where Titanic was built

View of Belfast from Titanic Museum- note the snow in the background!

Jack and Rose’s clothes from Titanic movie (Worn by Kate and Leo)

Titanic Museum

After the tour, we decided that walking back to our residences would be preferable to hiring a cab (save money and explore the city!). The walk back took about an hour and a half, and I got some great photos.

I’ve been lucky enough to be placed with two friendly and helpful student buddies- David and Timmy. Last night they took me and the other two Americans at Stranmillis to Tesco for “wee mobiles” (cellphones) and groceries. While food seems more expensive here, my flatmate and I are “catered” for breakfast and dinner at Stranmillis (catering basically means meals covered by the dining hall), so we only bought some stuff for lunch. The boys seemed surprised we didn’t want to buy butter to put on our sandwiches! The mobiles here are a lot cheaper than the ones in the US (excluding iPhones apparently). You can buy a mobile for about 10 USD at the grocery store and pay-as-you-go at a decent rate. I bought the cheapest phone offered because I didn’t need an international calling feature since I brought my iPhone with me to Northern Ireland.

After disabling the cellular service, iPhones can use wifi to iMessage (basically text) and Facetime (basically skype via phone) anyone else with an iPhone at no cost. Since my family back at home have iPhones, I felt no need to pay extra for international features.

Today the Stranmillis international students had an orientation about the education system in Northern Ireland. Since Stranmillis is an education university college, and we are all training to become teachers, we will be placed in classrooms twice a week as student teachers. I’m both nervous and excited about my impending teaching experience. One of the main reasons I chose to study abroad at Stranmillis is for the teaching experience. In America, I get one hour of experience a week with any secondary school class. Here I spend two full days in the classroom- and with the right age group/subject!

Tonight I think I’ll go to the Stranmillis Student Union for some live student music. The Student Unions here are very popular for social activity and house bars.

Student Union entrance

I’m out of time, but I’ll try to update this soon! Right now I’m heading to my “catered” dinner with the other international students.

Always,

Diana

Share

Two Days Until Departure!

Time January 17th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s hard to believe that next week I’ll be in another country, adjusting to a new life. I spent most of my time the past few months focusing on the practical aspects of studying abroad. I’ve pondered over packing (how do you fit six months worth of necessities into one suitcase?), submitted documents (more than I ever imagined would be necessary), and argued over the weather with my mother (she is convinced that Belfast- my destination-is colder than Antarctica).

But things have started to come together these last few days. I’m subjecting my room to a master cleanse. I want everything to be neat and orderly when I leave. I’ve started to say goodbye to all of my friends from home. My goodbyes to college friends were unfortunately rushed since I had to move out of my dorm shortly after my last exam while many were still studying for finals. I’ve very carefully folded the clothes going into my suitcase since I’m not sure when I’ll next have a chance to use an ironing board. And I’ve enjoyed the weather. Northern Ireland, my destination, is not known for it’s sunny days.

As the day of my departure draws close, I have become increasingly excited. I’ve traveled abroad before (but never for such an extended period of time), and I’ve found that traveling allows some for self-exploration while exploring new cultures. I feel more vibrant now than I have in a long time, and I can’t wait for what the next few months have in store for me.

 

Today’s Word of Advice

After my experiences with close calls (my UK Visa just came in today!), I highly recommend starting on the paperwork early for anyone who intends to study abroad.

Share