Here in Belfast
I haven’t started classes yet, but I already feel like my short time in Belfast has been an educational experience. The picture in my post is of a traditional Irish band playing at Fibber Magee’s, which features traditional music every night. I’ve been doing my best to soak up all the culture. There is so much going on and so much to learn; it’s a good thing I’ll be here for five months!
The Ifsa-Butler orientation was a great way to transition into being in a foreign country. I’m still hanging out with many of the people I met from the Ifsa group, and the orientation leaders made sure we were having a great time. We ate at wonderful restaurants, went to the Titanic museum, and had plenty of free time to get to know our fellow travelers. The Queen’s University foreign exchange student orientation also offered opportunities to meet new people and experience Irish culture. I met people from so many different places — The Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Germany, and so many more. Yesterday, Queen’s offered foreign exchange students the opportunity to take a city bus tour, which I promptly took advantage of. They took us through parts of the city that were ravaged during The Troubles, and explained how far Belfast has come since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 began to bring peace to Belfast. We also got to see parts of the wall that still divide the Protestant and Catholic communities in some areas. Our tour guide speculated that it would take another generation for the wall to come down, as so many people still have the wounds of losing a loved one so fresh in their hearts and memories.
One other girl in the Ifsa-Butler group is also a First Generation Scholar, and it was really nice to talk to someone who is going through a similar experience. Hopefully our blogs will encourage more first generation college students to apply for the scholarship and take advantage of the many opportunities studying abroad can offer!