A Few Wee Adventures
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.