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Back with my B’s

Belfast. Books. Blogging. What did you think I meant..?

I am back in Belfast and things are really getting hectic! It is exam season and my mind is in a million different places. I have my first exam on Thursday, my second next Monday, and my third the following Monday. I am fairly confident that I will do well on two of them, but I am worried about my third year Northern Ireland case study module. The other students in the class have lived here for 20+ years and have been studying the subject for three years at the college level. And then you have me… a foreigner who has about three months worth of knowledge on the subject from one textbook and a semi-biased perspective from only being in contact with people from one side of the debate. Hopefully all of the cramming I have been doing pays off!

I am glad to be back in Ireland but I do really wish I had more time at home. I spent about two weeks at home in Graham with my parents and then a week in Chicago with the rest of my family.

I have been in my current house for about 14 years and I am still in awe when I see Mt. Rainier. To me, the mountain makes my home special. It is not just a mountain to me anymore (or most people in Western Washington); it is a part of my backyard. I am only a one hour drive from the most topographically prominent mountain in the lower 48 states. Now that is cool! I can honestly say I missed seeing it. People here might think I am weird for loving a mountain, but it is something I have grown up with.

Mt. Rainier

A couple days after Christmas, some of my family from Chicago flew into town to spend a week with us. My uncle Andrew came with his wife Stefanie and their adorable daughter Samantha. My aunt Katie also joined us for the week. They had not been to Washington in a couple years and they wanted to spend time with me and my parents. Usually my parents and I fly to Chicago and see all of them because it is easier for the three of us (my dad has eight brothers and three sisters – my family is HUGE) but they decided to make the journey for themselves. It was nice change of pace to have family in our house, because it is a pretty rare occurrence when most of them live 2000 miles away.

Andrew, Stefanie, Samantha, and Katie

After my first two weeks off, I flew back to Chicago with my uncle and aunts and spent a week at their house. I love going back to Chicago because like I said, I have a huge family and I love being around all of them when I have the opportunity to be. My uncle took me shooting for the first time while I was there and I got to test out his three pistols. I can officially say I am hooked and will be purchasing one in the near future (sorry mom!). My Irish friends think I am a crazy American for it – hah!

Alex and Jacob

While I was there, this magical thing called a “polar vortex” decided it would be a great idea to hit and spread snow from Idaho and Utah all the way across to the Eastern Seaboard. I experienced to coldest temperatures of my life (literally, that was the coldest I have ever felt). One of the days, it was -14°F / -26°C. I have no clue what it was that night but businesses and schools across America shut down. It was pretty intense. It is also kind of funny because Andrew and Stefanie (the family I was staying with) took me to a baseball game a while back where I experienced the hottest weather of my life (108 °F / 42°C). I now know that anytime I am with them, I need to prepare for the extremes!

Chicago Snow

My time at home and in Chicago was much needed, and I am glad I got to see all my family and friends while I was there. I wish I had more time with them because three weeks simply is not enough when you are living in a foreign country for nine months.  On the upside, my parents and I are going to spend a week in Germany and a week here in Belfast over Easter break. My uncle and aunt might fly out here too during that time! April is a great time to come not only because I have three weeks off, but because it separates my time here into roughly three month increments.

My classes for next semester are not yet set in stone, but I am pretty sure I will be taking PAI1005: Media, Politics, and Conflict, PAI2055: Security and Terrorism, and SPY1001: Finding out about Social Policy. I have an additional hour in my week (a total of nine hours – six in lectures, three in tutorials) but I still have Fridays off which is nice. My first priority though is to make sure I make it through exams!

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