Hi, I’m Lauren and I exude confidence?
I have been a resident of Belfast for 13 days. That’s just about 2 weeks. Where has the time gone?!
In this short amount of time, I have:
- added 26 new friends on Facebook
- experienced rain 11 out of the 13 days
- visited 7 pubs
- Skyped with my friends and family 4 times
- eaten at Maggie May’s 4 times
- enrolled in 3 classes (one of which apparently does not currently exist at the university)
- eaten at Boojum 2 times (it’s just like Chipotle)
- been on 2 tours of the city (one bus tour and one black cab taxi tour where we learned about the Troubles)
- went to 1 Belfast Giants Hockey game
- signed my name 1 time on the Peace Wall
We’ve had two sessions of orientation, one for IFSA-Butler and one for Queen’s, both of which included jam-packed schedules of activities to keep us busy and help us learn about our new home for the next four months. It feels like we’ve been here for at least a month with the number of tours we’ve gone on, restaurants we’ve eaten at, lectures we’ve attended, and shopping trips we’ve made in the last two weeks. I can honestly say that I probably did more these past 13 days than I did during my winter break.
My favorite part of this experience so far has been meeting new people from all over the world. I wasn’t expecting there to be so many Americans here, but there are actually a lot of us! I’ve met people from Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Canada, France, Spain, and of course, Ireland.
As much I say I’m a “people-person,” I’m really terrible when it comes to meeting new people. I get so awkward and rarely speak up to say hello first. I knew that this was one hurdle I’d have to overcome while abroad. I was so nervous about meeting my IFSA group, since we were meeting at the gate of our first flight. I had never flown by myself until the flight two weeks ago, so navigating Newark by myself gave my stomach butterflies as I said bye to my family and headed through security. At each of the three airports we flew into and out of on our way to Belfast, our IFSA group grew. As soon as I met one person from the group on the plane, my nerves went away. By the time we landed in London, our group totaled four and we spent the three-hour layover becoming acquainted with each other. We met the remaining three in Belfast and groggily introduced ourselves.
I’m so glad I have the IFSA-Butler group, considering the fact that I’m the only one from UVM at this school. Most of the other international students are also the only ones from their schools attending Queen’s, but having our own IFSA orientation a week before the QUB orientation really helped form a solid group that doesn’t make it lonely over here. Since we’re all Americans, live near each other, and even share some classes together, it’s easy to stick together, but we’re also trying to branch out and meet new people. Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with my IFSA group and have made some international friends, my next mission is to meet people in my sociology class where I don’t know anyone, and at the refreshers fair where we sign up for clubs and societies.
My new friends and I were recently talking with a local Irish man and we asked why it is so obvious that we’re Americans. People look at us while we walk down the street and before we even open our mouths and speak, we get the feeling they know we’re not from around here. He told us that Americans present themselves confidently, and that it’s very obvious. Well I was not expecting that! I certainly do not feel confident as I walk around this foreign city, trying to read hidden street signs and wipe my glasses that are riddled with rain drops. However, I do feel confident that I won’t feel lost forever. I’m confident that I will get used to the accents and rough Irish humor. I’m confident that I’ll get on a proper cooking schedule and be able to feed myself. I’m confident that I will make some really great friends. I’m confident that I will experience many exciting adventures. I’m confident that by June 5th, I’ll have more confidence and be more independent than I ever was at the beginning of this semester.