Adele was in Belfast this week, kicking off her tour at the SSE Arena. I WAS IN THE SAME CITY AS ADELE!!! Ok, it would have been cooler if I actually saw her, but knowing that she was just a few miles away was thrilling enough. Currently, I’m having my own mini Adele concert in my room while writing this post. My top favorites are Send My Love, Water Under the Bridge, and Make You Feel My Love.
I was just listening to When We Were Young, and the lyrics that struck a chord with me were, “It was just like a movie; it was just like a song.” Lately, That’s how I’ve been feeling about this study abroad experience. Everyday when I wake up and find my duvet on the ground (seriously, does Primark sell bed sheets? I need them!), I think to myself, is this a scene in a movie? Am I really living in Ireland? Then I say to myself, “Lauren, snap out of it. This is not The Lizzie McGuire Movie or Passport to Paris, you have class in 45 minutes.”
(speaking of Mary Kate and Ashley, who has watched the whole season of Fuller House?)
Over the weekend, Cassie and I decided to explore Belfast since we had the day free and it was beautiful outside. We walked to the PEC and followed the Lagan Towpath along the river. We spent four hours roaming around the Lagan Valley Regional Park, and it was probably one of my favorite days in Belfast so far. We explored a part of the city that we had never been to before and ended up in a forest, so it felt like we weren’t even in the city anymore. We stumbled upon what we think was a rowing competition, watched a bit of a rugby match, and ate lunch at the Lock Keeper’s cottage in the middle of the park.
At one point we were walking up a hill and it hit me that I’m in Ireland. Up until one month ago, I had only seen pictures of Ireland online and in the movies. P.S. I Love You and Leap Year taught me that Ireland is green, rainy, and grassy (and the perfect setting for a romance movie). This walk certainly confirmed that. So did the IFSA tour of the Antrim Coast. That day I saw a lot of sheep too, and even more of the countryside that I had only dreamed about before. When we were walking along the hills at the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, it really did feel like we were on the set of a movie. Turns out, Game of Thrones films by the shore where we walked along the bridge!
This weekend I saw more of the Games of Thrones “sets” on a tour. Contrary to many of the avid fans in the tour group, I have never seen an episode of the show. Well, I guess I technically did once, but I fell asleep after a horse’s head was sliced by a sword. I wanted to go on the trip to see more of Ireland, and even though I had no idea was our guide was saying the whole day, it was worth it! My favorite part of the trip was our walk through a forest that led to the spot where the “direwolves” make their first appearance. It felt like the forest could be magical. There were small waterfalls, lots of moss, super tall trees, a stone path across the river, bridges, rocks, and just whole bunch of nature. The forest reminded me of Twilight.
In addition to using movies as references for all things Irish, I’ve found that most of the information the international students have about each other’s home countries comes from movies and TV. Every time we meet new people and say where we’re from, we immediately think of a reference to the foreign place. This has probably been one of my favorite things about meeting new people from all over the world. Once we confirm whether or not what we see on TV is accurate, we begin to tell each other about foods we like, popular clothing trends, how our school system works, what the weather is like, etc.
Last week, two other American students and I made mac and cheese with our international friends. What I consider to be a staple in my diet was unfamiliar to them! They had seen actors eat it in the movies, but they had never tried the cheesy pasta themselves. It was my first time making mac and cheese from scratch, but I’d say it was a success! The day before we had all gone to karaoke and that was a ton of fun too! Again, it was obvious that movies reach all corners of the world because so many students from all different countries came together to sing songs that ranged from “Don’t Stop Believin’” to “Wannabe.” My favorite performance was when some of the guys sang “Mamma Mia!” Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we all sang the same ABBA lyrics.