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Archive for the ‘northern ireland’ Category

I’m back! I actually got back yesterday evening but have been too lazy to do much of anything. I have my first of 2 exams tomorrow morning at 9:30 but can hardly bring myself to study for it. In face, I’m quite seriously contemplating a nap instead. Hmm.

The trip home was uneventful and I didn’t run into any issues with the volcano or any other unforeseen travel delays… My mom got stuck in Rome for a while with a flight delay and then they had to reroute her flight around the ash cloud or something so I think her actual flight time was around 10 hours! My friend is flying from Philadelphia to Dublin in a few days so I have my fingers crossed that there won’t be any problems with her flight.

I’ll update on the specifics of my trip later, but overall it was a GREAT trip! Amazing last hurrah in Europe =) I am glad to be “home” though… Living out of  suitcase gets old and I was missing my friends in Belfast. We were talking about when everyone leaves and it’s hard to believe that the other international students will be gone soon =( There’s realistically only one girl that is close enough that I’ll be able to see semi-regularly, but I have no idea when I’ll see some of the other ones. Three of my friends are Australian so I think I need to plan a trip there ASAP!

Ah, well, no more talk of that because it makes me sad. Time to go “study”… 40% to pass, hooray!

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Haven’t had anything too exciting to update about. I’m really just settling in and actually doing some coursework. My next two assignments aren’t due until March 22 and April 16, respectively, but I’m trying to get a head start so I don’t have to worry about anything for my 2 weeks of Easter break (traveling around Ireland with my mom and sister for a week, then down to Paris for a couple quick days, and onward down to Madrid/Granada). This weekend I’m going down to Cork for the Irish Universities Cross Country Championships… If you take that sentence out about traveling to France and Spain, this paragraph sounds remarkably similar to being at home! School and running.

I have to give a shout out to Sarah’s post [http://www.sarahnoone.com/Sarahs_Travel_Journal/Blog/Entries/2010/2/25_100_british_potatoes.html] that highlights a few of the Northern Irish-oddities. #2 and #3 have stood out to me the most… Especially the tardiness thing. I overslept one day and walked into a lecture a solid 25 minutes late. Without a lecturer flinching. And TWO MORE people came in even after me. So weird. Anyway, check that out if you’re interested. I haven’t really done a recap of things-that-are-weird… but there are plenty.

With that in mind, and because recently a friend was making fun of me for “picking up” an accent, here’s a few things I’ve noticed about how they speak here/what they say:
• Sentences are spoken sort of… like questions? I don’t really know how to describe it. The pitch of their voices sort of go up at the end of their sentences. I catch myself doing this when I’m around a bunch of locals…
• “Rage” is probably one of my favorite slang words. When you go out to a club/to drink, you could say you’re going out to “rage.” Or a playful way to say you’re pissed off or otherwise angry is to say you’re raging. There are more scenarios in which you can use it, but yeah, I like that one. “Gutted” is similar; if something happens that is disappointing then you might say “I’m gutted.” For example, “Ughhh, the rugby-playing midget that beat me in that bar dance off won 2 tickets to see 50 Cent… I’m absolutely gutted.” True story.
• A “cuppa” is tea. “Tea” is food.
• “What’s the craic?” Okay, so craic in general [pronounced crack] is used all the time and I have absolutely no idea how to describe what it means. When you get together with friends, you could say it was “good craic” if it was a good time. But then people will also ask me, “What’s the craic?” and I never know how to respond. This actually happened to me yesterday, and my response was something along the lines of, “Um… uh, nothing?” This isn’t the right answer. I’m still not sure how to respond; I usually just try saying different things each time to see if I get a decent reaction. Or I just don’t answer, haha. I’m awkward sometimes I guess…

So there’s my first installment of weird sayings… I try to make mental notes of them when I hear them, so there will surely be more to come.

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I went to my first live rugby match today! It was actually a ton of fun and I think I’m even starting to understand some of the rules of it (okay, not a lot, but some… it’s a start anyway).

It wasn’t a particularly amazing game or anything, not the Ulster Rugby team or anyone like that. It was Belfast Royal Academy versus Wallace HS in the semi-final game of the Schools’ Cup, so really I guess it would compare to like the playoffs for two high school football teams before they go to the State championships?

Anyway, a bunch of people in my class graduated from Belfast Royal Academy so they were going to go watch the game and invited me along since I hadn’t seen a live rugby match yet. It was really funny because a bunch of the guys I went with played rugby for BRA when they went there, so they all wore their old blazers [think letterman’s jacket but a preppy school uniform version] to the match even though most of them were too big for the blazers now, haha.

The match was really exciting… the stands were PACKED with cheering fans from age 8 to 18. And when I say cheering, I mean nonstop yelling and singing and banging drums and all kinds of stuff. They don’t have cheerleaders but somehow they all knew the same songs and motions and could do them in unison. It was so funny just to watch, and I really missed that kind of excitement at sporting events. Even though I got to watch the Super Bowl, I didn’t really get to experience it like I would have back home. This at least reminded me of how crazy people get for sports… It helped that it was a close game; Wallace was up by 10 at the half and BRA only took the lead in the last 2 minutes so it was pretty exciting!

So, first rugby match a success =) The final is on St Patty’s Day and I already have plans to go down to Dublin, but I’m sure there’ll be quite the celebrations in Belfast for the rugby supporters if BRA pulls out another win!

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Okay, so I know I’ve been spending a LOT of ‘weekends away,’ but this really WAS a weekend away! Just a chill, relaxed weekend away from anything stressful. Amazing.

So my friend Alex (the one who was wonderful about me coming to NI and picked me up from the airport and is just a sweetie) invited me to come home with her for the weekend. She only lives about an hour from Belfast but is more in mid-Ulster so it’s a bit more in the “country” I suppose. I happily agreed to come away with her for the weekend =)

She picked me up Friday after work so it was already pretty dark by the time we got out to her house. The house itself was super cute and they have a spare bedroom that I stayed in (my own room!) and her parents were so nice and friendly! Her dad went out and picked up Chinese food for all of us (mom, dad, sister, Alex and I) and it was deliiiish. I think I decided that I like the black bean sauce here… Good to know for future Chinese-eating experiences =)

After dinner, we all just hung out in the family room in front of the fireplace and watched TV, and then Alex and her sister and I drove out to her grandparents to say hello. They built this little log cabin by a pond (no beds or anything, just a place to hang out) so they were just sitting out there drinking tea and watching the snow fall. The snow made for a sloppy drive there, but the cabin was sooo cute and her grandparents were adorable… Her grandpa was so cute but so hard of hearing, made me think of my grandpa a bit… We only visited with them for a few minutes to say hello and then we went back to Alex’s, watched The September Issue, and went to bed! End Day 1 of relaxation =)

The next morning, Alex had to work until 1 so I slept in… until 11:30. Solid 11 or so hours of sleep, it was fantastic =) When she got back from work, we decided to go for a drive up the coast and I am SO glad we did! The weather was great and I got my first glimpse of the Giant’s Causeway… Impressive, though there was more walking than I had heard about so I was thankful that it was such a gorgeous day. Pictures to come, of course! We also stopped by the Dunluce Castle after it had “closed” but you could still walk around it so I don’t really feel like I missed out on much. After those two places, we drove up to Portstewart and got dinner at Shenanigans, which was delicious, but we were too full to get dessert so we had to let it digest on our drive back to Alex’s and pick up ice cream to eat while we watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days =)

Then, this morning, we got up and went to Alex’s church (her mom and dad play the piano and organ for the services). It was probably the first time I’ve been to church in… I honestly don’t know, years? But one of the songs was the same from when I used to go to sunday school, which I thought was sort of funny… Different denomination, different church, different country, same song! After church, we went back to Alex’s house and some of her family came over for a late lunch (including homemade mashed potatoes and pie!! yummm!) and just hung out until we left later in the day to come back to Belfast. Skyped with my sister and finalized our plans for Scotland, success!

So… great weekend. Totally relaxing and nice to be in a home again =) Finished updating my post about my weekend in London, and I’ll put up pictures from the north coast soon! I actually have homework this week though (gasp!) so that will have to wait =)

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I made my running debut in the Emerald Isle on Saturday, February 13th. It was the Irish University Indoor Championships at the Nenagh Olympic Stadium down in the Republic. Obviously, “olympic” is a bit misleading, but it was a great experience anyway!

First off, it felt so GOOD to go on a team trip. I’m so accustomed to going on trips every weekend with my team at home, and I think I was missing it a little bit. It definitely wasn’t the same as home, though. For one, we drove in cars down and had to pay for everything on our own (worth it, of course!). We drove down (~4 hours) on Friday night and had dinner and stayed in a hotel down there, then got up Saturday to compete.

You can see a picture of the inside of the facility. It’s the only indoor facility on the entire island of Ireland, and it made me feel guilty about calling facilities in the state “bad.” The track surface itself wasn’t so bad, but the banked track was really steep and I’ve never run on one before so I wasn’t really ready for it. Also, the place wasn’t heated. at. all. It was actually colder inside than it was outside, so I had on about 4 layers plus two jackets and gloves; it was common to see people in winter coats with gloves and scarves, and I could actually see my breath!

My race was okay… Only 8 or 9 girls in the race, and I finished 6th so I got ONE POINT for the University of Ulster, yay! I actually felt okay running even though I’ve only been running about 4 days a week and haven’t done any speedwork. I figured out what my lap splits were supposed to be, but it was too hard to focus on racing and try to keep track of my watch at the same time (so, Hanna/Mikey/other SHU runners: thanks for always helping with splits and keeping us on track, it’s so hard to try to do it while you’re running!). Still, I was on pace at my mile split but then fell off a little, even though I passed someone during that time!

Oh, and then I ran the 4×200 at the end…ha! Athletics is really relaxed, and a few athletes drove themselves and left after their events, so by the time the 4×200 came around (it was the last event), there were only 4 girls left at the meet, including myself. There were only 6 teams in the relay, though, so we automatically would score if we ran so I was a team player and agreed to run it. I tried warning the other girls, but I still don’t think they were prepared for how truly bad I am at sprinting.

So… one meet down, cross country championships in a month or so! Apparently we have a chance to get some medals there, so it would be cool to bring some hardware back to the states =)

Oh, and on the way back, it was dark and in the country so you could see all the stars. I found Orion’s Belt and the Big Dipper… thought it was super cool that I could see the same stars at home that I can here =) Perfect ending to the trip!

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So, I DID get to watch the Super Bowl over here! A lot more people were watching it than I expected, and I even heard a few people talking about it today in classes. Since I don’t have a TV or really proper couch or anything, it was really nice to be in someone’s house, sitting on a couch, drinking beers and watching the game. I know that sounds really silly but you take those things for granted.

It was obvious that I was watching the game in Northern Ireland, though. It was broadcast through BBC1 and Sky Sports over here, so I didn’t get to see ANY of the commercials (we YouTubed a couple) and the commentators were terrrrrrible. They were either really terrible no-name college coaches from the states or British guys who didn’t even seem to take the time to Wikipedia American football or the teams in it. Not that I ever pay too close of attention to those guys when I watch it at home, but the difference was THAT noticeable. Oh well, I got to watch the game, I’m happy.

The only downside to the evening was the time difference… The game didn’t start until 11:30 PM here, which means by the time I got home and went to bed it was 5AM. Guess who has class all day on Mondays starting at 10:15? Yep. Time for a quick run, then passing out…

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weekend getaway!

I told you I made it here! See? The Queen and the British flag and everything. Picture to prove it.

Anyway, I walked around the city today with two other American girls and took tons of pictures, but they’re on Facebook and not up to here yet. I’ll work on that next week…

Tomorrow morning I’m catching a bus to Londonderry (aka Derry) to spend Saturday and Sunday roaming around and whatnot. It should be a really interesting city to visit; it was the site of some of the first protests and killings of the Troubles and the main part of the city was actually walled in by the British (I forget how they rationalized it but really they were trying to protect it from protesters and attacks). Should be interesting to be in a different part of Northern Ireland, and I can’t wait for the scenery on the bus ride! Seeeeee you Sunday!

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