Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stephen D. - Northern Ireland - Fall 2010

When I arrived at the University of Ulster @ Magee in Northern Ireland I experienced some trouble adapting, but not emotionally. The trouble with adapting was about communication.  When I arrived here I had a handful of people that I met at the airport, there were only three or four of us. We became pretty good friends though in a short amount of time. However, once we got the dorms where we’d be staying we had some trouble. None of us had a phone that we could communicate with and we were each living in a different place within our accommodation. This was unfortunate because we had no idea where to go, where each other were, or how to contact one another.  Luckily the accommodation officers were very good about helping us keep in contact until we were able to purchase phones, they even helped us and informed us of the best plans to get for the cheapest price.
            Classes here are not really the same as in the United States, teachers are not as personal as some of the teachers at Elmhurst College.  However, each class only meets once a week for 3 hours, with readings to do before each class. The classes are very interesting and I have really enjoyed learning here so far, and I have already learned so much about Ireland and its history.  There are all kinds of tours that you can go on here to get in touch with the culture, but I’d have to say the best way to get in touch with the culture is to find people (students) who are from Ireland and they will introduce you to how things work and good places to go and see. Also by hanging out with the locals of the country you are automatically affected by the culture, for example I have already started to speak like some of the locals and occasionally have the Irish accent in there as well.
            Personally this experience has already affected me, I have really been able to mature a lot more through independence and being completely on my own.  When all you have is yourself and you don’t know much, you’d be surprised how much you can actually achieve, learn, and become used to. 
            Finally, in order to progress in the host culture, I decided to take the Irish language, Gaelic. The natives of Ireland actually say and spell it differently (Gaelga) is the proper way. Gaelic is not really spoken in the North of Ireland but it is more spoken in the South and through my class we are going to travel on a fieldtrip to the South to speak and practice our own Gaelic. I believe that this will be a good window into seeing the life and culture from the Irish perspective.


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