Monday, September 30, 2013

Megan S. - Ulster, Northern Ireland - Fall 2013

Hi Alice & CPP 250!
 I always knew that I had wanted to go to Ireland to study abroad (even before I knew you could study abroad), but I had procrastinated until the very last year of college (& the very last semester). I was terrified of being so far away from my family & also being in a foreign country where I was the “outsider looking in.” The journey prior to getting here, at the University of Ulster (Magee Campus) in Londonderry (Derry for short) Northern Ireland, has been incredibly bumpy. I became so fed up with the whole process that I had outright stated that I didn’t even think I wanted to study abroad anymore. I can’t even begin to imagine how much I would have regretted not coming here; being in Londonderry has been a breathtaking experience from the moment I walked off the plane & it’s only been three weeks.
I was very nervous & sleep deprived upon the arrival in Belfast (September 10th). The program director from Belfast met the group of students going to all four campuses around Northern Ireland & we took a bus to the train station. From there on out you were completely on your own, which terrified me. I didn’t know the three people that were going to the same campus as me & I wasn’t in the mood to socialize. I hadn’t eaten a real meal in a day, had an overnight flight (so I felt grimy), & hadn’t slept on the plane. I kept my eyes open as long as I could on the train ride & was very pleased I did. I saw some amazing scenery that was absolutely breathtaking. Plenty of rolling green hills, animals, & a massive golf course (that is actually split into two courses) called Royal Portrush Golf Club. When arriving at the train station we met the program director, Caroline, who was as sweet as can be. She had taxis waiting for us & showed us to the block (building) where we would collect our keys.
I was not very pleased with the size of neither the room nor the bed pack, but I was happy to have a bed to sleep in & a working shower. I was ecstatic for dinner with the other international students, but to my dismay it turned out to be a gathering I would get used to real quick “coffee/tea & biscuits (cookies).” Being sleep deprived, quite hungry, & grimy I did end up going out with a few of the other international students that night to a pub called Peadar O’Donnells. There was live traditional Irish music playing that night & although I was in a foreign country, I was as happy as could be with a Smithwicks in my hand & a Guinness to follow.
The next few days were filled with early mornings that included typical orientation things, but on that Friday (September 13th) the international students took a field trip to the Giant’s Causeway. Typically I do a very limited amount of physical activity, but this place was so beautiful that another international student & I had decided to walk around almost the entirety of the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. On the second week there were fewer planned activities & many of us had decided to take self guided tours of the city center, which was a site to see. That week we were given a tour of the Guildhall (where the mayor has meetings) & we met the mayor of Londonderry. Quite frankly I didn’t think this was a big deal at first & thought nothing of it. I soon realized that that’s a huge deal considering I have never been invited to meet Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The next week we took a field trip to The University of Ulster (Belfast campus) & we were able to meet James Nesbitt. Although I had no clue who he was before that week, I am happy that I had this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The campus is not too far from Duncreggan Student Village or Coppin House. It’s about a ten minute walk. The campus is easy to navigate & nearly impossible to get lost in. Although it has been very difficult for me to decipher what some of the Irish are saying (due to fast paced speech or a different dialect) classes have been going well. I even decided to take an Irish speaking course & an Irish Outlaw course. I can honestly say that I was dreading coming here, but I would not change a thing. I am an extremely shy person & I have had to go out of my comfort zone in many aspects, but I am grateful for this. I have met some of the sweetest people here including other international students (who come from all over the world including Malta, China, Germany, & varying states throughout the U.S.) & Irish students.
I could write a book on all of the feelings I have & am experiencing, but one thing I do know for sure is that if you decide to study abroad you will not regret it. I now understand why many say they wished they had studied abroad for a full year. So take it from someone who is quite reserved, studying abroad is a blessing & will turn out to be a life changing experience. Things may seem stressful right now, but they will all get sorted out (even if it’s as you’re arriving at your destination as mine was). Have a fantastic semester & remember that Alice is here to support you throughout all the ups & downs.


Blogger Amanda Dean said...

Hi, I'm Amanda from CPP 250. Before you went to Northern Ireland, did you have an activity in mind that you had to do there? An activity that you could do only in Northern Ireland?

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Hi Amanda. I actually did not have any activity in mind before I got here. I was not sure what I was wanting to do. Here in Northern Ireland they have Gaelic football and hurling. Although I am not sure if this is specific to Northern Ireland. I do know that they are both very popular over here. I hope this helps answer your question!


12:57 PM  
Blogger sharon chin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Sharon Chin said...

Hi Megan, I am from CPP 250, I read your blog, I can't wait to meet you and hear the stories in person. It is getting me excited and nervous too. Thank you.

6:46 PM  

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