I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been
lazy getting ready for exams next month. However, I have been doing some really cool things since my last post. Here’s a short rundown of all of the happenings.
Please don’t tell anyone I’ve said this, but I absolutely love Northern Ireland. Maybe it’s because it’s more of an adventure to explore the area for me, as I’ve been in Ireland quite a few times? Whatever the reason, I love it. The North is a really funky blend of some of the best and worst qualities of Irish and British culture, and to me that’s really neat. I also happen to love Northern Irish history, and find their politics very interesting. And one of my favourite poets, Seamus Heaney is from there.
Visiting Belfast has been on the top of my 50 page bucket list since high school, and finally being able to experience it first hand was incredible. I went on a class trip, and not only did we get to see the peace walls, but we also got to meet and talk with the people who lived behind those walls as well and experienced the Troubles first hand.
Favourite thing I saw: The peace lines. It’s crazy that these are still needed to some point to keep the communities safe from each other. There’s tons of great murals, and the walls themselves are gigantic.
A few weekends back I went to Belgium, and was lucky enough to stay with the parents of my childhood friend who live in Brussels. I had a great time catching up with the Garkov’s, and I find it’s always much more enjoyable to visit a foreign country when you have locals to point you in the right direction of things to do/see.
My first full day I went to Brugge, which is about an hour train ride from Brussels. Brugge is really cool because it’s like the Venice of Belgium. It was full of cobblestone one-way streets, elegant bridges that sloped softly over canals, and gold pleated cathedrals and medieval halls. I’m sure there’s plenty of things to do in Brugge, however I just saw the museum of Brugge which had some artefacts and details about the city, took a canal tour (a great way to see the city), and walked around eating chocolate.
My favourite thing about Brussels was not the fusion of old vs new architecture or the scent of waffles in the air, but probably the Manneken du Piss, which is this fountain with a statue of a little boy peeing. It’s image is everywhere, and it is both disturbing and wonderful at the same time. Another nifty thing about Brussels is it is know for it’s comic strips, so there are many comic book shops throughout the city and murals from popular comics painted on the sides of buildings. Brussels reminded me a bit like DC, as it has tons of great museums throughout the city and pretty nice public transportation. My favourite museum was the Museum of Costumes, where they currently have a wedding dress exhibition.
The strangest thing about Brussels though, was the heavily armed military men walking about the city, and the military checkpoint that was in front of the airport. It was pretty ominous, and from what I understand this is very standard since the terrorist attacks. All of the soldiers were pretty attractive though, so I’m not complaining.
Favourite thing I saw: I took a trip to the Parlamentarium, which is the museum about the European Parliament in Brussels. I’m a nerd, and I thought it was really neat.
Let me just say, the Irish are so fucking weird. The local racecourse in Dublin hosted on a Wednesday a student’s race day for NUIM, DCU, and Trinity. Now, I’ve been to many a polo match on the glorious vineyards of old Virginia, so I know how to dress appropriately. Both my roommate Kim and I were wearing our cute sundresses and we thought we looked nice for the races. However, here the Irish dress to the nines to go to the races. I’ve never seen so many fancily dressed people in one place. I’ve also never seen so many men wearing perfectly tailored suits in real life. At this race track they also had a ‘silent disco’, a lot of betting, “best dressed” competition, and apparently there was a rave after the races had finished.
It was definitely an experience that I was not prepared for. However, the actual horse racing was really neat and so was the people watching.
If you ever go: Dress like Kate Middleton and pretend your rich
So that’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. I’ve also visited Giant’s Causeway with Maynooth Student tours, and it was a lovely warm day. I also went into Dublin to see a film “The Secret Scripture” this week. And the incredible thing about that, is if you have a student card you can pay 8 euro which includes your ticket, a medium popcorn, and a medium drink. This is unheard of back in VA. 8 dollars maybe buys you half of a ticket, or a small popcorn.
This weekend is Easter and kicks off the second out of three of my week long breaks that we have this term, so I don’t plan on doing much other than homework, because on Monday I am flying to Malaga, Spain for four days of sangria drinking and beach bumming. Right now my phone says the high is in the 70s, with partial clouds, which is good because I am so pale that if even a tiny ray of sunlight hits my pasty skin I will catch fire.