After more than a day and a half, three flights, delays, snow, and exhaustion, I have officially made it to Belfast, Northern Ireland and am getting all settled in the halls at Stranmillis! Today was a week since I made it to the University. In some ways it feels that I've been here no time at all, and in other ways I feel as though I've been here all five months already!
There are many "Erasmus" and international students here this semester. I've spent most of my time this past week getting to know them and connecting with them through our time here at the school and in the city before the rest of the Stranmillis students arrived. They got here last night and today felt like an entirely different place! It's nice to have students on campus though! The girls on my flat, my student buddies, and multiple other Irish students have been more than welcoming to me, and I've been so grateful for all of them!
I started classes today and they went great! It's somewhat odd, because we will have two weeks of classes, then we will go into six weeks of placement and teaching practice out in the local schools. During these six weeks (and the three following weeks of "Easter holiday") most of the Irish students will go back to their home town, and campus will feel fairly empty once again. Then, after those nine weeks, everyone will return for another three weeks of classes. It's very different than the way things would go at home, but I'm sure it will make the time fly by! During my six weeks in placement, I will be required to prepare and teach two lessons a day. I've been well taught and prepared through my courses at Ozarks, however, I am a bit nervous to be placed in the teacher role in a different culture. Everyone keeps telling me "You'll do grand!" So, I'm not too worried! Also, with all of the history dealing with Catholics and Protestants in the education here, I've heard that being in an integrated school (mixture of religious preferences) will be a wonderful experience!
This last week I've had the opportunity to explore the city some, support the Belfast Giants at an ice hockey game, visit the Titanic Museum, attend a Church of Ireland and another church (CFC) that reminded me more of home, try potatoes in various forms, learn about Northern Ireland history and education, sit in an Irish Pub, and most importantly, meet some amazing people. If you've been to another culture, you'll understand when I say that being here has exposed me to more than I could describe! So many new sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and feelings have entered my life in only one wee week. I can not even begin to predict all of the things I will experience by June, but I am so excited that I am here, and I am trying very hard to be bold and step out of my comfort zone so that I can make the best of everything this place and the people have to offer!
Hope you enjoy the pictures below!
|First time on a double-decker bus to City Center|
|Flag in the Student Union|
|All of the Erasmus/International Students|
|'The people there are as friendly as any I've ever met' -About Belfast|
|Erasmus/International students at the Titanic Museum in Belfast|
|'A world-class city needs a heart full of culture-and that's exactly what Belfast has got.'|
|'Most welcoming people on the planet'|
|Student Union in the snow|
|First Ice Hockey game/Belfast Giants won|
|Stran at Last!|
|St. John's Church of Ireland|
A wee bit of Irish Vocabulary for yous to fancy (If you're one of the wonderful Irish people that's been educating me on this, please don't laugh too hard at me-I know folks from home will enjoy!):
"What's the craic?" "That's some good craic!"
"Belfast Giants won the game! That's class!"
"You'll do grand in your classes! No worries!"
"Don't forget your wee card for dinner in Chatz!"
Love: Term of endearment from someone older
"I'm proud of you, love!"
"We'll leave at half seven? Right."
"Mate! Come sit over here!"
On a personal note: God has been faithful to me here, and He is constantly reminding me how BIG He is, and yet, how deeply He cares for me as an individual. It's overwhelming in moments. I can already see that my time here will challenge my faith in many ways, but I hope to see it grow and spread as well.
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." -Psalm 31:24
Thanks for reading :) There will be more to come soon!
If you want to know more about the University College I am attending:
If you want to know more about the Integrated Primary School I will be in for placement: http://www.oakwoodips.ik.org/p_Oakwood_Integrated_Primary_School_welcomes_you_to_our_website.ikml