Thursday, March 27, 2014

Typical weekday

·         Take us through a typical weekday for you—from morning to evening


Every weekday is a bit different. For example, on Mondays I have 5 hours of classes, Wednesday I have none, and on Tuesday and Friday I only have one. Thursdays are the best days. I only have two hours. It’s nice because it forces me to wake up early but I am not rushed all day. If I sleep late it’s basically a given that I won’t do anything that day so I like days where I have class. I always get the most done on Thursdays and I love it. I wake up at 9 or a quarter to 9, shower real quick, throw on some clothes, and eat breakfast, and then head to class at about a quarter to 10. The class is in the main area of classes so it’s only about a 10 minute walk. I have class for just one hour, and then I go back home to charge my computer, do a little reading or take a quick nap (depending) and then I make lunch and head back to campus for another class. This time class is a 15 minute walk away. Again, I am in class for only an hour. Then I walk over the library and study from 2 until 5 or so. After that I go home, and do whatever. Maybe I study, maybe I sleep, or clean my room, whatever. Then around 8 or 9 my friends and I eat dinner. Tuesdays are good too actually. I like to wake up early to study, then I have my favourite tutorial at noon. After tutorial I go workout and then come back home, shower, eat, and study some more. 

Culture

a)     Explain the most exciting holiday, tradition, or custom that you have experienced.
I spent my winter break in Spain and was able to experience so many new traditions. It was so interesting. The best though was Catalan tradition of Caga Tio. It’s unbelievable. Caga means poop and tio means log (in Spanish tio means uncle). Every year, on the 8th of December, a family sets out a log that looks like a cartoon character. They cover Caga Tio with a blanket and feed it. Then, on the 25th of December the children gather around the log and sing while hitting it with a stick. They sing:
"Caga Tió avellanes I torró
Si no vols cagar
Et donanem un cop de pal."
Which translates to:
"Caga Tió hazelnuts and turron
If you don't want to poo
We will hit you with a stick"

Then they remove the blanket to find his poop, which is magically presents. The family I stayed with did this three times. All the grandchildren would leave the room while the parents put more presents under. It was fantastic. I want a log that poops out presents. All you have to do is feed it cookies and keep it warm? Sounds like a good deal!



b)     What live entertainment have you seen (shows, parades, music, sports, etc.)? Tell us about some interesting observations you made there.


One of the best things about studying aboard here in northern Ireland is the live music at the pubs. I love when we go to a pub and sit and listen to someone jam out on the fiddle, accordion and guitar. The best bands (that I have seen at least) are in the Republic. Whenever we go visit we make sure we find live music. At a pub in Galway it seemed like some folks just met there every week to play music. People came and went. When different people came they played slightly different types of music. It was awesome. They played traditional songs and cover songs. Their version of black bird by the Beatles was incredible. Watching rugby matches at the pubs is great craic too (Irish way of saying a really good time). Everyone is always singing and cheering like crazy. It’s a really fun environment. J  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

                 Explain the best way you have found to meet the local people.

The best way to meet local people here is in class, particularly in tutorials. I really don’t know what else to say about this. It is pretty much just like back home. Some classes have people jump into conversations and are easy to start something with. Other classes have a lot of people who don’t speak at all. Needless to say, it’s easiest to meet/make friends in the classes where people speak. I guess you could say people here are a little more reserved and keep to themselves more than back home. However, people are also kinder. So sometimes it might be a little more difficult to get people to talk but it is nothing personal.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve purchased abroad?  How are you adjusting to using a different currency and keeping within a budget?

Hmmm….I have not really purchased anything interesting. Probably my tickets to Spain were the most interesting haha ;). Adjusting to using a different currency is easy: you transfer the money from your bank account back home, close your eyes when you have to look at the difference between pounds and dollars, and then just use your bank account as normal. I am horrible at keeping track of how much money I spend. Although, I am good at keeping things really cheap and not spending too much, but it am bad at keeping perfect track of it. I made a budget for how much I can spend every month and I just take that amount out in the beginning and pay for everything with that cash. I try not to use my debit card. Of course, this is not going to work in the future when I have to manage a real, grown-up-person budget, but it works for now.

Monday, February 3, 2014

a)      Have you experienced any cultural miscommunication or “lost in translation” moments?  Tell us a funny story about adjusting to the local tongue.

I was checking a book of out the library one day, and I took a look at the receipt to see exactly when the book was due back. It said 11/11/14, but that day (the day I was checking it out) was November 10. The book was supposed to be a 30 night loan so I was really confused. I went up to a librarian to ask him about it. I could not understand a single word he was saying. He had the thickest Belfast accent ever. It was worse than a pikeys accent in the movie Snatch. I kept asking him to repeat himself but eventually I just gave up and pretended I could understand him. It was awful hahaha. It’s crazy to think that I cannot understand someone who is speaking the same language as me. Someone could have told me he wasn’t speaking English and I would have believed them. I wonder if he could understand me. I was with a friend from France at the time and after we walked away she said “Now you know how I feel every day” hahah. Later on I kicked myself because I realized I had the date confused. I forgot that they put the day of the month first instead of the month first. Ha!

b)      Explain a favorite new word or phrase you have learned.

I love the phrase “cheers”. It is so happy sounding ha. They use it for goodbye and thank you. I also like that they use the words lovely and mate. I don’t know why but it is so cool. 
a)     Describe your favorite museum or landmark in your city and explain why it’s your favorite place.
My favourite landmark in Belfast is probably the big fish by the river. It’s a big statue of a fish. What’s special about it is that almost every scale is represents some part of the history of Belfast. The scales have old images from newspaper, article clippings, city documents, and all sorts of cool things printed on to the scales. They’re pretty interesting to look at. Every time we go past it I stop and find something new. 
b)      Tell us about any class field trips or excursions you’ve experienced.
I haven’t gone on any class field trips. I wish I did because that would mean I was taking a super cool class. I think the only event coming remotely close to a class field trip would be the pub crawl during orientation week ha.  However, I did take a day trip to visit Mourne Mountains with some friends. It was absolutely beautiful and really fun. We had to battle the winds to climb up a hill (no seriously, if the wind hit you just right it would knock you over. It was so cool) but it was totally worth it. On the top we had a beautiful view. When looked back down the path, we could see a valley of trees and the ocean. When we looked ahead we could see mountains and fog. The grey sky and the greens and yellows of the grass on the mountains made for a beautiful scene. It was truly lovely. 






Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mmmmmm

In Belfast they eat the same time as we do in the United States (breakfast before work/school, lunch around noon, and dinner around 6). However, since everyone I live with is from France, Spain and Italy I eat according to their meal time, which is the same for them all, because we like to cook together. It is more fun. We eat lunch around 2 or 3 (which actually kind of happens naturally anyways because of classes) and then have dinner around 9. I only went out to eat once and the portion sizes were actually the same as at home. I thought they would be a lot smaller. However, one time I got food from a little restaurant in a grocery store and got the chicken strips and chips (French Fries) meal deal. I saw chicken strips that were the same as the ones you get in Frannies and figured that was the chicken strips, but nope, they were four strips the size of my finger.  Hahah.  So maybe at some places the portion sizes are smaller. I never go out to eat though so I do not know. I myself eat a lot though so most portion sizes seem small to me personally, even in the United States. I can out eat a lot of people, especially my friends from Spain and France. So I really hope I do not go to a restaurant and find out that in fact the portion sizes are smaller here and I just got lucky at the pub I ate at. I'll be sad hahaha.  For the next 20 days I am staying with a family in Spain whom I found online. They wanted someone to help them learn English and watch the children. Since it is the Christmas holidays I will be trying a lot of new food from here. I am so excited! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

2 in 1 (oops)

Oops! I was so caught up in midterms that I missed two blog entries! 

Question 1, Transportation stuff: Since I live in a city it is really easy to get everywhere. I usually walk places. The furthest we travel on a regular basis is to the city centre and it is only a 30 minute-or-so walk. There are city buses, of course, but I love walking and I would rather spend my money on other things. Anywhere farther than that is typically a great deal farther so then we bus. The transportation here is awesome though, which is to be expected since it is Europe haha. Yesterday we went to Mourne Mountains. It is about an 1.5 hours away and there is basically nothing on the way there, but the city bus still takes you out there. It’s amazing. That isn’t even plausible in the USA (from what I have seen at least). The other day we went to Dublin and it only cost 20 pounds round trip, and that is without getting the discount for buying them ahead of time (we decided last minute that we wanted to go). I love it. Since the US dollar is worth nothing and since I want to travel while I am here, I am very glad that I can do so cheaply. I am also glad that I live in a city so I don’t have to use transportation to get to the stores and such. It’s healthy for the body and the budget ;)

Question 2, Support staff and professors: I haven’t really used the support staff here. I guess that means I am pretty fortunate. I have yet to have any problems I could not deal with myself. As for the question about who is my most interesting professor, it is really difficult to answer that. They are all really different. My economics teacher is pretty serious but when he wants to be funny he is hilarious. The stuff he says is just so great. I love the British sense of humour. My international relations teacher is really laid back. He is good for making jokes with about topics in class, and he is amazing at explaining things we don’t understand and forcing us to think critically. He is a great professor (they all are though). My most interesting/favourite though is my professor for my Welfare Theory class. It may have partly to do with the fact that she reminds me of Dr. Chung, one of my favourite professors at Carlow. She’s just really silly and curious. She is always sharing stories about studies she has done herself or read in order to help us understand what we are teaching in class. She also is always interested in hearing our views.  We always have such good conversations in that class…maybe that is another reason why I like her the most. We have group discussions in every class (unlike the other ones where we only speak in the tutorial) so we all are close. I am going to miss her. She is so funny and sweet. I don’t have her class this week but my friend and I are going to visit her tomorrow to say goodbye. Overall I am lucky because all of my professors are pretty interesting. They’re quite a lovely bunch J