This weekend I went to Dublin to see Lady Gaga perform in the Aviva Stadium, and it was amazing! We left Belfast on Saturday morning and after just less than two hours of driving, covering 101 miles, we arrived in Dublin. It was funny going from Northern Ireland into the South of Ireland, because technically you’re entering a new country! The road signs changed from “miles per hour” to kilometers, and there was both English and Gaelic street signs. It was really cool.
There’s an old Irish song about Dublin that goes, “In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…” and it seems to have become a sort of unofficial anthem for Dublin. There is a statue of Molly Malone on Grafton Street, but she is just a fictional person. It really is a beautiful city, with so much history. Walking up O’Connell Street was an amazing experience because, although nowadays it is commercialized with McDonalds, Burger King and such, the old post office built in 1818 is still there and it is a beautiful building. I’m not too sure about architectural designs, but it looks somewhat Greek due to the six columns and intricate detail carved at the top of the triangular shaped roof. Another sight that is hard to miss in Dublin is the large, silver spire. It is a strange design, made of stainless steel and to me, it just looks like a large pin randomly sticking into the air. The weather cooperated and it was mostly sunny while I was in Dublin, with a sprinkle of rain on Sunday morning. I had a really great time during my brief visit to Dublin!
I got back to Belfast on Sunday afternoon and just had a “chill” night for the first time in about 5 days! International Queen’s Orientation was on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. Every morning about 600 international students met at Queen’s for campus tours, the vice-chancellor’s welcome speech, and general Queen’s information. Each day was a jam-packed schedule with lots of stuff to do. I made friends with other students from America, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Dubai and China. It was amazing to see such a diverse group of people coming together and becoming friends. Each night there were social activities planned by Queen’s, like a free dinner organized by a local church and a pub quiz in the Students Union on Wednesday night. On Friday there was an Irish céilí, which is an Irish word for a social gathering, featuring Irish dancing and music. Dinner was served buffet style and it was delicious food. So once my friends and I ate our fill, we found seats so we could watch the Irish dancers. I was eager to see the dancers perform because I am an Irish dancer myself and have been dancing since I was five years old. But rather than getting to watch the performance, the organizer of the event announced into the microphone that we were all going to get up and learn a dance! Rather than remain seated, all the students were very enthusiastic about learning to Irish dance and everyone found a partner and did their best to shuffle through their own version of the group dances that were being taught to us. It was a lot of fun and by the end of learning the dances, and dancing to music repeatedly, everyone was out of breath and red faced. So after three days of busy orientation and a weekend in Dublin, I was happy on Sunday night to relax and watch the season three premiere of my favorite show, Downton Abbey on ITV. I am so happy that I’ll get to watch it while I’m in Ireland and I know a few of my friends are extremely jealous because they have to wait until it comes to America in January.
The Irish students have arrived just in time for “Freshers Week” and there are lots of activities and social events going on. I can’t wait to sign up for clubs and societies, because it’ll be a great way to stay actively involved in all of the amazing things going on at Queen’s throughout the year. The Students Union is such an amazing building. In comparison to Temple University, it’s similar to the Student Activities Center and there is always something going on. There are a few restaurants, study areas, a shop to buy food, a bank, a cafeteria and a coffee shop in the Union. It will definitely be a good meeting place to meet up with friends to study or grab a bite to eat.
I’m just so excited to start classes on Monday of next week! I can’t believe classes don’t begin until this late date in September! In America classes start at the end of August! It’ll be really great to experience being taught by an Irish professor and compare the differences in teaching style between the American way and the Irish way.