2012 Fall Caitie Taylor External Programs Ireland

Shopping Saturday

On Saturday morning I went to St. George’s Market. It is a food and craft market located in Belfast city center. It is only open on the weekends with free admission and it’s a very busy and popular place. I think St. George’s Market is very similar to Reading Terminal Market in Philly. When I first entered, the strong odor of fish hit me. I quickly found that the source was a vendor selling freshly caught fish. There were stalls selling traditional fish and chips; baked goods; crepes; Indian food; exotic spices; freshly baked bread; and lots more. I bought a savory crepe filled with ham, cheese and tomato for lunch and tasted some vegetarian Indian samples. There were some really cool vendors selling clocks made out of melted beer and alcohol bottles; homemade knit blankets and pillows; baby clothes and hand-made wooden signs. One vendor was selling handmade jewelry themed on Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland with intricate designs. I wanted to buy the Harry Potter bracelet with the cute charms featuring Polyjuice potion, a wand, Harry’s glasses, a feather quill pen and more clever objects from the books. I enjoyed walking around and checking out all the vendors, and my aunt bought a box of cakes and buns from a lady who was packing up to go home and offered to sell us a selection of everything she had left for just five pounds!

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Belfast city center is a busy place on a Saturday afternoon. There was music blaring in Victoria Square shopping Center and Castle Court shopping center and loads of people were walking around, shopping and eating. There was actually a fashion show going on and girls were allowed to try on the clothes and walk down a sort of mini runway for their friends and family to get a taste of what it would be like to model in the fashion industry! One thing I noticed about the Irish is that they like to dress up. Even just to go shopping, girls were completely done up with their makeup and hair and all dressed up. I love walking through the big department store called “House of Fraser”, it’s basically the equivalent of Bloomingdales but it’s just so impressive and fancy. On the first floor there is a champagne bar, where all they serve is light meals and champagne. The women eating their lunch there just looked so sophisticated… and like they had nothing better to do with their money and time. A student like me is looking for discounts, the cheapest option and Belfast is definitely student friendly. Almost every shop and restaurant I’ve been in so far has offered a student discount. Most of the popular clothing stores and designer name shops offer a 20% discount to students when we flash our student ID cards. (When Christmas time comes, that’ll come in handy!)

The weather is definitely starting to get chillier in Belfast. I’ve already started wearing my coat, because the chilly weather is too much for just a cardigan. And as for the infamous rain in Ireland, it has been nonstop all week so I don’t dare to venture outside without my umbrella.

Yesterday was my first day of classes at Queen’s University Belfast. I was not happy to see rain in the morning when I woke up, and made sure to wear my boots and bring my umbrella. I caught the bus to Queen’s and managed to find the geography building pretty quickly and find my classroom so I arrived to class on time. My class is filled with third year students so I felt like I fit right in and the only significant difference between Temple and Queen’s that I noticed first off, was that my professor had an English accent. Class only lasted an hour and it was mainly a discussion about what the class would be like and describing an assignment due for the next day. I have classes Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and the rest of the time I’ll probably be in the library doing work preparing for class. In Ireland they call classes, modules. Each module requires a lot of work and therefore, each semester a student at Queen’s only registers for three modules. When I first heard this I was shocked and compared it to my schedule at Temple where I took five or six classes per semester. According to my Queen’s advisor, the three modules is equivalent to taking 5-6 American classes, because the workload for each course is more intense. Judging from my geography module, since I have already been given homework and been assigned a presentation due next week, I’m guessing that my advisor was right and this is going to be a busy semester!

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