2012 Fall Caitie Taylor External Programs Ireland

Autumn Awakening

Today as I was speed walking down the Lisburn Road to get to class on time, I was startled by a bright orange leaf smacking me in the head. I looked down at the harmless little leaf that had fallen, adding a splash of color to the footpath on this crisp, sunny morning in Belfast. Then suddenly, I realized it’s autumn! Obviously I had noticed the change in temperature and the shorter nights, but the realization that I’ve been living in Ireland for a month and a half seemed quite monumental to me this morning.

I think the season of fall is quite different in Belfast than in Philly. Most noticeable is the temperature. It has been consistently chilly since mid-September, whereas in America, September is t-shirt and shorts or jeans weather, and can be pretty warm. In Belfast, people are already wearing their jackets and scarves, although sprinkled between the cold days, there has been a bunch of sunny days where it gets to about 60 degrees and is warm enough for just a t-shirt. Last week the rain was nonstop almost every day. On one particular afternoon when I was heading out to get the bus to meet up with some friends for a late lunch, the sun was shining, but it was also raining! A “sun shower”! Luckily, I had my umbrella with me.

Halloween is just around the corner and all the shops are preparing for it. Costumes, decorations, flowers, balloons are all Halloween themed and color coordinated, orange and black. Rather than hayrides or haunted houses, I’ve noticed that restaurants are advertising for Halloween dinner bookings, and all the clubs are having special Halloween themed parties. I still have to figure out what I’m dressing up as for Halloween but it seems like the Irish take Halloween very seriously and enjoy dressing up for it.  I’m really excited!

Over here, pumpkin flavored items are not as popular as in the States. I know so many of my friends back in Philly who are obsessed with pumpkin flavored ice cream, pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks and pumpkin scented candles. But when I asked my Irish friends their opinion of pumpkin flavored foods, they weren’t very enthusiastic.

Although it has been a big adjustment, I think I am doing well living away from my family and being independent. Doing my own laundry has been annoying but I’m getting the hang of it. (At least I’m doing better than my friend who shrunk her sweater in the dryer!) Last week I got sick and had to spend a few days nursing myself back to health, which made me miss my mom even more. She is so caring and always knows the best tricks for making a person feel better.

Classes are going full steam ahead and I’ve been busy with a presentation about medieval Scottish field systems, reading assignments, writing a fairy tale for my Creative Writing class and learning about the Roman/Greek opinions of ancient Celtic warriors. There are tons of small cafes and places to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch (at a low price) all around the university. In between classes, my friends and I have been meeting up to chat and eat and then heading our separate directions to either go to class or do homework in the library.

I love the library at Queen’s. It’s four floors and there are so many places to find a comfortable spot to do some work or read quietly, or even meet up with people to work on a project. In order to make our PowerPoint presentation for class, last week my group booked a private room in the library so we could have computer access and be able to talk freely without disturbing any other students who were working. My favorite room in the library is the “C.S. Lewis Reading Room” in honor of the author C.S. Lewis, who was born in Belfast. The door leading into the room is a replica of the wooden wardrobe that the children go through to enter into the land of Narnia in the books. It’s really cool!

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There was a huge fair in the Student’s Union during Freshers Week, organized to get students to sign up for different societies and clubs at Queen’s. I joined the QUB Ladies Soccer club for a bit of fun and exercise, the English society and signed up for weekly dance classes with the QUB dance team. I think it’ll be a great way to meet people and make friends, while also getting some exercise.

Today I was genuinely shocked by how fast my time in Belfast is going. I think it is funny that all it took was a simple little leaf. I have seen and done so much already, and I’m really excited for what will happen in the coming months of my adventure in Ireland!

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