2012 Fall Caitie Taylor External Programs Ireland

The dark, cold nights of winter are here…

Labrinth in concert

Last week the clocks went back (a week before American clocks went back), allowing an extra hour of sleep and bringing the start of the dark nights of winter. These days the temperatures have been in the upper 40’s and low 50’s. As much as I hate the cold, I love the thought of wearing warm sweaters, cozy scarves and gloves and drinking hot chocolate.

The social atmosphere in Belfast city is vibrant and there is always something going on! The Belfast Festival at Queen’s was host to many events throughout the month all over Belfast, including a Van Morrison concert that was sold out long before I went to get my ticket. I had the chance to see Labrinth in concert on October 29th. He is a fantastic performer to see live, and we were so close to him! Halloween was a big event last week and every club was hosting massive Halloween costume competitions with amazing prizes. People went all out and I saw a group of about 20 people all dressed up as zombies with fake blood, wounds on their faces and special contacts in their eyes giving them a truly spooky look.

The night life in Belfast is awesome. I’m enjoying going out on the weekends with my friends and checking out the different restaurants and clubs. We have tried fish and chips, Mexican food, pub grub and of course quick meals of sandwiches or sausage rolls purchased at Centra (which is basically like Wawa). After all, we are students and need to save our money! There are so many really nice restaurants in Belfast I want to try them all!

The Christmas decorations are already in the store windows and the hustle and bustle of shopping for presents seems to have already begun in Belfast city center. Since the Irish do not celebrate Thanksgiving, they are already in the festive mood. A group of my friends are planning on organizing a Thanksgiving dinner so that everyone we’re friends with from the various places around the world can enjoy this American tradition on the last Thursday of November.

This past Sunday night I enjoyed a relaxing night in front of the TV. It was cold and dark outside but I was comfortable sitting on the couch with a cup of tea in hand. Alongside my aunt and younger cousin, we enjoyed watching the popular singing competition show, X Factor together and rooted for our favorite singers as one contestant was eliminated. I’ve realized that although people try to hide it, most people in Ireland are addicted to the X Factor. I was talking to my friend and he tried to pretend that he didn’t watch the X Factor, so when I started talking to my other friend about who was our favorite contestant, he jumped into the conversation and asked who was voted off this week. It was pretty funny. So after multiple cups of tea and a munch on goodies like salt and vinegar chips and Mars bars, my favorite program Downton Abbey came on at 9pm. It was the season finale which meant it was a double episode. I love this show because it is a period piece and shows what life was like in England in the years during and after World War I. The dialogue is so witty and I sometimes find myself wishing I could come up with good one liners in real life situations to say to people, just as Maggie Smith does as the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

It’s hard to believe that I’m already up to week 7 of my coursework at Queen’s University. The friends I’ve made in my Geography class are so friendly and inclusive. Because it is a third level module, all the students are third year students (like myself), but this is their final year of university. Despite their busy schedules and heavy workloads, we are planning a Christmas dinner and formal which will be a lot of fun!

Despite the cold and the dark nights, Belfast has got a lot of stuff going on this winter and I’m excited!

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