2012 Fall Caitie Taylor External Programs Ireland

Learning to live without… and gaining more

Me and my friend Rebecca on the Mystery Tour
Me and my friend Rebecca on the Mystery Tour

Before I left Philly, I made a list of the top three things that I thought I would miss most while studying abroad. The list consisted firstly, my family. Second, Chikfila and thirdly, my mom’s homemade raisin bran muffins that she makes on a weekly basis. Funny enough, two of the three items are food… well my love for food has not diminished since I’ve been in Belfast. If anything, my taste buds have expanded and have gone crazy over here. (The food is just, like, amazing!)

Now four months into my study abroad and being away, I would change my list of items that I miss most from America to consist of the following two items: my family and my car.

I still miss my family and it’s going to be strange being away during the holidays. I’ll spend Christmas at my aunt’s house but it won’t be the same as the traditions I’m used to with my mom, dad and sister. With all of the technology available nowadays it makes keeping in touch so easy. I can whatsapp my sister, email daily and skype my parents to “see” them.

At the beginning I really missed my car. Sometimes the thought of walking up and down the road to Queen’s from my uncle’s house seemed unbearable and I wished I had my car to just drive myself down. But now that I’m used to the walk, and gotten better at organizing myself to leave at a good time so I don’t have to rush, I enjoy it and it’s a bit of daily exercise. Plus I’m glad I don’t have to deal with driving on the other side of the road, paying for gas or insurance, or even driving around looking for a parking spot. And I’m especially glad to not have to deal with parallel parking…  it’s so much easier to get a bus or taxi in the city rather than dealing with a car. It was definitely hard for me to get used to not being able to jump into my car and drive over to a friend’s house and be there in five minutes, but then I realized just how lazy that sounds.

I have replaced my missed items with loads of new favorites from Ireland. (I already know I’ll miss these things when I’m back in the States next year.) Off the top of my head, some of my favorites include: Fanta Lemon; Milky bars, Bounty bars and Toffee crisps are my favorite chocolate bars; Chocolate Digestive biscuits dipped into a hot cup of tea (yummm!) and sausage rolls.

It’s now three weeks until Christmas and I’m really excited! A lot of my international friends will be going home for the holiday and returning in January for exams, so we’re spending as much time as possible together before they leave. Stress for exams has already hit some people but I’ve been keeping on top of my work and spending a lot of time in the library so to avoid a ton of work piling up. It’s strange that exams are in January because I’m used to Temple’s exam schedule where we take our exams and then get to relax over the holiday, whereas here I’ll have to do a bit of studying over Christmas break.

Last Wednesday I went on a “Mystery Tour” which was a bus tour that took six bus loads of Queen’s students to three surprise locations (pubs/bars) around Ireland. It was such a fun day and night! We went to Newry, Co. Down; Cookstown, Co. Tyrone and Letterkenny in Donegal, (which is in the Republic of Ireland, towards the west.) Since we spent the entire day together, I met a few new friends while talking on the bus. It’s funny for me that people I meet hear my American accent and get excited.

The countdown has officially begun for my trip to London! It’s only a week and a half away! I’m going to visit my friend from high school who is studying abroad there for the semester. I’ve never been to London before so I can’t wait to do all of the touristy sightseeing and check out the Christmas markets. I’ve been told that London is amazing, and even more amazing to experience at Christmastime. Despite the chilly temperatures, I’ll be bundled up and exploring as much as I can the five days I’m there!

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