It’s the last week of the first semester and the pressure of deadlines, essays, presentations and studying can only mean one thing: that it’s officially library season. The freezing cold temperatures outside don’t affect us since me and all of my friends are practically hibernating in the library throughout the days and nights. Exams aren’t until January, but the end of semester stress is still upon us. For some of my friends, this will be their last week in Belfast studying abroad, so we are making the most of it. This past weekend was busy with shopping in town on Friday and going out Friday and Saturday night. I’m so glad that I’m staying in Ireland for another semester because I feel like I’ve just settled in and gotten completely comfortable with my new environment that it would be so disappointing to have to leave now.
I was very disappointed Saturday night because we had plans to go to the Christmas Market again, but it was closed because of more riots at city hall. Everyone told us that it would be safer to just stay out of the city center and go elsewhere, just to avoid running into any protestors. The amount of police officers and vans that were on patrol throughout the city was quite freaky. I was working from 10-3 on Saturday morning and town was extremely quiet. It’s quite strange to live in a city where you make a decision about where to go based on where it will be safe, away from rioters and bombs. But we made the most of it and went to a local pub that wasn’t far from Queen’s and was well away from any rioters. We didn’t even see any commotion, and when I saw the news the next day about riots and police officers injured it was pretty bizarre. The fact that I went out and had a fun night with friends, enjoying our time together in Belfast, yet there were people
Tonight I’m going out for a Christmas dinner with my geography classmates at a restaurant called Darcy’s. Although we are putting on the pretense of an expensive dinner and night out, it is an affordable dinner for a group of students. It’s amazing how inclusive the Irish are, they are more than willing to invite anyone and everyone to their social functions and genuinely make you feel welcome. I’ve gotten quite close to the students in my geography class and become good friends with them. I’m looking forward to dressing up and going out for dinner and drinks with them!
I’m so excited to head to London on Friday! It’ll definitely be interesting as I navigate my way from Gatwick airport to Victoria, via the Gatwick Express and then get the tube to Oxford Street to meet my friend. (I’m a bit nervous about getting lost!!) I’m so glad that I have something so good to look forward to because otherwise I would be a total mess, you would probably find me crying in a corner since a bunch of my friends will be leaving to go home. Of course I have other friends from Ireland that will be here for the rest of the semester, but I will miss my German, French and Canadian friends who were only here for one semester. It has been such an amazing experience so far and I feel as though I’ve met lifelong friends! We are already discussing a potential reunion in New York City this summer. The memories we have made so far exploring Ireland together, attending classes at Queen’s and learning about one another’s culture will always be special to me.