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Arriving in Northern Ireland

This is the post excerpt.

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Two days ago, I arrived in Coleraine, Northern Ireland where I will be spending this semester studying abroad.

On Tuesday evening, I flew out of Springfield, Missouri to Dallas, Texas for a long, overnight flight to London. Keep in mind that this was my first time flying alone so the whole trip was sort of nerve wracking-I was constantly thinking “Am I going the right way?” or “What if something goes wrong what do I do?”

After being told in the United States that I would go through customs in the Belfast Airport, I quickly found out that I would have to go through customs and security in London. I had to quickly organize all my visa information, passport, and all other important documents to give to a guard where then I was only stamped to be permitted to stay in the United Kingdom for ONE MONTH (something wrong happened here and is being fixed).

While waiting in line to go through security, I happened to run into a girl from Oklahoma. After talking to her, I figured out we would be rooming together on campus.

After the both of us flew on our final plane from London to Belfast and took an hour bus ride from the airport, we were finally at what we now call home until the end of January. Along with the girl I met from Oklahoma, I am living with 4 other girls from the Midwest (Colorado and Missouri).

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These past two days have been a giant whirlwind of orientation, jet lag, and trying to get settled it. Being six hours ahead of home is kicking my butt right now; I’m wide awake at 3 am (because it’s 9 pm in Missouri) and I’m tired at 10 am (4 am in Missouri). These past two days have been jammed pack of international student orientations from morning to late afternoon. Some of the activities that we have done are been on a school tour, gone shopping, picked out our classes, listen to speakers talk about the school, go to IT to set up wifi and passwords, and etc.

Luckily this morning, amongst all the chaos that’s going trying to get settled in, my housemates and I were able to walk to the town centre and enjoy the town that will be staying in until the end of January. We went to a small museum (within the picture below) that gave us some of the histories of the area, walked around and enjoyed the shops, grabbed some lunch, and figured out how to use public transportation.

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I know this isn’t much, but stay tuned and I promise I will write more! It’s 12 am here right now and I’m trying to get accustomed to the time difference.

 

 

 

Some Learned Lessons

I have been living in Northern Ireland for almost two months now and have finally settled into this place that I now call home. I am living with some amazing girls who have become some really great friends, I have meet some great people from the university, that I know when I go back home, saying ‘goodbye’ is going to be really hard.  The past few months that I have been here, I have traveled to Frankfurt, Berlin, Dublin, Belfast, and along the coast; furthermore, upcoming and I will be traveling to Edinburgh (Scotland), Alicante (Spain), London, and for my Christmas break I’m thinking about Budapest and Prague (fingers crossed!). But along the way of it all, I have learned a great deal.

Things I have learned while living Coleraine, Northern Ireland:

  1.   You get asked “The Questions”

Being a foreigner and especially one from the United States, as soon as someone hears  my accent, I almost always get asked “Where are you from” (which means what state are  you from not what country), “What are your opinions on Trump?” then those usually follow up with the questions of “How do you like it here?’ or “Why did you chose  to come to Northern Ireland?”

  1. Downloading the bus/train timetable app is a lifesaver

  2. You can go out on a weekday or weekday night and everything will be okay

Back home I never really went out much on a week night because I always had too much homework or studying to do, or I thought that if I went out my studying would be hindered. But since being here, I have learned that it is okay to go out on a week night and enjoy myself and still be able to study just as much I would if I didn’t go out. It’s about enjoying yourself and all the experiences that you can.

  1. Take as many pictures as you can

Take pictures of you and your roommates on the train or making dinner together because six months from now you will cherish those memories of you guys.

  1. Say ‘yes’

Just simply, say yes to every opportunity that presents itself to you, you’ll make the best memories that way

  1. Homesickness is inevitable

I didn’t think this one would happen to me, but I has; not so much where I am dying to     get back home, but I miss the small things about Joplin. I miss my car and having the   convenience of being able to drive whenever and wherever I want to, I miss having having stores open past 5 pm, I miss American Netflix, my dog, salty food….things that I didn’t think I would miss I do.

  1. Dryer sheets are important

I didn’t think dryer sheets were a big deal or made a difference but they do.

  1. I actually like to cook

With food expiring so quickly over here, you have to eat it pretty fast; because of this, I     have been googling recipes and have been trying new foods to cook.

  1. Always look at your class timetable for the week

 Unlike university’s in the States where classes are held Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday and Thursday at the same time and in the same room, classes here can be Monday at 9 am in H107 then Thursday at 2 pm in U123.

 

In regards to traveling outside of where you are staying, here is what I have learned so far:

  1. When traveling anywhere in the UK (or Europe for that matter) ALWAYS bring an umbrella, raincoat, and a backpack cover slip

In the United Kingdom, it rains a lot and I mean a LOT. Almost every day the weather calls for rain or grey skies; even if it doesn’t a quick shower of rain will come anyways.

  1. Bring your walking shoes

 The day I spent in Belfast, I walked roughly 12 miles. When traveling, you should always bring tennis shoes or comfortable walking shoes because nothing is worse than walking or spending a day out and coming home with sore feet.

  1. Pack light

When traveling just for one weekend, all you really need is a backpack to carry your stuff around, a few pair a clothes and the essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.). When you have to check out of your hostel or Air B&B at 11 and still have the rest of the day to sight see you can easily carry all of your stuff around as opposed to bringing a rolling suitcase.

  1. Always carry cash

 I always try to carry at least 20 pounds (or euros) on me just in case. You may need it for a taxi or most markets and small stores won’t accept cards.

  1. Take as many pictures as you can

No one regrets how many pictures they take on a trip. I promise everyone back home will appreciate them.

  1. When staying somewhere, bring a towel

Unlike hotels or motels in the United States, towels are most likely not provided. When I  arrived at my hostel in Frankfurt I didn’t realize this and had to use one of my shirts to  dry my hair with.

  1. Have a deck of cards on hand

 From Solitaire, Go Fish, Gin Rummy, to Nerts, to Uno, having a deck of cards and knowing (at least) one card game is a good way to past the time on train or bus rides. I played countless games of Uno on my 7-hour bus ride from Frankfurt to Berlin, and trust me, without those cards, that ride would have been painful.

  1. Pack a water bottle

  1. Find out what places offer a student discount

 Chances are some of the places in the area such as pubs, tours, or restaurants offer a student discount if you have your student idea, always make sure to ask!

  1. Travel in pairs

When my roommates and I were in Dublin, my one roommate crossed the street by herself to take a picture of something and while she was alone, a man came up to her and kept pressing her for money and wouldn’t leave her alone. When in a big city (or if you are a female) its safer to use the buddy system because you are less vulnerable that way and less likely to be approached.

  1. Get a Map and Free Brochures for the Area in which you are staying

 Instead of just aimlessly walking around aimlessly or relying on Google’s GPS (because    that’s always reliable huh?) if you can get your hands on a map of the city where you are, it’ll make your life so much easier.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are lost or aren’t sure of something, don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions. Most people are more than happy to help.  

 

Happy 10-day-adversary

I have been living in Northern Ireland for 10 days now and in many ways in feels like I have lived here for months, if not years. The days have been long and full of adventure, and I have seen and done so many things in such a short amount of time. There are nights where I miss my own bed and pillow (which is partly because the bedding arrangement in my accommodation isn’t as comfortable as the one at home). I get on social media during the morning and see all of my friends from back home have done during the previous day. Every day I text my family members to let them know what I did or what I saw that day so they can see it too. However, none of these things make me homesick or anything of that sort, but rather remind me of how lucky I am to be 4,000 miles (or 6437.4 km) away from and to have the experience to live in a foreign country and to do things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do and see.

Within the past 10 days:

  • I tried Guinness (sorry mom and dad).
  • I have used public transportation (even though I’m still trying to get the hang of this one)
  • I walked along the Causeway Coast
  • I saw Dunluce Castle
  • I went to Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne, Castlerock
  • I went to the Beach
  • Went to (London) Derry to experience Culture Night
  • Learned how to walk to the town centre and back to get groceries
  • Learned how to do the mental math to (roughly) convert pounds to kilograms, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and miles to kilometers

Furthermore, within the past week and a half, I have experience and see things that are so different than that of the United States and the only word I can use to describe living here is the word “different.” The food isn’t as salty and is less sweet. I have yet to see a truck here, and most if not all of the cars are sedans. Instead of stop lights, roundabouts are often, if not most of the time used. Milk and eggs aren’t refrigerated and the fruit is less abundant. There’s a bar located in the Student Union and designated smoking areas for students to smoke. Public transportation is the norm and is a part of everyone’s everyday lifestyle.  Besides the word “different” I suppose I can call this culture shock because I haven’t seen stuff like this before.

Besides everything, I just feel so blessed to be here in this beautiful country and experience this because living in the United States I wouldn’t have the opportunity

 

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