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Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

After being here since January, I finally made it out of Belfast and ventured out to the Northern Coast on a Game of Thrones tour. The tour was more amazing than I could have imagined.

While I really enjoy Belfast, I was beginning to feel stifled. With the constant rain, same views, and non-stop studying, I was in need of a break. The Game of Thrones tour was an event offered through the Queen’s residential life at a major reduced cost of most Game of Thrones tours. We were shown many filming locations along the North Coast and given insider secrets of the filming of the series.

The weather on the day of the tour was complete rubbish, but I didn’t even mind. Winds that almost knocked you over, rain that pelted your face, and cold that left you numb could not compare to the experience of the North Coast. The views were unbelievable and the smell of the North Sea is my new favorite scent. The tour lasted from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, and it was well worth the money.

While we saw many amazing places, my favorite location was the Giant’s Causeway. While it is smaller than most pictures make it seem, it is not any less magnificent. There is a small walk (or shuttle bus ride for £1 each way) down to the Causeway, and the walk is half of the experience. There are costal views to see along the way and you can take a few minutes to really breathe in that coastal air and relax. As a college student relaxing does not come easily, but I’m learning to enjoy myself in this country.

Unplanned Tuesday

Unplanned Tuesday

I received an email late afternoon Monday saying that my Tuesday class was cancelled due to the strikes that have been happening at Queen’s. Due to pension cuts, professors across Queen’s University have been striking in protest. Some professors can’t afford to strike, some are not as affected by the strike, and some are taking action and joining the picket lines. Three of my classes in the last week have been cancelled due to the strikes, but I did not expect my Tuesday lecture to be cancelled due to having an essay due at the end of the week. To fill my time, I decided that I might as well try and get my hair cut.

I’ve been in Belfast for almost two months now, but it’s been probably close to five or six months since I got a haircut last. My hair was becoming long, tangled, and unmanageable, and I decided enough was enough and I’ll get a haircut to commemorate my time here in Belfast. I didn’t want to spend much on a haircut since there are so many more things I’d rather spend my money on over here, so I went on a hunt online for a cheap salon near me. I ended up finding a beauty school in center city Belfast that offered £6 haircuts, which is extremely cheap, the only catch was a student would be cutting my hair. Thankfully, I’m a poor student myself, so I figured what do I have to lose?! I originally planned to get my hair cut Monday after a class, but the salon was closed. I left and decided I’d come back later in the week, or next week after it’s supposed to stop snowing.

With my class being cancelled, I ventured out into City Center early Tuesday morning, while most of my fellow students were still asleep. I found a small door with the name “Academy Hair and Beauty Training School” leading to a narrow staircase that took me up to the hair studio. It was a nice studio with a lot of students, some working on people, others working on dummy heads. I was helped right away, and left with a lot less hair and a longing for summer.

          

 

Even though it was supposed to snow, the morning was bright and beautiful! I explored some of city center and went shopping while I was there. When you find yourself in Belfast on a sunny day, no matter what your plans are you just feel the need to explore and take pictures. On my way back to campus, I stopped by the student center to just get a look at the strikes happening. At the student center they were giving out free crepes, so I even got a small brunch for free!

         

I left for a haircut early in the morning, and got so much more than I bargained for.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Have you ever thought about how often you use Pillsbury Grands or Crescent Rolls in your regular life? You’ll most likely have some during the holidays at least or see a video recipe about them on Facebook at least once a week. They are so convenient and quick to make! Can you imagine a time in your life when you didn’t have a simple ingredient that was so convenient that you did not even think of it as being just that, a convenience? That is what it is like to go grocery shopping in Northern Ireland.

Don’t get me wrong, they still have common college staples like bread, Nutella, and cup noodles, but for actually making meals, they do not have so many common foods that you would naturally think they do.

For Superbowl Sunday, I wanted to make some of my flat mates some traditional Superbowl foods like Philly cheesesteaks (Go Eagles!), buffalo chicken dip, and a quick dessert like biscuits coated in cinnamon sugar. Easy foods that I could make simultaneously in an hour at two at most. Unfortunately, those 15 minute recipes become 1+ hour recipes in the UK because you have to also make the “pre-made” foods that we don’t consider pre-made. For a Philly cheesesteak I would have to buy a steak and cook it and cut it super thin, there is no Steak-Umm here. Buffalo chicken dip is still fairly easy to make, but the local grocery stores don’t sell canned chicken, and I don’t have a crockpot to use over here. Finally to make a simple dessert, I would need to buy four other ingredients that I will hardly ever use again just to make some biscuits. In the UK they don’t even have what we call biscuits! The closest comparison is a savory scone, but even that is not the same food since scones are more dense.

So next time you go to make pigs in a blanket or when you’re eating buffalo chicken dip this Sunday or you walk into Walmart and see a selection of everything you could really imagine, think of how privileged you are to have so many options.

Welcome to Belfast

Welcome to Belfast

Queen's University Belfast
Queen’s University main campus building

I have been living in Belfast for two weeks now, and I’ve been learning little by little how this city operates. Changing from a small campus like LVC and moving to a city-wide campus like Queen’s University of Belfast has been quite a change. With a large campus, I now have a fifteen minute walk to class, which means that I can’t wake up ten minutes before my class and still be early. Most of the time, it feels as if nothing has changed and I’m just going to class… until I walk outside and see century old buildings and double decker busses.

Belfast Gardens
The local Belfast Garden green house with the library in the background

Most of the time the it’s raining in Belfast, but on the rare occasion there is a little sun, and sometimes, like yesterday, even some snow. Out of all of the weather I’ve encountered, rain is my least favorite. I’m not much of a fan of snow, but I prefer Belfast snow to Belfast rain, simply because I’m not drenched from head to toe by the time I get to class. When they say it’s always raining in Belfast, they are not exaggerating. Belfast in the snow is beautiful though!All of the old buildings covered in a fresh layer of white. Belfast and most of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are not equipped for the snow and people mostly stay inside when it snows. The country does not have much salt for the snow and they do not have snow plows, so it’s hard for most people to navigate in the snow.

As for classes, I only have four classes, instead of five to six, and they meet less frequently, so I have a lot more free time on my hands. Classes only meet once a week for about two hours instead of two to three times a week for an hour.It will be nice when I finally venture out and explore more!

 

written by: Stefanie Davis