Newark Airport was stuffy, hot, and there were lines of people everywhere because the computer system had shut down earlier in the day, leaving hundreds stranded and unable to get flights. I arrived after the chaos, but the lingering effects were noticeable. Saying goodbye to my parents and sister at the security check was very emotional, which is why I’m so glad I’ll be able to Skype and email them to keep in touch as often as I want! My 9:25pm flight to Belfast was delayed two hours, leaving me more than enough extra time to grab a small bite to eat and collect myself for the five and a half hour flight ahead of me.
At 10:15am the next morning, I landed in Belfast, Ireland… completely exhausted, but excited! Looking out the tiny window of the plane I looked down at the landscape to see the tiny patchwork of green fields with cows and sheep that were so small they just looked like dots! As we got closer to the airport and lower to the ground, I could see Belfast city and the rows upon rows of houses. I was thinking about all the people going about their daily business and it made it made me realize that this truly is the beginning of my study abroad trip and new life in Ireland for the year!
The time difference of five hours combined with not getting much sleep on the plane left me feeling wiped out throughout my first day. I left the hot and humid temperatures in Philly, and arrived to a sunny, but chilly Belfast, where it was only in the 50’s. Despite the stereotype of constant rain in Ireland, the sun was shining when I arrived!
First thing on my agenda was to get something to eat. My stomach was beginning to grumble after the disappointing meal on the plane (mushy chicken and nasty rice) and I couldn’t wait to get to my uncle’s house for a bite to eat! My first meal was a delicious Irish “fry” for breakfast. In all seriousness, it is possibly my favorite food. A fry consists of sausages, bacon, eggs, soda bread and potato bread – all topped with HP brown sauce (which is something similar to A1 sauce in America.)
On my second day in Belfast, it was lovely and sunny and the temperature was in the 60’s. I took advantage of the good weather to walk around to explore a bit of the city with my younger cousin, Dara. I had been told Queen’s University was walkable distance from where I’m staying, but I wanted to see exactly how long it would take to walk there. It took us about 35 minutes, strolling down the street, chatting and checking out the shops. I definitely won’t mind walking to school on days with nice weather! Although, it only takes 5 minutes to get to Queen’s by bus, so I’m probably going to get a bus pass for the rainy days and to give my legs a break from walking.
Walking to see Queen’s University in person was very exciting. The iconic, red brick, central building is absolutely beautiful, and looks like a castle or something out of Harry Potter. There was a groundskeeper tending to the perfectly cut, greener–than–green grass and some other people milling around. I’m so excited for orientation and classes to start so I can meet fellow students and start making friends!
I still can’t believe I’m 3,000 miles away from home. It’s weird to think that I’m now on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I am just so excited and thrilled to be in Ireland and I’m looking forward to all the activities planned for new students, or“Freshers” as they call them here. Now all I need to do is just adjust to the five hour time difference over the next few days and then I’ll be all set. Cheerio for now!