So Belfast is pretty great. Yes, there's a lot of beer and a lot of potatoes and a lot of rain, but the whole experience has been really wonderful so far. I fell in love with the city soon after arriving, when our bus passed "Thai Tanic," a little restaurant nearby (the titanic was built here, FYI). So punny, right?! They have a lot of punny establishments, in fact. I walk by "Streats" on the way to classes, and during our day-long stroll across the city, we came across "Ginger Snips 2", a salon (see facebook for pics). The Irish love puns. Today in class, the professor split us up into 4 groups and wanted us to come up with team names. I suggested the "b-sharps," since it was a music class, and WAY more people found it funny than I expected! Sigh--its great.
Its been a pretty smooth transition for me, except for the fact that I'm terrible at entering and exiting buildings. First off, the direction that doors open is not standardized like in the States (you could have to "pull" AND "push" just to get through one entrance!). Luckily most doors have a little sign that says push/pull, which helps a lot, unless the door is transparent like the one today, and of course I read the backwards "push" before the forwards "pull." Shambles. The best part, though, is the random buttons that unlock doors to exit buildings. For example, our dorms. Soon after we moved in, I got a frantic call from Erica, "How do I get out of here!?!?!?" We have an unlabeled button like 5 ft away from the actual door that it unlocks. Basically, I've spent the past week and a half looking foolish.
(pause- there's an old couple smooching on the couch across from me in this coffee shop. Don't they have coffee breath?!?)
Oh, I almost died yesterday. I was walking on the sidewalk in front of this gas station (a.k.a. petrol), and this car was stopped waiting to pull out. Let's just say, pedestrians do not have right-of-way here. The guy kinda shoveled me across the sidewalk a bit, and then gave me a nasty look. Of course, I went straight home and told everyone I know (like 3 people). It could be that I'm just bad at being a pedestrian here, though. I still have no idea which way to look, so I wait at intersections for somebody else to cross and just flank them. I probably look like a creeper, but I'd take that over roadkill any day. I still find myself looking at passing cars, and freaking out, "Nobody's driving that vehicle!!!" Luckily, its a silent freak-out.
Everyone here is pretty friendly, although I haven't had much of a chance to be chummy with my flatmates yet. I've mostly been hanging around the other Americans in my program, which is hopefully going to change, as its turning into a little too much of a clique-y thing. We hang out with the other international students here too, as all the Irish kids go home on the weekends. (the coffee-couple is going at it again...) There are these really fun Dutch guys that we've been chillin' with. One of them is named Yessa, so of course I ask him if he has any friends named Noah. He didn't get it at first.
Today we went to Belfast Castle, which is on this big hill that overlooks the entire city. It was all stormy and overcast today, so it looked very impressive against the gray. The whole castle is open to public, so I did a little exploring. I poked around on the second level where all the prep rooms are for wedding couples (they host a lot of marriages there). Let me just say, the Bridal Toilette was fantastic. I'm hoping to go back when its a bit nicer out, as they have a hiking trail that goes to the top of the cliffs next to the castle.
So I think about all of you guys a lot and miss you tons. Hope you're all doing well in your respective locales across the world. I'm off to do my first round of laundry in a foreign country.
PS- Craic (pronounced "crack") is the catch-all slang word in Ireland. Here it means "what's up?" FYI