Belfast

This week I went back to the land of my grandfather retraced in the footsteps of the McDonald Irish Clan.

But first: a quick update about Copenhagen. As always, it is great. My study trip was set in between two great bookends. The first, being brunch with Sarah and her parents as they visited her for the week. The second, a night spent in making tacos and crepes accompanied by some great friends as we laughed, danced, and recapped about our weeks. I have started to ride my bike in the city which may just be even scarier than the whole horse incident itself. But, I have no problem laughing at myself and have learned to embrace getting lost. My biggest accomplishment thus far was hauling a whole week’s worth of groceries back to my apartment on the bike in the rain. #Denmark #DopeCope 🙂

A little over 2 years ago my parents and I spent a significant amount of time traveling through Ireland and the UK, and at first, I was hesitant about returning so soon. But, if living abroad has taught me anything it’s that new experiences are always around the corner and that no two trips are ever the same. For context, this trip it was my core-course’s week-long study tour. We went to Belfast and Dublin to study how narratives and identities are created and perceived. Even though this is a communication class, I really think it relates more to my Sociology major, and I thrived being in an environment that was so immersive.

We started our trip in Belfast, a city still eerie even though the fighting and the troubled times stopped almost two decades ago. For me, the most impactful part was our walking tour of Shankill Road (Loyalist/UVF) and Falls Road (Republican/IRA) areas where we were separated into two groups and spent the day hearing first from a former IRA member and then a UVF solider. We heard their version of the war and how the city has changed since the signing of the peace accords in 1998. And despite their difference in ideology, (The IRA believes it’s a war based on identity vs. the UVF’s belief that it was a religious war) both of their stories were marked with assassination attempts, murder, and love lost. The city is literally divided with a gate that opens at 7 am and closes at 7 pm and people on the east and west do not interact. Though publically they both say they want peace and integration many doubt it will ever happen.

Although our trip was primarily academic there were also many cultural visits. These included experiences such as the Giants Causeway, a ghost tour on Halloween, and a comedy club show in Belfast. In Dublin, we toured Trinity College, had a private tasting of Jameson Whiskey, and hit the town for a traditional Irish musical pub crawl – where yours truly participated in Karaoke and sang a mean ‘Sweet Caroline’!

Dublin was not my favorite, but I also think it is unfair to come from the rolling hills of Ireland to the middle of the urban jungle. I also was a little biased to Northern Ireland because THE Jamie Lannister of Game of Thrones was on our flight to Ireland on his way to film the final season.

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