Friday, December 3, 2010


I bet by the title of this post you can guess where i currently am... so after the semester official ended in Northern Ireland students then have the option of being able to travel Europe on their own for a while. so that is what my roommate and I are up to..

To start things off we slept overnight in the Belfast International Airport to make sure that we were able to get to our 7AM flight alright. it had been snowing for a week before this and the only road to from Derry to the airport could have been closed... once there we flew to London's Heathrow airport and proceeded to stay there for the next 6 hours as we had a 4 hour layover and a 2 hour delay. good times. but it was all worth it when we finaly made it to Athens and got to our Hostel which is probably the best hostel there is.
Today after a good nights rest we made quick work of walking the entire city it seemed like in about 6 hours. We saw the Ancient gardens of Agroza, the Acropolis which includes the Parthenon and the 2 theatres right along side of it. Zues' Temple, the Pantheonic Stadium which is were the first official Olympic games were held in 1876. The Zeppion, and finally the Parliament building where we watched as they did the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which reminded me a lot of watching my friend from high school doing his Greek dancing. Anywho off to Rome/ Pompei tommorow and will try and update then when we get there.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Coming to an End

I can't Beleive this, It is almost time for me to leave Northern Ireland. A week from today i will be opn a play heading to Athens to start my traveling of Europe which students on our program are allowed to do once our semester ends.

But i digress back to Derry for the time being. Lately we have been going to different events and meetings and not to mention working in our work placements. currently i am working at the peace and reconcilliation group which is an orgnaisation devoted to public relations in the community and organizing "cross community" events that have both members of the protestant and catholic communities present in order to get a better understanding of each community. The project that i have been working on a lot is called "Let's Talk Politics" and was held in the guild hall in Derry last week. What we did was have 104 students from 9 different Secondary/Grammer schools in the area(Those are High Schools) come in and get the opportunity to speak with politicians from all of the parties of parliament. it was really cool from my perspective because i was calling politicians all the time and trying to get them to attend our event which is a lot harder than it would seem. I felt important as by the end of the programme most of the politicians had been in personal meetings with me and knew me by name. Not to mention that the Mayor and I are close friends now and have seen each other probably 10 times in the last 2 weeks.

Speaking of the Mayor, the other evening we did our Irish Dance and Irish Tin Whistle performance for him as well as our host families in the Guild Hall. It was an overall good time as we got to show off our new skills(or lack of skills) and everyone had a good laugh and overall just good Craic(Craic is a general word for fun/fellowship. oftentimes when someone greats you they ask "What's the Craic" which means something along the lines of what has been going on?)

Last weekend we were at Corrymeela for one last time to get all together as well as time to reflect on our experiance here and to do reviews with our programme director. While we were there we went on a day trip together to see a Fairy Tree which is a magical tree that the people of Ireland are afraid of because of it's aura and the legends that surround them. when we asked our programme director if we could go hike and touch the tree which was surrounded by a wall that was made to protect it and keep people away from it our director looked at us very seriously and said "Don't! I have never known anyone who has not had something happen to them after doing such a thing. I have heard of people who have cut Fairy Trees down and later had their arm cut off or that they were struck down with illness." So touching the tree then seemed like a bad idea.

We then went to Cushenden and walked along the beach for a while and found some swans that were fun to look at. after the beach we went to this national park and walked down this trail where there were a lot of waterfalls. it was really fun and cool and i even at one point stuck my head into a little trickle of water running down the rock wall which was really really cold. i mean freezing!!

We then went back to Corrymeela and got ready for our fancy night out at the Causway Hotel with a nice dinner. I ate entirely too much food and don't regret it at all! after which we went out to the town of Ballycastle and went out to a pub to celebrate my housemate's and another girls birthdays that were that weekend. we all had a good time and just enjoyed everyone's company and the evenings activities.

Well I guess this is it for now as I really haven't updated in a long time. But i will for sure update again before i leave for Greece and hopefully will be able to as well on my trips around the continent!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parents and the ROI

This week is suppose to be our "paper writing week". i say suppose to be because if you get all of your papers done before hand, and or have a good grasp on getting them done before the due date of next week, then you can take this week to travel because last week was our last week of classes. so what do i do on this "Paper writing week"? i travel the Republic of Ireland with my parents who flew over to spend the week with me!!!

we started off by heading down the northwest coast through the Conemara National Park and over to the city of Galway, and then on over to Dublin for me to run in the Dublin Marathon on Monday. just to mention i placed 1605th our of 14 thousand and finished with a time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. it was such a cool experience and to get to have my parents there with me to watch and go explore dublin with i ran was the best part.

After the marathon, the days of painful walking and climbing of stairs commenced as we explored the central part of the ROI(Republic of Ireland). we went over to a the Bunratty Castle and were served a midevil meal in which the only utensils we were given to eat with was a dagger and our hands. at one point during the show that we were given, i was thrown into the dungeon by the volunteering of my parents because of "fratenising with the ladies". which the only "ladies" at my table was my mom and a group of 70 years old and up women from Maine. to get out of the dungeon i was required to go up on stage and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. needless to say, no one wanted to hear me keep singing so they let me out of the dungeon for the evening.

The last few days have been the most exciting as we have been to the Cliffs of Moher and the Dingle Peninsula which are both on the southwest coast of the ROI. The Cliffs of Moher were really cool because we got to walk through a bunch of cow pastures in order to get to them and then there you were, right on the edge of some pretty nasty drops into the ocean.(see pictures) and the Dingle peninusla was really nice do because you were driving through mountains and could get out and explore the different areas. as i kept saying "It is like one big jungle gym!!!!"

These last few days we are going to be traveling through southern parts of the ROI and looking at mostly castles and cathedrals. today we actually went to theKillarny National Park and saw the Torc Waterfalls and Muskross Abbey.

After such a fun filled and exciting week, it doesn't seem like fair that i have to go back and finish off my papers in order to pass all of my classes for the semester. oh well, if that is the price i have to pay in order to have an amazing paper writing week and time with my parents, then so be it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Behind Schedule

Sorry, but i am behind schedule on these blogs. it is coming down to crunch time here as our Final papers are due this week for all of our classes since all of our classes are done after this week and we are going to be doing our work placements after this.

I promise to update(with photos) of our trips to Dublin and Belfast that we took the last week but for now i am just going to post this link to a report that was shown on BBC last night that Josh and I watched about the Disident Republican groups that are a threat to the peace process here in Northern Ireland and specifically they talk about what has been happening here in Derry/Londonderry. This is what we are really learning about here. this what what we are trying to understand and get our heads around. this is why we are here, to better understand why this is happening. The Bomb that they talk about at the beggining went off 2 weeks before we got to Derry and the second one they talk about went off 2 weeks ago when we were away in Dublin. even with this threat we all feel extremely safe, but it is interesting to see how this effects people even today, 12 years after the Belfast/good Friday Agreement.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous

So one minute we are sitting in class after being told by our program director to dress nicely yesterday, and the next minute we are sitting in the 3rd row of the Great Hall on campus here listening to Former President Bill Clinton give a speech about his economic ideas and goals for Northern Ireland as well as challenging us, "the Youth", to become more economically aware!! I don't know about you but I think that is pretty stinkin' cool! Bill(we are on a first name basis now) talked about how it was a huge honor for him to be a part of the peace process in Northern Ireland in the 90's and how impressed he was to see that both the First Minister, Peter Robinson, and the Deputy First Minster, Martin McGuinness, are working together to work toward a brighter future in Northern Ireland.

Oh and did i mention that both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were present for the speech and met up with our group and took pictures with us afterwards? oops. oh and did i mention that John Hume(known to be the man that started the effort towards the peace talks in Northern Ireland) and his wife were also sitting literally 2 rows in front of me as well as the speaker of parliament William Hunt! Not to mention that the hip and trendy 27 year old mayor of Derry as well as the deputy mayor of Derry were present and sitting right in front of us as well! I was so star struck with all of the absolutely HUGE names that were sitting right there in front of us that I almost didn't notice that Chris Matthews of NBC news was sitting right beside the other half of our group that was 2 rows back!!!!

After the speech was over, Bill walked towards our group and I was lucky enough to get to reach out and shake his hand! He looks so much older and more frail that I would have imagined him to, but it was still extremely cool to get to shake his hand. Also after the speech Amanda and I got whisked away by our program director to get interview by the NATIONAL NEWS!!!! so cool! we ended up just answering questions about what we thought about his speech as well as if we were impressed by his status and his stances on the economics of the region. I said that I was!

To end a pretty much awesome day here in Northern Ireland, we all went to a local cafe to have dinner(chicken and bacon Caesar salad) and then to get some absolutely Delicious ice cream(JJ's cookie and Smarties)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trip to Donegal

This past weekend we went to the county of Donegal which is pretty much right next door to where we are living. this was cool for 2 reasons. one being that it is in the Republic of Ireland and two being that it got us out of the city and we saw some really cool sights!!

First of wee headed to this really cool circular fort at the top of a hill in county Donegal. the hill was so high that you could actually see 3 counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland(Londonderry, Tryone, and Donegal). this made it a useful fort as it could see for a very long distance as well as it could see all the way up the river Foyle which is the major waterway into the mainland of Northern Ireland. another cool thing is that all of the places we went to had almost no one there and there were really no rules except "don't break the artifacts" and "don't break yourself". that second mostly applied to me as i turned the forts and cliffs and beaches that we went to into huge jungle gyms and explored and climbed all around. the circular fort was also built around the time of Christ which was really cool to think about how just how long it had been there.

Next we went to the amazingly cool Fort Dunree, which is a fort that was refortified and re-armed in order to protect Ireland against a German invasion during World War 2. it was a lot of fun and once again some really cool scenic views on top of being in a huge fort. we could climb on top of the buildings to see where the soldiers would have had a lookout and some of the girls even said they saw dolphins, but it turns out the only dolphins they saw were the ones on the information boards that were posted up all over the place.

After seeing the two forts we went to the small ocean side village of Moville which had a really cool beach with rocks that had to be climbed and i was up to the task. i jumped from one rock to another and then to another and finally would find myself stuck and wondering how i was going to get back without getting wet. it was a really nice way to end the day with the sun setting over the ocean and sail boats floating just off shore by the lighthouse. it made for a very good ending to a very good day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Whistlin' and a Dancin'

On top of all of the classes that we are taking here in Derry at the local campus of Ulster University, we are also required to take two cultural classes which are Irish Dance and Irish Tin Whistle. to some of the people in the group this is absolutely a "requirement" and to others it is kind of fun. see i am actually one the best in the group at both, which is amazing cause back home i would have no sense of rhythm compared to most people. i guess i just got lucky with who else is on the program with me and that they are just as bad at it! They blame my talent on my blond hair which i do not find very funny at all.

The Tin Whistle class is a lot of fun because it is every Tuesday night at one of the local elementary schools. so not only are we learning one of the most simple instruments, but we also feel like idiots because we are sitting in the little kid chairs of the elementary schools and are way too big for them. sometimes when we play a really hard song(which in all actuality is a really easy song) you can hear someone get really frustrated and their whistle squeaks and or you hear a fluster of notes coming from one area of the classroom usually accompanied by laughter, to which our teacher points out that no where in the sheet music is laughter called for.

Dance is different though. we go to the Verbal Arts Center inside the walls of Derry to take our class every Friday afternoon. the room that we are in is really small and Josh and I have to watch our heads when we skip around to make sure we don't smack one of the lights that hangs from the ceiling. the ceiling is so short that without really jumping at all, I can hit my head on it.

When all things are said and done though, we have to perform these new cultural skills to the mayor of London/Derry. could be interesting to see and hour host brother has already told us that he is going to videotape if for us and post it online because it is going be some "Real good Craic!(craic means fun times or something good like that, it has lots of different meanings)" lets just hope that some of the people in the group practice then!