Although this week started out slow, it picked up around Thursday. We’ve been so lucky to get a lot beautiful weather; I honestly do not remember the last time that it rained here. We all took advantage of it as much as we could. For me, that meant walking around Dublin a bit and through a lot of the green spaces here. As a group, it meant a soccer game on the Griffith College field. My sports skills are more than lacking, so I chose to be a part of the fan club with Ciara and Kaylee, but I think it was almost more fun that way. Our soccer-playing friends managed to draw a crowd and a group of students that we hadn’t known before. Griffith College has more than a thousand international students and we don’t really get to befriend them, but that soccer game made it feel a little more connected. I thought I was going to have a whole bunch of homework to do on Thursday, but that day I got the magical email that said all our assignments aren’t due until May 3rd now. Because of this, I was able to enjoy our weekend. On Friday, our Irish History & Culture class went to Belfast. Tommy, our lecturer, had us drive through the city to look at political murals. From that, we learned a lot about the conflicts between people in Belfast who want to be a part of Ireland (generally Catholics) and the ones who want to be a part of the United Kingdom (usually Protestants). The neighborhoods are still divided, not just socially, but by physical walls. These walls have gates that can be closed to really separate the two groups. The people of Belfast call them “peace walls” because they helped reduce the violence. It was hard to focus on how strange it is that a place in western Europe needs walls to keep conflict down because of Tommy lecturing; however, when we got out to sign one of these peace walls (there’s no apparent reason for doing this, its just become a tradition) and I could see how huge it was their existence felt more monumental. Tommy didn’t really tell us much about what current people in Belfast think of them, but, according to a study done by the University of Ulster, 69% of people living in the peace walls think they are still necessary because of the potential for violence ( http://news.ulster.ac.uk/releases/2012/6560.html ) I’m uncertain how I would feel about the walls if I lived in Belfast, but I also hate to think of children growing up in Belfast having to think they need walls to keep them safe from any other kind of person. Our next stop was lunch and, by a miracle, we found a Five Guys Burgers & Fries. It was still way too expensive, but the chocolate & peanut butter actual milkshake was so worth it (also the American-style bacon). After lunch, we went to the Titanic museum. The museum was built in 2012 with very interactive exhibits. While I do not have interest in the Titanic besides the movie, Belfast is where the Titanic was built. Many workers on the ship when it sunk were from Belfast. Shipbuilding is something they are so proud of; therefore, the museum is very meaningful for the city. We rushed a little through it to get back to Griffith in time to go to the school ball. I went with Jacquie and Chris, who both dutifully waited for me to get ready before they left for the ball. I thought it was going to be similar to a high school prom, but it was actually a lot nicer and a lot more fun. The staff all came, including the school’s president. There was a dinner included and a bar for drinks. The school’s student union presented awards for sports and the new student union officers. We also had a live cover band called the Unusual Suspects (who Chris had somehow seen a couple of times before). Overall, it was way better than any prom I have ever been to, and I was so grateful that my boyfriend was able to come on such short notice (literally asked him if he wanted to come the week of). Saturday was spent relaxing most of the day as was Sunday. Saturday, we waited for forever a bus to go watch the last rugby game that Chris has before I leave. The next day, Calleigh and I went for a walk around Dublin, did some shopping, and Chris came later that night so we could drive out to a beach for a bit. This is our very last week of internships and class, so I’m hoping it flies by. I’ve been very lucky to have such a relaxed internship and interesting courses. As I’ve said in a conversation with my roommate, Bailey, this week “Actually, I don’t usually wake up until lunch.” That pretty much describes exactly how nice it has been to be in a place that doesn’t rush you or innately stress you out. In fact, pretty much all the stress that I’ve had this semester has been from things at home trying to hop over the ocean to me.
For this next week, all I have are my classes and internship, then on Sunday, I leave for London for a few days with Abby and Bailey.