Hannah, attendee of the faculty-led Ireland and Northern Ireland Co-Cultural Experience program during the Summer of 2016, submitted the following blog posts as a documentation of her time abroad. These will be uploaded in a three-part series.
May 12th, 2016: Belfast
We all woke up and ate a buffet breakfast at our hotel. After breakfast we went on a tour of Queen’s University. It was a beautiful campus with a lot of rich history. We learned how their cost of education is much more affordable and a priority to their people versus ours. There are only two universities in Northern Ireland, Queen’s University and Ulster University. After that we went on a guided tour of Belfast given by Richard Meeley, who was a past convict during the Troubles. He was such a nice guy and had a passion for what he believed in, and was also very informative. We saw the murals drawn by different people expressing the sides they stood for, Unionist or Revolutionist. The Catholics and Protestants have been at war for so long and the bombings and violence has been almost never-ending. We visited each side of town and saw the effects of years of violence. One crazy thing was seeing the huge wall that divided the two sides to help reduce violence. Many of the people are praying for peace, but most never actually see it happening. It was an eye-opening experience, and almost every local discusses the conflict. After the tour we took Richard to the Botanic Inn pub for a pint and to hear more of his stories. Later, we had another nice dinner at Robinson pub and then went out on the town for our first night. We got to meet many locals and it was a great day!