Hello fellow Spartans! My name is Sarah Shackelford. I am a Nutrition/Dietetics student with a concentration in human dietetics. This semester I am studying in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. I have been in this small, quaint, Irish town for about a month and a half. It is one of the most beautiful places to study, I can look out my window and admire rolling hills spotted with sheep, or take a walk into the nearby town, grab a coffee and a bag or two of groceries (don’t forget a reusable bag!). Walking down cobblestone streets, I am still look around in awe of the fact I am in another country for entire semester.
Why Northern Ireland? Well, why not? Yes, it is not the most popular destination such as England, Germany or France, but in my time here I have come to see it is equally as historic and beautiful. When many individuals think of Ireland, they may imagine a rainy, dreary place, with a pub in the middle of nowhere, or they may automatically think of St. Patrick’s Day and a pint of Guinness. Only a few things out of that list have some truth. Northern Ireland has its’ perks and I would love to share a few with you! I made a small list of some interesting facts about my host country:
- The national color is not green nor is it orange, it is actually St. Patrick’s blue. But the shade of blue may differ depending on if you speak to someone who states they are “British” or “Irish.” There is a distinct difference- not everyone here considers themselves to be Irish, some are still very loyal to the crown.
- Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is a thing here, and yes, schools do let out for an extra day to celebrate the holidays. I can assure you many people will have a pint or two of Guinness to celebrate the occasion.
- It does rain here, but it does not always pour. Around this time of year, I have seen (and walked through) rain, sun, sleet and snow within the span of a few hours. But, we do have glorious days of sunshine, that one takes full advantage of.
- The manner of speech is quite different from The States and even Britain. Many individuals will use words (for lack of a better term, slang) throughout everyday conversation. For example, “bap” means bun, “grand” means lovely, “craic” means fun. I applaud my friends who speak English as their second language, because I would be completely lost coming here if English was not my native tongue (and even then, I am lost).
- Tea is almost, if not more, popular than coffee. Many time you will be offered tea or coffee, and there is only one type of tea served-Teatly Black.
A group of the International students in front of the town hall when we visited Belfast for the day. Fun fact: Belfast was where the Titanic was built!
A panaroma of the infamous Giant's Causeway where all the rocks are shaped as hexagons. This was the day we walked in wind, sleet, and rain, and then the same finally came out.
The Northern Irish landscape is not complete without its' sheep. So, we decided it was a must that we take a picture with them. (Not pictured: the sheep running away from us)
One of the sunny days that we had, we visited the nearby coast and took some pictures at the coast in a nearby town called Portstewart.
I know many of you reading either will, have or are thinking about studying abroad. I am not going to sugar coat the fact that there will be difficult moments, or the fact that you wonder how you were brave enough to get on a plane and travel half way across the world for four months. These thoughts will come up, but you will never, ever regret the decision to get on the plane and explore a new place. In the past month I have made friends with people from all over the world, learned how to say “goodnight” in Greek, and learned things about myself and my faith that I may not have seen if I stayed home. So, if you even have a little bit of interest, I would encourage you to go, the experience will change your life!