Greetings from Northern Ireland

This is my third Thursday in Belfast, and things are good.  The hardest part of being here was getting here, so now that I’ve been on the ground for a few weeks, I’m feeling pretty settled and ready to get started.

Which is good, because this was the first week of class for me. Classes here work differently than at C of I, but so far, I like it. Everyone takes three classes, which are equivalent to taking 15 credits in the US. (Disclaimer: everything I speak of is based on third year English courses, other schools might do it differently.) Each class has two components—a lecture and a seminar. The lecture happens for an hour a week, or an hour once every two weeks. The seminar takes place every week for two hours. Lectures are for listening, and seminars are for talking.

Because I tried to adopt a “when in Rome” mentality, I’m taking only British and Irish things—Reading Contemporary British and Irish Poetry, 19th Century Irish Writing, and Chaucer’s London Poetics. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of class size since Queen’s is about twenty-three thousand students, but so far, it’s about like at C of I, with maybe 15-20 people per seminar. My professors are all young Phds, and are doing the first-name-basis thing. I was also worried about having distant profs, but that’s not been the case. I was worried about being behind in my Chaucer seminar because I haven’t taken any middle English courses, but I went in to see my Chaucer prof (Malte, he’s German) during office hours, and came away with recommended reading lists and reassurances.

Other than class, which was a grand total of seven hours this week, I’ve been getting acquainted with Belfast and the people in it.

Belfast and it’s surrounding areas are just about the same size as Boise&co. Belfast feels bigger though, probably because it’s downtown area is larger. It’s got a million and one things to do. Ok, not really a million, but after a few years of high-quality but limited offerings in the 2C, it does offer what seems like a huge variety. There are films and plays and symphonies and tourist things and festivals and more festivals and food nights.  I’m having a hard time putting it all down on one schedule because I’ve accumulated so many different pamphlets that are all trying to tell me what’s going on. So far, I’ve managed to do some tourism things around town, attend Culture Night, a play, a film at the Queen’s Film Theatre, do a pub crawl, figure out a running route, visit the museum once or twice, sketch in the Botanic Garden, see the North coast, and essentially make my feet really really sore. All worth the pain though.           

From Belfast,

Megan Mizuta

The picture above is from Dunluce Castle, along the north coast.