It’s been a busy few days for me. Most of Northern Ireland is accessible by public bus, so I headed out to two different counties this weekend—County Down and County Armagh. County Down found me climbing the tallest peak in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard, and County Armagh had me eating apple cinnamon scones at the Apple Harvest Fayre. Pretty different experiences, but both were full of Northern Irish countryside atmosphere. I spend most of my time in the city, and even though it’s got some good parks, it’s a different thing to drive out in the country and see hedges keeping a flock of sheep in a pasture. Then on Sunday, I took a long run and then a long walk in one of those Belfast parks—Omreau. It’s consistently full of dogs, families, and runners on Sunday. Then after making some lunch, I went to a craft fair just past the Queen’s campus, made a short circuit, and headed to the library for some reading time. Although it’s huge, the library gets really full during the weekday and daytime hours, so Sunday is a good time to catch it a little on the emptier side. After a few hours, I trekked back to the dorms, had dinner, called home, and then went back to campus to the Queen’s Film Theatre to catch a documentary. Oh, and in between that I decided to go to Amsterdam and Rome for a few days in about two weeks. NBD.
But really, I did decide to go to Amsterdam and Rome for Reading Week, which is the same thing as Fall Break. I wasn’t going to do any big trips besides London right before I leave in late January, but I got some encouragement from home to add to my collection of passport stamps. So, when in Rome…take advantage of those cheap European airline tickets. It’s unusual for me to do anything without planning it a month in advance, but there it is. Looks like study abroad is having it’s effect on me.
You might wonder, where’s the study part in all of this. Well, it’s there, but it’s a lot more flexible and less apparent than at C of I. My classes, for example, total 7-9 hours a week. I only have lecture for two of my classes every other week. And because I’m a pretty fast reader, I knock out most of my reading work within a day or two of getting it. The essays are coming—there are non-graded practice ones due in about two weeks, but that’s it. I’ve done a presentation, but it was enjoyable to research and present, and didn’t even seem like work. I also don’t ever have class on Wednesdays and Fridays, so it leaves a lot of big time chunks open.
C of I is calling though—I just put together my last semester’s worth of classes for the Spring. It’ll be back to classes five days a week and I have one big old lab that will eat up my Wednesdays.