XOXO Ireland

 

My trip to Ireland was beyond amazing. My expectations of the trip were exceeded by everything I learned and experienced. I met new people and friends that I will remember for a lifetime. I am still amazed that I actually went to Europe and studied abroad.IMG_3560IMG_3444IMG_3379IMG_3453

The culture that I experienced was something I will never forget. Staying in Camden Court for two weeks started to feel like home. The restaurants, stores, and people started feeling familiar to me in the same way it does in Chicago.

Anne Driscoll was one of our final speakers during the trip and for some reason she stands out the most. We didn’t have much time with her but what she said resonated with me.

She appeared to be a mature woman because she discussed having a child who received his doctorate. The fact that she is a mother and still following her passion that led to receiving a Fulbright scholarship amazes me.

She now calls Ireland her home because she was given an opportunity. It made me think of the endless possibilities that exist for me.

Initially I wasn’t going to apply for this trip because I didn’t think I could afford it but   receiving the scholarship made it possible. I’m glad that I didn’t let fear cripple me the way it often does so many.

I took a chance and it paid off. I was enlightened to meet other students that came into the class from different disciplines. It was interesting to see how different people with different interests could benefit from the trip to Ireland.

Covering issues in a different country was different but in a good way. The legislative process for gender recognition was something I learned about.

Sometimes you don’t know what to expect in foreign territory but I was pleasantly surprised. I found that the people In Ireland were quick to offer information. The sources for my final project were very accommodating and easy to talk to.

I enjoyed learning about their political process involving the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Sinn Fein. It was refreshing to learn about a different political system other than the one in the United States.

When you learn the customs and practices of a different place where you come from seems so small in comparison. I enjoyed learning about the traveler population in Ireland as a different ethnic group.

The trip to Belfast gave me a crash course on the history of Northern Ireland that I will never forget. The murals and the writings on the wall are etched in my memory because of the gravity of what happened there.

I will miss walking to Grafton street where I could go shopping or listen to the street musicians who provided me with free entertainment. I remember the first time I went to Grafton street by myself and came back I was so proud. I had my own private celebration in my mind because I was happy to learn the land on my own.

Dublin I will miss you for all the small things including the writings on the wall in the bathrooms that celebrated LGBTQ individuals, the bike taxi driver who dropped us off at the George because he just “knew” we needed to go, and finally the Irish people. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and showing me the time of my life. XOXO Ireland.

Inspiration in Belfast

Covering Ireland has been fascinating so far. Exploring the many facets of Ireland’s culture continues to impress me. Just when I think I have comprehended as much as I can more information is given to me and I realize the depth of history in Ireland.

Our class was given the opportunity to look at many inspring photographs from Niall Carson. Niall’s pictures were captivating in an emotional way. He tells a story through pictures the way journalists tells stories with words. As we discussed his work and observed photos the city of Belfast became a present theme. Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland in addition to being the largest city there.

As Niall explained his photos he gave some history on the culture of Belfast. We learned about the “Troubles” and how it refers to a dangerous conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics which lasted thirty years. Niall explained that the “Troubles” begain the late 1960s when riots broke out in Londonberry and later in Belfast in 1969.

Troops were brought in to establish order but the trouble grew as the Irish Republican Army also known as the IRA and Protestant groups procceded with acts of terrorism. His pictures told a story about Belfast in a way that made me curious to see the city once marred by terrorism and unrest. Niall set the scene perfectly through his photography helping me better understand the city that I would be visiting the next day.

I was fascinated by the walls known as peace walls that were designed to keep the Protestants from the Catholics. The walls indicate a time of violence and fear. As I looked at the walls I couldn’t help but imagine what the times must have been like during that period. I never knew about the history of Belfast prior to this course so the events were intriguing to me.

There was a freedom wall that I found absolutely beautiful with signs of hope and positivity for a city with a violent history. People from all over the world have written well wishes of freedom and peace in Belfast.

The writings on the freedom wall made me think about my final project for this course because of the message of peace. On the freedom wall I saw one message that read “freedom for everybody”. I’m focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture for my final project and freedom for everybody resonated with me because I thought about freedom for same sex coulpes and LGBTQ individuals who want acceptance and fair rights in this society. The trip to Belfast was inspring, nostalgic, and enlightening. IMG_3484IMG_3489IMG_3485 (2)

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Days in Dublin

The past couple of days in Dublin have  surpassed my expectations. Everyday there is something new to see and take in. The food, the pubs, and the entertainment never disappoints. I’m amazed at the nightlife. I’ve enjoyed shopping on Grafton because many stores like Zara have cheaper prices for clothes unlike the one in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Grafton also has many street performers that entertain shoppers and tourists.

I sat down at a bench near the stores and watched a young group of performers sing and play the guitar. Robbie Tomkins, a 17-year-old boy was one of the members. He was a guitarist and a vocalist. I was surprised at his cover of Drake’s billboard topping “Hotline Bling”. Listening to him sing a song from the United States made  me realize the impact that music has on other countries. He told me his influences come from the rock genre.

He noted David Bowie as an influence as well which was timely because that same day he unfortunately passed away. Music is a major theme in Dublin. Most pubs have live singers or bands that perform nightly.

The music is one facet of Irish culture, the dancing is equally as amazing. On Monday we went to the Arlington Hotel where we ate good food listened to music, and watched traditional Irish dancing. The dancing was hypnotizing. The rhythm of the dancers and the fast movement of their feet leaves you in awe.

In our lecture on Monday Colleen Dube explained that the Irish have patterns and doing things in 4 and 8 is a common theme. I couldn’t help but notice the pattern within the dancing style. Their were two men and two women and they moved and danced in a synchronized way.

Last night was even  better than the days before. We took a tram to Dalkey where we ate at Ragazzi which is a popular restaurant that Bono also eats. The food was delicious and the spaghetti was authentic unlike the watered down version back at home.

After we left dinner I went with Avante to explore the Temple Bar area where we enjoyed live music and a bike taxi that suggested we go to the George. The George is a local gay club that plays great music and entertains patrons with a weekly drag show.

The drag queens that performed last night were Dolly and Bambi who both had lively performances. I will be going back because once was just not enough. Dublin is starting to feel more like home. The people and culture are beautiful. My experience thus far can be summed up into one word. Priceless.

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The George, gay nightclub in Dublin
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Irish Dancing at the Arlington Hotel
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Dinner at Ragazzi

 

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Bambi Trashelle performs at the George