Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ireland Study Abroad, Installment 7

Belfast has been a very different experience from the other places we've been so far. Luckily, our border crossing was uneventful, although using pounds is odd after seven weeks of euros. I still don't understand why the two pence pieces are nearly the same size as the fifty pence pieces.
We've been able to stick to our normal class schedule while here; it's nice to have a routine. The close of the semester is drawing ever nearer; I still have a lot of writing to get done for my classes. There's been a lot less play-going while we're here, which is nice because that means we have most of our evenings to ourselves.
One of our first excursions was to see some of Belfast's murals. These are all generally of some political bent, sometimes local, sometimes more international, often featuring either Nationalist or Loyalist imagery or celebrating historical events. We also saw several informational panels, which are created digitally and then printed and posted. I'm not a big fan of these; the murals are far more striking and effective. Someone driving by won't read intimidating blocks of text, and only some walkers will do so, but an artistic image can be processed at a glance. Furthermore, the murals are temporary and generally reflective of the community's sentiments; the panels seem to defeat that purpose.
We also visited Healing Through Remembering, which I was really glad we were able to do. We saw a few items from their exhibit, Everyday Objects Transformed by the Conflict, as well as got to hear about a lot of their work and how their organization began. We were lucky to see them because they're currently in the process of a downsizing move.
On Thursday, we went to Angela's Ashes: The Musical, which I quite enjoyed. Several of the songs were rather catchy, and I think it did a reasonably good job of adapting the novel and maintaining a similar tone of sadness and humour. I was distracted by the children Malachy and Frank being played by adults.
Friday we took a field trip to several sites in County Antrim, including Giant's Causeway and the terrifying Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. We still have another week full of things to do in Belfast.

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