Traveling: Beautiful Belfast

Nola Nerd Couple went on two study abroad during our grad school days. We are going to try writing about those days even though our memories aren’t that fresh. Luckily, we have pictures and those are the best parts about travel blogs anyway! This particular study abroad was to Scotland and Ireland in 2014. The previous blog in this series is located here.



Greetings at the Belfast Train Station


My first impressions of Belfast were formed by movies particularly, In the Name of the Father and The Boxer. In those movies, Belfast was a violent town.  It could erupt in a rage in seconds.  It seemed super industrial and cold.  A place the sun might visit but wouldn’t stay.  However, the city, even in this fictional but based on a true story terms, fascinated me. It was a city torn apart by civil war in a developed country.  A city, and a region, which was still fighting over Protestant and Catholicism in my lifetime when everywhere else both of those faiths were fighting just to survive.  When our study abroad to Ireland and Scotland had Belfast on the itinerary, we were both excited.

Most of the group we traveled with came of age after the Good Friday Agreement.  I remember seeing Belfast being war torn on the news.  I remember the IRA being presented as a terrorist group by the media in America (which it was, if you take the idea that one group’s terrorist is another groups patriot).

To say, I was apprehensive about going to Belfast is an understatement.

Time changes things.

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Traveling: Scotland and Ireland 2014

The view from Cristina's room in Edinburgh

The view from Cristina’s room in Edinburgh

I thought last summer would be a peaceful summer at home. Whenever anyone asked where we were going, I would answer maybe a few weekend trips.

I should have known better.

Southeastern was offering their study abroad to Scotland and Ireland in the summer of 2014. The first time Cristina talked about it, I knew we were going even though she hadn’t said she wanted to go. We would be earning six history credits while we were there. That makes it worth it. Also, the trip would be three weeks.
I’m glad we did go. The trip wasn’t a big, scheduled tour like our Normandy trip (which Cristina will finish writing about). We would have some lectures in the morning by our professors as well as some from scholars from Scotland and Ireland. Most afternoons we were free to do what we wanted.
The trip’s home base was Edinburgh. We fell in love with that city and it’s people instantly. We took a trip to Ireland for 4 days. We stayed in Dublin and made a day trip to Belfast. The day trip to Belfast was a selling point for us. On one of our first free weekend, we went to London to take a day trip to Hampton Court Palace, the Science Museum, and the London Comic Con. We also took an overnight trip to Inverness and did a cruise on Loch Ness. We took another day trip, thankfully on a Sunday, to St. Andrews to see the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. We went to Stirling and labored up the William Wallace Monument.

I will be writing a day-to-day blog of the trip. I will with a novice and outsiders point of view discuss Scottish politics at the time since this was the summer before the failed vote for Scottish independence. I will discuss some of the record stores we visited, of course. I will try to do my best to describe some of the people that we met. Since it was a college trip, we shared our dorm and our experiences with other people, and thankfully it was a really great group.

We have travelled a lot. Edinburgh feels to us the way New Orleans does. It is that special kind of city. We know that we only experienced maybe 20% of what it has to offer. That’s what return trips are for.