So many amazing things have happened in the past few months, and still one of my favorite Irish trips was the trek to Northern Ireland that I made with my Arcadia program.
The three-day extravaganza was marked by an exploration of and lecture on the history of Belfast, made complete by driving around some of the darker parts of the city, walking past the huge political murals that famously coat some of the Peace Walls, and learning about how deep the Protestant/Catholic disagreements are embedded into Irish culture. (If you don’t know much about the IRA and the UVF or about the Troubles themselves and are interested in coming to Ireland for your abroad experience, PLEASE look them up. Not that I’m trying to tell you to do homework; it’s just that Ireland was basically in a perpetual state of violent civil war just within THE LAST FIFTY YEARS. As a result, six counties in Northern Ireland are part of the UK. The rest of Ireland is an independent republic. Not only that, but the terrorism, violence and unrest during the Troubles resulted in Northern Ireland being the only part of the British Isles – the Republic of Ireland included – that requires its police force, or Garda, to carry firearms. So crazy!). If you think Ireland is all rainbows and leprechauns, you’re wrong. It has a vast and complicated religious and political history and the Irish people are not afraid to talk about it.
On a brighter note, we also visited Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Coast, which was on my personal bucket list. I made a little, shaky video of our day there. Trust me, though; it’s way better in person.