Plans, plans, plans.

I am about a week and a half away from the big day now. Everything is starting to be squared away. All the loose ends are being tied up. I could probably muster up a couple more cliches about preparedness, but I think those will do. In short, we are almost there, people.

This trip has been basically my sole topic of conversation over the last 4 or 5 months and in that time, I have made a number of plans… in my head. Knowing me, by writing them down, I will greatly increase the probability of me actually following through with them. There are so many wonderful things to do in Europe; I just want to make sure I don’t miss out on anything. On my iPod, I have created a list entitled “Places to Visit in Europe”. The list includes Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, and Paris. Paris may be a long shot for me, but hey, I can dream. Mostly, I plan to stay within the UK and Ireland (Northern Ireland is part of the UK). I want to avoid overextending myself by trying to see too much. I also really would like to get to know the city I will be living in – Londonderry. It is the oldest city in N. Ireland, so it is obviously highly concentrated with history.

While exploring this country, I want to visit a castle. Yes, a castle — authentic stone edifices that are paramount to so many fairy-tales. These great pieces of architecture just don’t exist in America. Which is probably part of the reason they are so appealing to me. Our whole country is significantly younger than these buildings. I will be living every little girl’s dream. And, from what I’ve read, there is no shortage of castles in Northern Ireland. Going along with this magical theme… one of the reasons I would like to visit Scotland, is to see Lake Loch Ness.  Spotting ol’ Nessy would make that trip worthwhile.

I hope that part of my adventures includes understanding the people of Northern Ireland. I know that many times, when students study overseas, they tend to be drawn to other international students (because they are living in similar circumstances). Sure, I would love to meet other people who are attempting to operate in a foreign environment, but I don’t want to spend time with them exclusively. I need to make it a goal of mine to have Irish friends as well. There is no better way to learn about a culture than to than to be educated by a friend who lives it. Which is essentially what I am doing with this blog — educating you about what studying abroad is like. Which is why I have decided to add a “fun fact” to the end of each blog, because, to my knowledge, American college kids don’t know much about Northern Ireland (no offense). So, here goes…

Fun Fact #1: The singer-songwriter/musician Van Morrison (wrote the song Brown Eyed Girl), actor Liam Neeson (of Schindler’s List and Taken), as well as this summer’s winner of The Glee Project Damian McGinty were all born and raised in Northern Ireland.

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