007 Study Abroad: Belfast, Ireland.

IMG_84702.5 Week Study Abroad in Ireland, France, Great Britain

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Greetings from Ireland! Location: Belfast Peace Walls

Official Day 2 has just ended and it’s 10pm in Belfast right now, but feels like it’s 5pm! Most of us arrived in Belfast on Sunday. After a 6 hour flight, sleep deprived, hungry, and after having an interesting encounter with customs, we were ready to go to bed. Of course, with the time change, we couldn’t until later that night. So, that day we walked around the streets of Belfast gathering up Belgium chocolates, last minute essentials, and a crazy amount of shepherds pie. Our hostel, the Vagabonds, is extremely nice and is filled with various free souls (mostly students) from all over the world. Every hall is decorated with historical pieces of Belfast and sprinkled memories. It’s cozy and quaint. I couldn’t complain.

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IMG_8394Inside the hostel

BpHN3uXIEAAxXrVDowntown Belfast

IMG_8425For the beginning portion of Summer A, us students took two main courses: HS 405, Emerging Topics In Homeland Security and HS 325, Terrorism: Ideologies, Origins, and Goals. We mostly discussed the time of the Troubles here in Belfast, the time of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and their experiences with the British Government.

saSigning the Peace Wall
(this peace wall was intended to separate the Catholics from the Protestants during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The city people do not plan on taking the wall down anytime soon.)

Yesterday, we had two political tours around the city of Belfast; one tour from an ex member of the IRA and the other from an ex member of the UUP. To say the least, it was a very interesting experience because we got to hear both sides of the story during the times of the Troubles.DCIM100GOPRO

sa5sa6Oldest pub in Belfast

Today, we went to Queen’s University for a lecture. The University was beautiful! We listened to two professors from the Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice; they mostly spoke about the time of the Troubles here in Northern Ireland. We certainly gained a few gems of wisdom on the conflict.

10367162_10203175519045520_1323439026141113012_nDCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROCity Hall

DCIM100GOPROTomorrow, we’ll be hopping over to Giant’s Causeway for a tour of a great volcanic plateau on the ocean and experience old Irish castles and whiskey tasting. Thursday, we head to Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

If you are interested in studying somewhere outside the US, definitely consider it for the future. You will gain a completely different perspective on not only social aspects, but also academics as well. And take the risk of going to somewhere foreign to you! The leap is totally worth it, after all.

Here’s a great quote on growth: “It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner until there is none at all. …We are not the less to aim at the summits though the multitude does not ascend them.”- Henry David Thoreau

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable. Safety does not always lie in security, which is why we grow when we are in unfamiliar situations. Allow yourself the chance for that growth.
Keep you posted.

Goodbye island life

This is probably the only blog from an Embry-Riddle student who started two first days at this University, 5 years apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I was a Key West trolley tour guide.  I entertained tourists with facts of the island and repeated the same corny jokes to them every day, sometimes with a few originals.  Chances are good that if you visited Key West and rode on an orange and green trolley over the past year, I was your bus driver and guide.  I also drove the Key West haunted tours, a type of meet and greet with Key West characters like Robert the doll as well as the other types of spirits….not necessarily the ones found in haunted houses.  I found myself living on the island by accident.  I went to be a dog sitter for two weeks and ended staying almost a year!  You might say I caught what the locals call the “Keys Disease” and it’s hard to resist.  People come for a visit but never leave.  It’s said on the island that if you show up to work every day, you have a job.  If two weeks later you’re still showing up on time, they’ll make you the manager.  Well, sure enough, the dog left town with its owner and I stayed.  As well as being a tour guide, I worked other side jobs such as newspaper delivery boy, bakeshop dishwasher, and event security (a.k.a. bouncer).

The island life was a relaxing and good one.  It is hard to resist the sunniest place in Florida with the least amount of rain.  It ‘s truly Paradise except, endless renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs blaring down from Duval Street.  One day I woke up with one more hangover and realized I wasn’t moving forward with my life.  It was time for me to progress forward on my flight plan for life.

This was the culmination of a restlessness that I tried to resolve, and it brought me through many different experiences.  These included several semesters at a state university, a shopkeeper in South Beach, and an unpaid Internship for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in DC.  This was right after I withdrew myself from Embry Riddle; I wanted to try something different in life. But my passions drew me back.

On August 27, 2012, my second first day of college began.  Once again excited to be making progress, living in campus dorms, and starting from where I had left off, but more focused on my degree: Aviation Business Administration.  In one week, I will be curing my desires, dusting off the backpack and train hopping across Europe to appease my wandering soul.  In one month, I will be attending classes with the Study Abroad program in Berlin, and in one year, I will be an Embry-Riddle alumnus. It’s a long way from the old island life, and it feels great!