What a whirlwind of a week I’ve had! From the long flights to the bustling city and schools, it’s truly been both an exhausting and exhilarating experience. Although I was a bit disoriented while waiting for the jet lag to fade, I was still ardently focused on two things: getting a feel for Stranmillis University College as a school and picking up on the local accents and phrases.
On the whole, Stranmillis took me by surprise. The campus itself is beautiful and filled with trees just beginning to turn a spectrum of colors for the autumn season. Being the in the middle of the city of Belfast, Stranmillis is a sort of scenic oasis from the industrial. An unexpected trait of the college is how hilly it is. As I’m sure my fellow travelers would agree, there are some hills on campus that require iron will and sometimes mountain gear to overcome. Even local students agree that it’s a doozy. On that note, I have found all of the staff and students at Stramillis to be overwhelmingly friendly and helpful. It may just be that I have the look of a confused American, but I have never had trouble finding help here when I’ve needed it.
That help normally comes in some form of accent or phrasal translation. Coming from an English speaking country to another English speaking country, I did not think I would have as much trouble understanding the locals as I do. Because English already fascinates me, I took special interest in discovering how their language operated. First of all, and most shockingly, “wee” does not always refer to “small.” It may mean something closer to “a little bit” or occasionally thrown in randomly. It’s very colloquial, as I have heard Dubliners comment on the seemingly improper usage by Belfastians. Because of this, I have been relying heavily on my ability to use context clues and other comprehension tricks to better understand what people mean. However, there are certain circumstances when I have absolutely no hope of pulling meaning out of an adage or asking for a sixth repetition of a phrase. It’s at this point that I have found I can rely on the Irish friendliness to throw me a line and declare me “a wee dote.”