Ireland let’s junior see through different eyes

I’m a junior at Simpson now studying at St. Mary’s University College in Belfast, Ireland for the semester. I got here through the Irish American Scholars program I found out about through one of Simpson’s infamous mass e-mails.

In Belfast, I live in a duplex with two people from the Netherlands, one from Spain and one from Sweden. All of them speak English fluently, except the girl from Spain, but she is learning quickly. Other than a small language barrier there has not been a big culture shock between us. Actually, the international students, all thirty some of us, usually get together to go out.

All of the international students are legal to drink in their home countries at the age of 18, including in Ireland, but all of the American students are under 21 and are not used to being legal.

One of my roommates from the Netherlands finds the fact that the legal drinking age in America is 21 instead of 18 is atrocious. But then again, she grows her own marijuana back home where it is perfectly legal.

It strikes most of the other international students from Sweden, Spain, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Norway as humorous that the American students are not used to a culture where drinking under the age of 21 is acceptable, but then they also think that no underage drinking goes on in America. The change of becoming legal has not been such a major transition, but it has become a favorite past time of our friends to give us heck for it.

The best nights to go out here? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday- not to further your stereotype of Irish drinking. There are countless discos in Belfast, and it is pretty easy to find one that is mad.

We usually try different discos every night, but we do seem to return to the Botanical Inn, better known as the Bot, often.

The ground floor is a pub, often with live music where you sit and socialize over a pint. Upstairs (known as first floor here) is a disco that, like most other discos here, plays American music.

Though the drinking age here is 18, it can be hard to get into a club unless you are 20 or over so most pubs are taken over by university students. We don’t always have to leave the university for drinks though.

At St. Mary’s a Euroquiz was held within the first couple of weeks for the international students. We broke into teams and proceeded to do rounds of questions about Europe and America.

The most interesting thing about the Euroquiz, though, was that alcohol was provided and shots were being handed out constantly throughout the night. BYOB? Nah, the school’s got you covered. And I’m sure Simpson would do the same if all the students were legal to drink like they are here.

Studying in Northern Ireland has been an overall great experience and great craic (fun)! The time to come home is going to come too fast. If anyone is even remotely thinking about studying abroad, do it. I have met so many great people and am having the time of my life. Cheers!