The Lion, the Witch, and Jon Snow

This weekend I had the literary adventure of a lifetime hiking the Mourne Mountains, reaching the top of Slieve Donner, the highest peak in Northern Ireland.  I’m not much of a hiker, so I expect I will be spending this entire next week recovering from this experience, but despite the pain in my calves and my knees, I can say without a doubt, this was worth it.

The Mourne Mountains are famed for having inspired C.S. Lewis to write his depiction of Narnia, and I can definitely see how he could have been so inspired. There is something so ancient feeling and magical about these mountains, it feels as if a giant could be around the next rocky corner.

Near the Mourne Mountains is Tollymore Forest Park, with a beautiful hiking trail along the River Lagan. This is also the filming location for woods scenes of Winterfell in Game of Thrones, so I was especially excited to see some spots of memorable scenes. It was an incredibly perfect time to visit, as the leaves were turning and the weather was cool, and I think this little adventure will be one I remember for the rest of my life.

Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park

Oh… You mean I have to go to class?

Classes have started here, which is an interesting change. At first, it seemed as though this was just the vacation of a lifetime, but sitting in the classroom reminded me of why I came here in the first place. The classes I’m taking are Adaptation and Historical Fiction, Modernist Literature, and Writing and Publishing. If you’re a nerd like me, this sounds very, very exciting.

I have to say, even though I have been through the routine of starting a new semester eight times now (Oh that makes me feel old), I was pretty nervous for the first day of classes here. I had no idea what to expect.

Part of me thought when I came to class, the rest of my Irish classmates would think it was super interesting that I was American. I thought they would be thrilled by my accent, and ask me lots of questions about the grand ole U.S. of A. And then, I would politely turn the attention back to the teacher. This was not the case. In fact, no one even mentioned my American-ness, if they noticed at all. My first foray as a lone international student in a sea of native Irish was actually extremely normal; to the point where it verged on… boring. It was just a normal syllabus week.

The major difference that I can see is the work expected outside of class. My classes meet once a week, and the rest of the week, the students are expected to read, write, and explore their subjects on their own time. This self-direction is nice in a lot of ways, but also potentially makes it easier to not keep up with my studies.

This was also the first time I have only taken 3 classes in a semester, which gives me a lot of downtime, and lots of time to focus on being a student, without a job or any extracurricular activities. Beyond, you know, exploring Ireland.

50 shades of green

Even the sidewalks are green

Campus 3

Northwest has stiff competition for ‘Prettiest Campus’.