Enjoy a diary of our ERIU Member Aneta Mlckovska. Due to our worldwide networking and activities she is able to do an internship at Conradh na Gaeilge in Béal Feirste (Belfast).
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I am here. It’s currently 6AM and I’ve spent the night half-sleeping, half-hallucinating. It’s alright, happens to me whenever I travel. The catch is, however, that this isn’t like travelling.
Greeted at Belfast International Airport with a problem – no cash, bus driver won’t take credit cards, I’d have to go through security again to get to the kiosk that sells tickets. A nice bus driver recommends I download an app and even allows me to do so on the bus. So much for trust over here. I’m sweating, my heart is beating, but I’m okay.
I have been to Belfast last December, but my stay was too short to explore every nook and crane of the city centre. I have no idea whether the bus stop I’m at will take me in the right direction. To Bóthar na Bhfall, where I’m meeting up with Ciarán, my mentor for these two months and Kathryn, my new flatmate. In the meantime, I’m circling two streets, looking for an opposite bus stop that Google Maps recommends. But as it is, in the times when you need it the most, it turns into a traitor. I ended up at the same bus stop that I was originally at, proving that trusting my intuition will probably be more useful than trusting the inexact GPS on my phone.
An Chultúrlann, the hub of Irish language. This is where all the Belfast Irish-speaking stuff happens. I meet up with Ciarán and Kathryn and immediately get showered with loads of fast-spoken Gaeilge and my brain is only trying to process it all and pick up the most important info – where I have to be tomorrow morning. Spoiler alert – I did get it, but still made sure later on that I’ve understood correctly.
The Belfast Gaeltacht is amazing. My household is really nice. I have my own room, everything at my disposal, a small shop right on the corner and everything is very close. And both of my flatmates are fluent Irish speakers. At dinner table as I try to follow their conversation with loads of code-switching, I realize that I, in fact, do understand a lot and I am able to follow to a certain degree. I try to speak myself, but still, my shyness is getting the better of me and I still speak more English than Irish, although I’m slowly warming up to the idea. The very fast Irish chirping is definitely very motivating.
I knew that it is said there are only two degrees of separation in Ireland. If you meet somebody, although you don’t know them, you’ll probably have a person you know in common. The thing is, in Irish-speaking Belfast, it is probably only one degree. Caoimhe knows my Irish teacher from my summer Irish course, everybody basically knows everybody. It’s like the world of Sorbian, really.
I’m starting work tomorrow. Raidió na Gaeltachta is doing a programme on Brexit. Should be very interesting as I’ll be here to experience it first-hand.
Diary by Aneta Mlckovska
for ERIU Leipzig © 2019