Happy Halloween!

Grace DeMun
October 31, 2015

Fall is officially in the air, and along with that comes lots of wind, rain, and piles and piles of leaves! The canal next to the IES Abroad Center is absolutely gorgeous right now, with yellow and orange leaves lining the pathways and the tree branches hanging over the water. I love it.

Over mid-semester break, one of the IES Abroad professors and one of the RAs went with a group of us up to Northern Ireland. It was so, so fun, and I’m not just saying that—I got to go to an amazing place, with amazing people, and see some pretty incredible things! The first stop on the trip was in Belfast at Titanic Belfast, which gave us a really in-depth look at the making (and the sinking) of the Titanic and the people who were on board. Did you know that they built the Titanic in Belfast? I had no idea! It is a huge place, and there were so many things to see and do, including a Disneyland-esque ride through a simulation of the shipyard where it was built, a room which projects what the Titanic looked like inside on all four walls to give it a 3D effect, and a “Discovery Room” which has lots of interactive chances to see what the Titanic looks like today. Really, it was a fascinating experience and I wish we could have been there longer.

After Belfast, we zipped on up to Portrush, where we stayed the rest of the weekend. From there, we checked out the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge over in Ballintoy and the Giant’s Causeway over in Bushmills. Both of these excursions were incredibly beautiful and the weather couldn’t have made it more picturesque. The waves that crashed onto the causeways stones were huge and almost as terrifying as the height of the rope bridge haha! But, of course, it was worth it!

What was also lovely to see was The Peace Maze nearby to the Castlewellan Castle. We took a leisurely walk around the lake, and then ran through the maze because we realized we had run out of time! I think I was almost crying of laughter watching everyone try to make it through the maze in less than 15 minutes—our professor told us that it usually takes over two hours to finish! Luckily, he was there to shout to all of us and give us directions when we got lost haha!

Since I’ve been back from Northern Ireland, it’s been a whirlwind of interning, going to the IES Abroad Center for classes, and doing homework. Today, though, is Halloween, which means I can take a break, get dressed up (in “fancy dress” as the Irish call costumes), and have fun! Fun fact about Halloween: the origin of it actually dates back to Celtic Ireland when they held their Samhain festival to celebrate the final harvest of the summer. It was said that on this day the veil between this world and the otherworld is at its thinnest. The Celts would have huge bonfires and dress up as in masks to confuse the spirits into thinking they were one of them. They would also carve turnips and place a bit of the bonfire inside to light their path back home. Nowadays, we dress up in costume and carve pumpkins for fun, but back then, it was a superstitious (and probably scary) time of year.

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Grace DeMun

<p>Hailing from Tacoma, WA, I&#39;m a English Literature and Psychology major who is thoroughly excited to be traveling an studying in Ireland in the fall. I&#39;ve lived my whole life in the PNW, so I&#39;m interested to see what this new adventure will bring (although weather-wise it seems pretty similar!) I love music and dancing (badly) and I have loved reading and stories for as long as I can remember. I draw the most inspiration and creative juices from experiencing new things and ideas, so I know I&#39;ll be bursting with words to be written and stories to be told during the four months I&#39;m away from home.</p>

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