Teaching practice, more mountains and a walk at the beach!

Hi everyone

Here I am again! Welcome to part two of the big catching up blogpost about my last couple of months in Northern Ireland. So… here we go 😀

Blythefield Primary School 

On the 11th of April my teaching practice in Belfast officially took off. I was quite anxious and insecure, because I’m training to become a secondary school teacher, yet I would be helping out in a primary school. My first day started awfully. It was raining pretty heavily and while I got soaked on my walk (40 minutes, mind you well) to school, I kept thinking: “How am I going to survive this for a month?” It turned out all of my fear was actually for nothing. I had an amazing time!
My class was P5 and P6 and my teacher, who’s called Mrs Jones, was just super friendly and helpful. I mostly went to sit with one of the pupils who had a difficult time understanding everything, so I tried to be her assistant for the four weeks. She made improvement, frankly enough, and I couldn’t feel happier about that.
I was sad to leave the little pets, but also relieved – back to a little bit more freedom!
Here’s a nice picture of my pupils and I:


Now, to prove that my teacher and pupils are the best, here is a picture of the birthday cake they got me: FB_IMG_1461766884219


And a thank you and far well gift from my teacher:


I will truly miss Blythefield 😦


The Mourne Mountains 

Lucy and Adam organised a trip to the Mourne Mountains in the middle of teaching practice so that we could all take a little break from work. Adam drove us their with the famous Stranmillis minibus. It was, all in all, an exhausting day. I think my legs are still sore, although the hike was two weeks ago.

: parts of the Mourne Mountains are being used as the filmset for Game of Thrones (yes, GoT-fans, it is allowed to be jealous of me as I would be too 😉 )

We climbed the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and I feel proud to have done it. I would tell you about the way down to the bottom, but I’m afraid I’m a bit embarrassed to inform you about it. Key-words: falling, slipping, “Darn it, am I afraid of heights? I forgot”, fear, “Can I just stay up here, please?” and a lot of helping hands to get me back down. So yeah, that sums it up pretty much, yeah 😉
Here is a wee collection of the pictures I made:

“Let’s go to the beach, beach!” 

Because of elections, my school was closed on the 5th of May and of course I took advantage of that. Together with Karolina, Anja, Alexander and Cheryl, I went to Portrush Beach and Londonderry. It was a great day with a lot of sunshine and happy faces. We first had to walk to Botanic train station to catch the train to Portrush. Once we arrived at the beach, we decided to take a walk along the water and I even collected some shells:


After we had lunch with a great view over the water, we took the train to Londonderry. Unfortunately we didn’t get much to see in the beautiful, historical city, because of a lack of time (and the fear of missing the last bus back to Belfast haha). We did see the wall that was built around the city during The Troubles and we also got a view over some murals.
The bad news… I couldn’t take any pictures of the murals because my phone died and I forgot my camera… So, I’m sorry, you’ll have to do with the pictures I took before my phone decided to give up on me 😦

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“Let’s go sit in the sun and get a tan!” “Are you crazy? This is Northern Ireland, you can’t get a tan in NI!” 

But well, the last couple of days the weather has been splendid! So yesterday, 9th of May, we had an Erasmus picnic! It was lovely outside, so we decided to just stay in the sun the whole day! It was a good day. Today, however, we’re back to gray, wet weather. Oh well, told you, this is Northern Ireland 😉

I hope youse enjoyed part 2 of the big blog post and I promise (for real this time) that I will update very soon! So stay tuned for my last month (cry, cry) in lovely Belfast!


Hugs and kisses 😀




Scotland, Giants, St. Patrick’s Day and a bunch of other stories!

Hi everyone!

I seriously don’t even know where to start. Maybe a genuine apology would be a great way to begin this blogpost. I realise it has been a couple of months and I cannot really understand why I haven’t written in such a long time, but I guess I got lost in my life in Belfast and a part of me didn’t want to think about Belgium anymore… So that might be one of the reasons I wasn’t able to get a single word on paper (WordPress). But I couldn’t stay away forever, so next up: a summary of all the good craic I’ve had in NI so far!

Hairy coos and Nessie

As you might have seen on Facebook already, Lisa, Jozefien, Helen and I went on a trip in a trip to… Scotland! If I hadn’t lost my heart to Belfast already, the first place I would go searching for it is Edinburgh. My word, what a beautiful city! I was so delighted to finally arrive in the land of kilts, bagpipes and the Monster of Loch Ness. Now, that was partly because I was kind of dying on the ferry. Boats and I don’t go well together and of course I had to get seasick on that stupid ferry. After two hours of pure hell we got on the bus to Edinburgh! Ancient, well-preserved and historical are probably the right key-words to describe the capital city of Scotland. When we got there, it was already late in the evening so as soon as we got to our hostel, we jumped into our beds.
The next morning we woke up because a certain Chinese person was making weird dinosaur noises. Helen, of course. She wasn’t so keen on getting up early haha (Helen, if you read this: you know I love you). Anyways. On our first day we went to explore the city and found some interesting spots such as an old graveyard (creepy describes it more accurately to be honest), a fountain and a castle upon a hill. Edinburgh castle, which we would visit on our last full day in the city. Nice experience and very historical. I loved it! If you ever visit Edinburgh, the castle is a must-see!
The best part of our little trip to Scotland was definitely the Highlands tour we booked via The Hairy Coo. Not an actual cow, but a company that organises magnificent tours around Scotland. Highly recommended (well now I’m starting to sound like I’m in a commercial haha) as well as very interesting. So, we saw a big part of the Highlands, including Loch Ness. I mean, I am very sorry to say this, but I was a bit disappointed. It’s really just a lake. And no Nessie! I want my money back… No kidding, it was still amazing!

Finn McCool and his stones 

I am not going to explain the legend of Finn here, but here’s a link to it if you are interested 🙂


The link also provides some information about the Giant’s Causeway as it explains how the stones were formed in that specific shape.

Trip to the Causeway and the rope bridge

The Giant’s Causeway is Ireland’s number one tourist attraction and well, let me just say: it deserves the top spot on that list! I knew Northern-Ireland would be pretty and I knew the nature had to be great… but I wasn’t prepared for the Causeway or the Carrick-a-rede-ropebridge. My word, fantastic! Here are some pictures, because words are not even necessary.
Oh and by the way: thank you Lucy and Adam for having organised this amazing trip! It was a splendid day 🙂

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17th of March – Belfast turned green 

Woohoo! 17th of March, that can only mean one thing! No, not that hot line bling (wow, that was a bad joke. FYI: I’m writing this in the middle of the night, so excuse me for the bad humour). I’m talking about St. Patrick’s day of course! He is the Saint of Northern-Ireland and the symbol that took over the city that day was, obviously, the Shamrock, which is a three-leaf-clover. St. Patrick used the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to his people.
Belfast went a little crazy on this day, with a great parade, drunk people everywhere and a lot of music and booze. I mean, I loved it, but I’d also never seen something like that. It was quite the experience (hence the following pictures):

Easter holidays – family time 

So, I skipped the part in between St. Paddy’s and the Easter holidays, because I can’t really remember anything spectacular that happened then. Anyways, the holidays started off pretty chaotically. I moved out of the Halls and into an apartment with Jakub (our Polish Erasmus friend), Lisa and Neil (the locals). Once I was settled completely, I started working for school, both for Stranmillis and my home university. The first two weeks (yes, I had three weeks of holidays, hehe) flew by pretty quickly. I didn’t really mind, though, because my parents and brother finally arrived in Belfast! Hooray! We had a lot of fun and stayed in an apartment near the Titanic Museum. It was lovely and the view over the water and straight to Titanic was amazing.
A list of the things we did together:

  • Titanic Museum
  • Giant’s Causeway tour
  • Cavehill and Belfast Castle
  • Belfast city centre exploring
  • Eating a lot haha
  • Enjoying our time together

Honestly, it was weird when they left and went home again… because I stayed and it felt like I was being left behind. I was so happy to have my family around for some time again, but as soon as they left, I kind of started to count down the days until I have to leave Belfast. Alright, I might be a bit homesick, I admit it 😉

So, this was part 1 of my big catching up blogpost! Part 2 will be about teaching practice, the Mourne Mountains, Portrush Beach and Londonderry (Derry).


Hugs and kisses 😀




Wee summary!

Hello everyone! What’s the crack? That’s Northern-Irish slang for ‘what’s up?’. It’s only one of the many things I’ve learnt here in the last couple of weeks. You’re probably also wondering what ‘wee’ means. Well, I couldn’t figure it out at first, because everyone kept saying the damn word! In front of EVERYTHING! So Lisa asked one of our teachers and apparantly it means ‘small’. A wee summary – a small summary. So, here’s a short (haha kidding, my blogposts are never short) recap of the last weeks (and oh gosh, I’ve been in Belfast for a whole month already… times flies…) 

SU Formal – party time!

On the 4th of February, Stranmillis was a very busy place. People were running around in the houses like crazy, shouting thinks like ‘Do you have a straightener?’ or ‘Oh my god! Can I borrow your nailpolish? Mine’s lost!’
*sigh* Okay, so, I was one of them. I’ll admit that I was a little bit nervous about this Formal party. What to expect? I mean, I’d never been to such an event, so it was all new and scary. Nevertheless, I was super excited and at 3pm I started with the preparations. I wasn’t the only one, some girls already started preparing in the morning.

Then, at 7pm, we all left and went to Wellington Park Hotel, where a wonderful evening was awaiting us. A few of us went on foot, so we arrived at the hotel wearing sneakers. We hid behind a bunch of cars to change into our high heels and went inside afterwards as if nothing happened. It was very funny 😀

First of all, the student’s President, aka Adam Adam, welcomed us when we walked into the hotel. We climbed up some stairs and received a glass (or two) of champagne. Hm, delicious.
There was a professional photographer at the hotel, so the next thing we did was of course… taking a beautiful picture.

8pm… time for dinner! Here are some pictures of the great evening:

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After dinner, we went to the club ‘Bot’, it was right beside the hotel, so we didn’t have to walk very far. I changed into my sneakers again anyway, because my feet were killing me!
We had a fun night and we danced a lot in Bot. I think I made it to my bed at 3am or something 🙂

Chinese New Year!

On the 7th of February, Helen and Cheryl (our Chinese friends) threw a Chinese New Year party. New Year is very important for Chinese people, they care about it even more than Christmas! I never knew…

It was lovely, they made a lot of dumplings (typical Chinese dumplings of course) and they decorated the entire room in Cybertub. After the food, Cheryl wrote New Year’s wishes on paper with ink (in real Chinese!!) It was zo cool. Here is a picture of my Chinese name:


… as the smart ship grew in stature, grace and hue… shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too – Thomas Hardy 

Of course Hardy was talking about Titanic in his quote (a beautiful, but morbid one that is). As I took a picture of it, I felt a shiver running down my spine – the thought of a ship that great, majestic and fierce sinking by the touch of an iceberg… wow. Insane.

The Titanic Museum was lovely, impressive and most of all: breathtaking. I took a lot of pictures with my camera, but I currently can’t put them on my laptop, so here are the ones I took with my cell. Enjoy!

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Lived once, buried twice…

On Wednesday the 10th of February one of our teachers, Mr. Phoenix, invited us (the Erasmussers) for a tour in Belfast Graveyard. It sounds a bit morbid, I know, but it was so cool! There hasn’t been buried anyone since 2010… if I’m not mistaking, and there is only one woman in Belfast who can still be buried there. She will be the last one.
Belfast Graveyard carries an unbelievable history, but what I remember most of the tour, is the legend of Margorie McCall. She was ‘buried twice’, although she only ‘lived once’… If you want to know what that is all about, check this website (you won’t regret it!): http://www.cultofweird.com/death/margorie-mccall-buried-twice/ 


Do you like burritos? Tacos? Fajita’s? Okay, just forget every burrito or taco you’ve ever eaten and listen to me. Boojum is a nice, cosy place where you can eat all of that… cheap… and so so so so good. I’ve never had a better (or bigger for that matter) burrito in my life! You can just tell them what you would like to have in your burrito or taco or fajita’s or whatever and they’d do the job for ya. Here are the pictures:

I mean… look at this! *heaven*
What a cosy place!
Love them people 🙂 

Lions, monkeys (and a lot of rain) equals Belfast Zoo! 

Yes, I know, they have Zoos everywhere, but we were a little bit bored today (the 16th of February), so we (and we is Jozefien, Lisa, Helen, Karis and I) decided to go to Belfast Zoo. Oh my God. What the hell was up with the weather today? It was raining continuously, not even for one minute did it stop. It was horrible, I even had to throw away my umbrella 😦 (that was because of the heavy wind, something that’s pretty inevitable here in Belfast, there’s always wind. ALWAYS!)

However, we still made the best out of it, and we saw a lot of nice animals. I’m just gonna drop the pictures below with some descriptions! Enjoy 😀

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Well, that was it, I guess. Oh, yeah, you’re probably wondering why I never talk about school… I do have classes haha, there is just not much to talk about. Although I have a favourite lecture, and it’s about Children’s Literacy. It is so cool and interesting. Last week we learnt about Fantasy stories in class and this week the lecture was about poetry. I enjoyed it, but there isn’t really much more to tell about.


So, I’m gonna leave it at this! I hope you liked this update.

See you soon 😀


Hugs and kisses





‘Kakstok’, leprechauns, a mountain and cosy markets

Here I am again, with a bunch of new stories for all of you. I’m sorry for the wait, I just couldn’t find time to write, because I was so busy.

Chinese girls 

In our Erasmusgroup, there are two Chinese girls; Helen and Cheryl. They are really cute and Helen said some pretty weird and funny things at dinner one night. Lisa and I were talking about doing laundry, but we couldn’t find the word for ‘kapstok’, clothes hanger. Helen heard the Dutch word and suddenly she said: “Oh, what is that, a ‘kakstok’?” Lisa and I looked at each other and burst out in laughter. She literally said ‘stick of shit’ in Dutch. It was so so funny.

Belfast city centre and an Irish giftshop

A few days after our arrival, we went to the Belfast city centre to explore and wander around a bit. We came across a really nice Irish giftshop. I bought a keychain with a leprechaun. According to an old Irish saying you have to take the leprechaun with you everywhere you go, so that you’re always lucky. I really like the saying, so now my little leprechaun doesn’t leave my side anymore 🙂


Although we’re here to study, we sometimes need a break from the school life. So together with the Erasmusgroup, I went to Cuckoo, a bar in Belfast. We participated in a quiz, which was pretty cool, although my group kind of lost, haha. But it was still nice. I drank Gin&Tonic for £2.50 – I know, it’s okay to be jealous 😉

90s party! 

Okay, so it might have been less crowded than expected, but the party still rocked. I had a lot of fun with all of my new friends. 90s music and booze, can life get any better? Right, that’s what I thought.

Lisa and I dressed up together, here’s a picture of our best imitated 90s look:

Afrohair, leather jackets and red lipstick. Just because we can.

Castles and mountains 

I was really looking forward to tell you about this part of my journey so far… So, here it goes 😀
Yesterday (23th of January), Lisa and I joined Johanna, Taylor, Helen, Simon and Karis to Belfast Castle, which is situated on Cavehill. It was beautiful, yet I expected it to be more ancient, or at least more “spectacular” or something… But here are some pictures I took:


As you can see in the third picture, the owner of the castle is a bit obsessed with cats. Because… there were cats… EVERYWHERE! She must have been an old cat lady kind of person.

Now, let’s get to the “real work”. After our visit to the castle, Simon just simply said: ‘I want to climb a mountain. Who’s with me?’
We all laughed and went along.
I feel like I can’t find the words to describe that journey, so I’m simply going to show you pictures. There is no explanation necessary. Look and be amazed by the magnificient scenery, ‘cause that’s what I was like during the whole adventure.

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And then, just when you think you’ve seen it all…

Staring in the distance, just enjoying the peace and quietness up here… wow.

Take some time to process that. I did too 😉 You know, I really expected Northern-Ireland to be beautiful, but I didn’t expect it to be that magnificient. When I stood there, looking over the whole city of Belfast, I realised something that might sound a little weird or crazy. I realised that I’m slowly falling in love, with Northern-Ireland and Belfast. I feel like I don’t want to get out of here, like ever, because you don’t want to leave the things you love behind. Does that sound crazy?

St. George’s market 

Today it’s Sunday. I usually don’t do anything on Sunday but sitting in the sofa and reading a book or watching television. Today, however, I did something completely different. I went to St. George’s market with the Erasmussers (it’s what I like to call them). Yesterday, three new girls arrived. Inga and Natasha, from Germany, and Sophie, from The Netherlands. They came with us as well.
So, the market. It was amazing and so cosy!
There was fresh food everywhere (heaven!) and two guys were playing music. As I already mentioned: pretty cosy yeah. The market is also a place to find the finest works of art and jewelry (handmade jewelry that is).
All in all, it was a perfect Sunday morning 😀


Soooooooo, we’ve reached the end of this blogpost. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures.

See y’all soon!
Hugs and kisses



Campus like a village, lots of people and … snow!

OH MY GOSH! What a couple of days it has been!

I am dying to tell you everything about my trip so far, although I have just been two days in Belfast. Well, who would’ve thought that so much could happen in a few days? I can assure you, there’s plenty to talk about.

Let me start with the flight. Key words: shit – oh no – first time – are we going to crash into the water?
My friends laughed at me, but were also supportive when I suddenly grabbed their hands in the aeroplane. It was quite the flight, yeah. Actually, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, but I was so nervous when we took off. Then, when we got up, above the clouds, my eyes widened and I gazed in awe – what a view! Incredible. Here are some pictures I took:


Here you can see the Isle of Man 🙂


When we arrived at Belfast City Airport, we immediately called for a taxi and jesus Christ, the thing arrived like 2 minutes later. We rushed outside with our luggage (a hell of a lot of luggage that was) and the friendly taxi driver helped us out. When he turned onto the road, I almost had a heart attack – that’s right, in the UK people drive on the left side of the road. Okay, everything was fine, we weren’t going to die, haha.

Stranmillis is not a school! It’s a village! 

No, of course Stranmillis is a school, but why oh why does it have to be so big? The campus looks a bit like Hogwarts, or at least I imagine it to look like that. It’s so big, ancient and beautiful, it’s like I’m in a fairytale or something. In this picture, you can see the Stranmillis House. It’s the Student Union, where Adam Leahy (the President) sits in his office and helps us around. He’s cool, we went to IKEA with him today.



The campus consists of four big parts. There is the Stranmillis House (which you see in the picture), then you have the Main Building, where some of my lectures are. The Central Building is the place to be for almost every lecture or class I have. These three buildings are situated next to each other, but we have to walk upon a hill to get to each one. It’s so tiring, I seriously can’t breathe now.

The fourth part of the campus, is the Halls Of Residence. There are different little houses spread over the campus and they all have a name. I live in Navan, together with Lisa. My room is nice and cosy, although the mattress lying on the bed is quite hard, so this morning I woke up with a stiff neck. Apart from that, it’s amazing here. Every house has a number of flats (floors). On every flat you can find a bathroom (and there is an actual bath – I know, it sounds too good to be true), a common room (it’s a small kitchen) and toilets.

Everyday we can eat breakfast between 8 am and 9 am, in the evening between 5 pm and 6 pm we get a starter, a main dish and dessert. I mean… could we wish for more?

So far, I had one lecture, about teaching in diverse classrooms. But because we already had a similar course in Belgium, we are thinking of switching the course with Northern-Irish Culture. That just seems more logical to go for! I can’t wait to get to know this beautiful country and its people and culture.

Speaking of people… Let’s move on to those I’ve already met. In our Erasmus group it feels like talking to the whole world. There are some girls from Finland and Austria, a guy from Germany and there’s even a girl who came all the way from the States! I must have forgotten a lot of them though, but just to give you an image of how many nationalities come together at this place. And there are even more Erasmus students to come next week! I look forward to meeting them 🙂

The people in Belfast are so helpful and friendly, everyone says ‘Hi’ to you when you walk through the corridors of your house or when you walk around the campus. It’s so delightful. I think Irish people rock, yes, how they do! 😀

Okay, the last thing I’d like to share with you is the shocking moment this morning when I opened my curtains and saw… SNOW! Although it has melted by now, it couldn’t have been a better start of this adventure.

I hope you enjoyed this brief (or well, big) summary of the two days I’ve already spent in Belfast. I’ll try the best I can to write again as soon as possible. Until then – bye you all and have a lovely weekend!

Hugs and kisses,



A little bit about myself

Hello everyone!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Eva Gijsen and I’m a student at the Teacher Trainee College UC Limburg. In January I’ll be leaving Belgium to go on an adventure and I’m sure that it will change my life completely.

I’m going to Belfast to study at Stranmillis University College for four months together with Lisa Lemmens and Jozefien De Smet, two classmates of mine.

Why Belfast? I chose this beautiful and big city because I can’t wait to explore the nature and culture out there. If I could, I would travel around the whole world, but Northern Ireland seems like a pretty good place to start.

What to expect from this blog? It will be my diary for the following months. Every week I will update the blog two or three times with lots of juicy details about the school, the people, the city and everything else that’s worthy of sharing. Prepare for some pretty nice stories!

If you are as excited as I am and if you would like to read about my time in Belfast, be sure to follow evagoesirish.

The next update will be published on the day that I’ll arrive in Belfast (14th of January). I’m already looking forward to it.

See you all soon