My Travel Essentials

Ellis Goes On Holiday

Packing for travel always get me excited. It makes everything seem more real and I get to pick out outfits and treat myself to some new purchases. Having said that, there are always some staples so when RelayRides asked about my travel essentials, I was happy to share.

RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car rental community, where if you wish to rent a car you can enter your location and dates and be provided with a list of all the people in the area who have cars available, along with their prices.

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Production Sector On The Up In Northern Ireland

Interesting stuff about the growing TV and film production sector in Northern Ireland- If your in Belfast make sure to do the tour of the Game of thrones set!!

Blog | ProductionBase - Insider Network for TV, Film and Commercial Production Talent

Sharon Boyd looks at the growing TV and film production sector in Northern Ireland:

(copyright Making of Game of Thrones) Game of Thrones on location in NI.
Copyright Making of Game of Thrones

Northern Ireland being the smallest part of the UK tends to go fairly unnoticed and it’s associated more with The Troubles than anything else. However, over the past few years the media industry has been developing rapidly in this fairly unknown place and suddenly an awareness of Northern Ireland as a filming location has transpired. So instead of talking about the political and religious tensions in the country, people are now fascinated by the likes of Game of Thrones and The City of Ember being filmed in this beautiful part of the world.

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IAS Guest Blogger #1: Preparing for Study Abroad

Becca Hankla is the first in a series of guest bloggers for IAS.
Read more about becca here.Becca Hankla Bio pic

All summer I’ve been hearing this from friends and family: “So when do you go back to school?”

And I’ve been so excited to say, “Well, actually, I leave for Ireland on September 14!”

Which is often accompanied by a look of puzzled excitement, and once I get past that, they begin to tell me what I have to do. From these wonderful people I have compiled a checklist approximately a mile long. For exemplary purposes, I provide page one, items 10-17.

  • Save money for travel.
  • Visit my school friends.
  • Get rain boots.
  • Get a good raincoat.
  • Spend time with my parents.
  • Hang out with my sister.
  • Catch up on my American Netflix before it goes away.

Some of these are simple things that I need to do, like buy a raincoat. I am not a fan of being soaked and cold. Some other things are not so simple, like hanging out with my sister when she’s busy, I’m working two jobs, and she starts school in three weeks. And of course, there’s the American comforts like a mini-marathon of “Melissa & Joey” on Netflix. (Seriously, check it out. It’s fantastic.)

I’ve also crossed some things off my list.

Get a passport. (That was a hairy encounter and if you ever want to die from laughter, I’d love to share).

Register for classes.

Figure out which suitcase to use.

Tell Queens University of Charlotte that I’m not going to be there this fall. (You cannot imagine how many different offices are worried that I haven’t registered for classes and have sent panicked e-mails to me.)

And the list continues. But it will all get done in the mere 50+ days I have left.

So why Ireland?

Most people don’t understand that this is my dream. On September 14, I will depart my beloved America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, for the Emerald Isle. My trip will be different from that of my eighth-generation ancestors May Ella and James Dougherty, who left Ireland on a ship in 1851, but no less monumental. I will finally see the places that I have been dreaming of since I was little. I will touch the history I have studied for years. I will finally see Ireland.

And I will get to travel. My best friend, who studied abroad in Florence, says that I just have to try the gelato in Rome. My history professor tells me that the Alhambra in Spain is truly an historical experience that I cannot forgo. My high school French teacher says I need to practice what she taught me and visit Nice or Paris. Plus, my love of “Downton Abbey” says a trip to Highclere Castle is a must.

Just writing that makes me want to get packed and go right now. But there is a flip side to this coin that is begging to be mentioned.

I’m scared.

I currently attend Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. It’s a tiny private school, boasting a mere 1,869 undergraduates on 95 of the most beautiful acres in the Myers Park neighborhood area of Charlotte. In addition, it is exactly 218.07 miles from my driveway in Atlanta, Georgia.

In September, I will be a fully enrolled student at Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland. In contrast to my tiny private school, my new Irish University is just a tiny bit bigger, with an enrollment of 17,000 students. I guess the phrase is “little fish, big pond”? In addition, the distance between me and my driveway will no longer be a three and a half hour drive, but rather a distance of 3,888 miles, according to Google.

So it’s safe to say I’m scared. Although I am comfortable in my skin, I get homesick sometimes. I love to talk with my parents on the phone. My 13-year-old sister is one of my dearest friends. And I’m going 3,888 miles from them. I’ll be away from my university home where I have professors who know me, friends I’ve bonded with, and my campus tour job and worship leader position. Everything I know about college is about to change.

There are two sides to this adventure. I can be scared of all the change, the newness, the distance, and the culture difference. I could call and cancel my trip right now. But I think back to one thing that tells me I have to do this. I look at the picture of my 10-year-old self. I think about what she wants. She wants to go to Ireland. She wants to see the castles, eat the food, develop a slight accent, and sing the Irish music. Am I supposed to the let the fears of an almost 21-year-old destroy her dreams? Am I supposed to risk the adventure of a lifetime in order to have a semester of comfort? The answer to this question is no. The answer is heck no. The answer is “shut up insecurities!” I am going to Ireland. I’m a little scared. But that’s okay.

The Various Stages of Culture Shock, Homesickness, and Reverse Culture Shock

Great reflections on studying abroad!

Gilman Global Experience Blog

When I first arrived in Spain, it took a few weeks before I fully adjusted to everything: the bizarre eating schedule, the food tastes, the money, the unknown streets, not to mention the language barrier. However, I knew that if I threw myself into it, I could overcome the challenges and learn to enjoy myself. Initially, that worked. It was a new country with new people and places to see; I loved trying everything new and soaking up as much of it as quickly as I could. Eventually though, I couldn’t take it; I became overwhelmed with the differences, and the having to think in a foreign language constantly became mentally exhausting. I really started to miss home, and I’d only been abroad for a few short weeks. I missed late night Steak n Shake runs with my friends, peanut butter, mac n cheese, and going to the movies.

Honestly…

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Study Tips: Reading Comprehension

Some great tips for studying!

Bobcat Blog

Succeed In College: Read To Understand

By SLAC

Try not to be overwhelmed by setting a reading schedule, Bobcats! Try not to be overwhelmed by setting a reading schedule, Bobcats!

Love it or hate it, you have to get familiar with academic reading in college. Your exams may include questions about readings that professors assigned but never discussed in class, so learn to read to understand. The more active your reading, the better your chance for thorough comprehension. Use a structured reading method involving forethoughtperformance, and reflection.

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19 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Studied Abroad

Such a good read!!

Canadian College for Higher Studies Blog

The Huffington Post  |  By Suzy StrutnerPosted: 12/23/2013 7:11 am EST  |  Updated: 07/06/2014 10:00 pm EDT

1. Contrary to every mother’s belief, you won’t even feel sick if you eat gelato for every meal.
Or pizza. Or crepes. Or empanadas. Or anything in the top, bad-for-you section of the food pyramid. We’re on a budget here, people.

2. Humans are inherently kind.
Strangers will go far, far out of their way to help you get around. All you must do is ask sincerely and thank copiously.
453313253

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Self Sufficiency

Self Sufficiency, brilliant insights for IAS international students too!

From I to U

Kayne Mettert

Sitting in a small train station en route to Siena in Tuscany after having missed two trains, I reflected on how far I’ve come.  I remember going on family vacations as a child, completely reliant on adults for the scheduling and arrangement of our trips.  Any complications that arose were no inconvenience to me, as I had no responsibility in planning or implementing what we would do.  This, however, was not the case now as I started to panic and wonder how I would get this weekend trip (which was now three hours off schedule) back on track.

train station Behind schedule at the train station.

The commute, which I had singularly planned and organized, had gotten off track when our original train left the station late.  This threw everything off and made it very difficult to make our subsequent connections in time.  Eventually though, I found my bearings and I…

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My 5 Favorite Things About Belfast So Far

Some wonderful insights into Belfast’s gems!

The Transplant

Ormeau Park sign Ormeau Park, a popular park in Belfast

Finding new things to add to my life is my favorite part of moving. It is no different in Northern Ireland, where I have already found aspects of living here that I absolutely love. While culture shock is still stressing me out, here are five of my favorite Belfast discoveries.

1. Botanic Avenue

Botanic Avenue Botanic Avenue

I spend a lot of time on Botanic Avenue. It’s an adorable street right off the campus of Queen’s University of Belfast, so it has a strong college vibe. It reminds me of an American college town street, such as Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, Ind., or Ninth Street in Columbia, Mo.

No Alibis Bookstore No Alibis Bookstore

There are lots of good coffee shops and restaurants, such as Boojum, which is the Northern Ireland version of Chipotle.

2. Parkrun UK

Ormeau Park Ormeau Park is home to one of the Parkruns in Belfast.

As a newbie to…

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