Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting Sorted Out

By now I'm nearly a week into my stay on the north coast of Ireland.  So much has happened, much of it being mundane things that needed sorting out, such as buying an O2 go-phone that can cheaply make texts and calls in the U.K., or attending Orientation for international students, or moving into a flat (with another American and two Northern Irish students).  We've been exploring the streets - and pubs - of Coleraine and the charming, nearby port towns of Porstewart and Portrush. 

But because of my general lack of free time so far, I will just relate the story of how I got from Belfast International Airport to the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus. 

All eight of us Kent State travelers got off our last plane, having spent about 20 hours total in the air since leaving Cleveland.  We made our way down to baggage claim, where we found that three of us (including me) had had our baggage misplaced somewhere in between our 3 separate flights!  After initiating a search with British Midland International airlines, we took what luggage we had and headed for our awaiting taxi that had been arranged and pre-paid for all eight of us to make our journeys to the Jordanstown campus (for two of us) and Coleraine (the other six). 

We met another setback when our arranged cabbie, Tom, informed us - in a thick Ulster accent - that he didn't have room for all of us, much less our luggage; and that he had no notice from the taxi company that our journeys were paid for.  So having been dropped off in a foreign country with no prepared means of travel to our destinations, we were forced to split up.  We Coleraine students had to pay 90 pounds sterling for 2 cabs to take our persons and luggage to campus.

I volunteered to sit alone with the luggage and with John, our other cabbie.  Now John was an interesting fellow.  I was actually about to ask him his name until I saw that he had it conveniently tattooed on his knuckles.  A good sign right?  The squat, bald man actually had tattoos going all up and down his arms.  He told me right away that we'd be a couple of minutes later than the other taxi.  I found out why soon when he pulled down a walled-in side road outside the airport to stop at "our unofficial bathroom."  After he got out, finished up and hopped back in, we continued on our way northwest. 

During the 50 minute drive across the countryside, John talked to me rapidly and emphatically about the Troubles and knowing how to be careful as a foreigner with such a sensitive subject.  From the half what I understood, he seemed to be giving me good advice.  "Lots of people will troy to tail ya thayer owun perspective like ets gospel.  Basically, you haff to remayamber that it doesn't matter what side thayer awn, pretty much ole of ets bollocks.  Foynd out fer yersaylf."  Good to know!

We arrived on campus and Tom and John received their money and said their goodbyes.  It wasn't for a day or two that we found out that the their cab company had indeed been informed and paid in advance.  It appears that we lost our first 90 quid - and not to the Guinness corporation.

Let the spending spree begin!


  1. sounds very exciting so far! haha. i hope no one else steals your money :/ that's quite valuble, especially to the Guinness Corporation! enjoy yourself, make lots of memories.

  2. I love your "Irish Brough" in your writing. Makes me laugh.

  3. Nice shot with the guinness milkshakes!! When you said your goodbyes to Tom and John, I hope you didn't shake his hand!!!!!!!!!! Dad