After a year and a half of global uncertainty, it’s been a joyful experience getting back into a routine that involves places and people outside of my own home. During my first two months here, I’ve found comfort in the ability to return to a life of balancing friends, school, and travel. Let me take you through an average day in the life of this Belfast(er).
The British friends I’ve made have taught me an important lesson: the best way to start your day is with Greggs (a breakfast/lunch restaurant scattered across the UK). On busier mornings, I will stop by to grab some hot chocolate and a donut (or as they call it, a “yum yum”) before heading onto campus for class.
Having never lived in a city before, the walkability of Belfast has quickly become one of my favorite things about it. After class, I’ll often take a few steps off campus to immerse myself back into the homey, forested feeling of Botanic Park. Whether I’m walking through the rose garden or along the hidden creek, the thick layer of trees is a welcome buffer from the busy streets. On longer days, I’ll take the walk along the Lagan river to a natural forested area in the south of the city.
Emerging from one of Belfast’s many forested respites, I might stop to grab lunch with a friend at Maggie May’s Café and try the soup of the day. Other days, I’ll make the short walk to city center and grab some local produce to support a week of broccoli, mushroom, and kale themed dinners.
A few hours of class later, I’m ready to start a variety of evening activities. Some days I’ll catch the bus to join the Queen’s ladies soccer practice or stop by the rock wall to join the mountaineering club. Other nights, my fellow QUB Mitchell crew members and I will try out a new restaurant around town.
The day usually ends in my cozy room, painting Russian nesting dolls and knitting with a cup of tea. Weekends may entail a trip to St. George’s market (an open air market near city centre) or a day trip to one of Northern Ireland’s varied, natural spots.
On days I have no plans, I plug in my headphones and choose a new direction to walk in. On these long, winding strolls I have found a quiet appreciation of what life must be like for a typical Belfaster. Kids in school uniforms pass me on the sidewalk, pub music unfurls out into the street, and families return home to rows of identical, red brick houses. I often feel most at home in the city on the days that I take time to get a little lost along the streets. This pandemic is certainly not over, and I feel incredibly grateful for the ability to venture out into this new city, and enjoy how my own routine intersects with the paths of many others in Belfast.