February 29, 2012

Mandy’s Simply Adapting Story – Belfast Northern Ireland

My name is Mandy. Like Brittany, I’m a Delaware girl, born and raised. I’ve known Brittany and her family for about ten years now and I’m really honored that she asked me to write for her blog : )


While I’ve spent the majority of my life in the ‘Small Wonder’, the travel bug bit me at a very young age. I was lucky enough to visit the United Kingdom for the first time at age 12 and fell in love with its history, culture, and lovely inhabitants. However, a love for their food took me several more years! At age 13, I participated in Ulster Project Delaware. UPD is a program that brings Protestant and Catholic teens from Northern Ireland over to the States to neutral territory to teach them about peace. My family and I have been fortunate enough to host numerous teens, leaders, and make amazing friendships. This project introduced me to Northern Ireland – a place that not many people know a lot about.
As I’ve mentioned, my heart has a soft spot for the British Isle every since living in London, England for 6 months in 2005 and in Belfast, Northern Ireland for almost 2 years. Today’s story begins in the exact place where I left part of my heart back in December 2010…Belfast.


After graduating and spending 2 years in the working world, I decided that I wanted to go back to school to get my Masters Degree. I did my undergrad at the University of Delaware and I had always wanted to go to school abroad. So, in search of my next academic adventure, I came across the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

For me, it was a no brainer! I love Northern Ireland and thanks to Ulster Project, I had a large network of friends there. In early 2009, I embarked on the process of applying to University and then obtaining a visa to live in the UK. While the visa process was a confusing nightmare at times, I’m so glad that I stuck with it. I spent an amazing two years living in downtown Belfast, having adventures throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. And in December 2010, after lots of hard work and months spent on my dissertation, I graduated top of my class with a Masters of Science Degree in International Tourism and Hospitality Management :)

I moved back to Delaware after my degree…and well because my visa was about to expire! While I love being at home and the life I’ve had since returning, Belfast will always be my second home and it will always have half of my heart. Now I just need to go back someday and get it…


{ What are some of the things that you felt you had to adapt to in your new community or life situations } (Marriage, culture, distance, food, customs, etc)

Despite all of my previous visits to Northern Ireland, living there came as a complete culture shock for the first few months. Adapting to new money, being a college student in a different country, and getting used to new foods were several of the lifestyle adaptations I had to make to name a few. The one thing I had trouble getting used to was the grocery stores and convenience stores closed so early! If it was 7 pm at night, there was no Wawa or Sheetz to settle your cravings. Northern Ireland uses the pound for its currency – pounds are like fat heavy quarters – makes the wallet a lot heavier than carrying around dollar bills! The food was a welcome change – I was able to try lots of different world cuisines - Lebanese, Indian and delicious Irish home cooking while I was there.

{ What advice would you give to readers to help in simply adapting to their new home? }

What I would say to other readers who are getting used to their new home/surroundings is to be patient and dedicate some quality time to learn about your new town or state. Try keeping a photo journal and find a new spot to photograph each day. Or make a list of the restaurants around and try them! I would also suggest joining a club if possible. I joined a photography club in Belfast and was taken to places I didn’t know existed! It’s always good to get in with the locals if you can!


{ What are some fun tips and tricks that you have learned from living in your new Hometown? }

The main tip that I learned in Belfast was just to really make the most of out of every situation. On days when I was extremely homesick, I would force myself to go for a walk and explore a new area of town. Being somewhere new and finding new little treasures (coffee shops, cute boutiques, new trails, etc) can brighten any day when you’re feeling low. Also, if you’re living in a city, I always enjoyed walking places instead of taking transportation. It’s a great way to get exercise, it costs less, and you may even discover some hidden gems on the way!


{ Recipe }

Irish Potato Farls were my go-to yummy snack! They taste delicious with a little bit of butter! And how can you go wrong with a dish made mainly of potatoes :)

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  1. In a pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on medium-high heat until the center of the potatoes are tender when pricked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Drain, return potatoes to pot and allow to completely dry out over remaining heat. Mash with a potato masher until smooth.
  2. Place warm mashed potato in medium bowl. Stir in flour, salt and melted butter. Mix lightly until dough forms.
  3. On a well-floured surface, knead the dough lightly. The dough will be sticky. Use a floured rolling pin to flatten into a 9 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into quarters using a floured knife.
  4. Sprinkle a little flour into the base of the skillet and cook the farls for 3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned. Season with a little salt and serve straight away.
(link to recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/irish-potato-farls/detail.aspx)

{ New Words and Sayings I learned }

There’s so many words to choose from my time in Belfast but I’ve tried to pick a few of my favorites…
  • Gobsmacked – astounded, astonished, speechless
  • Bout Ye!: greeting; how are you?
  • Dead-On: good, decent, alright
  • Does in my head: An expression that means someone or something that really annoys you
  • Wee: small – this would be the expression my friends said I used a wee bit too much!

I want to Thank Mandy for taking the time out of her busy schedule to be my first guest post and sharing her Simply Adapting Story! I love the courage she had to go forward with wanting to live in another country. I think all of us would love to do this but get scared of all the “What ifs” that could happen. I believe Mandy gave some terrific tips on how to Simply Adapt to a new area with forcing yourself to get out of that comfort bubble we all have and join a group, go on walks, and explore the town you moved to. I myself have tried some different things out here in South Dakota and maybe they didn’t all stick but it was fun trying them!

I hope that you all enjoyed Mandy’s Story and will continue to share her story with others that you know that may be a “Wee” weary about living in a new country.

Please feel free to comment on this post. I’m sure Mandy would love to hear some of your thoughts :)

{ If you have a Simply Adapting Story that you would like to share please contact me and I will tell you how it works! }

Also, remember to stop back here tomorrow for

1 comment:

  1. I have lived in Malaysia and Singapore, and understand the difficulties that can come from living in a new culture. I have traveled to Ireland and its a beautiful and friendly country. Maybe someday I will live there! Funny though, now the only thing running through my head is the distinct Belfast accent! ahha

    great post. great advice.



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