America in Belfast – by Chris Gustafson

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Arriving in Belfast on Saturday I came to expect a whole new world, and while the culture and landscapes are vastly different, a sense of home could be found throughout the city in the format of American brands from the likes of Starbucks, McDonald’s, Ford, and more. Making an effort to avoid American chains was a goal of mine when beginning this trip, however it is proving difficult, with so many places having some mark of Americana.

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That’s not to say its a problem, the first time being overseas it is comforting to see the connection that our countries share, with common roots tracing back 400 years, and knowing that our cultures may be different we all share in the same spirits and language as we have for centuries.

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It’s not just the reminders of America that make it hard to shake the sense of home, such as the ad for the New York Marathon, or the mural of President Trump advertising a burrito, but running into locals who are well aware of your status as a tourist, or even more entertaining, hanging out with other Americans who are on vacation or study abroad trips themselves. Arguably my favorite moment so far was on Sunday night at the Dirty Onion, running into a group from West Virginia University, and meeting their group leader who had grown up just 20 minutes from myself in Potterville, Michigan. Meeting these groups of Americans and bonding overseas has been a great experience so far, and I look forward to meeting more of them, however I am even more excited about meeting local British and Irish citizens and creating new memories while in Europe.

Lastly, Sparty appears to have enjoyed his day at the Titanic museum as he prepares to venture off to Rome tomorrow!

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