An Insider's Guide to the CAPA Belfast Excursion

Jul 15, 2019 12:20:00 PM / by Katie Berlin

Brush up on your knowledge of the region with Katie! She tells us what you need to know about going to Belfast and the type of tours you'll encounter. Get to witness and hear about the city's history and what else you can do to spend time in the area (Game of Thrones filming locations, anyone?). Katie also drops an Irish lingo guide in this post to help you out as you gallivant around Belfast and Dublin.

Welcome back my CAPA readers and say hello to your all-access pass into our program’s excursion outside of Dublin. This summer’s location, you may ask? BELFAST. Now there are many exaggerations, truths, and mysteries that this city has, and hopefully by the end of this post at least a few get touched on.

9 AM sharp—coming from a young adult who isn’t a morning person, this was by far the hardest part of the trip. With that in mind, I made it (against all odds), and we were off to Northern Ireland. Now, Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland, but in order to get to Belfast, you must pass an invisible border to enter Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is NOT, and I repeat NOT, part of the Republic of Ireland. Instead, it is a territory of Great Britain. I highly suggest before going to Belfast or anywhere in Northern Ireland to read the news, learn the truth about the internal conflicts, and be very respectful about it all. The last thing (and I do honestly mean the LAST thing) you want is to be culturally insensitive and say something you may find funny but is both offensive and untrue.

Belfast's Government BuildingBelfast's government building.

I am going to begin explaining the actual tour by illustrating my experience so you can learn from my mistakes. The weather app (NEVER TRUST THIS) said it was going to be sunny and in the 70s. Our weekly ‘Monday Memo’ told us this and to bring sunscreen. Do you think it was sunny and in the 70s? Let me be the first to say, it was SO NOT LIKE THIS AT ALL. I brought both an umbrella and rain jacket, but I left both on the bus. The minute, and I mean the MINUTE, we started the started to rain. And, boy, did it rain until we went to the Titanic Museum (3 HOURS later). So, to reiterate what I have said in the past, BRING YOUR UMBRELLA AND RAIN JACKET EVERYWHERE JUST IN CASE.

Me in front of the Salmon of Knowledge in BelfastHere I am in front of the Salmon of Knowledge in Belfast.

To all my history fans, this is the excursion for you. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable of the city’s history, how to interact with the locals, and the dos and do nots in Belfast. We even got to stop by the currently shut down government building and learned a little bit about Northern Ireland politics and BREXIT (google this, people—it is quite a big deal). CAPA does a fantastic job of keeping the tour moving with both knowledge and a full city center tour.

At the end of the tour, you are given two options. The options are go back on the bus with them or to stay the night. Of the 35ish students who went, over 20 stayed in town for the night. We all went on a city tour at night, and the nightlife is amazing in this city. With this being said, ALWAYS travel in groups and be very aware of your surroundings. Also, there are several day trips to take out of Belfast, and I HIGHLY recommend staying the night to take one. From the Giant’s Causeway to GAME OF THRONES, there are many opportunities and activities to do with your Sunday.

Sara and I at the Giant's CausewaySara and I at the Giant's Causeway.

Our CAPA representatives are constantly sending out TWO weekly memos to keep you up-to-date with events, class information, and fun around-the-city opportunities to immerse yourself with. Without them, I wouldn’t know literally anything. On a different note, one last thing I will mention about our trip is to understand the lingo. The CAPA excursion is usually a few weeks into the program, so by now, you will get a sense of what Irish people say that is slightly different than America’s lingo. Below I have a very short glossary of what people say and what it can loosely be translated to.

Irish Lingo: A Helpful Guide

  • “Tanks a Mill” — Now, this is not saying that they are going to give you a million dollars. This is a common saying for “Thank you” or “Appreciate it.” Learn to love this, guys. YOU WILL HEAR IT EVERY DAY.

  • “It’s grand/It will be Grand” — Again, no money is being transmitted in the making of this saying. This is a common way to say “It’s good” or “It will be great.”

  • “How are you getting’ on?” — Personally, when I was first asked this, I wasn’t sure what I was getting "on" to. After my boss laughed and explained it to me, I learned it is like “How are you?” and “Is everything good?”

  • “Call you on your mobile/Give you a Shout” — I work at a Telecoms company, so from firsthand experience I know they say this. It is like, “I will call you later” or “Talk to you later.”

  • “What’s the CRAIC?” — No, drugs are not affiliated with this phrase. This is the most Irish saying I have learned to love. It is THE common saying for “What’s up". People, this is THE SAYING in Ireland.

Now, I do hope this short glossary of common phrases helps you when you begin your adventures here. Thanks for tuning into my blog post yet again. Next time, I will get to touch on everything to do and see in Dublin. Trust me, it is QUITE the list.

Me and this Cute little Sea Lion Statue in BelfastMe and this cute little sea lion statue in Belfast.

Farewell for now.

Thanks, Katie!

Katie Berlin


Katie Berlin is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Industrial and Systems Engineering major at University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

Katie's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Local Culture