Jessica: Time

May 23, 2011

The thing that has stuck out on this trip is the store hours everyone holds. There’s no guarantee that things will be open when you want them to be open. For instance, some friends and I went wandering Saturday evening around 7 for a dessert or cafe. Starbucks was closed, as were all the buildings around the area. Really?? In America things would almost be guaranteed to be open on such a busy day. People are going to go out on a Saturday. Here, pubs close at 11 most days. That would be absurd in America. 

But it makes me think, wow we really rely on places to go to when we do things, and we are on all the time. The average American works 9 weeks more than anyone else in the world. NINE WEEKS. We expect availability of services whenever we want, and that’s just not how it is here. We are often told the rest of the world thinks of time differently, and are often not in a rush. We have a different lifestyle. No wonder we are over stimulated and rely so much on time. 

I wish I could take this lack of rigid structure and whatnot home. But it’s just not my lifestyle. Without so many of my home obligations, I can just walk around and roam and explore. Obviously I have responsibilities and things to tend to when I get back, but it’s a nice little break from the crazy schedule. 

Another thing that strikes me is that I am exhausted from the full days since I’m not used to this kind of schedule. So it’s time to force sleep upon myself tonight to be ready for an early class, more presentations by community organizers and then a walking pub tour/crawl in the evening before we will probably stay out to watch a huge football game. 

I’m of course laughing at the irony that Minnesota probably has great weather right now. My positive energies lie with those affected by the tornadoes in Missouri and North Minneapolis.

Today we made a Starbucks stop and went to the Corrymeela Center in the city to learn more about what they do. Turns out with the deeply embedded prejudices and conflict between Catholics (also generally more Republican and wanting a separate Ireland) and Protestants (those who descended from and want to unite with England) Corrymeela tries to facilitate conversation between these people to build communities and make them realize they’re not al that different. 

In the afternoon we took a bus tour of the deeper layers of Belfast and toured the other more run down areas where there is a lot of social housing and murals. Its crazy because the town is segregated, not by race, but by religion—there are literally walls still up to separate them. You can tell if you’re in a Protestant neighborhood if there are red white and blue colors, while Catholics use green white and orange. The murals on the Catholic side criticize the racism and oppression while the Protestants have murals that commemorate British heroes. Both have murals for those who have died in the many bombings that have occurred against each other. From a country who doesn’t really segregate by religion (by name, anyway) it’s interesting to see such a physical split and such conflict that still lingers even now. 

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