“Big Brother” in Northern Ireland
I actually had not expected that the troubles would be as obvious as they turned out to be. I knew that there have been fights between Protestants and Catholics for years and years, but I was really surprised and probably even a bit shocked, that the shadow of these tensions in Northern Ireland was so present. The wall in Belfast was so huge and there were so many big gates and barbed wire everywhere. We even saw an elementary school with massive steel gates and barbed wire on top. At first we thought this must be a prison or something behind, but then we read the sign on the wall, which said it was an elementary school. That was really scary somehow. Even the highly shielded police stations looked like prisons from the outside. I also found the “Big-Brother”-like supervision with the many cameras (which was especially obvious in Derry) quite strange.
It really set my image of Northern Ireland right. I always imagined green fields, a lot of sheep and interesting colourful cities, when I thought of Ireland as a whole. The separation of Northern and “Southern” Ireland was not so concrete and explicit for me. The troubles and the whole situation in NI weren’t either. Of course there are green fields, a lot of sheep and interesting cities and of course it is not necessarily more dangerous to take a walk through Belfast City than through Cologne City, but because of the whole scenery (the barbed wire, the cameras, the walls, the gates, the many police man – even at the student accommodation) it probably looked more dangerous than it actually was.

Nadine Glock

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