Two weeks ago, I was like, “Woo! D-Man and I are finally all settled in Belfast. Now I just have to turn in my residency papers, and keep looking for dream jobs.”
Everything (aka the banks) required verification of address. D-Man and I were privately renting near the city center, and all we had was our tenancy agreement. An informal document between the house owner and ourselves. No utility bills in our names. No voter’s registration. And I was soon to become an illegal alien in the U.K. if I didn’t turn in my residency papers (which also needed a verification of address).
So we up and went through an estate agent, as the bank suggested. We moved further from the city center. We went back to the bank. Oh, but. Did I have any existing accounts in other countries? Yes. Could I mail the statements to my new address? Yes. Could I please make sure that there was movement in the accounts? Otherwise it would not be valid. Yes.
“That should do it. Otherwise, you’ll also have to wait for your utility bill to come in. 3 months from now.”
I wanted to run up to other non-EU civilians and ask them, “How? How did you manage with all of this bureaucracy?”
In the midst of the move and extra piles of paperwork (because despite popular belief, marriage to the D-Man does not officially make me a European citizen… though if I’d stayed in Spain an extra year I could have applied for my Spanish nationality *tear*) – we had our first snow day of the year!
Beautiful, beautiful snow!
Also in the process of moving, we saw what must’ve been like the fifth burnt car since we arrived.
Right. The story about the burnt cars.
A few weeks before we arrived in Belfast, it was voted by the Belfast city council that the British flag would no longer fly everyday at the city hall; it would instead be flown only on special holidays and occasions. When D-Man and I arrived, there were peaceful protests in the city led by Loyalist groups.
The following week D-Man took the dog out for a walk, and saw a great bonfire in the middle of the road. As he approached the bonfire, the police came, and hooded figures sitting on the nearby benches began throwing bricks and blocks of cement at the cop cars.
Then there were helicopters every weekend, and newly burnt cars in the mornings.
To simplify the (modern) history and politics of Northern Ireland, you have the Protestant Loyalists who are loyal to Britain, and the Nationalists who are Irish Catholic. The sectarianism in Northern Ireland dates back to the 16th century, when the Protestant settlers from Britain, under the rule of King Henry VIII, tried to convert the Irish Catholics to Protestantism.
Though the Protestant reformation had been successful in Scotland, it failed largely in Ireland, possibly due to exploitation that the Irish had faced under British rule since the 12th century. The Irish resisted the Protestant reformation for over 70 years until the English won in 1607 under the rule of Queen Elizabeth. The Catholic leaders fled (known as the Flight of the Earls), the British crown confiscated the land and passed it over to the Scottish, and the original Irish population was forced to emigrate.
I have a lot to learn about this country I’m living in. Though I spent a glorious week exploring the Republic of Ireland years ago, I’ve quickly observed that it’s very different from Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has a different history, a different struggle, and to me, a very different ambiance and disposition. I can’t wait to know more…