Learning Diary 

My first week undertaking the #LearnuaryNI challenge at Erasmus Traineeship Host: TrainingMatchmaker.com 
My first week  in Belfast was full of new things to learn. When you are in a city where you’ve never been before you first have to learn how to orientate yourself and then you can start to discover it. That this isn’t always that easy,  Pauline and I found out on our first day in Belfast when we got lost in Cathedral Quarter in search of our traineeship host company headquarters. After we finally found the office of TrainingMatchmaker.com our first task was to create a list of learning goals, as a part of the participative #LearnuaryNI campaign. Some of these goals have been fulfilled in our first week: first of all we learned how to use WordPress to be able to create our first learning plan blog and this achievement blog and we also learned how to use various types of media and programmes to present information to our host company audiences. We also could tick off number nine and ten of our #LearnurayNI list in combination with number eleven because we took photos and created Instagram stories at the Chinese New Year exhibition at Ulster University which were published on the Instagram presence of TrainingMatchmaker.com Trainer: Christine Watson –
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Today I cycled into the @watsonsmarketing office in @cqbelfast from south Belfast – making the most of the @belfastbikes (which I pay an annual £25 membership fee to use across the city) and also because the local taxi services were all booked up, leaving no option to even book an alternative time. When I got from A to B my closest bike dock was outside @ulsteruni in #CQBelfast. I lost one white glove from my favourite pair last week at a free seminar: ‘The Future of work is Learning’ so I popped into the university to check lost property (you just never know). In doing so I randomly happened upon a new display celebrating the Chinese culture – timed for the Chinese New Year 🧧and promoting the Confucius institute. This month and next I host Erasmus Trainees from Germany Lina and Pauline so of course I raced back to the office to share this experiential opportunity – I am a #WorldHostNIAmbassador trainer after all! The girls visited the interactive exhibits during lunch this afternoon and this is what they found <swipe left to see the various experiences they digitally journaled>. What an amazing learning experience for us all during #LearnuaryNI – When they returned to the office I learned from them about the upcoming Chinese New Year, the year of the pig, the significance of the colour red & more. Their boomerangs showcase a taster of what all can currently be found inside the Art College. Have you been to see it yet? Did you know about it? . . . . . #DiscoverNI #NIExplorer #VisitBelfast #BelfastCC #CQBelfast #CathedralQuarterBelfast #Belfast #NorthernIreland #WorldHost #WorldHostNI #WhatsOnNI #UlsterUniversity #WatsonsMarketing #TrainingMatchmaker #InspiringLearning #ChineseNewYear #ChineseCulture #confucius #confuciusinstitute #JustEatBelfastBikes

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Moreover we took part in a Free Walking Tour through Belfast where we stopped at interesting sights such as the Albert Memorial Clock, The Big Fish, The Crown Bar, the City Hall, the harbour, the Grand Opera House Belfast, certain pubs and restaurants and much, much more.  Our guide was very pleasant and he told us about Belfast in an informing but also entertaining way so that it was a pleasure to listen to him.
Afterwards we went to a pub and experienced a cheerful evening with a lot of music, laughter and good mood. Besides that, thanks to our Trainer Christine Watson, we started to discover the world of  Northern Irish food because she brought several products for us to the office so that we can try them. This supported the innovative new training programme TrainingMatchmaker.com was creating for it’s client Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – The Secret to Creating Fab Food Photos That Drive Business. We recorded these experiences with photos and we look forward to publishing some things we learned about Northern Irish food on a separate blog.
My second week with #LearnuaryNI at TrainingMatchmaker.com
The second week started with a visit of  The MAC Belfast. There Pauline and I saw a lot of exhibition pieces which invited us to make reflections. Moreover, I can now tick off number 12 of my #LearnuaryNI plan because I went to the cinema to watch “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was useful because I watched the movie in Germany, too, so I was able to understand words and phrases that were new to me.     With the help of Pauline, I also learned how to use Google Drive. This is very helpful to work together on our blogs and to share the pictures and content for the business.
Our weekend was completely planned in advance to cover all our interests and to help us ensure we were making the most of our time in Northern Ireland. Over a team lunch in Made in Belfast we reviewed an itinerary with our Erasmus Trainer: Christine Watson – who is also a Licensed WorldHost Tourism Ambassador Trainer for Tourism Northern Ireland! On Saturday morning we had a walk through Belfast to St. Georges Market, the Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum. The Palm House in Botanic Gardens is the most beautiful place I’ve seen so far. It has a pleasurable atmosphere because it is so warm and silent inside. We also saw a lot of birds and squirrels in the park and the first snowdrops and crocuses were blooming just like in Spring. We tried to visit every exhibition floor of the Ulster Museum but unfortunately the museum closed before we were able to see it all, so it is still on our #LearnuaryNI plan to be finished. In the evening we tried out a recipe for Irish stew to recover and which was really good and tasty. It was necessary to gather our strength again because on Sunday we had planned a day trip to Murlough beach and Newcastle.
We had to get up very early and arrived in the morning at Murlough beach. There we had a walk in the sunshine about three hours through the dunes and along the beach and arrived in Newcastle at lunchtime. We all were very happy about this trip because after two weeks in the city we wanted to see the beautiful nature of Northern Ireland everybody was talking about – and they all promised not too much! It was breathtaking.
  My third week with #LearnuaryNI at TrainingMatchmaker.com Our third week started off with a photo walk through Belfast by Apple as part of the #TodayAtApple free training programme co-ordinated by the Apple store in Victoria Square, Belfast. Our trainer Matt showed us how to use light and the right angles to let our photographs look professional. We had a lot of fun with the Apple team and enjoyed learning. We walked around in Cathedral Quarter and discovered places we’ve been before but we got to see them new and in a totally different light in relation to all of the good places to take stunning photos:
The following days we worked on on our blogs and other tasks. We created tables, photos and presentations until Thursday, the 14th of February 2019 – Valentines day! On that day we had to be very creative. Photos for the online presence of our host were needed and that was the right moment to apply our new knowledge about how to take photographs from Monday. In the end there were a lot of photos and my colleague Pauline also created some beautiful drawings.
Furthermore Pauline and I learned this week how to organise ourselves and about distribution of tasks among each other, because we had to plan and realise the food blog project. I think we managed it quite well and it was fun to work in a team, too.
On Friday we went to St. Georges market again because we hadn’t had the time to try some food on our previous Sunday visit. In the evening we enjoyed traditional Fish and Chips in a local pub. After a traditional Ulster fry breakfast, our last Saturday in Northern Ireland led some of us to Belfast Castle. There we had a walk in the garden and also up to the Cave Hill Trail. We were lucky to have a sunny day so that we were able to have a great view over the city from the top of the hill.  
We also took part in a free tour at the Belfast City Hall. That was very interesting because at home we are training for working in our local city hall to fulfil the tasks of administration and here we could have a look at how similar things worked in other countries.
  Our supervisor from the Erasmus program Kirsten took us on a tour to the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede-Bridge and the Bushmills whiskey distillery on Sunday. The first stop wasn’t planned but spontaneous: the Dark Hedges. Although it was early in the morning there were already a lot of people walking through the avenue. We had a little time to have a look at the impressive, huge trees before we went on to Carrick-a-Rede. To get to the bridge there is a path along the cliffs which was beautiful. The seabirds, sheep and the green around us made us very happy. Furthermore, because it rained that day,  we were lucky to see a rainbow upon the sea. The view from the Bridge is stunning and its a very thrilling feeling to stand so high upon the sea between the rocks, but we all managed to cross.
Our next stop was the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, where some of us took part in a guided tour. At the end we were allowed to taste a Whiskey and could even buy some if we wanted to. The last stop was the Giants Causeway- and because of our good timing we experienced it at sunset. Walking upon these stones and standing in the powerful wind that blows inland and brings impressive waves with is overwhelming. At the end of the day we all were very tired – but very happy to have had this experience.
With this, again the weekend was over- our last weekend in Belfast. The following week will be the countdown of our return to Germany. For me it will be and still is a beautiful time which will soon come to an end with mixed feelings.

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