My Summer at Queen's
I attended Queens University Belfast for their Summer Institute for Irish Studies and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I traveled to Belfast by myself, not knowing what would lay ahead on my journey, but soon realized it was going to be once in a lifetime experience.
The course field trops were a great opportunity to explore Northern Ireland's amazing landscape and heritage
The Institute is arranged perfectly for the novice traveler or a experienced traveler who has seen the world. The summer school has a wonderful balance of classroom instruction, class trips and free-time. The program gave me a glimpse into all aspects of Northern Ireland, including history, literature and geological foundations. The class field trips looked at different parts of the city, museums and the natural landscape of the country.
Some interesting facts
- Throughout the program, we had guest speakers to give us their personal testimony in their subject area of interest. One of the programs included a Unionist and Loyalist who had originally opposed each other during the troubles but are now working together to promote unity throughout Belfast. Having the opportunity to hear from those involved with the Troubles and their effort to promote unity throughout was an amazing experience that I would not have had if it were not for the summer school.
- My favorite trip during the summer school was touring the coast of Northern Ireland and visiting Giants Causeway. It was an amazing opportunity to explore Northern Irelands' underrated natural beauty.
- Many people do not know the Titanic was built in Belfast. As a result, there is a state of the art Titanic Museum along the waters edge. The museum did an amazing job at portraying every step of the Titanic - from its building to its sinking. It also demonstrates remembrance throughout to those who were aboard the ship.
I was able to have a great deal of independence and free time while in this new area, but the comfort of knowing Queen's Belfast has lots of international staff on-hand incase I needed any assistance. Queen's is centrally located in the city; it was just a short walk to the city centre where I could shop, get delicious food and enjoy local culture.
It's always hard to resist the sweet stuff at St. George's!
One of my favorite things to do while in Belfast was to go St. George's Market and get fresh baked-goods and locally made crafts. The center of the city also offers various forms of transportation to allow for easy access to other areas of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or even different countries.
During the free weekends, I took trips to Dublin and Helen's Bay. There are so many things to do and see in Belfast that you may not want to leave the city!
The living accommodations while at Queens allowed me to to live with and become wonderful friends with those in the school. Elms Village was just a short walk to the main campus and centre city.
Elms Village is wonderful because it has a kitchen on every floor that allows for the opportunity to cook your own food or store snacks so I didn't need to purchase food for every meal. There are numerous convenience stores and grocery stores within walking distance.
It is amazing to look back at the global connections and friendships I developed during the trip, many of whom I am still in contact with today. The Institute allowed me to grow, both intellectually and as an individual. I gained a new sense of wonder while at Queens and the desire to explore the world.
I would highly recommend this program to any student looking to expand their horizon and for an unforgettable, life-changing experience. The hardest part of my entire journey abroad was having to go home.
Looking forward to walking through that door again!
Luckily, my journey has not ended here. After realizing I wanted to get an international masters degree, I looked at my experiences and decided my best option was to return to Queens University Belfast. I am excited to return to the place that I loved and begin a new chapter as a full-time graduate student at Queens University Belfast.
Want to have your own adventure in Northern Ireland? Discover more about our Irish Studies Summer School
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