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Student Testimonials: Erasmus+, International Exchanges and Conferences

Claire Allen Testimonial
Claire Allen (LLB Law)
University of Copenhagen - Erasmus+ Exchange

"As well as the fun aspects of the exchange, I also now have something to put on my CV to make me stand out a little bit from anyone else. My classes were all based on international studies so if I decide to work outside of the UK and Ireland I have some experience in this field. I have also now lived abroad and I think that this will be so helpful if I decide to move away again, knowing that I can deal with living somewhere that is unfamiliar to me. Overall I could not recommend taking part in an Erasmus exchange more, and am so glad I pushed myself to do it!"

Ciara Campbell - Testimonial
Ciara Campbell (BA Politics)
Sofia, Bulgaria - Conference Attendance, ‘Building Together European Democracy’

"I returned home from this conference with a more nuanced understanding of different forms of democracy through our various discussions, from the federalist dream to benevolent monarchs to worrying constitutional issues. A solution that often came up was ‘education’ as to why federalism is not mainstream….I would definitely recommend conference attendance to other students. It widens your perspective on political ideas. International travel gives you independence and confidence and to be cliché, allows you to find yourself by discovering different cultures. In a professional perspective, it adds to your CV. Networking allows you to hear of opportunities you wouldn’t have known about otherwise, but more importantly, allows you to make new and interesting friends."

Johan Cordel - Testimonial
Johan Cordel (BA Social Anthropology)
University of Illinois - International Exchange

"Through taking up this opportunity I hoped to experience a different approach to education. I had heard from exchange students from the US that I met in Queen’s, that the teaching style was different in the UK. I thought experiencing a different teaching style would be beneficial, giving me new skills I could take home. As a student of Anthropology, and an individual who is generally interested in different cultures, I was excited at the opportunity to visit the States, as a culture, that is somehow so familiar through exposure through the media, but is also in many ways so different from our own…. Overall, my trip has been a great experience and I am extremely happy I got the opportunity, it enabled me to learn in a different system, to see an amazing country, to meet some amazing people."

Kellie Diggin (LLB Law)
Shantou Technical University, China - International Exchange

"Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences I have had as a student at Queen’s University. I gained the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land. It was an experience I will never forget….Furthermore, instead of merely understanding law studies within the context of a single country, I can now acquire a bigger picture, of a boundary-free viewpoint, which I can prepare to take on a variety of global challenges. Acquiring this skillset initially impacts myself as a global citizen with the ability to think more creatively. This is a trait that is increasingly sought-after by today’s employers…. Being immersed in an entirely new cultural setting was scary at first, but it was also exciting. It was an opportunity to discover my strengths and abilities, conquer new challenges, and solve new problems. I did encounter situations that were wholly unfamiliar and learnt to adapt and respond in effective ways."

Ariana Foley Photo
Ariana Foley (LLB Law)
Syracuse University Law School - International Exchange

"Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be experienced to the fullest. It is not every day that you get to live in a different country, so take advantage of this amazing venture. Take studying seriously, but don’t hold yourself back from exploring all that you can and taking in as much culture possible. Make the moments last because it goes by fast….Although it sounds very cliché, studying abroad changes you. You get to experience the most incredible things, you have seen some amazing places and you meet some extraordinary people. Undeniably, it enhances your job prospects, but it more importantly enhances you as a person and that is the reason why I couldn’t recommend studying abroad enough."

James Hadley-Piggin Testimonial
James Hadley-Piggin (BA Anthropology)
University of Newcastle, New South Wales - International Exchange

"I would recommend study abroad for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a great way to enhance your studies where there is the freedom to explore subject areas you can’t necessarily study at Queen's. Personally, I think it’s fantastic to divulge in different ways of studying as it equips you for life after university where ways of learning may change constantly. Secondly, it’s a unique opportunity and although there is always the fear of being so far away from home, the more involved you become in university life, the prospect of living so far away gets much easier. People are extremely friendly and will always be willing to help in whatever way they can. My main advice to anyone thinking about going on exchange would be ‘get involved’ and ‘keep an open mind’. I completely immersed myself in the experience and through that, made friends which may be for life, as well as having the opportunity to visit places one wouldn’t normally go to as a tourist. I absolutely loved the experience and would certainly recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure, willingness to learn and push new boundaries."

Jordan Kelly - Testimonial Photo
Jordan Kelly (BA History & Int Studies)
University of Texas, San Antonio - International Exchange

"I found the learning environment at UTSA different from my experience at Queen's. Each of my classes reflected a tutorial style, as opposed to large lectures. The smaller nature of my classes encouraged a lot of open discussion. This style of class really worked for me and made it much easier to get to know people in my classes! The smaller classes aided my studies as I felt more comfortable interacting and contributing, which can be slightly nerve racking as a new student. Learning at UTSA, for me, was learning from a whole new perspective. The format of testing greatly contrasts to Queen's, as there is more continuous assessment, through the structure of ‘pop quizzes’. This is paired with research papers, alongside mid-term and final exams. At the beginning, this was overwhelming, however in the long run this structure highly benefited me academically….. The skills I’ve gained from studying abroad are invaluable to both my degree and employability. These gains are alongside the rewards of living in and exploring a new city, which in my opinion is priceless life experience."

Marese O'Hagan Photo New
Marese O’Hagan (BA English & Anth.)
Universitat de Barcelona - Erasmus+ Exchange

"The classes that I took at the University were very interesting, and many of them were classes that I would not have been able to take at my home university. For this reason, I am glad I decided to partake in Erasmus as the range of classes allowed me to further my education. Furthermore, the content of the classes was engaging. Similar to my home university, there was a mix of exam, class participation, and written assignments. As someone who finds this mix of grading styles less stressful than, for example, modules that are 100% exam based, this mix boded well for me and allowed me to perform to the best of my ability. Additionally, I was able to take classes that were suited to my favourite aspects of English literature- for example, I was able to take a class that focused on Shakespeare, which is something that I love. This allowed me to partake in the class effectively and feel engaged."

Tammie Finegan - Testimonial
Tammie-Louise Ruth-Finnegan
University of Illinois, Springfield - International Exchange

"My four months in Springfield, Illinois benefitted me in more ways than simply academically; my time at UIS also allowed me to expand my future graduate and career prospects, whilst also allowing me to expand my social circle and cultural awareness….. Experiencing such a varied culture and immersing yourself in their history and way of life, is something which I believe is incredibly beneficial to everyone. Experiencing another educational system - learning about that nation’s history, politics, culture, economics, etc – is so incredibly rewarding and, if like me you have a keen interest in that nation itself, it is incredibly interesting." (BA History and International Studies)

Martha Ward - Testimonial
Martha Ward (BTh Theology)
Karoli Gaspir Reformed University, Budapest - Erasmus+ Exchange

"Why study abroad? For most students, this time may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity. Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures. Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other. Even if you are not someone who really loves to leave their comfort zone, I would highly encourage you to try it as now is the best time to go!"

University of Barcelona - Erasmus+ Exchange

"My period of study abroad was a learning experience both inside the classroom and out. Studying at the University of Barcelona provided me with the opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas with all kinds of people from different backgrounds improving my interpersonal skills. I gained a different perspective on the subject I love from the lecturers and got the opportunity to learn and use a new language to boot…... Participating in this cultural exchange has made me proud of my Irish heritage whilst simultaneously making me see myself more as a global citizen. From the Erasmus experience I have affirmed my interests and ambitions in life, learned how to travel, gained the ability to discover other cultures for myself and appreciate diversity.  These are all things that I could not have learned at home.  By participating in a study abroad programme you become more open, more tolerant, more understanding, more employable, more independent, and more well-rounded."

College of Charleston, South Carolina - International Exchange

"I think that I would recommend studying abroad to anyone who is interested in hearing new ideas and perspectives.  By studying in an American college and taking history classes, I learned a new point of view on a variety of historical periods.  This was very useful as it created an opportunity to learn from each other as naturally different events and trends were stressed differently in American college classes than in Queen’s or in secondary school in Northern Ireland.  This experience has made me even more aware of the value of firstly identifying, and then stepping out of your intellectual box.  The chance to study in another country and another education system has benefited me as it opened up new areas of study that I might not have had the opportunity to study otherwise.  This helped me to improve my research skills and to familiarise myself with a subject I had not studied before.  Beyond this, I think that it has helped my university career by giving me new ideas for a potential dissertation as I was able to take advantage of the College library and its resources during my time abroad."

University of Copenhagen - Erasmus+ Exchange

"To summarise, I would wholeheartedly recommend participating in an international exchange. Being thrown into an unknown environment will teach you a lot about yourself and you never know when you will get another opportunity like this again. It also looks great to employers, especially if you are able to dedicate some time to learning the language. Participating on exchange demonstrates that you are a versatile individual, able to deal with sometimes stressful and new situations. It also mean you are able to get along with people from a huge variety of backgrounds, something essential in the modern world of work." 

University College Utrecht - Erasmus+ Exchange

"I would whole-heartedly recommend participating on an exchange programme to anyone. This is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, I would stress the rarity of such an opportunity; there may be no other time in your life to experience living abroad with the same level of support that you receive. Furthermore, through the Erasmus programme, a huge number of different destinations are available for you to choose from. This is an opportunity which may never present itself to you again following your graduation so that should be recognised. Secondly, an exchange is a great way to break the monotony of student life. Following a year or two years studying in the same place, life easily becomes repetitive and students can slip into a comfortable routine, but an exchange can be a great way of shaking up your university experience…..Finally, an exchange is a brilliant way to ensure that you develop as an individual. Living in a different country can take some adjusting to, but this will only mean that you will be more confident outside of your comfort zone in the future. The experience is likely to make you more open to different experiences and less intimidated by other challenges in the future. Moreover, following your graduation from university, employers are likely to recognise that you are a more independent individual from your exchange. Therefore, it is for a myriad of reasons that I would highly recommend participating in an exchange through the Erasmus programme, something which will surely add interest and ability to your life!"