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Cordelia McGeown

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My Story
Cordelia McGeown

BA History and International Relations
Masters in European Affairs with Global Health at Sciences PO, Paris

Before Queen's

I completed my A-levels in Southern Regional College. Back when I was studying my A-levels, the results weren’t centralised and only half the grades would come out online, so we were expected to go into the college to get the rest on the morning of results.

UCAS though announced if you had been accepted or not at 7am, so I awoke knowing I had got into Queens but with no idea how until I picked up my grades.


Where are you now?

I am studying my masters in European Affairs with Global Health at Sciences Po in Paris. I am completing a part-time internship in the Irish Culturel Centre while studying in Paris as well. It’s very like living in Belfast apart from a huge increase in my bread and cheese intake – luckily my wine intake has remained stable from my time at Queen’s. It’s very hard to find a place in Paris, so I live in the suburbs, it takes me 45-60 minutes to get to school in the morning; so every day I appreciate my old student house on the Lisburn Road more and more.


How did you get there?

My first semester in Queen’s was marked by the beginning of the referendum talk and a class by Prof. David Phinnemore on the history of the EU. It was this class that made me realise that my political passion lied in the European project. He is an amazing professor who conveys information both effectively and with such infectious joy it is impossible not be engaged.

Then I went abroad for my second year, I studied in Queen’s Kingston, studying European politics and history from a Canadian perspective. It was there that I met my boyfriend, Pascal, a French engineering Student who was there on exchange too. He went to Canada to improve his English but luckily for him, got a crash course in Northern Irish English instead, his NI accent could put Nadine Coyle’s to shame.  I went back to Queens Belfast and he went back to France. I decided then instead of staying in Belfast for my masters I would go to France and complete my masters there. With A1 France from my Queen’s language courses and two references from my Queen’s lecturers, I was accepted into Sciences Po Paris to study European Affairs. I honestly would not be here without the experiences I had in Queens, that both shaped who I am and gave me the opportunities to move forward and grow.

Along with my Queen’s experiences, I was incredibly fortunate to have two opportunities to study and work in the USA. In my first summer of undergraduate, I was selected for a Fulbright studentship which took me to Kansas state University for the summer. I participated in an intensive Environmental Stewardship course, travelling to Washington DC and Seattle as part of my studies. I worked with students from around Europe, making friendships for life (I now study with one of the girls in France - the world is tiny) and learning about cultures that had never been on my radar before.

In my final year, I was lucky to be selected for the Washington Ireland Program. I spent my last summer of undergraduate in DC, working in the American Association of University Women and Gerry Connolly’s Congressional Office. It was the best summer of my life, I recommend all Queen’s students apply for it. You spend the day in an office, learning irreplaceable skills and then you get the metro down to the harbour and can spend the evening kayaking in 25-30 degree heat. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, they were both once in a lifetime opportunities and I treasure the fact I got to experience both of them. I ended that summer by travelling to Rural Russia for an adventure holiday, if my time at Queen’s taught me anything, it was to say yes to every opportunity

Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills

I attended all the careers events, I was lucky to get on a study tour to Asia and I studied abroad in Queen’s University Kingston. All of it was incredibly helpful and accessible to me. A lot of the services can be booked online and everyone is very responsive to email. I learnt about so many opportunities which would have passed me by had I not attended a lot of those appointments, fairs and events. In first year especially, there was a lecture series on how to write essays, how to network, how to write a CV – all of them incredibly helpful.


Advice for current Queen's students

Queen’s offer their students an enormous amount of opprtunities and they are highly responsive to your needs and wants – you just need to actively seek it out. A lot of people I went to school with didn’t realise they could go to America, Asia, Australia or Europe with the University or that there were classes on CVs, interviews or networking. The language classes in Queen’s are so cheap for students and affordable, as are extra professional certificates. I have learned how to taste the difference in champagne while also having classes in several languages, all for less than one night out in Cuckoo (or anywhere else in Belfast). Whatever you do, do not waste your opportunity at Queen’s – if you are willing to get involved, they are willing to make anything possible.  

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