My first week in Belfast, No. Ireland has officially come and gone and what an experience it has been so far! When first arriving at Stranmillis University College I was not only experiencing a new culture, but jet lag as well. Pushing through the jet lag and drinking all the black tea or coffee that crossed my path, I was able to take in the new culture and atmosphere from my new home away from home. The day I was leaving the United States to the time I was flying over the Atlantic Ocean I had continuous butterflies in my stomach and was not one hundred percent sure what I had signed myself up for. However, the moment I stepped onto Northern Ireland’s soil my butterflies disappeared.
Ever since arriving in Northern Ireland the atmosphere has been so welcoming and the citizens have been so kind, patient, and helpful. Though I, and the other international students, are still in the process of meeting new people, the people we have interacted with have been so kind, welcoming, and patient with answering the thousands of questions we have as “outsiders” and explaining what certain words mean to us when we do not understand, such as craic, which means great fun! Meeting faculty and students of Stranmillis who are authentic and real, has truly affected my initial thoughts and feelings of the city and the University, which are only good ones! Without these interactions and the guidance we have received from the faculty of Stranmillis, I do not think I could already say Stranmillis is my home away from home.
Because I am able to call Stranmillis home after just one week, I would stress to anyone who is traveling abroad that interacting with anyone, and everyone, that crosses your path is vital to your experience. I would also inform any travelers that if a situation arrises that gives you a positive discomfort because it is something that is outside your comfort zone, dive in and soak it all up! When arriving in Belfast and talking to a wise Irish women she informed me that “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” Allowing this quote to be my motto for the duration of my adventure here in Ireland has allowed me to get a solid first taste of what Belfast, and Stranmillis, has to offer.