Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
Having the opportunity to study abroad has opened me up to many different opportunities and life experiences. Throughout my travels, I have met new people from around the world and continue to be fascinated by their cultures and ways of life and how they are similar and different from my own. There are 14 other international students at the university in which I study. They are from New York, the Czech Republic, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland, Serbia, Belgium, and Germany, and there are numerous others within my residential vicinity at another university. Meeting these other international students and hearing their different ways of life has made me so experienced with the knowledge that they have shared with me and how I will be able to share these different ways of life with my students as a future history teacher.
I have also had the privilege to travel to many places within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as throughout Europe. Being centered in Belfast for three months has given me greater access to this side of the world and I have taken advantage of it. So far, I have traveled to Londonderry/Derry, Newcastle, Hillsborough, Armagh, Bushmillis and Ballycastle on the North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, and Dublin, Glendalough, and Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland. I have also traveled to or plan on travelling to Edinburgh, Scotland, Milan, Italy, Paris, France, the Isle of Man, Berlin, Germany, and Prague, Czech Republic. Belfast has been the perfect center to access the rest of the world that would be difficult to do at home, and I am grateful that this unique experience will directly impact my future career. I will be able to draw on personal experience when speaking about world history and geography in my own classroom. This experience will also be a talking point of conversation when I attend social and networking events and is something that I will be able to tell students about for many years to come.
While studying in Belfast, I will also have the opportunity at the end of November to have a placement in a local school for a week. This is something that will positively impact my resume and hopefully make me a standout when I apply for future teaching positions and other job opportunities. I am also going to classes and staying at universities that are known as “teacher education” schools. These are the two universities in Belfast that provide teacher education courses, as well as general liberal arts classes. This means that most students I have met here are future teachers. For my fellow educators, you can understand how impactful this is. Although most students I meet are going to teach at the primary levels, I have learned a lot from them and the different ways of schooling of where they are from.
I have been able to gain so much knowledge about teaching, education, and general ways of life by studying here. It has been so enlightening learning the different ways of life here in Northern Ireland as well as different places in Europe. Although I still have one month left of my study abroad experience, I have already gained so much from being here and experienced so many different things which will continue to impact my views of the rest of the world for years to come.