Studying abroad in Northern Ireland is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program itself has been refined and built upon for decades to create a premium experience for college students. This program will provide students with a first-hand look into the history, culture, conflict, and peace and reconciliation of Northern Ireland. Below are 4 things students can expect while studying abroad in Belfast.
1) Expect to learn from Northern Irish “tutors”
In Europe, only the head of academic departments receive the title, Professor. So, in Belfast, “professors” are called tutors and students will learn from a wonderful group of expert practitioners. Studying topics like economics, art, theology, literature, and conflict reconciliation from an Irish perspective provides you with incredible insight into the history, culture, beliefs, and tension of Northern Ireland. You should know, classes are held within the old-fashioned library at Lakeside Manor and the tutors will come to the house to conduct class. Students get to sit in fancy wing-backed chairs spanning the curved bay windows overlooking the plush lawn as class occurs. It all probably sounds a little pretentious, but it is a great deal of fun.
2) Expect to confront the realities of peace and reconciliation
Many Americans perceive Ireland to be a whimsical, jolly place where tea and biscuits are happiness are had. In a lot of ways, it really is those things. However, it’s also an island with a broken history bound in civil war perpetuated by religious and political strife. As you study in Northern Ireland, you will learn about a 30-year war called the Troubles and visit places like the Belfast Peace Wall and the Shankill Road. Through your program, you will learn about the process of ending the conflict and all the healing and forgiveness that is still presently occurring there. By studying the past, students will learn what it means to be agents of redemption in a fallen world, how to peacefully disagree in communication, and how to love others when they believe different things than them.
3) Expect to experience a healthy dose of adventure and city life
The study abroad program in Northern Ireland was intentionally crafted with “place as text” curriculum elements. Students can expect to go to classes four days a week and go on a field trip every Friday. Some of these trips include visiting ancient castle ruins on the Northern Coast and seeing original illuminated manuscripts at Trinity College in Dublin. Students will also get to see sights like Tolleymore Forest (C.S. Lewis’ inspiration for Narnia), Saint Patrick’s burial site, the Titanic History Museum, and others.
Living in Belfast is also an incredible experience in and of itself. The city has such a lively culture of food, music, and art. Every Saturday and Sunday, a major pop-up market called St. George’s Market appears with vendors selling things like fresh seafood, hand-crafted mugs, and local jewelry. Students can grab ice cream at Maud’s, see a show at the Lyric Theatre, shop at Victoria’s Square, plus many other things.
4) Expect to live in a real-life Irish Manor with other twenty-somethings
When you choose to study abroad in Northern Ireland, you get to live in a magnificent, old house adorned with red brick and white stone called Lakeside Manor. You might be wondering, is it actually lake side? Yes, actually it is. The Manor is situated on several acres of vibrant grass right next to a lovely little neighborhood lake. Its location is ideal as it is two miles from Belfast “City Centre” (the European term for downtown) in a sophisticated and “posh” area of town. Lakeside is also conveniently positioned right across the street from a bus stop, so it makes getting to City Centre a breeze.
One of the best parts of living at Lakeside Manor is sharing everyday life with 15-20 other twenty-somethings. Students studying abroad in Northern Ireland come from different cities and schools across the United States and globe. Students get to share with each other their backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions. The student-life vibe at the Manor takes on a different flavor with every group that’s there as students settle in and make the Manor their home for the semester. Some teams really enjoy meal times together, others plan movie nights and game nights, while some orchestrate bible studies and Frisbee on the lawn.
Photos courtesy of Lindy Martin and Lynn Christensen