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What’s Next After Graduation? – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Below is a Q & A between Global Education and Millersville alumnus , Sarah Tyler.

Sarah studied abroad the summer prior to her sophomore year. She graduated with a degree in Communications with an option in public relations and two minors in history and government.

Where did you study abroad when you were a Millersville Student? 

I spent a month in Northern Ireland at Queens University of Belfast as a student of the International Summer School, hosted by Queens University.  The summer school focused on lectures regarding Irish studies and field trips that highlighted the local culture and sights of Belfast and Northern Ireland.   

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What were your goals for sudying abroad at the time? 

I did not know what to expect during a study abroad program, hence why I chose a shorter-term study abroad instead of a full semester or year.  I remember being excited to have the opportunity to meet with people from around the world and have the experience of living in another country while adjusting to their cultural norms of everyday life. 

What is one thing during your study abroad that really impacted you? 

I was greatly impacted by the amount of personal growth experienced within the month of being abroad.  There were many things that I had to do by myself for the first time.  Although they were small tasks, such as navigating my way from the airport to living accommodations, it is more of the idea that I was completely dependent on myself to find my way in a new city.  As this was the first time for me  to experience such independence, I was able to grow as a more mature and cultured individual. 

Can you share something you did on your first experience? 

As Dublin is only a two-hour bus ride, some friends that I made in the school and I went to Dublin for the weekend.  We explored the surrounding area, attended popular tourist attractions and created numerous memories.   

What are you doing now? 

After much consideration as what I wanted to do after graduation, I decided to return to Belfast to obtain a master’s degree in international relations from Queens University.  Nearing the end of my junior year of college, I decided that although I love practicing public relations, I want to move my career path into the government field.  Remembering my positive experience at Queens, it was an easy decision to want to return and complete a master’s degree at their institution. 

How did your study abroad experience lead you to where you are now? 

If it were not for my study abroad experience, I would not have known of the endless possibilities that are available outside the United States.  During my study abroad time, I interacted with people from all over the world and gained a stronger understanding of their culture, which I never had the opportunity to do so within the United States.   

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How is being abroad different this second time around? 

This second time in Belfast is completely different then the first.  As I am living here for a year, I had to complete paperwork to have access to health care, a residence permit, new phone plan and bank account.  As I have more time than previously before, I am currently looking for a part-time job or an internship.  Knowing that I will be here for a year has allowed me to become established within the Belfast society and the school community and develop longevity with friends and classmates.  

Now that I am back, is there something that I would like to do? 

There are so many things on my to-do list and fortunately, I have a year to work on it.  There are so many things to do in Belfast alone, whether it is the Game of Thrones tour or hiking cave hill.  I really want to take advantage of all of the opportunities and complete as many as possible.  As Northern Ireland is close to Europe, I would like to take long-weekend trips to different countries.  My top countries to visit are the Czech Republic, Hungry and Greece.

What advice would you give to other thinking about doing experiences abroad after graduation? 

Doing an abroad experience after graduation is such a great opportunity, especially after already completing an undergraduate degree.  I believe the reason I have been able to easily adjust to life in a new country and appreciate the culture and learning opportunities is because of a higher maturity level compared to the first time I studied abroad.  Although I have returned to the same area, there is a huge difference in how I look at things around me and how I can appreciate them on such a different level then I could before.  I do not believe I would be as successful had I not had numerous experiences at an undergraduate level.